Digital nomad tips: Lisbon

I spent a month in Portugal in July 2017, here are my Lisbon digital nomad tips including travel, accommodation, cafes and co-working spaces.


TAP were great – good price, fresh looking plane and a free inflight snack. Sketchy landing at Lisbon due to crosswinds!

The Metro is cheap and easy, the red line runs from airport all the way into the city centre for around €1.50. Ticket machine sells you a Viva Viagem card that you can recharge and then use on Metro, buses, trains, trams and boats.

Lisbon is fairly walkable with the option to get the Metro or a tram if you’ve got bags or it’s too hot. Electric TukTuks and a variety of other strange vehicles are available too.

Uber is a thing here and air conditioned cars are a good alternative to walking or the Metro when it’s hot. Trips around the city were around €4.

Buses and modern trams were regular and easy to use with the same Viva Viagem card (around €1.50 a trip).

I took the train to Porto after my stay here and it was amazing. Fare was around €25 booked in advance for first class and it took around 2.5hrs. The tilting train got up to 240km/h and had free (terrible) wifi and a table to work from.


Lisbon is apparently very safe to walk around, even in the narrow alleyways and dark streets. Tourist spots feature annoying and persistent ‘drug dealers’ selling herbs. No I don’t want any candle wax or Rosemary, but thanks for asking every five minutes.

SIM cards

Vodafone looks like €15 for 15 days with unlimited data, I just used my UK GiffGaff one though as since July 2017 free roaming has been available throughout Europe on all networks.

Digital Nomads in Lisbon

As of July 2017 there was a huge digital nomad scene here, with many coworking spaces and a very active Lisbon Digital Nomads Meetup group with meals, coworking and drinking events throughout the week. There are also the Digital Nomads Portugal and Lisbon Digital Nomads Facebook groups (that are mostly people spamming and looking for places to live..)

Coworking spaces in Lisbon

Second Home

Looks incredible and they use hundreds of plants instead of air conditioning. No trial day or day passes and I was informed that they only accept people longer term who will be part of the community. Fine.

Cowork Central


Lots of plants, new bean to cup coffee machine, aircon, great light and views over the river. 90/90 internet. Slack channel with jobs, events & chat. I loved it here, the internet is ridiculously fast and I ended up coming back a few times.  The guys invited me out for pizza and they do surf trips.  Reservation is recommended as it fills up quick.

Drinks and snacks: Free tea, coffee (bean to cup machine) and water

Costs: €15 per day. €210 a month.

Trial: Free day

Accommodation option: Nope





Amazing facilities, peace and quiet and great value. Looks more like a business centre than a co-working place – felt a bit of a scruff in my shorts! Air conditioning, free fruit, coffee machine and sun terrace.

The only reason I didn’t sign up was the lack of community and the Internet was playing silly fuckers for me the day I went. I couldn’t log in to various websites I need to run my business. Not sure if this is the way it is or just a temporary problem.

Drinks and snacks: Free tea, coffee (bean to cup machine) and water

Costs: €80+VAT for the month

Trial: Free day

Accommodation option: Nope




More of a startup incubator and coding school than co-working, but we had a coworking day organised by Lisbon Digital Nomads. Unfortunately the stools on the coworking day were terrible for posture, but I think they offer proper desks for paid coworkers.

I went to a couple of coding events at Beta-i including an intro to Javascript evening and a taster for the Le Wagon bootcamp that runs here, which covered UX, landing page build, Git version control and basic Ruby.

They also have a TGIF social meet on a Friday (obvs) with beers on the terrace.

Drinks and snacks: Coffee pod machines (bring your own pods) and water

Costs:  €10 a day, €75-100 a month

Trial: Free day

Accommodation option: Nope


Cowork Lisboa at the LX Factory


I found this place a bit visually chaotic but they had solid internet, good kitchen facilities and it was busy. It’s off to the West of the city with lots of trams and buses available.  Internet download speed was decent but upload speed was slow. Good chairs.

Drinks and snacks: Free coffee (didn’t try it as I had one from the excellent Wish cafe across the street) and free chilled water.

Costs:  €12 a day, from €100 a month

Trial: Free day

Accommodation option: Nope




Bare looking industrial unit that needs some soft furnishings. It’s a work in progress and the finished version looks amazing. Chairs were pretty bad for posture. Internet was very slow and hampered my productivity here. No aircon.

Drinks and snacks: Bean to cup coffee at 50c a cup, tap water but no water cooler.

Costs: €100-€130 a month depending on whether you want office hours or 24/7 access. I went here for free as part of the Lisbon Digital Nomads meetup so not sure about free trial day or day passes.

Trial: Free day

Accommodation option: Nope



I didn’t find many nomad friendly cafes in the tourist areas. Popping out a laptop and mooching their wifi for half a day doesn’t fit with the crowds and I found them too hectic to concentrate.

Brick cafe

One of the highest rated coffee shops on Google Maps, I thought the coffee was average. Amazing cheese toastie though.  OK internet and some other laptop folks around so working from here looks fine.

