Now that I’ve been location independent for more than 8 years, I feel it’s time to update my list of the best cities in Europe for digital nomads. My new recommendations are influenced by travel and work style as well as where I’ve had the best experiences.
In this guide for digital nomads, I break down the top cities for remote work and living.
Firstly, I discuss opportunities and access to the following:
Secondly, I make European city recommendations based on the following features:
- Networking Opportunities
- Healthy Lifestyle
- Fast Internet
- Writing Retreat
- Lower Cost of Living
- Coworking Opportunities
- Proximity to the Beach
- Fun Nightlife
- Best Overall
Best Cities in Europe for Digital Nomads
I struggled to work effectively in my early years of being location independent. Aside from going out and taking photos, I sometimes struggled to get anything done.
My productivity struggled by moving too often and not having a set work schedule.
At the time, I knew long-term travel works best when you travel slowly, but I didn’t put that into practice until a couple of years of travelling full-time.
Eventually, I accepted that I work better when I spend 3 months or more in one place and that I actually need a routine to get work done.
As much as I hate having a routine, I now admit it’s essential to getting stuff done and growing my business.
Of course, where you want to live, long or short-term, depends on your priorities, lifestyle and type of business.
You might do video editing and uploads, which requires super-fast internet, or maybe you’re a writer who doesn’t need fast internet but is looking for a quiet work environment.
Or maybe you don’t care where you work but want to live in a city with great nightlife or networking opportunities.
The possibilities are endless.
Cafes and Libraries
As for where I work, I usually work from home, which is more often than not a short-term apartment rental.
I’ll work from cafes for some tasks, like photo editing or social media work. But I find the noise quite distracting for more serious tasks like writing.
Libraries are great if I don’t need fast wifi as they’re often quiet. I can take a break and read a magazine or paper if I want to or pop out for coffee. It’s a nice environment for working, especially if you can find a quiet place.
Finding a clean, quiet, affordable apartment with decent wifi is a challenge at times. It’s important to do plenty of research before booking.
Scrutinise the reviews, double-check the location on Google Maps and message the owner about the wifi, letting them know you will be working from home.
You might want to ask for a discount for longer stays or if you’re travelling in the off-season. Although discounts are often mentioned on the booking page.
Note that some cities have a shortage of affordable housing which is sometimes exacerbated by apartment rental sites like Airbnb.
I suggest avoiding Airbnb in those destinations, instead supporting cities or smaller destinations that benefit more from long-term tourist revenue.
I’ve used coworking places in London, Budapest, Berlin and Vienna in Europe. Coworking can be great for improving productivity being around like-minded people can be motiving and helps minimise procrastination.
You’re also playing for your seat, so if you’re not working and being productive, you’re spending money for nothing.
The other advantage is that you get to meet people during your breaks or at events.
Best Cities for Remote Work
So where should you go? Browsing sites like Nomad List can be a great starting point as they cover a lot of the practical needs of what you might need in a short-term work base.
Once there, sites like Meetup or industry networking sites can help you meet like-minded people.
Be open to new experiences and you’ll meet people in no time, even if you’re an introvert like many digital nomads seem to be.
The following are my recommendations for the best cities in Europe for location-independent travellers or digital nomads, if you prefer. Whatever you want to call it, working remoting provides a lot of opportunities.
For further ideas and thoughts on working and travelling in Europe, this post on the best places to visit in Europe lists 50 cities and towns you might find interesting.
Bigger cities are always going to have the best networking opportunities. Depending on your industry, you might prefer a different city, but for me, these are the top three cities for networking.
London, England: Every industry has regular events and meetups in London. If it’s within your budget, you can’t go wrong with London if you want to meet like-minded people and network.
Berlin, Germany: Great if you’re looking to get involved in startups or if you work in creative industries like travel.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam has one of the most multicultural communities in Europe and is great for meeting migrants, travellers and English-speaking locals.
If you’re more concerned about lifestyle, healthy eating, exercise and things like organic food, there are plenty of cities in Europe that prioritise wellbeing.
Copenhagen, Denmark: The locals love to bike everywhere and organic food is huge. You can even find organic sushi, which was a first for me. Read this guide to where to stay in Copenhagen for info on the best neighbourhoods.
