3 Underrated Destinations In Europe For Digital Nomads

As the digital nomad trend continues to grow, more and more remote workers are flocking to mainstream remote-friendly destinations. As a result, these areas are getting more expensive and crammed with visitors.

A lot of people think that only popular hotspots, such as Costa Rica and Bali are places with a thriving digital nomad scene.  In reality, there are tons of underrated and lesser-known cities with budget-friendly options, fewer crowds and lots to explore.

If you’re looking for a unique and offbeat digital nomad experience, check out our three recommended hidden gems in Europe.

Riga, Latvia

Although it may not be the first name that pops into your head, Latvia recently launched its digital nomad visa program. Its pristine natural beauty and unspoiled ecosystem, which spans nearly half of its total territory, has been rapidly gaining traction among remote workers.

Compared to numerous other destinations in Europe, Latvia offers relatively low taxes along with a high quality of life. Despite being home to a modest population of two million inhabitants, it stands out for its fast-growing economy. 

Digital nomad visa 

The Latvia Digital Nomad Visa permits freelancers and international remote workers to reside in the country for a year with an option to renew it for an additional year. After two years of legal residence, you’re eligible to apply for permanent residency in the country.

Another big plus for digital nomads who’re looking to apply for an EU passport is that if you’ve lived in Latvia for five years you can apply for citizenship. And, once you’ve an EU passport, you can travel to 26 Schengen countries visa-free!

You can make its capital Riga your base, which has excellent transportation links and direct flights to various European countries. You can take a non-stop flight with Air Baltic and reach Sofia (Bulgaria) within three hours.  And, the most frequently departed route from Riga is to Helsinki (Finland), with nearly eight flights every day. 

Lifestyle and attractions

The largest metropolis in the Baltics, Riga is home to an ever-evolving community of start-ups, business owners and creative folks. There are bustling restaurants, airy green parks and everything you’d expect for a vibrant fast-paced capital.

Its most popular area is the oldest part of the city, fittingly called Old Town or Heritage Center. This UNESCO-listed neighbourhood is historic and lively, famous for its stunning architecture in different styles. You’ll find impressive buildings inspired by Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, classicism and modernism. Among its most notable landmarks are the Dome Church and St. Peter’s Church, which offers stunning views of the city from its 72-meter-high tower observation deck. 

You can also enjoy Riga’s captivating architecture from a unique vantage point by opting for a boat tour along the Daugava River. You can admire the scenic skyline and storybook bridges that grace the waterways. Another popular experience is the super-fun beer bike ride, where you pedal a 15-seater bicycle around the vibrant streets of the city.

While you’re here make sure to also experience the famous Forest Trail that spans 2141 km. It’s a perfect getaway from the rut of city life, where you can breathe fresh air, enjoy quiet time and trek through lush pine forests. This long-distance trail is especially popular during the summer season. While it begins in Lithuania, it continues through Riga – which can be your starting point – and ends in Tallinn (Estonia), covering three national parks. 

Work culture

The Latvian capital also has over 1,000 free Wi-Fi spots. While it has several co-working spaces and internet-savvy cafes, The National Library of Latvia is one-of-a-kind with picturesque views of the Old Town. You could access its library as a visitor or register for membership if you’re staying for an extended period of time. You’re also given personal lockers to store your belongings as you’re not allowed to carry bags inside the library. 

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Riga is the summer months when you can enjoy the Baltic sun. There are tons of outdoor events, farmers markets and cultural gigs where you can meet people and make friends. During the Midsummer Festival that takes place in June, locals celebrate summer solstice, light a bonfire and share. Positivus festival in July is one of the most popular music festivals. This year it’s expected to be headlined by international artists, Jason Derulo. 

Tbilisi, Georgia

Picture living in a place that offers a seamless blend of European and Asian cultures, where you can enjoy scenic outdoors, an affordable lifestyle and some of the best wine in the world. Georgia is a small country in the Transcaucasus region. Its capital Tbilisi stands at the crossroads of the East and West, embodying a fascinating multicultural heritage.  

Digital nomad visa 

Georgia has a very flexible visa-free policy that welcomes over 95 nationalities for a year without a visa. You can work or study without any special permits. However, it’s important to note that if you spend more than 183 days, you inevitably become a tax resident. Hence, for many digital nomads who run their own businesses or operate as freelancers, it’s common to register as a solo entrepreneur and make most of the 1% tax rate.

