This beachside community just south of Porto has long been a destination for vacationers and religious pilgrims, and is increasingly a popular spot for Portugal’s digital nomads.
Located south of Porto along the coast of Portugal, Arcozelo is both an old settlement and a relatively young town. Referenced as early as the 12th century, the first official charter was issued in 1518, combining the settlements of Enxomil, Mira, and Vila Cha into the unified region of Santa Maria de Arcozelo. While the region has a long history, it was a sparsely populated area of quiet fishing and farming villages until the modern-day, and it wasn’t until 1988 that Arcozelo was elevated from village to town. Today, Arcozelo refers to two things: the town itself, and the freguesia (parish) in which it’s located. While the region doesn’t draw as many visitors as nearby Porto, its many white-sand beaches have made it a vacation destination for those looking to avoid the crowds of Portugal’s southern coast. The many churches and historical sites in the area are another draw for visitors, giving the area a growing reputation with off-the-beaten-path tourists.
Where to live in Arcozelo
The Arcozelo parish is fairly compact. You can walk from the northern Praia da Miramar to the southern Praia da Granja in about 45 minutes, so for navigating within the area you don’t necessarily need a car. If you want to explore the region, where you live will make a difference. For the easiest access to public transportation, Miramar and Aguda both have train stations. Drivers will instead find neighborhoods like Mira and Enxomil give them the fastest access to major roadways.
Best Neighborhoods in Arcozelo
The question of which neighborhood is best ultimately comes down to whether you want to live right on the beach or a bit further inland. While none of Arcozelo’s neighborhoods are particularly far from the coast, areas like Aguda and Miramar are mere minutes from the sand and surf. For those more interested in exploring the region, Enxomil is one of the best areas to stay, thanks to its close proximity to historical attractions. On the other hand, Vila Cha is popular with families since it’s close to area schools. Choosing the best neighborhood really comes down to what you’re hoping to get out of it.
Quick Facts About ArcozeloLike many of the towns down Portugal’s coast, Arcozelo started its life as a quiet fishing village--but don’t take that to mean it lacks an interesting history. Here are some quick facts about the parish and town you should know before you go:
There are more than a dozen Blue Flag beaches in the region.The FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) awards Blue Flag status to beaches that meet their criteria for accessibility, cleanliness, and environmental sustainability. Praia da Aguda, Praia de Miramar, and Praia das Rosas are just a few of the beaches with this designation near Arcozelo.
The climate is more temperate than the Mediterranean.Arcozelo doesn’t experience wide seasonal variation, but it’s also not as hot and sunny as what you’d experience further south. Highs hover in the mid-70s Fahrenheit in the summer, and though it rarely gets cold enough to snow, winters are chilly and damp.
One of its churches hosts an annual pagan festival.The Capela do Senhor da Pedra (Chapel of the Lord of Stone) on Praia da Miramar is a Christian chapel built in the 17th century. The site was important for local pagans long before that, though, and a three-day festival every Trinity Sunday celebrates this pagan past.
Wine lovers will be in paradise.Not far from Arcozelo is Porto, the birthplace and hub of the world’s port wine industry. While you’ll find the highest concentration of cellars in the city itself, you’ll find them throughout the Vila Nova de Gaia region where Arcozelo is located.
It celebrates its maritime history.You’ll see statues of fishing boats and other monuments dedicated to sea-farers throughout the region. Perhaps the most popular is the Estacao Litoral da Aguda, an attraction that combines an aquarium with a maritime museum.
It’s the resting place of a 19th-century saint.Saint Maria Adelaide was born in nearby Porto, moving to Arcozelo to recover from tuberculosis. Her body never decomposed after her death in 1885, just one of several miracles that led to her beatification in 2003. Today, her body is on display at the Chapel of Santa Maria Adelaide, a popular destination for Christian pilgrims.
It played a role in Portugal’s literary history.In the late 19th century, Praia da Granja was the top destination for Portugal’s top writers and artists. It was also an inspiration for Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, a famous poet who spent her childhood summers there.
The local people have a strong respect for tradition.Much of the fishing fleet that operates out of Arcozelo use the same traditional techniques that have been passed down over generations. Traditional music and dancing are preserved and celebrated, as well, with numerous festivals throughout the year where you can see them performed.