Vienna, Austria: Vienna is big on brunch with healthy avo toast, smoothie bowls and organic coffee. It’s one of Europe’s most walkable and green cities.
Ljubljana, Slovenia: Ljubljana is all about the environment, sustainability, and organic products and they have the best quality water in Europe.
According to Nomad List, I’ve listed the top three cities in Europe for fast internet, but anywhere in Romania, Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania, or Norway would be a good option.
Eindhoven, Netherlands: 60 mps wifi.
Malmo, Sweden: 49 mps wifi.
Cluj, Romania: 40 mps wifi.
If you don’t want to be disturbed or distracted and want to focus on writing, these cities in the off-season would be a good choice.
Saranda, Albania: Outside of July and August, Saranda is calm and quiet and the internet is as slow as can be.
Sibenik, Croatia: Sibenik is incredibly peaceful, especially when you’re near the water. Try to find an apartment with views of the Kornati Islands.
Trieste, Italy: I spent a couple of months in Trieste. The city centre is bustling but everywhere else is peaceful and great for working. Like many places in Italy, the internet is slow.
Lower Cost of Living
If your budget is limited, you need to head east or to the Balkans.
Kyiv, Ukraine: Visitors always talk about how outrageously inexpensive life is in Ukraine.
Warsaw, Poland: Most of Poland is affordable and Warsaw has great cafes, nightlife and coworking.
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina: One of Europe’s cheapest and quietest capitals.
Working from a coworking space can boost your productivity immensely. I can’t believe how much coworking has helped my business and I’m disappointed I didn’t look into this sooner.
Barcelona, Spain: Home to Makers of Barcelona, Cloudworks and Betahaus.
Paris, France: Work from Volumes or Remix amongst other coworking places.
Vienna, Austria: Cowork at award-winning Loffice (also in Budapest) or join the makers at Maker Austria.
Proximity to the Beach
Being by the beach can help your work/life balance. Morning swims or an evening walk have helped me reduce stress and clear my mind for the workday ahead.
Sardinia, Italy: Home to some of Europe’s most incredible beaches. Sardinia is a great place to work if you don’t need fast wifi.
Cascais, Portugal: Affordable in the off-season and close to white, sandy beaches.
Split, Croatia: Beautiful scenery, city beaches and the WIP coworking space.
It’s been a while since I’ve experienced Europe’s nightlife. I would say Barcelona, Berlin and Budapest are the best but I’m sure there are many other cities too.
Vienna, Austria: If I were to move back to Europe permanently, I would make Vienna my home. It’s often voted the world’s most livable city and I have no doubt it’s true for both locals and short-term residents.
Vienna would be an incredible home base for digital nomads. Districts like Neubau, Vienna’s hipster district, have a great lifestyle with organic cafes, fancy supermarkets and amazing coffee.
You can join one of many coworking offices, it’s central for travelling in Europe and the people are genuine and kind.
Vienna gets my vote for the best city to live in in Europe and the best city for digital nomads.
It’s important to respect the local culture and laws in each place we stay. Be sure you have the correct visa and don’t overstay. If required, report your income and pay applicable taxes.
Here are some ideas for travelling responsible as a digital nomad in Europe.
- Preference eco-friendly accommodations that use renewable energy and sustainable practices.
- Stay in hotels in cities where affordable housing is limited and short-stay apartments push up rents.
- Use public transportation and active transportation, meaning walking and cycling to get around.
- Seek out local and organic food options to support the community and reduce your environmental impact, provided these are lower-emission options.
- Respect the culture and customs of the places you visit and try to learn about the history and local issues.
- Minimise your use of single-use plastics and limit food waste.
- Be mindful of your energy consumption and unplug electronics when not in use.
- Support local businesses and artisans by purchasing handmade and locally-made products.
- Try to minimise your impact by staying in smaller towns and cities and avoid over-touristed places.
- Be careful with the amount of water you use, take shorter showers and use water-saving devices when possible.
- Consider volunteering when in a new place. It’s a great way to meet people while helping the local community.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Europe. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.