Cafe Tati

Retro place with amazing salads. Laptop friendly, so-so internet that came and went. Worked from there for an afternoon and got stuff done.

Pois Cafe, Alfama

Great brunch and coffee, lovely mismatched decor and artwork but terrible internet. Also too busy with tourists to stay here and work.

Fabrica, Alfama


Famous for their freshly made croissants, people were queuing out of the door at weekends. Would be good off peak. Great coffee.

Fabrica Coffee Roasters

Incredible coffee and pastries, no wifi but looks like it’s OK to work from here too.

Wish Slow Coffee House, LX Factory


Amazing coffee (some of the best I found in Lisbon) and good range of food. Didn’t work from here but it looks like they would be OK with it.


Expensive (or shitty) AirBnbs aimed at tourists, with short term flats seemingly hard to find. I got lucky as a nomad chum had a room free in her flat for a few weeks. Erasmus flats look basic and terrible, plus they sell the package as being a massive piss up which isn’t ideal for a 40yr old with a business to run.

There are some companies offering accommodation and coworking packages aimed at digital nomads, with the associated high costs.

Check out the digital nomad groups and international accommodation Facebook groups but be ready for a struggle. Mentioning budget and being flexible with location will help.

Things to see

There are a ton of things to see in Lisbon, many of which you’ll see while walking around. There are free walking tours around the city as well as the We Hate Tourism tours. Buildings are beautiful and the old trams are cute. Trying to get on a number 28 tram in July was futile.


There’s a Meetup group called Lisbon Explorers who do beach trips and hikes in the areas surrounding Lisbon. I did this every weekend to get some nature and went to a few places around Sintra and Cascais and a trip to Cabo Da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe.

I spent an afternoon at MAAT  and found the buildings more interesting than most of the exhibitions.


I hope you’ve found these Lisbon digital nomad tips useful. I had a great time in Lisbon as there’s lots to see and do as well as good coworking scene and tons of tech and social Meetups. I’ll be back for sure.

Freelancer Interview: Ben Lumley, Commercial Sports Photographer

This week’s freelancer interview is with photographer Ben Lumley. Ben makes some great points about providing value and working from home – read on to find out more.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Ben and I’m a Commercial Sports Photographer. That basically means I work with brands and athletes to capture powerful images usually at live events like the London Marathon and World Triathlon Series races. 

What led you to start freelancing?

I’d always wanted to be a full time photographer from the first week I ever had my first camera but had never really had that ‘thing’ that made me stand out in a busy marketplace. It wasn’t until I coupled my love of running with photography that I saw an opportunity for my work and it went from then. 

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. It always takes way longer than you think it should. You need patience and to play the long game or it’ll not work out. 
  2. That you can speed up to the process by doing great work and bringing more value to your clients than you offer. 
  3. There’s more monetary value to what you create than you give yourself credit for so put up those prices but don’t be afraid to work for free if the opportunity is great and could lead to lots more. It’s a risk and gamble game and you have to play smart. 

What three issues have you had since starting up?

  1. Admin paperwork and the boring stuff. Can’t stand it and it takes me away from the creative process that gives me the buzz. Outsourcing those parts of the business when I can has really helped. 
  2. Dealing with the feeling of not doing work. It’s ok to not work 27 hours a day. If you’ve put in a ton of work you need to let the universe catch up with all the pressure you’re putting on it. I often find the days I’m not ‘working’ (although I’m working everyday technically) are usually the days when projects get the green light or clients get in touch. 
  3. Working from home. It’s full of distractions and it’s easy to get pulled away from the work. It takes a lot of discipline. 

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

The best thing for me is being about to work with some of the best athletes in the world and build friendships I could of never of imagined in the industry. I love being able to create work from all over the country and take people’s breathe away! 

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

For me, the next steps is world wide domination lol seriously though I do want to move out of Europe and start working on events around the globe with my favourite sports. That would be cool. 

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

If you don’t love it, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. If you can’t love it even if it’s a hard day, even if clients are being difficult, even when no one’s coming back to you and you’re running out of money then you’ll not stick it out. You got to want to do it regardless of all of that, for the love of it. 

Ben Lumley

Speaking about freelance remote work at Creatives’ Club #18

I’ll be speaking at The Big House’s Creatives’ Club #18 on the 22nd January, with fellow digital nomad Kerry Needs. We’ll be talking about how we ran our freelance businesses from various places around the world – including why we decided to work remotely, pros and cons of the lifestyle and how to make it work practically.

More details and tickets at


A space to connect, network, forge relationships, hatch plans, collaborate, skill share, be curious, ask questions and discuss all things entrepreneurship, business and beyond.


To welcome in the New Year & our first Creatives’ Club of 2019, we are looking at the topic of “Running a Location Independent Business” with Kerry Needs, author of Freedom Seekers & Nick Hayward, from Freelance Freedom.

Recent studies have suggested that 80% of millennials would like to work remotely and lots of coworking and coliving spots around the world show that the ‘digital nomad’ trend is here to stay.

Together, Kerry & Nick will discsuss the future of work, working whilst travelling the world, freelancing and remote working, and designing your work around the life you’d ideally want to live.

