The first Digital Nomad Village in Europe was created this past February 2021 on Madeira Island by a joint public and private sector initiative to stimulate economic activity and draw in digital nomad travelers. The village is in Ponta do Sol, a small town in the southernmost area of the Island located thirty minutes from Funchal, where digital nomads can find a village wedged into a valley with many banana trees, an amazing sunset, free coworking space, and a tight community of 100 remote workers (and over 500 across the Island) with amazing cafes, restaurants, bars and an incredibly local Island vibe.
The village was re-created by Digital Nomads Madeira, a project founded as a partnership between the Regional Government of Madeira, StartUp Madeira and Goncalo Hall, a local Portuguese digital nomad from Lisbon, along with local accommodation partners with the main goal to attract digital nomads from around the world to come to work and experience the natural beauty on Madeira.
The pilot project of the village started February 2021, in Ponta do Sol, and will run until June 30th, but is expected to continue and to expand to other nearby villages on the Island.
Informations about Madeira
Madeira is the major island of Madeira Archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal, that is composed by another inhabited, Porto Santo, and two uninhabited groups of small islands, Desertas and Selvagens. The Island has been recognized multiple times as the “World’s Leading Island Destination”, by the World Travel Awards.
Madeira has around 267 thousand inhabitants spread over a total area of 740 km2. The Island is located in the Atlantic Ocean, 900 km from Portugal and 500 km from the coast of Morocco. Its capital is Funchal, located on the south coast of the island.
In a regular year (not pandemic years) you can reach Madeira from many global cities, but even in these pandemic times, it’s always very easy to reach Madeira directly from many European cities. And, there are always quite a few flights from Portugal’s capital to the island and the flight lasts around 1h30m. All you need is a valid Covid test issued within 72 hours of arrival.
In Madeira people speak portuguese, but most of the inhabitants have a really good fluency in english due to it being a popular tourism island.
The currency in Madeira is the Euro (€) and the cost of living is similar to Portugal’s mainland. That still is one of the cheapest economies in western europe.
Due to its variety of landscapes and activities, Madeira is perfect for visitors of all ages and backgrounds, also perfect for families and digital nomads, especially if you love nature and hiking!
When to visit Madeira
Due to the mountains that go across the island, there is a big gap between the weather on the northwest (wet weather) and the southeast (dry weather). The weather is best on the south coast, but either way, Madeira’s location on the Atlantic gives it warm weather all year round, even in winter.
The water temperature is always between 17 and 24ºC and you have almost 300 days of sun every year. That’s why every time of the year is the best time to visit Madeira.
Where to stay in Madeira?
As a digital nomad, you can find great deals both in Funchal, Ponta do Sol or nearby Calheta. Digital Nomads Madeira signed a strategic partnership with two of Europe’s largest mid-term rentals platforms, NomadX and Flatio.
For digital nomads coming to the island, NomadX offers a 25% discount on service fees at checkout. You can get your discount using the code: DigitalNomadsMadeira, valid through 2021.
What is Madeira famous for?
Madeira is known as the mini Hawaii of Europe with amazing hiking, mountain lavadas (aqueducts) along hiking trails, waterfalls, banana trees in the south and for some famous personalities as Cristiano Ronaldo (football player born on the island). Madeira is also known for some elements of its gastronomy as Bolo do Caco, seafood and Madeira Wine, is also known for its New Year fireworks (that have entered the Guinness World Records more than once), along with other famous events around the year. Everyone also knows Madeira by its traditional costumes and Bailinho da Madeira.
Places to visit in Madeira
Madeira is a paradise for nature loving people. Although it’s a relatively small island, Madeira is very diverse and has a lot to discover! From lush green mountain hikes crossing waterfalls and lakes, hiking along lavadas mountain paths and its black sand and rocky beaches, in Madeira you have it all!
We suggest staying at least one month to see and appreciate the best places on the island, and the best way to do it is to rent a car and explore. Here are some places you can’t miss on the island:
- Funchal: the capital of the island is a beautiful city by the ocean with plenty of gardens and cultural sites.
- Ponta de São Lourenço: it’s the most eastern side of the Island and looks like a rocky desert. It’s called Ponta, because it is a small peninsula. You can cross it on a hike. Before arriving there you can find Prainha, which is a small and wild black sand beach.
- Paúl da Serra: the roads are to lose sight and the nature around them is incredible. Here you find the starting point of some of the most known Levadas, as Levada das 25 Fontes and Levada do Alecrim, that you can’t miss!
- Fanal: considered by many as one of the most beautiful places in Madeira. It’s weird shaped trees and the usual mist gives the place a mysterious aura.
