Lisbon has all the ingredients for a soul-nourishing workation. Standing on seven hills where the River Tagus meets the Atlantic Ocean, it is a city of breathtaking panoramas built on a rich maritime history. Today, it is a thriving modern capital with a relaxed pace of life, the friendliest people you will ever meet, and a highly advanced infrastructure for remote working. After taking a fulfilling three-day workation in Lisbon, we shine a spotlight on how to get the most out of a remote getaway in Portugal’s beautiful capital.
Disclosure: My Story Hotels provided a complementary stay at three of their Lisbon hotels in support of this workation guide. We may make a small commission when you book accommodation and travel experiences via our links, at no extra cost to you. We always strive to give honest opinions and recommendations.
Why Lisbon is a great destination for a workation
There is a good reason why Lisbon is known as the ‘City of Light’. With 300+ days of sunshine a year and cobbled streets filled with bright architecture, the Portuguese capital is guaranteed to uplift your spirits! And the warm climate makes it a joy to visit during any season. My visit was in January, with average highs of 15°C even in the coldest month of the year.
Many of Lisbon’s workplaces, from its vibrant coworking spaces to chic coffee shops, make use of the long hours of sunny daylight in their design. It is well established that natural light is great for productivity, as well as providing other benefits to health and mental wellbeing.
One of the main reasons we love taking workations – short-term trips combining remote working with exploration – is the reinvigorating effect of a change of scenery. Lisbon provides an enriching environment for alternating work with leisure, and lots of choice when it comes to setting up your remote desk.
It is a city that feels delightfully chaotic while simultaneously being very well connected. Its hilly neighbourhoods are a maze to explore at first, but it doesn’t take long to feel at home. And the excellent public transport network of trams, buses, trains, elevators and funiculars makes it easy to get around.
All of the basics are covered. Portugal has some of the world’s fastest internet speeds, and Lisbon is at the epicentre of this. There is a fantastically varied choice of characterful places to work and places to stay.
In between work shifts, there is much to see and do around the city. Reset with walks in the green parks and along the riverfront, weave among colourful weathered old townhouses, and seek out the incredible views at the many miradouros. At night, try the delicious local cuisine, a glass of Portuguese red and some live entertainment born right here in the city at a fado performance.
My Story Hotels: a memorable base for a Lisbon workation
Choosing accommodation for a workation is so important for many reasons. The place you wake up sets the tone for the day, and it will often be the setting where you relax and unwind after hours. The character of a hotel can enhance your experience and will be a big part of the memories you take away from a workation.
My Story Hotels has a fleet of five charming hotels clustered between the colourful Lisbon districts of Bairro Alto and the Alfama. Each is set in a different historic building and given a unique design that complements the characterful surroundings of this lively part of the city.
I stayed at three of these hotels – Figueira, Tejo and Rossio – each of which brings a different vibe for a workation. Check out my full review of My Story Hotels in Lisbon for the details about each location and what you can expect.
All within close proximity, the location of My Story Hotels could not be better for exploring the most intriguing neighbourhoods of Lisbon. You are also always within a couple of minutes’ walk from a metro station so you can quickly get across the city if you want to change up your workspace or go exploring.
Switching up your surroundings
We usually take the chance to mix up our working environment on a workation. It’s rare we will spend all of our working hours in a hotel; we will usually interchange between a desk in our accommodation, nearby coworking spaces and relaxed coffee houses. My Story Hotels in Lisbon is great for this because of its connectedness and relaxed, charming setting.
My Story Hotel Figueira, for example, has a restaurant and bar called La Squadra that transforms into a laidback café during the daytime. With a spacious layout, ambient high ceilings and secluded seats by the windows, I enjoyed doing a few hours’ work here while sipping a couple of specialty roasted coffees.
I also had a desk space in my room that I used in the mornings to edit photos with a fresh cup from the coffee machine, before heading out into the city.
At My Story Hotel Tejo, I could switch between the comfy lobby area and my cosy room desk, in the surroundings of an 18th-century Pombaline building with recycled original wood features, taking moments in between to enjoy the view from my balcony. Then, in the evening, it was just a short walk up to the Alfama for a fado show.
