We’ll start with a disclaimer; ‘digital nomad’ is a wretched term, and the sooner it is expunged from the history books, the better. Our dreams are unlikely to be realised, what with the establishment of the ‘digital nomad visa’, so we must accept the reality of the world as it plays out in front of us. Also, as much as we’d like to use different terms throughout this article, search engine optimisation is a thing. With all that in mind, let’s look at the best European cities for digital nomads! Digital nomads! Europe! Digital nomads in Europe!
As you can probably tell from our broad range of guides covering European countries, we are fond of this continent. There are some seriously splendid cities here, and many are of the eminently liveable variety. If you are a freelancer working in the digital world looking for a new place to call home, look no further than the 10 places covered in detail below. Europe’s arms are open to digital nomads of all shapes and sizes, whether you are a spinach-addicted sailor man, a revolutionary 1980s musician, a grumpy Portuguese writer or just a human trying to make a living writing code.
As Popeye was the original digital nomad, it is only fitting that Malta gets top billing. None of that is true, but we’ll take any excuse we can to talk about the spinach-guzzling loon, especially if it means imagining him trying to eke out a living as a software developer in the cafes of Europe. Malta flies under the radar in all things Europe, and that is a crime. The small island nation serves up more than 300 days of sunshine every year, a perpetually sunny place with fast internet and a keen eye on the freelance market, with the one-year Nomad Residence Permit ticking most of the boxes that a digital nomad visa needs to. Earnings must be at least £2,500 a month, and applicants must also have a rental contract. You might be wondering about the Popeye stuff, and we don’t blame you. Malta has an entire village dedicated to the belligerent sailor man, ostensibly left over from filming the 1980 live-action movie.
It could be the comforts of familiarity, but the merest mention of anything digital nomad conjures up images of days spent in Dalmatian cafes, fighting to remind ourselves that wine doesn’t help to-do lists get done. Croatia has long been ahead of the game on all things digital nomad, with a heavily pushed digital nomad visa being set up early on. The visa is valid for one year but can be extended after six months, and a monthly income of €2,000 is a must. Tick those boxes, and a gorgeous country awaits, no matter where you set up shop. Zadar, Zagreb, Šibenik and Rijeka are all fantastic options, but Split is Split. After all, you can smash out articles while sipping coffee in the house where Marko Marulić was born. If that isn’t digital nomad living, what is?
Lisbon is a must on all positive European lists ever, and this is no different. In fact, much of our procrastination is spent chastising ourselves for not upping sticks and heading there already for a life of vibrant azulejos and iconic Portuguese cobblestones. Lisbon is a dream, a city of gorgeous weather, delicious food, relatively low costs and the added bonus of all things Fernando Pessoa. Okay, The Book of Disquiet is relentless, but all is worthwhile if the soul is not small. Portugal has two options on the visa front; the D7 visa lasts from one to five years and only requires a monthly income of €600 (it can be a little heavy on the bureaucratic side of things), while the newly-introduced digital nomad visa requires a monthly income of €3,000 (four times the minimum wage) and is valid for one year.
We lived in Prague for a couple of years and tend to be bullish about the city, although that says more about us than the Czech capital. Praha is as gorgeous as its reputation suggests, and the districts outside the city centre are as fascinating as they are varied. Czechia’s freelancer visa is a bit frustrating to organise, and recent developments have seen the country focus its attention on workers in its rapidly depleting IT sector. If you enjoy broken conversations with bureaucrats who have no desire to help you, Prague is the city for you. Wait, all of this sounds decidedly negative, but there is a catch. The magic of Prague makes all the frustration worth it, and there isn’t a better after-work beer on the planet. Miss you, Hells Bells Rockin’ Pub. If you are an IT whizz and are looking to apply, you need three years of work experience (or a degree in a STEM subject) and an income of at least 1.5 the average Czech income. That means at least €2,500, or 1,456 beers in Hells Bells.
Bucharest is the excellent internet capital of Europe, home to the EU’s fastest fixed broadband speeds. Even if you discount the fascinating history and sweeping countryside of the country, the consistency of the connection alone makes it a haven for digital nomads. The government has clocked on to this, and the required monthly income amount has risen at an alarming rate, currently at €3,300. Still, it is worth it if you don’t have to bumble through video calls, right? The digital nomad visa is valid for one year, which can be extended for 12 months.
Budapest, you are cruel. You frustrate us in so many ways, but then you go and serve up a digital nomad platter that is impossible to resist. A one-year white card with a monthly income requirement of only €2,000? To live in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, a confident city with the continent’s most thrilling nightlife? Danube cruises? The chance to smugly remind everyone back home that it is actually two cities? Okay, Budapest (sorry, Buda and Pest), you win. Digital nomads love this place.
Sticking with low-income requirements, Albania offers a type D visa for digital workers that defeats all on the income part. To apply, you must prove that you earn enough to survive. What does that mean exactly? Nobody is entirely sure, but hey, welcome to Albania. The days of it being a hidden gem are long gone, but it remains a gorgeous spot to spend your time, whether in its historically curious cities or the glistening splendour of the coast. Tirana wins here, primarily because of the range of things on offer, its brilliant cafe scene, and whatever the heck that damn pyramid is.
Tallinn is the excellent internet capital of Europe. Yes, we already gave that crown to Bucharest, but we mean it differently here. Estonia was the world’s first digitised country and a place where Wi-Fi access is essentially a human right, and embracing all the internet offers has become second nature. Estonia was ahead of the curve on the e-residency front and was also the first European country to put together a digital nomad visa. You need to earn at least €3,500 monthly, but come on now, get your head in the game. Tallinn is romantic as heck, more romantic than heck, and you should probably live there already.
We tried desperately to choose a different German city for this exercise, but sometimes a hedgehog is a hedgehog. Berlin is a digital nomad paradise because of course it is. Europe’s most multicultural city is practically set up to embrace different languages, cultures, cuisines and traditions, and it is all the better for it. It is easy to imagine David Bowie sauntering in after receiving his freelancer visa, successfully proving self-sufficiency to the bureaucracy and settling into his pre-arranged address in the city before changing his work schedule to allow for maximum exploration and entertainment. At this point, you know what you are getting from life in Germany; it lives up to all the hype.
Latvia’s digital nomad visa isn’t as accessible as others precisely because it requires an employment contract for a business registered in an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) country, but it gets a spot on this list because it is absolutely marvellous. Small but perfectly formed, Latvia is ideally set-up for exploration, whether strolling around its small towns or lazing on its coast, with Riga thriving as a modern European capital. We have never had a bad time in Riga, including that one time we saw a dude hold a gun to his own head on a tram, but we don’t like talking about that. To get the digital nomad visa, applicants must earn 2.5 times the Latvian average salary, so bring in around €2,300 every month, and you are hot to trot.