10 best European cities for digital nomads
As a location-independent freelancer, I choose travel destinations differently than the typical backpacker. Here are the best European cities to visit for digital nomads.
Nov 01, 2019
Allyson quit her corporate marketing job in July 2018 and has been traveling the world through work exchange ever since. The highlight reel include...
What I consider before deciding on a European city to visit as a digital nomad
A remote worker's needs vary from person to person, job to job, but there are a few factors I consider before booking a new destination as a digital nomad.
- General cost of living
- Alternative work spaces
- A Goldilocks level of activities in the area
- A healthy atmosphere
- Transportation costs and accessibility
1. General cost of living
Will I have to base myself 45 minutes outside of the city center to afford a visit? Do people complain about how expensive produce is?
2. Alternative work spaces
I typically stay in sunny Airbnbs to facilitate a quiet, controlled work space and a reliable kitchen to keep food costs low, but issues can arise anywhere.
WiFi can drop unexpectedly, there might be construction on the building next door, or (the worst) your motivation could inexplicably vanish.
It's important for me to have options for work locations in times like this so before I book my travel and plan a trip, I research if there are co-working spaces, a vibrant café culture, or work-friendly coffee shops in the area.
3. A Goldilocks level of activities in the area
Let me explain. There are some destinations that you could live in and never "do it all." Those destinations are too big for most digital nomads.
You'll be distracted by all there is to do and see. You'll feel guilty for spending the day inside working instead of sightseeing when there is so much out there.
There are other destinations that have almost nothing to do or see. They might be nice for a night or a lazy beach vacation, but they're too small to keep boredom at bay. You might feel like the only one working or the only one traveling through, causing a strange sense of loneliness or a lack of motivation to settle in.
The digital nomad needs a Goldilocks level of activities to do.
Just enough for a couple hours of exploration every day and the right level of buzzy activity around to make you feel like you aren't the only one working the day away. You can often find thriving expat communities in cities this size too. You can search on Meetup or even Couchsurfing to find travel-minded locals in the area.
4. A healthy atmosphere
When you're living out of a suitcase and traveling the world full-time as a digital nomad, you have to learn how to stay healthy despite a changing environment.
I like to connect with nature as I travel, so I search for destinations that have a lot of green space and well-documented hiking paths. I know other digital nomads who search for yoga studios with monthly memberships or pop-in gyms.
I also pay attention to the projected weather forecasts when I consider health. I know that a penchant for rain or cold weather will make me less likely to stay active, so I often choose locations for their mild climates.
5. Transportation costs and accessibility
Transportation costs can sneak up on even the most planned traveler, but transportation is also one of the categories that can really break a digital nomad's budget.
I always consider walkability when I'm deciding on destinations. Would I feel safe walking home after work here? Would my path be beautiful and inspiring or dull and drab? If a destination isn't walkable, is public transportation readily available and safe for solo travelers?
I also consider the cost of transportation to the destination. Are there cheap flights or buses between my destinations? Don't forget to factor in time and money for transportation to/from the airport too.
Now that we've established some of the factors that matter to digital nomads searching for the best European cities to visit, let's get to this thorough list of best European cities for digital nomads.
Best European cities for digital nomads
- Budapest, Hungary
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- Krakow, Poland
- Lagos, Portugal
- Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Ljubliana, Slovenia
- Plovdiv, Bulgaria
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Kotor, Montenegro
1. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest has a lot going for it as a digital nomad destination and it's certainly one of the best European cities for remote workers.
The cost of living in Budapest is cheaper than cities in western Europe and cheaper than its central European neighbor, Prague. The city is absolutely filled with work-friendly cafés and bars with high speed WiFi.
Budapest also boasts some unique wellness opportunities with thermal baths located around the city, many green space options, and some nice hikes accessible by public transportation.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Budapest to save money on accommodation on your next trip to Hungary.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
While it is definitely more expensive than other cities on this best European cities for digital nomads list, you can't go wrong with Edinburgh, Scotland.
The city is surrounded by mountains to keep you active, lively pubs to keep you entertained, and is very walkable despite being quite hilly. If you need any more convincing, J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, wrote her best-selling books working from cafés around Edinburgh.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Scotland for an authentic, immersive experience.