Lifestyle and attractions 

Transportation in Tbilisi is affordable and convenient, with options like e-scooters, mopeds, and bicycles readily available. The city is also well-known for its vibrant nightlife scene, with popular clubs such as Bassiani, Khidi and Mtkvarze. 

A great way to unwind after a long workday is relaxing in one of Tbilisi’s famous sulfur baths, which costs approximately 70 Georgian Lari (=around 26$). The neighbourhood of Abanotubani, which literally means bath district, offers numerous options, including popular ones like  Chreli Abano, Gulos Abano and Orbelianis Abano. 

The local markets, including Dry Bridge market, are where you’ll find the most unique and vintage items, souvenirs and handmade items. The fascinating Museum of Illusion and Wine Museum are some other fun things to check out. 

Work culture

Terminal, located across the city, and Impact Hub on Ninoshvili Street, are the most popular co-working spaces. You can buy a daily, weekly or monthly pass. While English is commonly spoken, learning a bit of the local language will come in handy. 

Best time to visit 

In late spring, the city blooms with pink cherry, plum and magnolia blossoms. If you’re visiting Tbilisi in October, another fantastic time and when winemakers are harvesting grapes across Georgia, be sure to participate in the Georgian Wine Festival, which offers free entry. You can taste an assortment of local wines, cheeses and pastries, and meet people from around the world. 

Ljubljana, Slovenia 

Ljubljana is located in the heart of the country. It’s considered one of the greenest places in Europe and is often a starting point for travellers who want to explore Slovenia’s verdant countryside or  even hidden gems like Maribor or Celje.

Digital nomad visa 

While Slovenia doesn’t yet offer a dedicated visa to digital nomads, it has a self-employment visa, valid for one year initially.  To obtain it, however, you must enter the country on a short-term Schengen visa and register yourself as a local business before applying for the self-employment visa. Many remote workers choose to relocate to Hungary, which shares a border with Slovenia because it offers a one-year digital nomad visa. You can then explore Slovenia for 90 days and spend the rest in Hungary. 

Lifestyle and attractions

The country’s main international airport is the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, just 25 kilometers away from the capital, with multiple non-stop flights. If you’re coming from Italy, Austria, Hungary or Croatia, driving down can be an option, thanks to the efficient road network. Slovenian Railways is the national railway operator and runs regular train services. It’s the most scenic way to travel.

Ljubljana has a big drinking culture, especially slivovitz, a local drink made from plums and other fruits. The city center and Old Town are popular among digital nomads and offer a bustling atmosphere, vibrant pubs and lively bar scenes. You’ll find plenty of options for wine and beer. There are many local breweries and taverns throughout the city, and popular clubs include the Metelkova Art Centre.

Work culture

Ljubljana is renowned for its top-notch universities and excellent student exchange programmes.  As the remote work community here is still growing, it’s best to learn a bit of the local language and spend time working outside or from a cafe to make the most of time here. 

Lolita is a charming coffee shop and bakery near Triple Bridge. It’s especially popular among digital nomads and one of the best places to socialise.   

Neboticnik Skyscraper has the most picturesque views of the city with a breezy open-air terrace great to work out of. 

Best time to visit 

February is a good time to visit if you want to witness the iconic Ljubljana Dragon Festival, where locals adorn carnival figures, dance, watch puppet theatre and enjoy brass bands. 

However, summers in Ljubljana are truly special. You’ll find something unique almost every weekend.  You can take day trips to Lake Bled and the Peričnik Waterfalls, catch jazz bands perform on the streets and watch cinema under the stars. 

The Ljubljana Summer Festival spans from June to September and is free of charge. It’s internationally renowned for featuring rock and jazz artists, theater and ballet performers, and opera stars.

Build your own itinerary here

As the trend of digital nomadism flourishes, lesser-known cities like Riga, Tbilisi, and Ljubljana emerge as hidden gems, offering unique experiences, friendly visa policies, and rich cultural landscapes. These destinations, not only provide budget-friendly options and a less crowded environment, but they also offer an unparalleled fusion of work and travel experiences, proving that you don’t need to limit yourself to mainstream locations to enjoy a thriving digital nomad life.

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