Is Ericeira, in Portugal, the European Bali? Comparing 7 Important Factors
Ericeira and its Digital Nomad potential – Many people consider Ericeira the Portuguese Bali and we, as Remote Workers, decided to compare the key factors and write our opinion about it.
Ericeira, on the west coast of Europe, in Portugal, is a rising destination for digital nomads. This charming Portuguese fishing town has been compared to Bali, the Indonesian island on so many digital nomads’ itinerary. We checked how similar they are on 7 of the most important factors for a remote worker when choosing a new temporary home. Read along and let us know your thoughts on it!
Are you looking for long-term affordable accommodation in Ericeira or anywhere in Portugal? Take a look into NomadX listings and find housing options dedicated to nomadic explores and remote workers, up to 45% below AirBnb prices.
Atmosphere and liveability
Perched on 30-meter high cliffs overlooking sandy beaches and enticing surfing waves, the small city of Ericeira has a relaxed beach vibe to it. The traditional town center with whitewashed houses and narrow streets is easily walkable as it is a relatively small town with little over 10 thousands inhabitants. The winters can be chilly, and the weather can be unstable all year round but most of the time is very enjoyable. English is widely spoken and the locals are friendly and open to tourism.
Ericeira, while being a well-known beach location, is not the most popular holiday destination in Portugal so it’s not crowded in the off-season. Ericeira is great for beach-going, surfing, relaxing but also hiking, mountain biking, SUP, yoga and eating out.
Bali is a popular yet beautiful island in Indonesia, with near 600 times the size of Ericeira and 420 times the population. The Bali tourism industry boomed over the last two decades. While some areas have been “ruined” by mass tourism (mainly Denpasar and Kuta), the majority of the island still has its original south-east Asiatic feel. It has two seasons, rainy and dry, and the temperatures are always over 20°C. English is spoken by those in the tourism industry but less so if you venture off-the-beaten-track. Public transport is extremely hard to use but rental transportation is cheap enough to be taken all the time. The island has many destinations worth exploring, from the coastal hipster Canggu to the rice-paddy yogi Ubud to the surfing paradise Uluwatu.
Related: Bali, Indonesia – Full Guide
Digital Nomad presence
The town has a fast-growing community of Digital nomads, with many infrastructures and events all over the town. There are several coworking spaces and a couple colivings having been created. There are a growing number of events and networking sessions being organized and several online communities. Plus, Lisbon is less than 1 hour away which is a European capital that is becoming a huge digital nomad & entrepreneurship hub for remote workers from all over the world. Ericeira (and Portugal in general), has a very fast Internet connection.
The Digital Nomad scene in Ericeira (and in Lisbon in general) is more professional hosting more start-ups and established entrepreneurs or freelancers.
Bali is an established digital nomad destination so it’s not hard to find like-minded people to spend the days with. It also means that it is very well-equipped to help you work. There are plenty of colivings and coworking spaces with dozens of online communities to get involved with. The most popular coworking space is Dojo, in Canggu, which is the most popular area for Digital Nomads in Bali.
There are many interesting events all year round, from simple networking sessions to more technical workshops like on coding or digital marketing. The main cities have good internet speed, but if you get a bit further connection may be affected. You can always purchase a SIM card and hotspot off your phone.
The Digital Nomad scene in Bali, comparing to Ericeira, is more superficial, attracting more social media stars than technical professionals, even though there is a mix of everything on the island.
This is one of the main factors why people compare these two destinations.
Ericeira has a HUGE surf scene, it is one of the focal points for Portuguese surfing. The diversity of waves in the area, along with their various degrees of difficulty, means there are always waves to catch for any surfer, from beginner to pro, all year long. A lot of surf shops have sprung up and there is no shortage of surf schools for those just learning. The best waves come in winter, when the water is pretty cold, only rising to 16°C. In summer the water temperature reaches the more enjoyable 20-25ºC.
Some surf spots are so good that both the WSL World Surf League Tour and the Quiksilver Pro Portugal have a date there. It’s also the only European World Surfing Reserve, established in 2011. 🤩
Bali is a Mecca for surfers. The water is warm, with a min of 25°C and a high of 30°C, so no need for a wetsuit, regardless of the season. Between the east, the south point and the west coast there are always waves to be scored. There are a lot of options for all skill levels, going from beach breaks to world-class reef breaks. Uluwatu, a small village 1,5 hours south of the capital, has several spots for intermediate or expert surfers. Kuta is a popular beginner’s beach, with a long and gentle beach break. The WSLT has a stop, the Corona Bali Protected, since 2018.
