Pema, SafetyWing’s Nomadic Content Creator, is paid to travel and document 10 amazing coworking destinations around the world. If you want to see more about her trip to the volcanic island of Madeira, check out her YouTube!
The island is known for its traditional Portuguese food, wine, and old European charm. More recently, Madeira has drawn the attention of digital nomads and remote workers. The high quality of life, incredible nature, and low cost of living make Madeira great to work remotely from.
Madeira boomed during the pandemic. Throughout the initial lockdowns, stranded digital nomads managed to negotiate long-term stays in empty hotels. The next summer, more travelers flocked to the island, including myself. Now, there is a Digital Nomad Village in Ponta do Sol, a first-of-its-kind in Portugal. While I never visited the village itself, I lived in one of the hotels in Ponta do Sol and loved it there.
During my 3 month stay in Madeira, I managed to balance work, play, and social life better than I have ever before. While I was focused on work during the week, the weekends were spent hiking ancient trails, followed by traditional Madeiran dinner & drinks. It's a perfect balance.
Funchal is the capital city of Madeira and the most convenient place to stay on the island. Ponta do Sol is in the far west of the island, and a bit far from the mountainous center with the best hiking spots. Both have their pros and cons, but the cobblestone streets of Funchal hold a special place in my heart.
Cowork Funchal Monthly membership: 130€ (fixed desk)
Cowork Funchal is the most established coworking space in Madeira, operating since 2013. In 2017, they moved into their current building, a 300-year-old historic residence in downtown Funchal. The gorgeous stone kitchen turned into a lounge was my favorite feature. As for the space itself, the building has dedicated desks, private offices, meeting rooms, and hot desks available across 6 floors. The large outdoor courtyard doubles as both a flexible workspace and a bar in the evenings.
The Wifi was lightning-fast, and the atmosphere is very conducive to work. Best of all, the receptionist Cátia and co-founder André were both extremely welcoming and responsive.
Prima Caju is my favorite cafe in Funchal. Unfortunately, it got a bit too popular with remote workers and there's now a restriction on the hours you can spend working there. Stopping by in the morning or afternoon is still a treat though. Just make sure you avoid the lunchtime laptop ban!
The restaurant features a beautiful aesthetic and fantastic food. The Wabi Bowl and Avocado Salmon Toast were my favorites. And despite being "pricey" for Madeira, it's still very reasonable. Think 7 euros for the loaded avo-salmon toast. If you come with a full laptop battery, I recommend one of the tables outside. Sitting along the cobblestone streets really makes you feel like a local.
Good options for long-term hotel stays are at Estalgem, and 1905 Zinos Place. I stayed at Estalgem and loved it so much that I kept delaying my flight out of Madeira. Both options include discounts on amenities and double occupancy rooms.
Elsewhere on the island, prices aren't as affordable as they were during the lockdowns in 2020. But Madeira's still on the cheaper end of European capitals. Airbnb is always an option in Portugal, but we often use the local agency, An Island Apart. They specialize in long-term stays so their units come furnished with everything you need. Just make sure you book far in advance!
I truly believe that few places in the world rival Madeira for remote workers. For me, it's the warmth and graciousness of the local Madeirans that makes it truly special. As well as their willingness to share their island with you.
Along with that, Madeira is a hiker's paradise. The hiking culture and traditional irrigation system have left an extensive system of trails across the island. From lush waterfall walks to scrambling volcanic ridgelines, Madeira has it all.
So, head to a local taberna after work for some poncha, join a traditional hiking group or shop at the small Sunday markets. Share a warm smile and some warm coffee at a mountain hut. That’s the beauty of living on this magical island.
Are you planning to travel to Madeira this year? Check out our Madeira city guide created in collaboration with Gonçalo Hall, the founder of the digital nomad village in Ponta do Sol. If you enjoy this blog series, check out Pema's previous guide to working remotely from Cape Town, South Africa.