Interest in the remote lifestyle is booming in Europe and governments are starting to take notice with a range of digital nomad visas and schemes designed to entice people to their countries. In the space of just a few years, aided by the impact of the pandemic in advancing the transition to remote work, attitudes have changed across the continent and leading a nomadic working life is no longer a fantasy. But what are the most popular digital nomad destinations in Europe?
Truth be told, there are no exact statistics that can 100% answer that question. EU citizens are free to work and travel where they please within the Bloc and are rarely even required to show their passport when entering a new country, let alone declare the purpose of their visit. Even non-EU nomads often come on the typical Schengen travel visa and leave within 90 days without declaring their work. There are active digital nomad communities in some cities which are viewed as hubs for remote workers but their numbers are always changing as people come and go and exact figures are not easily available.
For the purposes of this article, we’ve relied on search data from Keywords Everywhere to rank the most popular digital nomad destinations. It’s not an exact science by any means but the findings seem to stack up with what we might have guessed and at the very least highlight the European countries that are attracting the most online interest from digital nomads or those hoping to travel and work remotely in Europe in the future.
Most Popular Digital Nomad Destinations in Europe
Portugal currently ranks as Europe’s most popular digital nomad destination and it feels like it is some way ahead. It just ticks so many boxes that you look for when considering whether or not a country is good for nomads.
Affordability is one factor. While costs aren’t as low as the very cheapest places in Europe, they are the best you’ll find in Western Europe with Portugal offering considerably better value than somewhere like France or Italy for example. Then there is the climate. Portugal is one of Europe’s warmest countries and one of the few to offer genuine winter sun options with the Algarve and particularly the island of Madeira a hit with nomads during the cooler months of the year.
As well as amazing beach destinations, Portugal also has two really cool cities in the shape of Lisbon and Porto, as well as some genuine nomad hubs such as Lagos. To top it off, Portugal has one of the most accessible visa programs with just €705 per month, the minimum earnings for the Portugal D7 Passive Income Visa. That’s significantly less than most other visas of its type in Europe.
Staying in Iberia, neighbouring Spain is a fitting rival to Portugal’s claim to be the digital nomad capital of Europe. It’s perhaps slightly more expensive overall, although there are significant regional differences with Andalusia, the Valencian region and the Canary Islands offering great value for remote workers.
The latter is the warmest option in Europe during the winter months and Gran Canaria in particular is home to a thriving digital nomad community. However it’s not all about fun and sun in chilled out beach towns, with Barcelona another very popular city with nomads in Europe and it is currently attempting to establish itself as a tech-friendly, international city of startups.
Spain’s digital nomad visa is coming soon. Exact details are currently sketchy but reports suggest the minimum income requirement will be approximately €2,000 whilst some regions already have schemes designed at drawing nomads into their quieter towns and villages where many houses and apartments are unoccupied.
Malta is another of the best countries for digital nomads in Europe. In some ways, it feels like the original European nomad destinations with the island having gained popularity amongst those able to work remotely even before remote work was really a thing.
It’s only a tiny island nation but its southerly Mediterranean location gives Malta a fantastic climate and it is home to a surprising number of beautiful bays, beaches and little islets for a place so small. Malta’s status as one of just two remaining English-speaking EU countries also helps in terms of settling in, finding accommodation and getting around.
The relatively long-standing nomad community on the island does sometimes attract negative attention from locals though and this is something we may see more of as remote work and travel continues to take off, particularly if it leads to an increase in rental and living costs for local people in some of the most popular destinations.
We head to Croatia next for the next stop on this rundown of the best places for digital nomads in Europe. This oddly shaped nation is home to a deceptively large coastline that spans almost 1,800 km from its northern border with Slovenia to the stunning city of Dubrovnik in the south, close to Montenegro.
Throw in over 1000 islands and Croatia a country full of “off the beaten” path destinations, even if its most popular destinations do now attract a lot of tourists each summer. Its gorgeous bays and clear Adriatic waters are a major draw and it is another country that has made a genuine effort to attract digital nomads with its own visa scheme.
There is even a digital nomad village in Zadar and Croatia is well on its way to establishing itself as a leading destination for remote workers in Europe. Costs are reasonable compared to most Western European nations but it is worth noting that you can still find much better value in neighbouring countries such as Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro.
Climate is clearly a major factor for digital nomads and remote workers looking for a new base and this rundown is dominated by Mediterranean countries, the latest of which is Greece.
This is another country with a vast array of islands to choose from. Whether you want a party lifestyle in Mykonos or quiet living or a lesser known island like Lomnus or Anafi, you should be able to find your base here and there’s plenty to be said for staying on the mainland too with cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki having plenty going on.
In terms of costs, Greece is a bit of a mixed bag. Accommodation is typically great value and you can find some excellent deals on Airbnbs, particularly out of the high summer season. However eating and drinking out and groceries are relatively expensive by the standards of this part of the continent and are something to consider for anyone looking for the best places in Europe to work remotely.
Top 10 Digital Nomad Destinations in Europe
Again this is based on search data as of September 2022 but this is a fluid situation with more digital nomad visas expected to be added in 2023 and beyond which could draw greater interest to countries willing to offer more favourable terms. That’s going to be something really interesting to watch out for over the coming years with European countries potentially competing with each other to attract remote workers, which will only be good news for digital nomads in the continent.
Tech-friendly Estonia, ranked number 6, was the first European country to offer a digital nomad visa back in the summer of 2020. It stands out as something of an outlier in the above rundown of the top 10 digital nomad destinations in Europe given its northerly location and cold climate.
The most popular country outside of the EU and Schengen Zone with digital nomads is Montenegro. The small Balkan nation is very affordable and boasts some spectacular scenery which makes it a really nice option for anyone doing a visa run once their 90 day limit in the Schengen area is up. Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria round off the top 10 most popular places for digital nomads in Europe according to our research which was carried out in September 2022.