World and Country location
Ericeira is a small town still in the Lisbon district, 40 min away from the city center by car. There is one express bus every hour or you can use taxis or Uber to get a ride. There are many day trips to take from Ericeira, such as Peniche, Óbidos and Sintra. Portugal is an amazing country to explore but if you want to leave it, Lisbon airport has many international destinations and the train lines are connected with the rest of Europe. As Ericeira Portugal is in a Schengen country, you can freely visit the rest of Europe on the same visa. Discover more in the visa section below
Ngurah Rai in Denpasar is the only airport in Bali, serving both domestic and international routes. Because of that, it is the starting point of everyone’s travel to and from Bali. The domestic bus system is nearly impossible to use for the foreigners, everyone catches a taxi or a shared ride from the airport. Bali doesn’t have Uber but it has GoJek and Grab (they don’t serve the airport though). Most travellers rent a scooter as it is inexpensive and a way to escape the common traffic. To visit the rest of Indonesia or any other country you will need to fly from Denpasar or take a boat to neighbour islands. From Bali, you can find cheap flights to the rest of Asia and it is definitely worth considering going over to Australia for a short (but expensive) trip.
Cost of living
Ericeira (and Portugal in general) is one of the most affordable destinations in Western Europe. The food is amazing and relatively cheap if you eat locally. The typical Portuguese snack combo (coffee and a pastel de nata – delicious egg tart pastry) is around 2€ and you can easily lunch below €10. Even though Portuguese prices are the lowest in Europe, they are still European, which means way higher than Bali.
Regarding accommodation, short term options can be expensive. But Digital Nomads normally seek mid and long term accommodation, which, if you take a look into NomadX’s listings, are as affordable as in Bali. Starting from as little as €350/month, allowing digital nomads to live on a tight budget.
Read also: What does it cost to be a Digital Nomad?
Bali can be very cheap. We travelled in Asia for 8 months for €10 a day and we had no problem doing so in Bali. Everything is negotiable, including your accommodation. Fresh fruit and vegetables are very cheap but so is eating out (easily less than €6/pp), making it possible to do that for every meal even if you are on a small budget.
You can rent a bike for as cheap as 2€/d and the freedom it gives is priceless. On the other hand, Bali has refined its high-end offers, so if you really want it, you can spend a lot of money in Bali (in everywhere to be honest). Short term accommodation can be 3 times cheaper than Ericeira but a reasonable option for mid to long term housing won’t be much different than in Ericeira.
Healthy Living: Food and relaxing
Ericeira is an old European city that has embraced the modern trend of healthy living and eating. Cafes offer spectacular brunches and you can consume your main meals at places by the beach or at affordable typical restaurants in town. Ericeira, Portugal in general, is great for its seafood and grilled fish, with lobster farmed locally. You can expect to find delicious coffee, fresh food, vegan and vegetarian options. The city is permeated by a laid back, surfer-vibe and it’s a great place to relax and unwind.
Balinese people have their own religion, a Buddhist-influenced Hinduism. By nature, they are relaxed, meditative and open-minded. The whole island shares a relaxed vibe, a mindfulness and positivity that transpires everywhere. Ubud, in particular, has become a world-renowned yoga capital hosting many classes and retreats. In the middle of extensive rice fields, it has nature, healthy food, yoga and peaceful vibes.
Bali is a fresh food paradise. You can find anything, from modern and beautiful restaurants to little local warungs, cheap and authentic. Avocado and fresh fruits are the stars of their cuisine. There are a lot of rice dishes and meat and seafood are consumed in moderation.
Ericeira (and Portugal in general) is very safe. You can walk around feeling completely safe and return late at night without any worries. Portuguese people are famous for being warm and welcoming to everyone. Crime does exist but is mainly material and very rare.
Bali is generally safe but you do want to be mindful of your surroundings at times. Beach thieves, pickpockets and scammers are often around. Which is understandable being Bali such a hot spot for tourism in a country with so much poverty in nearby islands. Most crime is material and very often when riding bikes.
Some Indonesians do take advantage of tourists, and they will very often try to overcharge you. It can be tough to argue with them when there are rarely fixed prices. What’s worse, is that police officers do the same. They have started applying road rules arbitrarily, stopping tourists for things locals wouldn’t get pulled up for. Most will cop the fine but a bad trend to get out of it with a bribe has made the situation worse.
If you are a passport holder from the Schengen area you are free to travel to Portugal. Otherwise you need to apply for one of the following:
- Schengen Travel Visa costs 80€ (free for most western countries) and is valid for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Note that this visa will allow you into the Schengen area and is not Portugal limited. It is perfect if you plan on visiting other European countries during your stay. If you leave the Schengen area (see the list of all 26 countries here https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/) for over 90 days you can then reapply for this visa.