In the mornings, each My Story Hotel serves a buffet-style breakfast at a leisurely pace from 7am to 10am. On some days I like to get a little work done before tucking into some delicious hot food and Portuguese pastries, and other times I’ll eat early and then go out for a mindful walk before working.
The breakfast room at My Story Hotel Rossio is particularly charming, set in a restored old Portuguese café, and with stunning views over Rossio Square and up to São Jorge Castle on the hill beyond.
Self-catered apartments with work desks in Lisbon
Maybe you would prefer to have your own accommodation space in Lisbon rather than staying in a hotel. The possibilities for this are extensive, with hundreds of self-catered apartments scattered across the city’s neighbourhoods. We use Vrbo to find the best of these, which is a great platform for finding whole-of-property rentals.
Could you see yourself staying in the heart of the Alfama old town, working at a desk that faces out over Lisbon’s charming rooftops? You can do exactly that in this historic Alfama apartment.
We’ve picked out an extensive selection of the city’s best self-catered accommodation options in our guide to Vrbo apartments in Lisbon.
How to get around Lisbon
Each neighbourhood of Lisbon has its a distinct persona and appeal. It is quite a compact city, so you can wander quite easily between the different areas by foot.
A leisurely 40-minute stroll can take you from the majestic open squares of Baixa, through the narrow cobbled roads of Bairro Alto, across the leafy green parks and boulevards of Estrela, and to the chilled-out eateries and local markets in Campo de Ourique.
The public transport system in Lisbon is very efficient, and it also a part of the city’s character. Much of the city centre is connected by the old tram network; the sight of the yellow number 28 service trundling along is an iconic image of Lisbon. This old institution of the city passes through many of the most popular neighbourhoods, including the Alfama, Baixa, Estrela, Graça and Campo de Ourique.
Wherever the tram does not reach, you can access easily by metro, bus or train. The metro service is fast and easy to use, and also runs between downtown and the airport, making it a quick transfer when you arrive in the city and leave.
It’s a great idea to invest in a Lisboa Card when spending a few days in the city. Not only does the card give you entry to dozens of tourist attractions across the city, it also gives you free access to the public transport system. You can buy the card for 24, 48 or 72 hours, so it’s perfect for a short workation.
Coworking spaces in Lisbon with day rates
Lisbon has a welcoming coworking community that is thriving and growing with the city’s remote culture. Imaginative coworking spaces are sprinkled throughout the city, with options in the popular neighbourhoods, the quieter suburbs and everything in between.
After visiting and exploring nine communal workspaces across the city, we compiled a guide to coworking spaces in Lisbon, which gives an overview of the best options.
Many of the city’s coworking spaces have day rates or other flexible packages, allowing you to use the facilities during a workation. Here is a snapshot of the best short-term hot-desking options:
Avila Spaces has two stylish and fresh coworking spaces in the up-and-coming Saldanha district. It’s an attractive and well-connected part of Lisbon with a blend of cafés, local markets, shops and green spaces, woven together with a relaxed vibe.
Day rate packages are available at either Avila Spaces site from €20 per day. Atrium Saldanha, the newest site, opened in 2022 inside a shopping centre complex. It has a refreshing open-plan layout that integrates a stylish kitchen, auditorium and lounge spaces around desks and tables, and there are also booths and private spaces to access.
Across the road, the original Avila Spaces site has a moody library corner as well as an interconnected terrace area, so you can work outside or join social gatherings with the community, like Friday beers.
With three bright and colourful coworking spaces in Lisbon and hot desks available for €20 per day, IDEA Spaces provide a great flexible option for a workation. Short-term passes give you access to all three sites.
The most recently opened IDEA Spaces site in Saldanha is a vast complex of 12 storeys, incorporating an outdoor terrace, swimming pool, cafeteria, cinema room, quirky meeting room concepts, wall murals and a variety of workdesk environments.
Just down the road from here is another IDEA Spaces set across one huge floor in a bright basement level below the 19th-century Sotto Mayor Palace. It’s just across the road from the sculpted gardens and sweeping city views at Eduardo VII Park, a lovely spot to pop out for a break.