- Pico do Areeiro e Pico Ruivo: Pico Ruivo is the highest point in Madeira, with 1862 meters tall, and Pico do Areeiro is the second highest. You can reach Pico do Areeiro by car, but only by walking at least 45 minutes you can reach the top of Pico Ruivo.
- Curral das Freiras: This small village is located on the foothills of the mountains, surrounded by them. You can reach it through a tunnel.
- Piscinas naturais do Seixal e do Porto Moniz: these volcanic pools that you can find in Seixal and Porto Moniz, combine the beauty of the rocks and its natural tunnels, with the crystal clear water of the ocean.
- Farol da Ponta do Pargo: it’s the most beautiful lighthouse of the island and it’s located on the west coast, in Ponta do Pargo.
- Cascata dos Anjos: located in Ponta do Sol, next to the Nomad Village, you’ll find this waterfall that falls on the road. You can clean your car or just have a bath.
- Porto Santo: Porto Santo is the other inhabited island of the archipelago. It is 40 km northeast from Madeira. You can reach it by a 20 minute plane ride or a 2h30m boat trip, and it’s a perfect place to escape for a few days.
This island has only 42 km2 and it is very different from Madeira. Its highest point has only five hundred meters. Here you can find a 9 km golden sand beach with therapeutic properties and crystal clear water. It’s a paradise for diving, well-being and relaxing.
Activities to do on the island
- Be amazed with the sunrise mountain top hike above the clouds in Pico do Areeiro, but check the weather in advance
- Hike to the 25 Waterfalls, Waterfall Risko and Lagoa do Vento (15kms) and go for a swim
- Surf in Madalena do Mar, Seixal or Praia da Machico
- Take a dip on the warm ocean around the island.
- Watch the sunset from the Estalagem Hotel on the cliffs above Ponta do Sol
- Try the grilled Lapas as a starter with a Coral beer
- Let your breath be taken away by the amazing views in all of the Miradouros (viewpoints).
- Have a meal of the day at Steak & Sun restaurant in the alley in Ponta do Sol for only 8€
- Have a drink and a meal at Mare Alta on the beach in Ponta do Sol for lunch or sunset
- Watch the sunset with a Caipirinha on your hand in Paúl do Mar.
- Drink one or two Ponchas (three is too much)
- Experience Canyoning.
- Go for a boat trip to see the whales and dolphins.
- Get dizzy in Cabo Girão.
- Try the exotic fruits in Mercado dos Lavradores.
- Try skydiving and paragliding with the ultimate Island view
- Try an Airbnb experience
- Trust the “drivers” of Carrinhos de Cesto, going down the hill in Monte.
- Join the digital nomads hiking WhatsApp group
- Join the digital nomads Madeira Slack group for updates on events, visas, accommodations, etc
Best restaurants on the island
The gastronomy in Madeira is very unique and diverse, and in most restaurants you have traditional food from the island. Here are some of the restaurants you can’t miss for traditional food:
- Abrigo do Pastor, Camacha
- O Polar, Câmara de Lobos
- Restaurante Santo António, Câmara de Lobos
- As Vides, Câmara de Lobos
- Faísca, Santana
- Steak & Sun (with vegetarian options), Ponta do Sol
Digital Nomad Village in Ponta do Sol
The nomad village offers digital nomads and other travelers, a free working space, local community events that are run by the digital nomad community and free super fast internet from 8am to 10pm at John dos Passos Cultural Centre. It also offers access to a Slack community, where the visitors, and future visitors share a community calendar, plus offer tips and ideas on Visas, accommodations, surf, announcements and Madeira insights. If you want to get a bit of FOMO then definitely check it out! You’ll also be offered help with the arrangements to arrive at the island and to live there. You can join here https://digitalnomads.startupmadeira.eu/
Ponta do Sol is located in Madeira’s south coast, a few minutes from Funchal. It has around 8200 inhabitants living in it’s 43km2 area. It’s considered to be the warmest county on Madeira, and the one where sun shines for the longest amount of hours. The city centre has had big developments in the past few years, with quality hotels and fresh small businesses, has restaurants and coffee shops all surrounded by banana trees. Next to Ponta do Sol is the town of Cahelta which will be the next official nomad village on the island followed by others in the near future.
Why is Madeira perfect for Digital Nomads?
As you could see along the article, in Madeira you can find everything you need to live on the island as a digital nomad. You have friendly local hosts, affordable accommodations, fast wifi, great food, proximity both to the ocean and the mountain, activities for every taste and much more…! Don’t miss the opportunity to live,work and travel to “World’s Leading Island Destination” to experience life as a digital nomad but also as a true local.