- Passive Income Visa. If you already have a yearly passive income of around 20,000€ then you could be eligible for a Portugal Passive income visa. Passive income could come from an investment property (rent), investments (dividends), or a pension. For this visa you need to base yourself in Portugal for at least 8 months of the year (or six consecutive months).
- Portugal Self Employment Visa. This is the perfect option for freelancers. To get the Self Employment Visa you need to show that you are working or trying to work with local Portuguese companies. You can apply if you have a contract with a local company. Be careful though, with this visa you would be registered to pay all your taxes in Portugal, including taxes on your foreign income. A good gain though is that you have the same rights as a resident so access to all Schengen countries. The visa lasts for 1 year and will need to be renewed for 2 years from the second year, after the 5th year you can apply for permanent residency.
- Portugal Entrepreneur Visa. This special visa is for entrepreneurs who want to live and create a company in Portugal. You can then work as a freelancer and digital nomad charging your clients from your company. It is not necessary to employ several people or have a huge amount of share capital, however it helps to have a business plan and a solid explanation of how your company will benefit Portugal and its economy.
There are three ways to go about it:
- A free 30-day visitor visa upon arrival. This is perfect if you only plan on staying for less than 30-days. Take note that this free visa is not extendable. However you can do a “visa run”: exiting and re-entering the country to start a new 30-day free visa.
- A paid 30-day visa on arrival. This costs approximately USD 35 (in cash) but you can pay to extend it for another 30 days.
- A paid 60-day tourist visa. If you want to stay for longer than 30 days you need to apply for a 60-day tourist visa before arriving in Bali. These can be extended four times (for up to 30 days each time).
- Sosial Budaya Visa. Really, this visa is for visiting Indonesian family and friends but it is widely used and abused. After the first 60 days, you can extend it for 30 days up to four times, for a total of six months. You can apply for the visa at any Indonesian Embassy with the correct sponsorship letter or get it in a day through a visa agent. It’s common practice to use this visa as an alternative to an official residency and/or work visa by foreigners living in Bali. The Indonesian Department of Immigration knows about it and is generally letting it slide unless you use it for the full six months, then they will interview you to explain why you are in the country.
- Residency and Working Visa. It’s notoriously difficult to get either a residency or working visa in Indonesia. Employers need to prove that they are only employing a foreigner because they can’t find an Indonesian to fill the position. In a country of 260+ million people, that’s a tough sell. Unless you run your own company or you are employed by a large multinational company forget about getting a residency visa.
Disclaimer: We are no legal experts and you should check this information on the countries’ official immigration website.
COVID-19 Pandemic update [August 2020]
Portugal had a relatively soft first wave of contagion. It is now fairly contained and the country has reopened its land border with Spain and is accepting European flights so you can freely travel there if you are already in Europe. Please bear in mind, every case is a case and you should always check your situation with local authorities.
If you are overseas, you can enter Portugal if you are an essential traveller, which means for work, study, family and health reasons, only from these countries: Australia, Canada, China, South Korea, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.
Bali has had a very controlled virus spread rate so far and their strict policies are aimed at keeping it that way. Most international tourists have left the island and all foreign arrivals and transits are banned.
Coronavirus has had a massive impact on the Balinese economy, which relies heavily on tourism. You can be sure that as soon as it’s safe to open they will be proactive in making it safe and appealing for international travellers.
Ericeira Vs Bali summary
In conclusion, there are some similarities between these two destinations but they are very different places. Ericeira is far from being a fully developed digital nomad destination but it’s rising fast, both on its own merit and because of its proximity to Lisbon. Bali has a couple of decades of tourists’ and digital nomads’ exploration at its back. Both are creating more and more infrastructures and events to attract digital nomads but Bali is naturally 10 years ahead. The Digital Nomad scene is more superficial in Bali and more professional in Ericeira.
Both Ericeira and Bali share an orientation towards surfing, healthy living and fresh eating. The surging scene is major in both locations and the general relaxed, beach vibe is there for both, although one is Mediterranean and the other tropical. Bali is definitely cheaper than Ericeira but it is more expensive to get to it and a little less connected to the rest of the world.
What’s your thoughts on this comparison? Let us know in the comments below 👇
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matilde & Miguel are a Portuguese couple who combined the passion for traveling with entrepreneurship and became Digital Nomads. They created the TravelB4Settle brand in late 2017 and since then they focused on Content Creation and Digital Marketing. Their main goal is to inspire and educate others to become Digital Nomads and help businesses all around the world to grow their presence online.