Himalayan peaks, clear rivers, pine forests, and a laid-back mountain lifestyle: India’s mountain state of Himachal Pradesh offers the perfect ingredients for slow-paced long stays away from hectic city life. From a family summer getaway to a backpacker’s destination, the state has been through many avatars over the years. Today, with a vibrant café culture and a recent spate of remote work facilities, it’s easy to see why the destination has evolved into a top choice for remote workers and digital nomads.
All of the small towns here are eminently walkable, with a unique character and culture. Bustling tourist spots like Manali and Shimla thrive with markets and street life, but also offer access to quiet nature trails and adventure sports. Even low-key destinations have amped up their game, welcoming digital nomads with good WiFi and strong coffee amidst the majesty of the mountains.
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On the banks of the Beas River, surrounded by Himalayan peaks, apple orchards and pine forests, Manali is top of the list for remote workers looking for a thriving café and coworking culture.
Many hostels double up as coworking spaces, offering good WiFi and quiet common spaces to work amidst the greenery. Riverside Alt Life has cozy indoor and outdoor spaces to work from. At Young Monk, you can work from an outdoor terrace with mountain views. Timberwolves has an airy cafe with WiFi, plus a view of snow-covered peaks and a steady supply of tea and coffee while you work. Iconic Old Manali spots include Drifter’s Café, where you can set up your laptop for the day, dine on café fare and burgers, and relax with books and board games after work. Plug in at Dylan’s Toasted & Roasted to soak in the historic vibe as you work.
When you’re hungry, Café 1947 offers up hearty Italian food and frequent live music. Johnson’s Café is a local institution, known for its many preparations of Himalayan river trout in a scenic setting. Or, wind down at The Lazy Dog—a chilled-out bar and restaurant with regular live music, serving whole river trout and Italian food with great views.
When you want to explore, head to the Hadimba Temple to see a slice of local life. There are plenty of relaxed, easy treks up in the pine-clad mountains for when you’re seeking some outdoor activity. Visit the hot springs at nearby Vashisht, and stop in at the backpacker cafes for some coffee and apple pie.
Quiet, low-key Palampur generally flies under the tourist radar. However, as other towns in the Kangra Valley gain popularity, remote workers in search of solitude are heading to this slice of nature amid tea gardens and mustard fields. Less than an hour away, the tiny village of Bir is best known as a paragliding destination, but it is also seeing an influx of long-term travelers planning workcations. Remote working facilities can mainly be found at a range of accommodations. Surrounded by mountains and greenery, quiet Peakhavn has work desks and WiFi. goStops hostel offers both indoor and outdoor common areas with sweeping views of the Dhauladhar mountains. Barefoot Bir has good WiFi in their coworking space and a café where you can meet other travelers. Run by a paragliding outfit, The Hangar offers a chic, minimalistic coworking lounge.
You’ll find a clutch of cafes and small restaurants offering varied global fare and light snacks. Book-lined Cliffy’s Café is a charming spot with a garden, where you can plug in for the day while sipping on endless cups of tea. For your sweet fix, Frozen Moon offers baked treats and ice cream in a cozy setting.
In Bir, Silver Linings is conveniently placed in a paragliding landing site, so you can have pie and coffee with a side of comic views. For wood-fired pizzas, head next door to Gliders. Avva’s overlooks rolling fields and offers hearty South Indian staples like crispy dosas and pillowy idlis. For a taste of traditional Himachali food, The Northern Café cooks up local vegetarian and chicken curries.
The outdoors is the greatest gift of working from the mountains. Sunlit picnics by the clear Neugal Khad stream near Palampur. Paragliding across the mountaintops of Bir. Long walks in pine forests and tea estates. For something different, you can also head to the artists’ village of Andretta, where you can learn how to work with clay at their pottery studio. The 12th-century Baijnath Temple is also worth a visit for its intricately carved stone façade.
As home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile, Dharamsala is a vibrant center of Buddhist culture. The suburb of McLeodganj, alternatively referred to as “Little Lhasa”, is defined by its prayer-flag-strung monasteries and shops selling Tibetan crafts.
Coworking facilities are scattered along the outskirts, away from the town center, and easily accessible via bus, motorcycle, or a short hike. These places usually offer accommodation and a café as well. Ghoomakad in the peaceful village of Rakkar has a fully-functional workspace in a traditional mud-and-stone hut set amidst nature and overlooking snow-capped peaks. People often trek uphill from McLeodganj to Dharamkot, where Alt Life hostel’s wood-lined coworking space hosts frequent live music in the evenings. Near the Bhagsu waterfall, The Void offers a workspace setup with forest views, along with accommodation and a café. Nomadgao have also opened up a new co-working and co-living space specifically designed for digital nomads . This is a great option for digital nomads to work remotely from Dharamkot and have an active social life with a community of likeminded people.
Once you’ve wrapped up your work day, head towards the McLeodganj Main Square to be close to the action. At the town’s cozy cafes, you’ll meet an eclectic mix of Buddhist monks, backpackers, and long-staying international travelers. Art-filled Moon Peak is great for coffee and cake, while The Other Space is popular for its chic interiors and plug-and-play workspace. You’ll definitely work up an appetite walking around the mountains, which is great because there’s a diverse culinary scene here ranging from traditional momos to rustic Italian cooking. Common Ground Café serves wholesome Tibetan food and noodle dishes. Jimmy’s Italian Kitchen is a longstanding favorite for its vibrant interiors, mountains views, and delicious pastas.
Dharamshala is the starting point for many easy mountain treks—the Triund trek and the route to the Bhagsu waterfall are two popular trails. Don’t miss the Tsuglagkhang Complex, housing a monastery and The Tibet Museum, to understand the history and culture of this unique mountain community.
If having access to health infrastructure and the bustle of a city is important to you, Shimla is your best bet. As the capital of Himachal Pradesh, the mountain town is buzzing with markets, restaurants, lively cafes, and most importantly good WiFi. Though you won’t find an abundance of coworking spaces here yet, remote workers still choose to come here for spectacular mountain views, easy access to the outdoors, and fabulous colonial-era cottages that now operate as hotels or homestays. Wherever you’re staying or eating, you’ll usually have sweeping views of the slopes and glittering snow-capped peaks, so just grab a seat and plug in. At Café Simla Times, you can segue from work calls to after-work drinks from their brewery.
You’ll find Thai, Italian, and Indian on the menu, plus good coffee, WiFi, and fabulous sunset views from their al fresco section. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, the wood-lined Café Under Tree sits in Shimla’s upper reaches, ensconced entirely in pine trees and serving eclectic European, Indian, and Chinese vegetarian fare. Closer to the action, Wake and Bake Café on Mall Road is a cheery spot for homey crepes, waffles, and falafel. Stop here for WiFi with valley views from the rooftop. After a work day, Eighteen71 Cookhouse & Bar is a great spot for a hearty dinner of Indian or Southeast Asian dishes, accompanied by live music. At the small and cozy Himachali Rasoi, sample a traditional Himachali thali meal, featuring rice, lentils, and multiple curries on one plate.
In the colonial era, the cool climate of Shimla offered the British a perfect escape from the oppressive summer of the plains. The town still retains much of its Raj-era character in The Ridge, the town’s central square dominated by the 1800s Christ Church. Further along, The Mall is a series of pedestrian streets lined with timbered shops and cafes. Popular walks include a sunrise walk up to the hilltop Jakhu Temple and a leisurely hike up to Prospect Hill and the impressive Viceregal Lodge.