What do I need to connect Visual Studio 2013 to a Sharepoint 2013 intranet site situated on a server that can only be accessed only form inside a local network? Can I do it with Visual Studio Express or some other free alternative?

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If you're attempting to build Full Trust or Sandbox solutions, SharePoint must be installed on the machine with Visual Studio (which you don't want to do in production).

If you're attempting to build SharePoint Apps, then you just need to have a site using the Developer Site template.

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