Digital Nomads: The best destinations to combine work and travel

In the not-so-distant past, being able to work while travelling was a dream reserved for high earners flying business class to all-expenses-paid meetings. In the modern world, remote working is quickly becoming the norm, with many adventurous types choosing to pack their life essentials and a laptop in order to work while on the road (or in the air). Last year around 60 percent of travellers booked trips to destinations with both business and leisure in mind. Who can blame them when so many top cities for digital nomads boast history, skyscrapers, work-from-home setups, co-working spaces, restaurants and nightlife?

As truly satisfying as being a digital nomad can be, you’ll have to choose your destinations carefully. While remote working means can you can grind from just about anywhere, you’ll need a reliable internet connection between business hours and lots of things to do outside of them, preferably on the more affordable side. To help you take the leap and embrace the nomadic lifestyle of the digital-savvy global citizen, we’ve created a guide to some of the best cities in the world for digital nomads, along with a few tips on how to get started.

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Digital nomads

Digital nomads utilise their skills to work remotely from a wide range of different locations, from co-working spaces and libraries to shaded spots on beaches. As working remotely usually requires portable devices like laptops and a reliable internet connection, digital nomads tend work within the technology sector. Popular digital nomadic jobs include web developers, writers, SEO managers, virtual assistants, and social media managers. If you want to finance a nomadic lifestyle indefinitely, you might want to start your own online business, which could be anything from a digital marketing agency to a travel blog. After all, a full-time life on the road might not be as inexpensive as you think.

In addition to costs, it’s worth remembering that being a digital nomad means paying just as much attention to monetising your time as experiencing the world. Often, you may find yourself working unusual hours and skipping nights out in order to hit deadlines. Nevertheless, the digital nomad lifestyle appeals to many people; it enables you to trot across the globe and improve your productivity, creativity and adaptability. While we wholeheartedly encourage all people to discover as many places as possible, some destinations are friendlier to digital nomads than others thanks to fast internet speeds, low living costs, co-working spaces, and an enviable climate, not to mention plenty of iconic sights, friendly locals and a lively atmosphere.

Photo: Cottonbro

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Combine work and travel

Transitioning to the lifestyle of a digital nomad can be daunting, so make sure you’re prepared with a plan and a range of portable tools before saying goodbye to a permanent address. As a digital entrepreneur, you’ll need gadgets that include a laptop and a smartphone at the minimum. If required, replace or repair your laptop before embarking on your new adventure, and pack a smartphone with Wi-Fi, a strong network, GPS, a camera, universal chargers, and an online payment processor such as PayPal. We recommend setting up all your accounts before travelling and keeping everything safe and secure with a cloud storage service.

When choosing destinations, be prudent in your approach. While heading straight to exotic lands might sound tempting, you might be better off starting in countries that ease the transition into the nomadic lifestyle. In the early days of remote working and travelling, it’s advisable to pick destinations that have relaxed visa requirements, a solid exchange rate, good internet coverage, access to online payment processors, and a good quality of life. You don’t want to end up stranded in a closed-off destination before finding financial success. Wherever you stay, do make the effort to dive into the local culture. It’ll be enriching for you and anybody who follows your social media accounts. Telling your story is a great way to build an online following and subsequently expand your digital business empire. On the subject of business – choose a career that you can do online solely. There’s nothing stopping anybody who can monetise time behind a computer screen from adopting the life of a digital nomad.

Photo: Bruce Mars

Things to consider when picking a destination

When it comes to nomad-friendliness, not all cities are created equal. Just as when planning a getaway, you to consider factors like weather, healthcare, safety, walkability and nightlife when choosing a digital nomad destination. But you also need to search for places that tick a few other boxes, such as low cost of living and Wi-Fi access. Reliable Wi-Fi is vital for remote online workers. It’s worth making sure your accommodation offers fast and free Wi-Fi so that you don’t need to waste time searching for it when you arrive at your destination. Check the reviews for your hotel or accommodation, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly.