3. Krakow, Poland
If you're searching for the best eastern European cities to call home for a while, you can't go wrong with Krakow.
Poland's second city is big enough to have co-working spaces, a vibrant nightlife, and plenty of interesting history, but small enough not to distract you too much. It's one of the cheapest European cities to visit so you'll be able to live large on a small budget and save money while traveling.
The one downside? Winter. Krakow gets chilly so it isn't one of the best European cities to visit in winter.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Poland to plan your next budget-friendly European destination getaway.
4. Lagos, Portugal
If you're looking for the best European cities to visit in October, look no further than beautiful Lagos, Portugal.
Lagos is situated along the southern Algarve coast of Portugal. It's the perfect little place to go if you're chasing the sun for a little while. The coast is dotted with unique rock formations and idyllic beaches, but you'll also find a handful of work-friendly cafés in town, inexpensive accommodation, and plenty of other travelers to meet.
There are hundreds of opportunities to exchange work for accommodation in Portugal, making it easy to travel this bucket list destination country on a budget.
What are you waiting for? Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Lagos and go!
5. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Easily the most expensive location on this best European cities for digital nomads list, Lauterbrunnen is worth every penny.
What it lacks in size, it makes up for in stunning mountain views, world-class access to hiking trails, and a surprisingly vibrant expat scene. It's also one of the best European cities to visit in August, the altitude keeps it cool and you'll be wandering among the beautiful Swiss wildflowers if you choose to take a hike.
There is really only one café to work from in Lauterbrunnen but it's so reliable that you won't mind. In a pinch, trains run to nearby Interlaken like clockwork (it is Switzerland after all) so you can find yourself in a larger city in just 30 minutes.
To save money on a trip to Lauterbrunnen, explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Switzerland.
6. Lisbon, Portugal
If Lagos, Portugal just seems a little too small for you, look no further than Lisbon, Portugal.
You're spoiled for choice when it comes to creative co-working spaces, laptop-friendly cafés and cozy, unique accommodation options. Lisbon is the creative heart of Portugal, and in many ways, the digital nomad scene in Europe.
It's also one of the best European cities to visit in December as it rarely gets too cold there.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Lisbon to save extra money while exploring the digital nomad lifestyle in this incredible city.
7. Ljubljana, Slovenia
If I could design the best European city for digital nomads, I would design it exactly like Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Nearly 75% of the city area of Ljubljana is green area, the coffee culture in Ljubljana is second-to-none, and it's off-the-beaten path enough to still be affordable. For my money, it's one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Ljubljana to plan your visit to the famed European green capital.
8. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Bulgaria's second largest city is a really up-and-coming digital nomad destination in Europe.
While it's still a little rough around the edges, you can find great deals on accommodation, plenty of cafés to work from, and some interesting neighborhoods to explore.
It's that elusive not-too-big, not-too-small feeling and is located just a two-hour bus or train ride from the capital city of Sofia, Bulgaria (yet another great option for best cities for digital nomads Europe).
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Bulgaria to plan a visit to Plovdiv today.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
If you're tapped into the digital nomad scene, you've likely heard about Estonia as one of the best places for digital nomads in Europe.
Estonia is the first country in the world to issue a digital nomad visa, allowing digital nomads to legally live in Estonia for up to 365 days.
Needless to say, this country is one of the best places for digital nomads in Europe right now, offering co-working spaces, laptop-friendly cafés, and affordability. Tallinn's old town is also known to be one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Estonia to plan a visit to this trending destination.
10. Kotor, Montenegro
I might be biased because I'm writing this article from my little attic apartment in Kotor, Montenegro but this city is a great option for nature-loving nomads like myself. It's surrounded by stunning mountains, a bay filled with blue water, and a whole lot of interesting history.
There are a handful of work-friendly cafés to choose from, although some close for the winter so be sure that your accommodation offers a reliable internet connection. If you don't mind working from your accommodation space, Kotor has a very mild climate and can be one of the best European cities to visit in winter.
Explore work exchange and volunteer opportunities in Montenegro to go live your Balkan backpacking travel dreams!