Practical travel information for your holiday to Madeira Island in Portugal


In this post, I share practical travel information for a holiday to Madeira. I include tips about where to stay on Madeira, finding your best flight deal, the best way to see the island, if you should rent a car, the weather climate, and the different seasons on Madeira. Basically, it includes everything you need to know, and travel tips, for your vacation to Madeira.

Looking for travel information regarding things to do during your holiday in Madeira?

If you’re looking for travel information regarding things to do on your holiday to Madeira, I suggest reading the post about day trips & excursions on Madeira Island. In this post, instead of reading about things to do, you can find practical travel information for your holiday to Madeira in Portugal.

Who am I to share travel information for a Madeira holiday?

I’ve been to Madeira three times. Once for a short visit to Porto Santo Island, then I returned for a holiday of 10 days to see all the best sights of Madeira, and later I stayed for a month to do some vlogging, blogging, and to work on my book, a memoir, I’m writing. So I have learned about Madeira and share the things you need to know for your holiday to this amazing Portuguese flower island.


Arriving by plane to Madeira Island in Portugal
View of Madeira Island by plane: Sao Lourenço

The travel information you need to plan your holiday to Madeira

The travel information about Madeira includes my experience with staying in different accommodations in, and just outside, Funchal. How I explored Madeira as a solo female traveler without a rental car, and how to pre-book your airport transfer transportation (ad) to your hotel on Madeira. You can also read about the different seasons on Madeira Island so you know what to pack for your Madeira holiday. Together with my previous post about Madeira, which will help you in sorting out the different things to do during your vacation, you now have all the travel information needed to plan your holiday to Madeira in Portugal.


Travel information for your holiday to Madeira: Encumeada pass
Viewpoint at Boca da Encumeada on Madeira
This post also includes travel information for Funchal on Madeira
Botanical gardens in Funchal

An overview of the travel information for a holiday to Madeira in this post

Once you’ve figured out all the things you would like to do and visit in Madeira, you can look for practical travel information to prepare for your Madeira holiday. In this post you can find the following travel information:

  • Where to stay during your holiday on Madeira Island. Different accommodation options in Funchal & Garajau, based on my personal experience
  • Finding the best flight deal for your Madeira vacation
  • How to pre-book your airport transfer and transport to your hotel, apartment or guesthouse on Madeira
  • Why I did not rent a car during my holiday in Madeira (as a solo female traveler)
  • Different seasons and best time to book a holiday on Madeira Island


Travel information for staying in Funchal during your holiday in Madeira

The city of Funchal has different parts and lots of different accommodation options to choose from. Think of luxury resorts, boutique hotels, private apartments, guesthouses, and hostels, almost everything is possible in this vibrant city. The different holiday homes and rooms are to be found all over town but I give you a quick choice for the three main parts of where to stay in Funchal: The São Martinho area, Funchal City Center, or Funchal Old Town.


Funchal travel information for a holiday to Madeira (Jesuit College)
Funchal is full of old buildings. This is Jesuit college

Staying in the touristy area of São Martinho in Funchal during your Madeira holiday

The area of São Martinho is probably the area where most tourists are staying. It’s considered the most fanciest part of Funchal with lots of beautiful hotels, promenades that are full of bars and restaurants, and big shopping centers. The part is nicely decorated and you also find the Lido bathing complex and a black-sand beach here.

Book your stay in São Martinho and the Lido area in Funchal on Madeira

I did not stay in São Martinho, because personally, I don’t enjoy the very touristy areas. I do share it here because I know that a lot of people do like to stay here. But scroll down if you’re more like me and are looking for more authentic places in Funchal. São Martinho is a typical area that you find in touristy places anywhere. If this is something you are looking for, you can find the wide range of more than 400 accommodations in São Martinho by clicking on this link for (ad).

Where to stay in Funchal: São Martinho, Funchal City Center, or Funchal Old Town

The choice, whether to say in São Martinho or Funchal city, totally depends on your personal preference. Do you fancy staying in a touristy area or prefer a more local ambiance? Personally, I don’t like mass touristy areas and therefore I have chosen to stay in the city center of Funchal for the first time, and later on in the old town part of Funchal.

Travel information for staying in Funchal city on Madeira

I found this very practical because I was within walking distance of the ferry to go to Porto Santo Island, to the botanical gardens, to go for a city walk (ad), and to visit museums and other highlights of Funchal. See the video below for a city walk through Funchal (feel free to subscribe to the Splashpacker YouTube channel):


Staying in Funchal contributed to an authentic experience of the history and charm of this city

Staying in those parts of Funchal also gave me a more authentic Madeira experience. But this is totally personal, I simply preferred the charm of the local ambiance. You can also find many bars and restaurants, in both, the city center as well as in the old part of town. The city center is also close to the harbor area, the main plaza and has some parks at walking distance. It’s full of history, old buildings, and museums and there are shopping centers too. Funchal old town is particularly charming with street art, even older buildings, old small streets and some terraces with sea views.