Needless to say, calculating a realistic budget is a must before becoming a digital nomad. If you plan on staying in a new city for months at a time, you must remember to check the costs of accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment beforehand. Cities like Reykjavik are undeniably amazing, but their cost of living can quickly drain the savings account of a digital nomad that’s yet to establish themselves. Remember you’ll need to be able to fund nights out, museum visits, and activities in nature; an all-work no-play lifestyle can quickly lead to burnout. You’ll need a community to prevent loneliness from getting the better of you. You can meet people in co-working spaces, or via Facebook groups and platforms like Meetup.com, who’ll enrich your travels. You can also gain business tips and travel advice by networking with locals and global creators.

If you’re new to the digital nomad lifestyle, set your sights on a destination that’s also a transportation hub. Working on a tropical island beach may sound like paradise, but it won’t be so relaxing if travel costs deplete your time, income and savings. With all that in mind, let’s look at ten amazing destinations that tick all the boxes for digital nomads.

HERO Porto

Porto, Portugal | Photo: Daniel Hohe

1. Portugal

As one of the most beautiful and affordable capitals of Western Europe, Lisbon in Portugal has a lot to offer digital nomads. The city’s incredible food scene, nightlife, cultural attractions, and weather have attracted tourists for decades. In recent years, Lisbon’s co-working spaces, modern infrastructure and fast internet speeds have given rise to a growing community of expats and digital nomads. It costs around $2,000 per month for the average digital nomad to live in the Portuguese capital, which is impressive for any capital on the continent. Citizens of the European Union can generally live and work in Lisbon fuss-free, and many other nationalities can make the city their home for 90 days without a visa. Add all that to Lisbon’s colourful and historic streets, scenic viewpoints, beautiful parks, and 300 days of annual sunshine, and you can see why this city is a European hub for digital globetrotters.

Even more affordable than Lisbon is Porto, which offers digital nomads a more laid-back lifestyle despite being the country’s second-largest city. Adored for its historical culture and hipster vibes, Porto is a buzzing destination with easy transport links to most major cities in Portugal and many in Europe. Most of the locals speak English and welcome the influx of digital nomads because of the diversity and jobs it creates. You’ll find an abundance of thumping nightclubs in Porto’s downtown area. For a more relaxing evening, you can browse a local night market or attend a wine-tasting event.

Lisbon | Photo: Hugo Sousa

Photo: Buro Millennial

2. Mexico

When it comes to price, food and excellent tequila, Mexico ticks all the boxes. The locals are friendly and the lifestyle is relaxed. There are also plenty of vibrant destinations for those who want to join an already large expat community or get off the beaten path. While spotty Wi-Fi and petty crime can be concerns, the country’s cities boast co-working spaces and comfortable accommodation, and you can stay out of danger easily enough by keeping your wits about you. The gay community is well catered for in a wide variety of top destinations in Mexico. To put the cherry on top, Mexico allows people from many nationalities to enter its borders for up to 180 days without a visa.

Mexico City is as exciting as it is chaotic, home to an expat community that includes lots of English teachers and digital nomads. Much, much smaller than Mexico City is the city of San Miguel de Allende, which is popular with digital nomads thanks to its cobbled streets, baroque Spanish architecture, and thriving arts scene. Those who prefer a coastal paradise to a concrete jungle often make their base in Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula, home to stunning beaches, a tropical climate, and a lively digital nomad scene. Keep in mind that average internet speeds are around 10 Mbps, but you can find reliable connections at several co-working spaces. Popular accommodation options include room rentals, Airbnb and hostels. When you’re not working or checking out the coast, you can easily travel to famous Mexican destinations like Tulum, home to Mayan ruins, and Cenote Chaak Tun, where you can dive into a natural sinkhole in the rainforest.

One of our favourite Mexican cities for digital nomads is Oaxaca, which is safe, budget-friendly, vibrant, well-connected, and less prone to excessive tourism than places like Mexico City, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. Modern art, historic structures and colourful homes decorate the streets of Oaxaca. During business hours, co-working spaces provide productive and comfortable places to work. For leisure, you can embrace the city’s rooftop restaurants, bars, and a world-class mezcal scene.