The original IDEA Spaces location is set in the restored old riverside industrial area of Parque das Nações. The workspace is perched on the 11th floor of a building with awesome views of the landscaped parks and contemporary architecture scattered along the river.
Resvés Cowork Space
Nestled on the cusp of the two laidback suburbs of Estrela and Campo de Ourique, Resvés is a coworking space with a buoyant community feel and an artistic spirit. Its walls are hung with the paintings of local artists, and exhibitions are held in the space along with regular group events.
A day pass is €25 here, or you can get a four-day pass for €88, and make the most of the flexible hot-desking facilities. A basement floor is laid out with comfy hammocks and a communal kitchen space, with doors leading off to specialist rooms, including a photo and production studio that members can hire.
Resvés is a great option if you want a friendly workspace in a quiet neighbourhood off the beaten track, but with plenty to see and do in close proximity.
Outsite Cowork Café
Coworking meets coffee culture at Outsite Cowork Café, an intimate workspace in the Cais do Sodré area. As well as being one of Lisbon’s trendiest neighbourhoods, this is also a hub for transport in the city, with its main station interconnecting the train, bus, tram and ferry links.
A daily desk at the café costs €17, or €70 for a week, giving you access to the communal working area in a room full of natural light, with windows facing directly out onto a neighbourhood street.
The concept is created for travellers who work, with no membership signup involved. It has a leisurely feeling that’s perfect for trawling through administrative tasks while sipping on a coffee from the café.
Coffee culture in Lisbon: laptop cafés
Lisbon’s homely coffee houses provide a less formal option for getting a couple of hours’ work done. If you don’t want to work full days on your workation, but instead mix short sprints of work between sightseeing, then cafés are the best place to do it.
Coffee culture in Lisbon dates back to colonial days, when coffee beans were first brought back to the city from far corners of the world. The scene continues to grow and diversify today as the city becomes more cosmopolitan. Independent cafés are a common sight along the cobbled streets, particular around Bairro Alto, and these businesses are increasingly catering for the needs of the remote worker.
Some Lisbon coffee houses have pushed back against the remote working trend. At Fabrica Coffee Roasters I had a delicious coffee, but there was no working here – a sign on entry proclaims “no wifi, only coffee”. Similarly, at Hello Kristof, a rustic coffee house, signs on the tables advise “no laptops”.
So, it’s best to know the lay of the land before you plan your movements around the city. I found a couple of coffee houses that are ideal for short working pit-stops.
While walking from Eduardo VII Park to Campo de Ourique, I escaped the sunshine for an iced coffee and to catch up on some emails in Simpli Coffee Roasters & Bakery. This chic café has a range of speciality coffees, and comfy seating areas where you can plug in.
Later that same day, I popped into Copenhagen Coffee Lab to recharge while wandering around the Estrela and Principe Real neighbourhoods. This is a chain of coffee houses with locations in Denmark, France and Germany, as well as several across Lisbon. You can pop in here, grab a Portuguese pastry and a hand-crafted coffee, find a suitable perch with plug sockets, and feel right at home with your laptop open.
Activities in Lisbon for your workation itinerary
Lisbon is rich in culture and history, and you could stay for months in the city without running out of things to do. There’s a lot you can pack into a short workation though, and in a few days you can take away a memorable snapshot of what the city is all about. Our guide to the top things to do in Lisbon will get you started with some ideas.
For sightseeing, investing in a Lisboa Card will give you free access to many of the city’s museums, monuments and illustrious buildings, and discounted entry to several more attractions.
Urban streetscapes and views
Much of Lisbon’s charm is in the layout of the city, with its sprawling hills giving way to wondrous views, and tall colourful townhouses dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Miradouros – viewing points – transform into atmospheric gathering places at sunset. You can find several of the most popular spots and hidden gems in our guide to the best viewpoints in Lisbon.
