Winner of Europe’s Leading Island Destination award for five years running, the Portuguese island of Madeira is looking to capitalize on the rise in numbers of a unique kind of traveler—digital nomads—by building a town entirely specialized for their residency.
Realizing this market was goosed by the rise in telecommuting, and that the staggering beauty of the island would be deeply appealing to digital nomads, Madeira has created Digital Nomad Village, a place with fast internet, exclusive hotel property, community events, and a free office space.
It’s situated in tranquil Ponta do Sol on the south coast, with views out to the Atlantic and a short drive from the capital of Funchal. Launched in February, the pilot program for the village will run until the end of June.
“Madeira Islands have the perfect conditions to attract digital nomads with its natural beauty, activities in nature, culture, and fantastic weather conditions throughout the year,” reads the village’s website. “There was an urgent need to create an integrated strategy to attract this market, in order to make Madeira also known as one of the best places in the world to work remotely.”
This concept is being launched in partnership with the Government of Madeira, StartUp Madeira, and acclaimed digital nomad Gonçalo Hall. Hosting up to 100 nomads at any one time, residents must commit to staying for at least a month.
A leading island
Europe’s island travel market is fiercely competitive, with locations such as the Azores and their volcanoes, Sicily with its food and culture, the Greek islands with their long history, and Cyprus all battling for market share every holiday season. Madeira has nevertheless been considered as the best island destination in Europe for years.
On the same latitude as Casablanca, the Portuguese outpost is home to scenery that’s both rugged and gentle—and more like the Caribbean than anywhere else on the continent, with warm seas always close by. The rich volcanic soil, mountainous terrain, and forests covering 20% of the main island serve to cloak much of Madeira in natural beauty.
The forests in Madeira are unlike anything else on Earth. Laurissilva, or Laurel forest, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and an outstanding relict of a previously widespread type of forest that covered much of Southern Europe 15-40 million years ago.
Now ,however, this type of forest, with 79unique species of vascular plant, is found only on the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira.
Madeira was referred to as the “most enviable island on Earth” by author H.N. Coleridge in the 19th century.” Well now, if you’re a digital nomad, you can live and work there today.