Year-round sun and high temperatures, eye-watering sierras capped by idyllic white villages, taverns that churn out spicy shrimp tapas and the best Iberian hams, beaches of gleaming white powder and turquoise sea – there are oodles of reasons why remote workers might look to the home of flamenco and paella. But what are the best cities in Spain for digital nomads?
Cue this guide. It ranges from the sloshing swells of the Bay of Biscay in the north all the way to the far-flung Canary Islands out in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, all on the hunt for the finest cities for laptop workers in 2023.
It’s got options for all sorts, from islander surf towns where you can hike and hit the waves in your spare time to buzzy cityscapes where it’s all about glugging sangria into the early hours. So, without further ado, here are the seven best cities in Spain for digital nomads…
There’s no doubt that Barcelona deserves a place on this list of the best cities in Spain for digital nomads to settle. It’s actually one of the original DN towns, often mentioned up there with Chiang Mai and Medellin and Canggu as a fine place to strike that live-work balance. Things are slowly changing, mainly because of a big local backlash against medium-term rental platforms. However, we think the Catalan capital still has plenty up its sleeve…
The downtown core speaks for itself really. There are legendary neighborhoods like Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, which bring together Art Deco theatres, world-class shopping, and medieval sights. You’ll also be able to wander under the legendary spires of La Sagrada Familia in those parts, and taste tapas until you can taste no more.
But Barca, as the locals often call it, is as edgy, as different, as surprising as they come. It’s a beach town at heart. Come May, you can spend your evenings lazing by the side of the Med. Come winter, there are surf breaks on offer. It’s also fringed by lesser-known quarters like Gràcia and El Born, where you won’t feel so much like a camera-touring tourist but more like you actually live there!
San Sebastian is simply lovely. Hugging a series of conch-shaped bays on the Bay of Biscay, it often feels more French than Spanish. The Parte Vieja old city is the hub of it all. Head there to be inundated by beer halls and kitchens selling hearty pintxo (the Basque Country’s answer to southern tapas). Alternatively, live along the seafronts to have views of the wild ocean from your window.
Adventure-loving nomads are sure to find lots to like here. First off, the urban beach of Zurriola is a surfer’s mecca. What’s more, the greater breaks of both Spanish and French Basque Country are accessible in a short drive. Backing that up, literally, are the mountains of the Pyrenees. This far north they are lush, leafy affairs that top out on the meadows of the idyllic Peñas de Aya.
Life here is likely to be filled with good food, good wine, plenty of hiking, and waves that you can score all to yourself. The downside is that prices are on the rise – the budget of a nomad from five years ago is now stretched a touch thin in little San Sebastian.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
A gateway to one of the most wonderful of Canary Islands, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the closest thing that Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic has to a proper metropolis. Okay, so it’s only home to 320,000 people. But that’s enough to give a chic and happening old town area and a series of lively promenades packed with cocktail bars and pubs.
The real reason we’d recommend choosing this as your next DN hub, though, is the fact that it’s got a whole island of outdoorsy draws right on the doorstep. Hiking to the summit of 1,949-meter-high Pico de las Nieves, surfing on the breaks of La Cice and El Lloret, and strolling through the mossy laurel woods of the Parque Rural de Doramas – it’s all in a day’s work.
Back in the city and you can also enjoy one of the biggest carnival festivals outside of South America and a gastronomic scene that brings together Indian and African cooking. If we had to pick a downside, it’s that things tend to be a touch pricier here than in many cities on the mainland.
Yep, the big, boisterous capital of the country is certainly one of the best cities in Spain for digital nomads to settle. It’s a town of serious superlatives. Sat up on the central plateaus of the nation, it’s Europe’s highest-altitude capital (at 2,100 feet above sea level). It also counts the world’s highest number of aligned urban trees – that means plenty of greenery. And it’s got one of the continent’s highest life expectancies at birth.
We’d put it a bit more simply: Madrid is fun. Come the evenings – the balmy, breezy evenings – districts like Chueca and Malasaña go into overdrive. They pump with clubs and bars and open-air terraces. Meanwhile, there’s tapas by the bucket-load being served up on the cobbled streets of the Barrio de las Letras and La Latina, while chic Salamanca is all about fashion shops and Michelin dining.
Of course, Madrid isn’t for everyone. It’s loud, noisy, hot, and huge. It’s also not by the coast. In fact, it’s not even close. If you’re a nomad on the hunt for waves and beaches, then you’re looking at a drive of at least 4.5 hours before you get what you’re after!
Valencia sits in an enviable third place among all the cities in Spain on Nomadlist’s rankings of the top places for digital nomads in the country. It’s got there by ticking all the boxes: Average internet speeds of over 35mbps? Check. A cost of living that’s around about the $2,700/month mark? Check. A high score for quality of life and low air pollution? Check.
But you won’t get a feel for the true joys of Valencia unless you delve deeper than what the numbers say. Uber historic, the town dates all the way back to the Roman era. It’s got some of the grandest remnants of the medieval Moorish period in the form of the Valencia Cathedral and the La Lonja de la Seda merchant exchange. And it’s home to an enthralling old town that buts up to leafy gardens built into the old courses of the Turia River.
The town also happens to flaunt unquestionably the most thought-provoking combo of museums in the south of the country, collectively known as the City of Arts and Sciences. Oh, and it’s basically halfway between the beaches and the mountains, so you get hiking and sunbathing alike. What’s not to love?
Accessible Malaga, with its own big airport and connections to the major south-coast motorways that cross southern Spain, has long been written off as a bit of a steppingstone before the joy of the Costa del Sol beaches. That’s not right at all…
There’s just something alluring about the way the sunset hazes a purplish-orange above the Moorish domes of the Malaga Alcazaba come a balmy July evening. There’s something exciting about the buzz that’s now carrying on in the boho quarter of Soho, where street artists and start-out tech companies are setting up shop. There’s something tempting about being this close to the award-winning beaches of the Costa del Sol, which spread out to the west and south.
Striking a nice balance between local life and summer tourism, this is the town that gave the world Picasso – you won’t be short on creativity! It has art galleries, medieval castles, pumping nightlife, and urban sands galore. Tempted yet?
Javea has ploughed along as one of the lesser-known resort towns of the Costa Blanca for some decades. Recently, though, it’s started drawing the attention of nomads and remote workers thanks to its low-key vibe and irresistible array of both beaches and sierras. Today, it sits in 10th place on Nomadlist’s rankings for Spain overall. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Huddled into a wide bay that’s fringed the whole way along with cinnamon-tinged sand and waters of pure sky blue, it’s a cracking spot for those who like to swim and soak up the rays on their weekends off. You’ve got all sorts of choices, from popular Platja de la Grava at the north end of town to Arenal Beach to the south.
Javea has another major plus card, though: The rugged mountains of the Parc Natural del Montgó. They rise just to the north in a symphony of pine-scented limestone bluffs, hosting caves where humans have thought to have lived for 30,000 years. They also offer endless adventures for hikers and bikers, with trailheads beginning right in the town itself – see, no need to have your own car!
The best cities in Spain for digital nomads to settle – our conclusion
There are oodles of options on the table when you come to look for the best cities in Spain for digital nomads. From medieval Moorish towns where cathedrals loom over café-filled piazzas to hidden Andalusian ports with beaches bursting from their tapas-filled seams, you’ve got all sorts to pick from in this fantastic country. This guide aims to whittle the selection down to just seven. It’s an eclectic mix, including the happening capital of Madrid (best for partying nomads), the hub of the Canaries (for surfers and hikers), and the beach town of Javea (for chilled beach nomads).