Location: Lisbon, Portugal
The first stop on my digital nomad adventures this year was the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. I was due to spend 4 nights here, before travelling to Marrakech for 4 nights - but everything doesn't always work out as planned. More on that later.
There is a lot of buzz around Lisbon as a tech destination, plus it's known for sun and relatively low cost of living - so this was one I was looking forward to. If you're planning a trip to Lisbon as a digital nomad, here's the low down on where I stayed, worked and all there is to do.
Where to Stay in Lisbon for Digital Nomads
For the first few nights I stayed at an AirBnB in the center of the city on Rua da Prata. It was fine, but in all honesty you can get better value at a hostel or hotel, and the location of this particular apartment was a bit too far from the action.
Luckily on the 3rd night I moved into Home Lisbon Hostel. This was one of the best hostel experiences I've had - check-in was smooth, great location, very comfortable and super helpful staff. There is also an emphasis on social activities with walking tours, pub crawls and Mama's hot dinner served daily. This is an opportunity to sit and have dinner with your fellow travellers over a 3-course dinner - all for €10. This was a lot of fun and a great way to meet new friends.
Where to Work Remotely in Lisbon
For work I found a co-working space that offered a daily rate in Cais do Sodre called Cowork Central. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a proper work space when working remotely - and this place ticked all of the boxes. It opens till 9pm at night, costs €15 per day and really was an easy decision.
Sightseeing in Lisbon
Lisbon is a stunning old city to walk around. Usually bathed in sunlight and characterized with terracotta roofs and winding, hilly streets.
It's a very pleasant place to be without any 'must-do' attractions (in my opinion at least). One of the main sights is Castel de Jorge, set atop a hill overlooking the city. It's certainly worth the hike to see the views from the top - or if you are feeling a little less active 2 of the urban elevators, or Tram 28, will take you most of the way. Tram 28 is an attraction in itself as it takes you through the old neighborhood of Alfama.
On Sunday we decided to head outside the city to visit Sintra and Cascais. Sintra is a small town outside Lisbon that has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to Pena Palace, which is built into the surrounding mountain. After that, we visited the most western point in mainland Europe and Cascais, a cute little beach town where the real-life casino that inspired Ian Fleming's Casino Royale is situated.
Eating and Drinking
The two quintessential Portuguese foods are Bacalhau (dried cod) and pastel de nata aka custard tarts. Both can be found in many places, and as expected the more authentic the place, the better the taste.
Two restaurants stand out above all the others I tried in my time here. Sacramento do Chiado, located in a former palace (apparently), has great food and is located on the edge of the Barrio Alto neighborhood. Nicolau, which is right beside Home Hostel, is a great option for brunch - though be prepared to wait.
For the foodies out there, a trip to Time Out Market is a must. With 24 restaurants and 8 bars, there is no shortage of choice and the quality of what we tried was excellent. The best bit? It's just a short 5 minute walk from Cowork Central.
Situated nearby is the lively Pink street - the former red light district of Lisbon. It has been cleaned up from it's grimy past and now boasts some of the best nightlife in the city.
In terms of places to avoid; Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau is a tourist trap that offers bittersweet wine and tasteless, deep fried codfish. Be warned.
What I Didn't Plan For
As mentioned I was due to fly to Marrakech on Wednesday morning for the second part of the trip. However at the airport I realized my passport was no longer in my possession. What ensued was a process of police reports, embassy visits and organizing alternate travel back to Dublin - before the hostel contacted me to say that it had been recovered there.
This was a pretty horrible experience and I couldn't help but think about the 'what ifs?' the entire time. Ultimately it just reinforced that anything can go wrong on the road and the need to be flexible to deal with it.
So Morocco didn't happen this time, instead I was home early with some planning to do before I set out again.
Next stop: Lima, Peru