Photo: Austin Distel

Photo: Promadik Travel

3. Thailand

Thailand is one of the world’s most popular countries with the expat and digital nomad communities, and while Bangkok is undeniably out of this world, the largest digital nomad community resides in the northern city of Chiang Mai. This historical city offers expats a little bit of everything, from lush jungles to traditional night markets and modern co-working spaces. The cost of living in Chiang Mai has risen in recent years, but it’s still a more-than-affordable average of $950 per month. Wi-Fi speeds are respectable and reliable, the locals and globetrotters are friendly, and the street food is as plentiful as it is delicious. Within the city limits, you’ll find bars, nightclubs, ancient temples, and frequent festivals. Less than an hour from the city are mountains, tribal areas and the Doi Inthanon National Park, where you can hike to Thailand’s highest point.

While Chiang Mai often snags the top spot on lists of best digital nomad destinations, Bangkok – Thailand’s vast and vibrant capital – shouldn’t be overlooked as a potential stop on your travels. Bangkok is a tad pricier than Chiang Mai, though still respectably affordable. The city is also home to an abundance of co-working spaces, air-conditioned shopping malls, a modern transit system, and street food galore, not to mention rooftop bars atop skyscrapers and one of the most infamous nightlife scenes in the world. For more destination ideas, read our guide to the ten best places in Thailand.


Photo: Evan Krause

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Despite being a haven for expats, Bali offers an affordable cost of living, with private pool villas costing a fraction of the cost of rent in cities like London and New York

4. Bali, Indonesia

Bali has long been one of the world’s most popular destinations with vacationers, surfers and backpackers. Now, the island’s popularity with expats and digital nomads is rising quickly, with many cities and coastal towns equipped with the likes of modern co-working spaces, international-style cafés, and reliable Wi-Fi. Bali’s digital nomad community is highly active, hosting networking events and get-togethers frequently. Despite being a haven for expats, Bali offers an affordable cost of living, with private pool villas costing a fraction of the cost of rent in cities like London and New York.

One of Bali’s best cities for digital nomads is Canggu, which has transformed from a small surf town into a thriving expat area. There’s no shortage of impressive co-working spaces, Australian-style eateries and the likes of free workshop events in Canggu, and the beach is inviting to both sunseekers and surfers. Despite practically being on the doorstep of Canggu, Ubud has a more laid-back atmosphere, perfect for those who prefer a yoga mat to a surfboard. When you have time off work, you can visit amazing destinations in Bali that include lush rice paddy fields and the island of Nusa Penida, where you can explore unspoiled nature, pristine beaches, and epic rock formations. Rental scooters and taxis are both affordable transport options.

Indonesia | Photo: Marvin Meyer

5. Spain

A long-time favourite with international workers, Spain is home to world-class party destinations like Ibiza, incredible cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, and islands that boast year-round warm weather. The digital nomad visa is yet to be approved, meaning most nationalities can stay within Spain’s borders for a maximum of 90 days, though EU citizens can stay and work for as long as they like. If you’re looking for a permanent position in Spain, studying the language comes highly recommended, though English is widely spoken in major cities and touristy areas.

One of the largest Canary Islands, Tenerife experiences warm weather every season. On top of having a beautiful natural environment, Tenerife’s cities are practically made for digital nomads, with many modern co-working spaces and co-living accommodation options. The internet is fast and reliable, as is the transportation network. Picture-perfect places to visit include Playa de Los Roques, El Teide (Spain’s highest peak), the Anuga Rural Park, and the historic Old Ouse in La Orotava. If you’d prefer a home away from home on the Spanish mainland, you might consider looking at Seville, which is famous for its Moorish architecture, mild winters and gorgeous Mediterranean summers, though July and August can reach uncomfortable temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius. Seville boasts excellent co-working spaces such as Honei Coworking and Arcadia Coworking, and destinations like Granada, Cordoba, and Portugal are within easy reach.