They have taken their businesses around the world, living and working from places such as Thailand, Gran Canaria, Bali and Lisbon. They have worked in lots of coworking spots and stayed in coliving accommodation and are both passionate about communicating this new way of living and working.

Freelancer Interview: James Shaw, Volley Design

This week’s freelancer interview is with James Shaw from Volley Design. James works in-house and as a freelancer – a great option that can offer the benefits of both types of working.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m James Shaw, a highly motivated, idea led graphic designer working both as a freelance and for a marketing agency based in Somerset.

What led you to start freelancing?

Freelancing started for me over a year ago when I started getting small side projects from working in a Co-working space in central Bath. I started to really enjoy meeting clients, marketing my brand and managing projects. I officially went full time freelance in the June of 2017, when I met the amazing Charlotte Godfrey from the The Network for Creative Enterprise. This partnership offers business support for creative individuals and small companies to develop a creative idea into an economically sustainable business.

This platform allowed me to pursue my freelance business offering me support in starting my business, how to manage the business, getting my brand solid and gaining a network of clients.

What three issues have you had since starting up?

I think issues are always going to come around when running your own business and i think at times it’s good to have these as they allow you to learn and know if they are going to occur again.

  1. Getting clients to pay on time. This can lead to cash flow problems if clients do not pay on time
  2. Keeping track of all the admin I resolved this in the end by getting someone to help me with me social media and emails to give me more time to focus on client projects.
  3. Motivation – At first it was hard as my normal routine of work had suddenly gone and you have to motivate yourself to get into a routine. I found leaving the house and working from Co-working hubs worked extremely well, it meant you had a place of work and you had like minded individuals around you.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

Freelancing can be tough but it has its benefits. It allowed me to manage my days how best worked for me, to me this was healthier and helped me with workflow. The biggest reward is working on projects and being able to directly work with the client on what they want, it’s so pleasing to see your client happy and your work delivered and out there.  

You also get time to work on personal projects – something I am super passionate about and think all creatives do. For me it helps inform client work and lets me get all those ideas in my head onto paper.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

Right now I am enjoying the balance between my freelance work and also my employed work as a designer. I want this time in my work life to help move Volley Design to the next step and eventually allow me to financially go full time freelance again and build Volley Design into a design studio – big goals but you need to have these I think. I also want the business to explore new sectors to work in including event work and installations – I have always wanted to get involved in a large scale piece of design or even graphics for a concert… imagine how fun that would be.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?

I think if you’re looking to go freelance my advice would be just go for it…. Put everything into it and take all opportunities thrown at you, you never know where they will take you.

I would also say if you’re turning up to work and not enjoying it then it’s not right for you… move on and try something new don’t stick at it for the money… your creativity will suffer. Do what’s best for you at the time.

James Shaw
Volley Design

Freelancer Interview: Rachel Sarah, freelance digital media consultant

This week’s interview is with freelance digital media consultant Rachel Sarah. Rachel is a writer, photographer and videographer and can be found at

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Rachel Sarah. (Rachel Sarah is my business name so it’s easy to remember!) I work in digital media – marketing, photography and, recently, videography.  Mostly I create strategies, written (and some video) content for large businesses, whilst also doing events and personal photography.

What led you to start freelancing?

Since being in University I always wanted to be a freelance writer as I work best with my own scheduling and hours – I work best after midnight!

Since then, I’d freelanced in writing alongside my full-time jobs.

But after sustaining a really bad ankle injury and working from home at my last full-time job, I really didn’t want to go back into the office so I ended up quitting and throwing myself into full-time freelance life!

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?
That creating connections with people is key.
Rejection is par for the course, and that it needs to be embraced!
Don’t be scared of being broke – if you find yourself some recurring clients you’ll be set!

What three issues have you had since starting up?

1. Concentrating on my own projects (website, social media etc) as client work always takes priority – this is painfully obvious when comparing my own social channels to my clients!
2. Balancing my schedule with my partner’s 9-5 (I’m still usually working when he wants to spend time together).
3. Learning when to stop working.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

Being able to look outside on a nice day and go “you know what? I’ve ticked a lot of things off the list so far, I’m going outside for a drive/ walk/ climb”. The freedom you get with being freelance can never be oversold.

I’m a massively outdoorsy person so I love that ability to get out and be in nature when I want to.

You can definitely get a bit lonely sometimes but if you make sure you get out and work in different spaces and spend time with people in the week then you can definitely avoid that.

I also love the fact I can work my most productive hours. In the morning I’m useless; at 11pm my brain is overflowing with ideas and motivation!

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I’d personally like to move away from business strategy into the purely creative.
I think that this is definitely feasible to do as I grow more and create a team around me to do the marketing and social side of things!

My heart lies in storytelling/ creativity, not analytics – though you need both to run your own business.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?

  • If you can, find yourself recurring clients so you don’t have that month-to-month financial worry.
  • Creative jobs (especially online) are so important in every aspect of business you should make sure you value yourself!
  • Don’t work for free unless you WANT to (e.g. I’ve currently offered a local charity my video services for free because I have the a spare time at the moment and want to give back).