“Work From Home” In Madeira, the World’s Top Island Destination

Justas Samalius | Unsplash

As remote work became the new normal in 2020, an entire industry of work-tourism sprung up seemingly overnight. Destinations like Dubai and Barbados offered incentivized long-stay work visas to lure remote workers, creating a generation of “digital nomads.” Madeira, an autonomous archipelago off the coast of Portugal, just upped the ante again with its Digital Nomads remote work program, which plans to welcome hundreds of workers this year.

Beyond just offering visas, Madeira is launching a nomad village of up to 100 remote workers at a time. The initiative started on February 1st when the first digital nomads will move into Ponta Do Sol village. The community comes with high-quality accommodations and is surrounded by stunning natural scenery.

Ready for the work-vacation of a lifetime? Here’s how to become a real digital nomad in Madeira.

Digital Nomads Madeira Village

The government of Madeira, in conjunction with a group called Startup Madeira, launched an initiative to bring remote workers to their scenic Atlantic island. As part of that program, a digital nomad village was created in Ponta Do Sol for up to 100 workers at a time, according to 150sec. Madeira is already one of the top tourist destinations on earth, but the Digital Nomads Village offers something entirely unique.

Remote workers in Ponta Do Sol will have access to a community Slack chat, a free workspace and internet, and exclusive events in the area. You’ll also get some help finding accommodations, but need to cover your own costs of living. The village will exist within the existing city, a gorgeous seaside town of fewer than 9,000 people. So in addition to meeting other jet setting remote workers, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the local culture.

“Between February and July, this project of Digital Nomads Madeira is expected to have a very positive impact on the local economy, whilst increasing the consumption in local businesses, facing the current reduction of tourists,” according to Startup Madeira.

The Ponta Do Sol nomad village will be open from February 1st through June 30th. If all goes well, the initiative may be extended or expanded, according to Lonely Planet. Not only might the Ponta Do Sol village continue, but others may pop up in rural parts of the island.

Plus, unlike other visa programs, Madeira is really flexible on how long, or short, your stay can be. Currently, you can apply if you’re willing to stay for at least one month but can stay for multiple if you’d like as well.

What You Should Know About Madeira

Before applying, you should get to know your potential future home a bit. In each of the last five years, the World Travel Awards named the Madeira Islands the world’s “Leading Island Destination.” Madeira’s stunning natural beauty, temperate climate, and exquisite cuisine help it triumph over better-known destinations like Fiji and Sicily.

Madeira Island is the largest and most populous island of the Madeira Archipelago and located about 700 miles from the coast of Portugal and 580 miles from Morocco. Officially, Madeira is one of two “Autonomous Regions of Portugal,” a self-governing island under the umbrella of the Republic of Portugal. As a result, Portuguese is the national language, and the Euro is the currency of Madeira.

Despite being one of the world’s premier travel destinations, Madeira is relatively inexpensive. You can find a home or apartment starting at around $700 per month, and expenses in Madeira across the board are typically lower than other European hotspots, according to Numbeo. For comparison, consumer prices in Funchal, Madeira’s capital, are about 25 percent lower than costs in Ibiza, Spain. Madeira is also safe for visitors, and the crime rate is low both in general and against tourists.

In terms of pandemic control, Madeira has significant prevention measures in place such as mandatory testing and masking upon arrival. The island is committed to creating a safe environment for travelers, and you can read the specifics of their safety measures here. 

Things to Do In Madeira

This island paradise is just 309 square miles but packed with fun and exciting attractions. Madeira is home to some of the most breathtaking views in Europe, such as an observation point atop the highest sea cliff on the continent. The Cabo Girão viewpoint offers a spectacular view of the island and surrounding sea and is a favorite spot for base jumping and paragliding for the more adventurous. You can find viewpoints across the island overlooking mountains, oceans, cities, and fields. Maybe the best view of all, though, is from the cable car that carries you over Funchal. 

The Cabo Girão viewpoint
The Cabo Girão viewpoint, via the Madeira Regional Tourism Board

Speaking of adventure, Madeira is the perfect destination if you’re looking for an active trip. The archipelago is a virtual playground for hiking, biking, surfing, diving, and paragliding, plus three golf courses on the island. Madeira does have some great beaches for lounging and sunbathing, but really has a lot to offer for the sporty type.

A surfer riding a wave in Madeira
A surfer riding a wave in Madeira | Colin Watts | Unsplash

There are also beautiful old-world buildings like the 275-year-old Monte Church, which also offers an amazing view of Funchal from a high hillside. Madeira is also home to Monte Palace, an 18th-century building now surrounded by a thriving botanical garden. One of the best ways to take in the history of Madeira, while also indulging in the best it has to offer, is a food and wine tour through Funchal.

The Madeira Botanical Garden in Funchal
The Madeira Botanical Garden in Funchal | via Pedro on Flickr

The Bottom Line

Phase one of Madeira’s Digital Nomad Village runs through June 30th, and you can still apply for a spot. Even if you don’t make it, there’s a chance the entire program is expanded and you’ll be living it up in Madeira in no time anyway.

You can find everything else you’ll need to know on Startup Madeira’s site and read even more about your future remote work destination. Bon voyage!