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Stop the Winter Blues in the Algarve

“Because work at my desk at home was threatening to come to a standstill, I spontaneously escaped the German winter for nine days to the Algarve. It worked even better than I had hoped.” Corinna Döpkens, Consultant für Travel & Mobility Management

For days I sat at my desk in cold Germany with a hot water bottle and got nothing done. The to-do list got longer and longer instead of shorter. Maybe it was winter depression?
I was missing the balance to work. Outdoor activities like cycling and jogging are not possible on icy roads. At the same time, even if it sounds strange, in my self-employment I need many interruptions to be good. If the time spent on the road is missing, there is “danger ahead”, productivity and motivation drop, and I have to change something.

So I decide: Off to the warm! A change of location has always helped me. It should be a time-out somewhere in the south, without a long and expensive flight. A destination on the coast that I don’t know yet and that is well suited for remote work. The Algarve comes to mind. Friends emigrated years ago and rave about it, and I decide: this is a good place to recharge the batteries and set goals for the new year.

Portugal – Insider tip for the digital Boheme

The flight to Faro is quickly booked and I leave the country in minus 1 degrees and freezing rain. How wonderful! Portugal welcomes me with 20 degrees and sun. Unbelievable how quickly the energy returns through warmth, different air and new impressions.

What I didn’t know before – Portugal has many opportunities for remote work and has long since become an insider tip for the digital bohemians, especially in winter.

Countless Germans, Dutch, English and Austrians are on the road here, often with camper vans or with bullis. You can see coin-operated washing machines at the supermarkets, and in Lagos many people sit together with their laptops, e.g. in the coffee shop – I wouldn’t have expected that. Strong!

The Portuguese government has just announced a new visa for 2023 for “digital nomads”. The country wants to create an incentive for a longer stay in the country, as it is already implemented in other countries. There are two visa options: one for a short stay of up to one year and in the second category for those who want to live and work in Portugal on a long-term basis.
To be eligible for the second option, remote workers must prove a monthly income that is four times the minimum income in Portugal (currently at 750 euros) and provide an employment contract or proof that they are self-employed.

The visa can be applied for at the Portuguese consulate in the home country. If the applicant is already in Portugal, he or she can apply for the visa at the SEF, the Portuguese border control agency. (more information here)

Flights from e.g. Central Europe to Portugal take a maximum of three and a half hours, so visiting friends and colleagues locally is not a big deal. The time difference between mainland Portugal and Central European Time is only one hour, video conferences with colleagues and business partners at home simply take place during normal working hours. And it’s safe in the country, too. What more could you want?

Freedom of Life in Portugal

I rent a car and drive to the small fishing village of Salema near Lagos to a holiday home from Sevencollection Portugal.

Sevencollection is a small and fine selection of holiday homes and flats by the German Annabel Pohl. Her houses (see photo at the top) are absolutely tastefully designed. But not only that: she also pays attention to safety aspects. There is a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors as well as a first-aid kit, all of which can be found in the dark thanks to appropriate lighting.

This is an important liability and insurance issue, especially for companies that provide workation for their employees. I regularly point this out to my consulting clients when once again a sharing accommodation is booked without the appropriate equipment and thus the duty of care as an employer is not fulfilled. (see also here) In contrast to sharing accommodation and holiday homes, especially abroad, there are always prescribed safety standards in hotels.

I also find it positive that the Sevencollection Portugal office is just a few minutes’ walk away, so that I have a contact person on site if I have any questions. The friendly host couple can be reached by mobile phone outside opening hours.

New positive everyday life

My little two-storey hideaway is right by the sea – the sound is audible all day and night and has a calming effect on me. I like it there very much right away. In winter, there are hardly any tourists in Salema, it is unspoilt and quiet and thus offers an ideal working atmosphere for me. Locals live to the right and left of my holiday home. I feel so comfortable that I don’t want to leave this beautiful place and I like to stay in and around the house – that is the biggest compliment in my case.

After a few days, something like a positive daily routine sets in: work in the morning, then jogging and swimming, and then once again to the laptop. In the afternoon, I visit my friends or stroll through Lagos, and when the sun slowly sets around 5.30 pm, it’s still warm enough to be productive on the terrace. A perfect daily routine, so to speak. I develop new ideas, think about planned projects for the new year and even finally write the invoices that clients have asked me for several times. I’m in the flow and so relieved that my work is progressing again – I’m out of the mental “cul-de-sac”.

Working Mom & Dad in the Algarve

For the last three days of my little trip, I change locations and make a detour to the Martinhal Resort in Sagres, not far from Salema, at the very bottom of the Algarve, the Cape of Portugal, so to speak.

It’s a completely different scenario there, because the Martinhal is geared towards “Working Mom & Dad”. It is a family hotel with a children’s and youth club and high life at the breakfast buffet. The rooms and villas are family-friendly, spacious and casually designed, but also have a desk or table for working.

The spacious villas in particular are also suitable for a longer stay. Guests can make use of the hotel service, take advantage of the breakfast and lunch buffet or eat in the restaurant in the evening – or simply cater for themselves. There is a small supermarket on the premises, and there is a wide range of shops in Sagres or Lagos at the latest.


The difference to my holiday home in the small fishing village is extreme. I have to take a deep breath and “cope” with the many families with children. But after half a day and a few stories about the background of the resort, I revise my opinion and think: great concept. The owner couple Stern, who have four children themselves, have designed the hotels at the Cape of the Algarve according to their own experiences and criteria. In addition to the Martinhal in Sagres, there are other hotels in Portugal in Quinta, Cascais/Lisbon and Chiado/Lisbon. In line with the motto “Spread the Working Mom & Dad-Vibe”, the Martinhal Residences in Lisbon will also open this year.

“I want mothers to be able to drink a cappuccino with foam because the kids are in childcare or in the play corner,” is Chitra Stern’s motto. Or that Mom & Dad can take care of an important call in peace during the family holiday.

And that’s also the picture that presents itself to me – dad walking around the grounds with a headset and talking on the phone while the kids romp and play in the club. The mother takes her laptop out for a moment to check a few e-mails. And if it’s urgent, one of them flies home for a meeting, Faro Airport is only an hour away, and the family can stay in the sun. After all, why should families with winter blues feel any different than I do.

The spacious villas in particular are also suitable for a longer stay. Guests can make use of the hotel service, take advantage of the breakfast and lunch buffet or eat in the restaurant in the evening – or simply cater for themselves. There is a small supermarket on the premises, and there is a wide range of shops in Sagres or Lagos at the latest.

After nine days, I fly back to Hamburg in a good mood, full of new impressions and with a full action list. Good decision – such a workation in winter. I can recommend a time-out to work in the Algarve in Portugal to everyone.

Corinna Döpkens …

Corinna Döpkensis actually a fan of South Africa in particular and regularly travels to the Cape of Good Hope. With Portugal, she has enthusiastically discovered a closer alternative (without daily power cuts). The travel management expert plans to travel to Portugal more often in the future.

Photos: © Döpkens, Sevencollection, Martinhal