Naturally, one of Spain’s largest expat communities lives in Madrid, the Spanish capital, which is home to the world’s highest concentration of bars per capita. With so many diverse neighbourhoods, it’s easy to find posh, hipster, young and old personalities in Madrid, and the city’s parks and pedestrian-friendly activities provide plenty in the way of relaxation. Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, is equally as vibrant as Madrid, with the added bonus of being bordered by the ocean. Just like Madrid, Barcelona is brimming with co-working spaces, nightlife destinations, hipster cafés, and an incredible food scene. Natural attractions like mountains, countryside vistas and vineyards are just a stone’s throw away. Last but not least on our mentions of top Spanish cities for digital nomads is Valencia, where the cost of living is noticeably lower than in Barcelona and Madrid, though English is less widely spoken. Nevertheless, Valencia is a vibrant hub of history, culture, cuisine and nightlife. For more ideas on where to stay or explore, read our guide to the best gay destinations in Spain.

Photo: Roman Odintsov

Seville, Spain | Photo: v2f

6. Tbilisi, Georgia

The Georgian capital, Tbilisi, boasts one of the world’s fastest growing digital nomad communities, which is no surprise when you consider that most nationalities can stay and work in the nation for up to one year without a visa. The city combines historic Ottoman influences with a modern European city culture, and plenty of co-working spaces cater to the needs of remote workers. Airbnbs are also plentiful and affordable, with a centrally located flat costing around $300 per month. The locals are famously friendly, and English is widely spoken. While there’s plenty in the way of history, cuisine and entertainment in Tbilisi, snow-capped mountains and sandy beaches are within easy reach. To top all that off, Georgia is one of the world’s oldest wine producers.

For now, Tbilisi’s digital nomad community is relatively small, but it’s growing at an astonishing rate, helped by the fact that the city is well-connected, safe, and practically built for remote workers. If you’re looking for a slow pace of life, you might prefer to set up base in a terrific city such as Kutaisi or Batumi. To the south of Georgia is the country of Armenia, which also offers one-year visas to visitors, and the capital city Yerevan has the potential to become the next digital nomad hub of the Caucasus.

Tbilisi, Georgia | Photo: Kent Tupas

Photo: Mart Production

7. Colombia

South America, particularly Colombia, has an unfortunate reputation for crime and danger despite being one of the world’s best destinations for digital nomads. In Colombia, the weather is gorgeous, the cuisine is sensational, and the cost of living is low. Another plus for digital nomads is that English is widely spoken, though Colombia is the perfect place to brush up on your Spanish due to the ease of the accent. While Colombia’s capital boasts a large expat community, there are plenty of amazing places outside of Bogota, including Cartagena and Cali.

However, our favourite Colombian city for digital nomads is Medellín, a hip and tech-savvy city that’s home to fast Wi-Fi, co-working spaces, countless events, great locals, and a well-established community of international workers. With an abundance of hotels, hostels and expats, El Poblado is Medellin’s most popular neighbourhood with digital nomads, and the nearby Parque Lleras boasts world-class nightlife. Affordable accommodation and Airbnb options can also be found in La Candelaria and Laureles. When you’re not holed up at home working, you can visit city attractions such as the Plaza Botero, Museo de Antioquia, Parque Arvi, and Jardin Botanico. Or, you can head to the beautiful lakes of the nearby town of Guatape for a spot of swimming.

Most nationalities from western nations can obtain a 90-day visa for Colombia with relative ease, though be prepared to show proof of onward travel when you arrive. If you’re not ready to depart from South America after your 90 days, we recommend heading over to Ecuador, which has a fast-growing community of digital nomads in its capital city, Quito.