Work in Arcozelo
Tourism is a big driver of the economy in Arcozelo, especially in beach-side areas like Aguda and Granja. Agriculture, fishing, industry, and the making and sale of handcrafted goods are other employment options for locals. For expats, freelancing or working as a digital nomad is more common since traditional jobs in the immediate Arcozelo area tend to be limited to the service industry. Those looking to obtain traditional employment while living in Arcozelo will want to look into jobs available in Porto. This large city has a lot more to offer, especially in sectors like transportation and logistics, finance, and other professional positions.
How good is Arcozelo for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Arcozelo. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Arcozelo for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedPortugal has generally fast and reliable internet across the country. Arcozelo’s proximity to Porto means it benefits from those same high-speed networks. The average download speed is around 26Mbps, and you’ll get good speed from public Wi-Fi networks as well as home connections.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsThere are cafes in all of the neighborhoods of Arcozelo, most of which offer free Wi-Fi to guests. Here are the three favorites among local remote workers and nomads: Cafe Farol: This cafe near Praia da Aguda has both indoor and outdoor seating and great views of the beach. Its broad hours (8:30am-10:30pm every day) make it an excellent option for both early risers and night owls. Cafe Pai Heroi: This family-owned cafe in Aguda has delicious food and coffee, a friendly staff, and a cozy atmosphere. Since it’s open until midnight, it’s another great all-day option. Cafe Santa Maria Adelaide: This quiet cafe in Enxomil has a quaint patio along with ample indoor seating. The delicious coffee and calm ambiance are its main draws for remote workers.
Coworking SpacesThere aren’t a ton of coworking spaces in Arcozelo yet, although this has been gradually changing as more nomads find out about the area. Here are the top choices you’ll find right now: Casa da Prensa: This coworking and coliving space is a particularly good option if you’re looking for a community as well as a workspace. Their garden space gives you outdoor as well as indoor work options. Guesthouse Blue: This beachfront resort has free, reliable Wi-Fi throughout the property and the coworking space is well-furnished. It’s also conveniently located near Praia da Aguda. Centro Empresarial InovaGaia: The Incubation Center at InovaGaia offers dedicated offices and open workspace for entrepreneurs and freelancers, as well as strong Wi-Fi and amenities like print/scan access If none of the coworking spaces in Arcozelo meet your needs, don’t forget to check for options in Vila Nova da Gaia or Porto. These larger towns have more options, and are just a quick drive or train ride away.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsPortugal is one of the most affordable nations in Europe to live in, and the Arcozelo region holds to this trend. That’s good news for freelancers and nomads since you’ll have money left over to enjoy yourself after you pay your living expenses. The region’s natural beauty and mild climate are other draws, while nearby Porto expands the dining and entertainment options beyond the relatively quiet Arcozelo area. Add in Portugal’s open attitude toward remote workers and you’ll see why Arcozelo is a great place to be a digital nomad.
Visa RequirementsPortugal is part of the Schengen Area, so citizens of other Schengen nations don’t need a visa to travel to or work in Portugal, though you will need to apply for a residence permit within six months of arrival. Citizens of several other nations can stay in Arcozelo for up to 90 days without a visa, including those from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in Central and about 60 other countries around the world. For trips of longer than 90 days, you will need to obtain a Schengen Visa. Obtaining a traditional work visa requires verification from a Portuguese employer. Portugal also offers an EU Digital Nomad Visa that permits remote workers and freelancers to legally work in the country for a year or more. You’ll need to provide proof of steady income as well as a valid passport. The application process varies depending on your nation of origin, so you should check with the Portuguese embassy in your country if you want to go this route.
Food and Drink in Arcozelo
Seafood is front and center in the local cuisine--no surprise, given the area’s location along the coast. Among the top spots to get fresh seafood are Restaurante Sabor-A-Mar and Neptuno Restaurante & Bar, whose location right on the shore also makes it a fantastic place to take in some views. A Cabana is another sea-side option, and is known for their delicious crab. If you’re looking for the best traditional Portuguese food, Restaurante Kurika in Espinho has a broad menu and great wine list of local varietals. Areal Praia (Myanmar) is another favorite of locals, especially for their grilled fish. Those more in the mood for steak and burgers will want to head down the coast to Restaurante Esconderijo in Aguda, who are also known for their delectable desserts and sangria. While there aren’t a ton of international options in Arcozelo, you can find some pretty good Italian food in a few spots. Ciao Bella (Aguda) has some of the best pizza in the region. In the Vila Chao area, TuttiBuoni Pizzaria is a top choice for Italian-style pies. If you’re more in the mood for Spanish tapas, Torcatus Restaurante has a variety of Portuguese and Spanish dishes to sample.