Funchal on Madeira Island in Portugal
Funchal is a very vibrant and charming city

Simple accommodation options for guesthouses, hotels & apartments in the city center of Funchal

The first time in Funchal, I booked a simple room in residencial Colombo (ad), located in the city center of Funchal. The place was basic, quiet, and clean. The second time on Madeira, I had a very pleasant stay in the affordable Sirius hotel. This hotel has a great location, a nice roof terrace with views over Funchal and the staff was super friendly.


Travel information for staying in Sirius hotel during a hoiday to Madeira island
View from Sirius Hotel rooftop


Travel information for staying in Funchal old town during your holiday to Madeira

My third time in Funchal, I shortly stayed in an apartment in the old part of Funchal (ad). Those apartments were very clean and the couple running the place was super friendly and helpful. It was especially practical for a long-term stay because the apartments come with a kitchen and laundry service. See the deals finder below for booking your Funchal accommodation with Booking (ad).


Travel information for a holiday to Garajau on Madeira

I’ve also stayed in Garajau, located just outside Funchal. The first time for a few days and the third time for almost the entire month. I quickly share a bit of travel information for Garajau on Madeira, in case you don’t know where or what Garajau is. Garajau is a peaceful place, away from the hustle and bustle of a city. It’s part of Caniço and located less than 10 km away from Funchal.

Garajau, in Caniço, is peaceful but still offers basic holiday facilities

During my stay in Madeira, Garajau was pretty quiet, with the vibe of a local village. I felt that I had more real conversations with the local people here. It still has some basic holiday facilities like a supermarket, bars and restaurants. There is also a stoney beach with a dive center (in a cave!) and a little cable car.

Here’s a little video about Garajau:


Different accommodation options for staying in Garajau

I first stayed for a few days in the Dom Pedro Garajau Hotel (ad), and it gave me the ultimate holiday feeling. The hotel has a nice garden, two outdoor pools, and one indoor swimming pool. I had a very peaceful, relaxing stay in this hotel. I include a little video about the Dom Pedro Garajau Hotel, and you can find your accommodation in Garajau on Booking below (ad).



Travel information for splitting your holiday with staying at different areas in Madeira

The reason why I stayed in Funchal and Garajau, was for some variety. If you like to stay at different places, I recommend staying in Funchal to visit the botanical gardens, to see the nun’s valley (ad), to do a food and wine walking tour (ad) or the old town walk (ad). Funchal and Garajau are both ideal for doing excursions, levada walks, and day tours without a rental car since the tour companies pick you up from those places.

Information for other places on the island: exploring Madeira

There are lots of other accommodations and places to stay all over Madeira, and away from the city, especially if you do rent your own car.  Stay in Calheta or Machico for a nice beach, Camara do Lobos for an authentic fisherman’s village, charming Ponta do Sol or Porto Moñiz with natural pools. Once again, please keep in mind that most tour companies don’t do pick-ups in those places, but they will in both Funchal and Garajau.


Outdoor swimming pool at Dom Pedro Garajau Nature Hotel on Madeira
The outdoor swimming pool of Dom Pedro Hotel in Garajau


Travel information for a Madeira holiday: my experience at the Dom Pedro Garajau Nature Hotel
I slept like a princess in this bed in the Dom Pedro Garajau Nature Hotel


Travel information for your Madeira holiday: a word about Machico

Some people like to stay in Machico, and it sounds nice due to the beach with imported white sand. Machico has a lot of facilities too and is Madeira’s second biggest city. But you have to keep in mind that, in contrast to Garajau, most tour companies don’t pick you up from Machicho for day tours, excursions, or levada walks. So check with your tour company before booking your accommodation here.


Machico – only if you have a rental car on Madeira Island

It’s a different story if you’re planning on renting a car (more about this in a later paragraph). There is a nice hotel in Machico if you’re planning on just booking a few days of beach time here. Check out the banner below, or click here for booking! (ads)

Practical travel information for your flight deal to Madeira Island  

The international airport of Madeira connects directly to about twenty different countries. Mostly, the European countries that include the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain. There are also some direct flights to some Eastern European countries including Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. You can use to find your best flight deal (ad)

Madeira flights to/from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Canary Islands & the Azores

Maybe you are planning a trip to Madeira as part of a longer travel plan. There are flights to different cities in the United Kingdom and there’s even a flight to New York City now. You can also fly directly from the Azores Islands and the Canary Islands to Madeira Island. You can use (ad) to scan the best flight deals and return plane tickets from your home country to Madeira Island. Or use the search box at the bottom of this page.