Colombia | Photo: Guillermo Bresciano

8. Budapest, Hungary

Bursting with history, culture, food, nightlife, and countless amenities for remote workers, Budapest is a Central European paradise for digital nomads. It’s also more affordable than many European contenders such as Prague, with Michelin-starred dining experiences costing as little as $30. On one side of the Danube river that cuts the city in half, you’ll find the hilly, historic section of Budapest. Cross the river, and you can explore the city’s more modern side. Wherever you are, you won’t be far from a relaxing thermal bath given that the city is home to over 120 of them. You’ll also be impressed by the nightlife atmosphere of the ruin bars and the city’s exceptional architecture. Ever better, life here costs the digital nomad an average of just $1,460 per month.

When you need to work, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, libraries and cafés in Budapest with reliable, fast and free Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you can set up shop in co-working spaces such as IMPACT Hub, KAPTAR and Mosaik that offer flexible membership schemes. Short-term flat rentals can be found at Roommates Budapest, Hostelworld and on Facebook groups. To save money while exploring the city, buy transport ticket packages that enable you to ride buses, trams and the metro. The summer can see an influx of tourists, so you might want to relocate in spring or autumn to settle in before the crowds arrive. Learn more about this amazing city by reading our Budapest travel guide.

Photo: Josh Duke

Budapest | Photo: Keszthelyi Timi

9. Thessaloniki, Greece

With its relatively low cost of living, history around every corner, superb cuisine, and an enviable climate, Greece is one of the top European nations for digital nomads, especially now that the country offers visas and tax benefits to remote workers. Athens is, of course, Greece’s most famous city, home to historic ruins that date back thousands of years, cultural attractions galore, and a university town that frequently ranks as one of the world’s best party destinations. However, while Athens is an amazing place to live and work, we recommend setting your sights on the Greek port city of Thessaloniki instead.

Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, is located in northern Greece by a harbour, offering views of the ocean that are almost as impressive as the sights of the city itself. Just outside the city limits, you’ll find forest reserves, rugged mountains, and scenic beaches. Thessaloniki also boasts fast Wi-Fi, lots of co-working spaces, restaurants, cafés, and a quirky nightlife scene. Accommodation options are aplenty, costing as little as $500 per month including amenities. In fact, including transportation, dining, exploration and accommodation, the cost of living in Thessaloniki averages $1,000 per month. Between December and March, temperatures can drop to a chilly five degrees Celsius, but they average 25 Celsius over summer. Transportation options are fairly limited, with buses being the only form of public transport, but taxis are affordable and easy to book using the Beat app. When you want to spend time outside of Thessaloniki, you’ll find plenty of great places to visit in Greece.

Photo: Austin Distel

Thessaloniki | Photo: Diana Deaver

10. Tallinn, Estonia

Located in the ex-Soviet state of Estonia on the shore of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn has been raising its profile with geographically loose professionals over the past few years. Estonia’s new digital nomad visa makes moving here a breeze. In fact, Estonia was one of the world’s first countries to introduce such a visa, and its e-residency permit has allowed non-citizens to establish businesses within its borders for years. Including accommodation, which costs an average of $400 per month, life in Tallinn costs about $1,200 per month for digital nomads. Admittedly, the influx of expats has increased prices slightly in recent years, but the city’s costs are still on par with other more famous Eastern European nations like Hungary and the Czech Republic. And the city offers remote workers much more than just a low cost of living and an easy immigration process.

Tallinn is home to one of the most beautiful old towns in the world, and its beaches are stunning during summer, even if the low Baltic Sea temperatures come as a bit of a shock. With regards to leisure activities, Tallinn is bursting with museums, medieval architecture, world-class restaurants, shopping scenes, and geographical gems. For work-related activities, Tallinn provides the likes of co-working spaces, cafés with free Wi-Fi, and excellent accommodation options. Winters can be cold, but they transform the city into a winter wonderland. Plus, with easy access to a host of European cities and nearby Finland, you’re never short of things to do beyond Estonia’s borders. Most travellers are given a 90-day visa on arrival, which can be extended to 365 days with relative ease. For ideas on what to do during your stay, read our Tallinn travel guide.

Tallinn | Photo: Сергей Горбачев

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