The city suffered a terrible earthquake in 1755 that reduced neighbourhoods to rubbled and claimed 60,000 lives, and you will still see the remnants of this when exploring today. For example, Carmo Convent was the city’s largest church before the disaster, and the skeleton of its structure still stands today, with sunlight pouring between its old arches. Other buildings, like Lisbon Cathedral, were rebuilt after the earthquake and are now celebrations of a city reborn.
Lisbon’s creative modern face can be seen in its street art. While wandering the suburban neighbourhoods you will encounter huge, impressive murals on the side of buildings, often in the least expected places.
Unwind with walks
Simply strolling around this city scenery is a fulfilling way to unwind on a workation in Lisbon. The historic old towns of the Alfama and Bairro Alto are mazes of cobbles and crumbled building facades. In outer neighbourhoods, like Estrela and Saldanha, you will find leafy gardens with water features to refresh among natural surroundings.
The waterside setting gives a calming quality to Lisbon. You could walk leisurely all the way from downtown on the shore of the Tagus to Belém, passing the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery and culminating at Belém Tower overlooking the estuary. Stop on the way for a Portuguese custard tart made with the original recipe at Pastéis de Belém.
You don’t need to travel far from the city centre to find golden sandy beaches. Lisbon is Europe’s only capital with Atlantic beaches, and these provide another way to de-stress. Stunning beaches like Praia de Carcavelos, Praia da Conceição and Praia de São Pedro can be reached in 30–40 minutes by train from Cais do Sodré.
Try to experience a fado night during your stay. Fado is a form of urban music that was born in Lisbon and has been an intrinsic part of social development in the city.
Fado remains a core aspect of the city’s identity today, and you can see a show at one of the many fado houses, especially around the Alfama and Bairro Alto. It has a simple form, with a solo vocalist singing storytelling songs of life in the city, accompanied by a guitarra player and a viola or bass viola player.
I enjoyed a great meal and show at Clube de Fado on a Monday night when it was a little quieter. It’s a really fun activity for unwinding in the evening after a hard day’s work. You will be well looked after by the friendly hosts, the food is amazing, and the music is sure to stir your emotions.
Authentic local cuisine
Food is an expressive part of Lisbon’s identity. Enjoying the local cuisine will add so much enjoyment to your stay, and you may be left wondering why Portuguese food isn’t as famous as Italian or French.
Owing to the riverside setting, seafood is often a core feature of local dishes. Grilled fish and vegetables is a simple but delicious dish served in many local restaurants. Try seeking out Último Porto on the riverfront for an incredible morsel of tasty fresh fish, among the unlikely surroundings of docks and shipping containers.
Casa da Índia in the Chiado neighbourhood is a brilliantly authentic local restaurant, with mosaic tiled walls and colourful paintings. Despite being in a popular tourist neighbourhood, it is favourite among locals and the prices are very cheap for the area. I had my best restaurant meal in Lisbon here.
For an immersive insight into the city’s food culture, there is no better place that Lisbon’s local food markets. The best known among these is Time Out Market, which combines a 19th-century traditional fresh-foods market with a modern gourmet food hall.
But there are many more around the city, varying in style and character. I took a particular liking to Mercado de Campo de Ourique, which is like a quieter, off-the-beaten-path version of Time Out Market. Walk inside and you will be hit by the aroma of spices and the sizzle of food cooking. Try the pica pau from the Portuguese tapas stall – it’s honestly one of the best things I’ve ever tasted! I’d go back to Lisbon just for a another dish.
See our guide to food markets in Lisbon for an in-depth review of four markets around the city and how to visit them.
Exploring further afield
Depending on the length of your workation you may want to explore beyond the city. As Portugal is relatively small and Lisbon is its nucleus, the capital is a great launchpad for seeing other parts of the country.
One of the most popular nearby day trips is Sintra, a magical hilltop town and UNESCO World Heritage site located around 30 kilometres and less than a 45-minute drive from Lisbon.
If you book a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra you can see memorable highlights of the town and surroundings, including the iconic yellow-and-red Pena Palace, the jaw-dropping cliffs of Cabo da Roca and the seaside town of Cascais.
Have you spent time working remotely in Lisbon? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.
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