Jesus statue in Garajau on Madeira Island
Jesus statue in Garajau on Madeira Island

Airport transfer for transport to your accommodation or hotel on Madeira

Also, you can book your airport transfer to pick you up from the airport in Madeira and drop you off at your holiday apartment, hotel, or other accommodation, for a very reasonable price. Click here to book your airport transport in advance with Get Your Guide (ad), or use the search box below.

Exploring the island: Should I rent a car on Madeira?

I went to Madeira as a solo female traveler, and I did not rent a car during my holiday to Madeira Island. There are a few reasons for choosing not to rent a car. First, I first like to mention that all tours and excursions I did, were done by small mini-busses or cars, not by big touring busses. For me, as a solo traveler, it was a nice way to meet other travelers and be more environmentally conscious than renting a car for myself alone. It was also very comfortable, I did not need to worry about anything!


Travel information for a holiday to Madeira: Ponta do sol
Ponta do Sol on Madeira Island

No need to figure out much travel information for a holiday to Madeira Island

I did not need to figure out much travel information in regard to the routes, or best places to go, during my holiday to Madeira Island. I just checked out where most tours stopped, and by booking them, the rest was all done for me. I found it easy and comfortable, especially as a single traveler. Also, the island tours were not very expensive. However, if you’re traveling in company, or want to be more independent, you might prefer to rent a car during your holiday on Madeira island.


Do they speak English on Madeira Island?

Another advantage of booking guided tours and excursions over renting a car was that a tour guide provided me with a lot of useful and interesting information. That reminds me of another question you might have: what language do they speak on Madeira? The official language is Portuguese, but most local people of Madeira speak very good English. I could have conversations in English with almost everybody I met in Madeira.

Travel information for the temperatures in Madeira

Hopefully, you now have enough travel information to prepare for your holiday to Madeira Island. But before I end this post, I would also like to explain the seasons and climate on Madeira. This travel information might also help you to know what to pack for your holiday to Madeira.

Madeira temperatures in Celcius & Fahrenheit

Madeira has a pretty stable climate with daytime temperatures of about 20 degrees Celcius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) in the European winter, to about 25-27 degrees Celcius (77-80 degrees Fahrenheit) in the European summer. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean can drop the temperatures a bit at night, so it’s always a good idea to bring some warmer clothes for the evenings. 


Travel information for a holiday to Madeira Island

Microclimate: what to bring on your holiday to Madeira?

Madeira Island has a so-called microclimate, meaning that the weather can vary in different parts of the island. The weather on Madeira is a bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you gonna get! The highest peak of Madeira is located at more than 1800 meters, therefore people can be in their swimwear at the beach in coastal towns, whilst being in the cold and rain in the mountains, even if the distance is not that big.

Yes, I do recommend to bring a rain jacket to Madeira

Keep in mind that if you go on an island day tour, especially if you go to the mountains, always bring a jacket and clothing for cold and rain, as well as sun protection. In general, there is more rain in the European winter months. And in regards to your packing list: bring shoes with a good grip. Parts of the Levada walks can be wet and slippery!


25 fountains Levada walk on Madeira island
Levada hike by the 25 fountains of Rabaçal on Madeira

Travel information for the season – what’s the best time to travel to Madeira?

Every season has its charm on Madeira Island. If you go around Christmas time, there are amazing Christmas decorations all over Funchal. The Funchal fireworks on New Year’s Eve have been in the Guinness books of records. I have made a little video about the Christmas decorations, which is to be found Splashpacker YouTube channel too.  Madeira is called the flower island, and the most amazing flowers are to be found in the springtime. There is also a yearly flower festival.

Travel information for beach lovers going to Madeira & Porto Santo Island

If you’re a beach lover, you better go between June and September for the warmest months. In regards to Porto Santo Island, this island has a high season in the European summer, so book your accommodation well in advance. But if you plan your visit just before or after the high season, you might be able to get a good accommodation deal!


Santa Catarina Park with view of Funchal on Madeira
Most flowers will be seen around springtime on Madeira Island, and there is an annual flower festival!


More travel information for creating an itinerary for your holiday to Madeira

I suggest reading more of my blog posts with travel information for a holiday to Madeira. Click here to see an overview of all posts about Madeira and Porto Santo Island. If that’s getting a bit too much, I encourage you to at least read the post with travel information regarding all the things you absolutely must do during a holiday to Madeira. Or check out the playlist with all videos of Madeira on my YouTube channel here:

Follow Splashpacker for solo female travel, dive travel & sustainable tourism

If you like what I write about, you can sign up for my mailing list down here. I’m an ex- scuba diving instructor and left my home country (the Netherlands) in 2006. I write about dive travel, sustainable tourism and solo female travel. You can also check out the Splashpacker YouTube channel and subscribe there, or scroll down to follow me on social media. Next up are the amazing Azores islands!

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