Expat Essentials

Sarah Nagaty in Portugal: Lisbon’s Top-5 free workspaces for digital nomads and students


Lisbon is growing as a hot destination for digital nomads. The city has it all: great weather, friendly people, affordable lifestyle, and an increasingly vibrant cultural and artistic scene.

However, digital nomads’ life is not as easy as it may seem. Many challenges present themselves to digital nomads such as making friends, discovering the tips and tricks needed for everyday life, getting accustomed to a new language, etc.

One of the most pressing challenges is where to work.

A digital nomad only needs his/her laptop and will be fine working anywhere. There is an increasing number of shared workspaces in Lisbon now. However, these workspaces only work for you if you are making really good money from your digital nomad life. In other words, they are not for everyone as they are quite expensive.

Luckily, Lisbon is full of beautiful, comfortable libraries which will do perfectly for digital nomads on a low budget. They are not only great for digital nomads, but also for foreign students coming to Lisbon and do not know where to study.

You will definitely find one of the following libraries/workspaces close enough:

Galveias Palace

This is a Portuguese palace from the 17th century which was converted to a municipal library early 20th century, making it one of the oldest municipal libraries in Lisbon.

Located near the Campo Pequeno bullring, it is a beautiful place to work or study. The ornaments on the walls and the ceilings give whichever task you are set out to do some kind of importance. There is also an outdoor terrace if you fancy working in the sun.

There is a cafeteria in the palace’s garden and a wireless connection which is acceptable.

Biblioteca Palácio Galveias, Campo Pequeno 1049-046 Lisboa, +351 218 173 090

My tip: You will need to go there as early as possible as it fills up very quickly.

Sao Lazaro

In Desterro (which is super close to Intendente and Anjos) lies a very cute small library called Sao Lazaro. The library goes back to the 19th century and is only known to the locals living in neighbourhoods nearby.

The library is close to a small park called Campo dos Martires da Patria. If you feel like taking a break, you can sit in the park and grab an
ice cream from Miu, a proper Italian ice cream shop. The Internet connection is actually good and usually there are not many people there.

Biblioteca de São Lázaro, Rua do Saco, 11169-107 Lisboa, +351 218 852 672

My tip: Just check out the working hours on Google first as they close on some days for lunch, but they are mostly open during lunchtime.

The Gulbenkian Art Library

Located quite centrally, The Gulbenkian Foundation is one of the most important art foundations in Portugal.

It was built mid-20th century and encompasses a museum, an orchestra and a choir, an art library, a scientific research institute and a beautiful garden. The library has quite comfortable chairs and there are electrical outlets everywhere.

As you sit and work there, you get a view of the garden through the huge glass windows. You can take a break in one of the foundation’s cafes. They also make nice lunches and fresh juices.

The internet connection is quite good.

The Gulbenkian Art Library, Av. de Berna, 45A, 1067-001 Lisbon
+351 21 7823000

My tip: You will need to create a library card which staff can issue in few minutes. It only works if you are working/studying on something relevant to art.

Library of the Cervantes Institute

This not-very well-known library is a great find. You will probably find no one else but yourself there (unless I happen to be there too… sorry!)

The staff is very friendly and it has air conditioning for the hot summer days. There is also a free cold water dispenser and a very good Wi-Fi connection.

It is in Avenida with loads of cafes and restaurants nearby.

Cervantes Institute, R. de Santa Marta 43F, 1150-140 Lisboa, Portugal, +351 21 310 5020

My tip: The only downside is that there are no electrical outlets except in one place. Make sure to charge your laptop before you go.

Café de Garagem

This is a real local’s hidden gem. If you feel like a change from the libraries’ ambiance, try out Café de Garagem. It is located in Taborda Theatre near the Castle of Sao Jorge.

They have good Wi-Fi, really nice desserts, and the view over Lisbon is a killer. It is not a zero-cost place like the previous ones, but you could have a coffee for less than two euros there while enjoying the great view.

Café de Garagem, Teatro Taborda Lisbon, Portugal, +351 21 885 4190

My tip: It is not the quietest place to work in, but if you don’t mind a vibrant environment around, you will like it there.

This list is just a sample of interesting, budget-friendly places for work and study. There is much more to discover. Lisbon never ceases to surprise us.

During your stay in Lisbon, you will come up with your own list, too.

About the author:

Sarah Nagaty is a PhD researcher of cultural studies in Lisbon. She’s lived in Portugal for two years.

As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kind of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.

See Sarah’s review of O Mondego here.

See Dispatches’s Lisbon story archive here.

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