Have you chosen Madeira for your next vacation? Great choice! Madeira will definitely not disappoint you as this unique part of Europe has so much beauty to offer. Now, before you embark on your journey, take a moment to read these practical tips and facts to make the most out of your vacation in Madeira. Enjoy preparing for an unforgettable time on Madeira!
#1 How many days or weeks do you need for Madeira?
Madeira is not very large, but there is so much to do and see. We recommend allocating at least 1 week for Madeira. If you plan to do a lot of hiking, see all the highlights, and still have a few days to relax, then 10 days is probably a better idea. Curious about the most beautiful places and the best activities in Madeira? Read our tips for the best things to do in Madeira. If you’d like to do a round trip and visit the most beautiful spots in Madeira in 10 days, check out our itinerary for a Madeira round trip.
#2 The weather varies across Madeira
Due to the significant differences in altitude, there are multiple microclimates on the island. The region around Funchal tends to be sunny and dry, while on the other side of the mountains, in the north, clouds often hang and rain falls more frequently. Additionally, you may find yourself driving through heavy rain in the mountains, but just about a mile further, above the clouds, the weather may be nice. Therefore, when planning activities from Funchal, it’s wise to check the weather forecast for the places you intend to visit. Although it’s not always accurate, it gives you a rough idea of what to expect. There’s almost always good weather somewhere on Madeira! We used the live webcams a lot to see where the weather was good.
Tip: Make sure to always have a raincoat with you, especially when hiking. If you’re going into the mountains, it’s also wise to have a sweater and jacket in the car. It can be much colder there than in Funchal. We were standing at an elevation of 1,818 meters (5,965 feet) on Pico do Arieiro in the middle of summer, shivering in the icy wind while wearing a windbreaker and thick sweater. A week later, we were in the same spot, but this time in a t-shirt and feeling hot. In short, the weather in Madeira can vary greatly.
#3 Book on time
If you book in advance, you can sometimes find a flight ticket for cheap. However, if you book last minute during high season like we did, you’ll likely pay much more. The price of the tickets greatly depends on the season and how far in advance you book.
#4 What is the best time to visit Madeira?
Madeira has a mild climate throughout the year and is sometimes referred to as the “island of eternal spring.” In winter, temperatures in Funchal rarely drop below 16 degrees Celsius (60.8 degrees Fahrenheit). During the summer months, temperatures hover around 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Thus, the weather on Madeira is generally pleasant for a large part of the year.
Winter: The most rainfall occurs from November to March, but there can also be weeks of nice spring weather. The winter weather can vary.
Spring: From April, temperatures rise, the sun shines more often, and the entire island blossoms. Spring is a beautiful time to visit.
Summer: June to August offers the highest chance of sunshine, with average temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s perfect for hiking!
Autumn: September and October also generally have good weather on Madeira. There may be more clouds and occasional showers, but temperatures are still pleasant. After a good rain, the waterfalls are even more impressive.
#5 Good restaurants should be reserved in advance
If you’re visiting Madeira during the summer months and want to dine at highly-rated restaurants, it’s wise to make a reservation a day in advance. When we were there in August, it was necessary for many restaurants. Below is a list of our favorite restaurants in Madeira.
Indian Palace Restaurant – Enjoy delicious Indian food in Funchal. Reserve a table on the balcony if it’s still available.
Casal Da Penha – If you love seafood or a good piece of meat, this is the place to taste the best of Portuguese cuisine.
Art Food Corner – Our favorite spot in Funchal for a healthy and tasty lunch!
Prima Caju – Visit this place for great coffee, bowls, and wraps in Funchal. Also, the interior is beautiful, as seen in the right photo below.
Mundo Vegan – Indulge in super tasty dishes for both lunch and dinner, and everything is vegan.
The Old Pharmacy – Enjoy delicious dishes at a friendly price. The ambiance is lovely, and all the vegetables come from their own garden. It’s located more towards the east, so it’s ideal for a lunch on the way or dinner on the way back to Funchal.
Casa do Bolo do Caco – Bolo do Caco is a typical Madeiran bread. If you’re looking for a quick bite in the afternoon, you can get a Bolo do Caco with meat and herb butter here.
#6 It’s best to book tours in advance as well
If there are specific tours you really want to do, it’s advisable to book them in advance. We couldn’t do some tours because they were already fully booked. Below are our recommendations for exciting tours in Madeira.
- Paragliding along the coast
- Spotting dolphins and whales
- Swimming with dolphins in the wild
- Canyoning adventure through the jungle
#7 Where to stay in Madeira?
There are good hotels all over the island, but in our opinion, Funchal is the most enjoyable base if you want to stay in one place. Here you’ll find the most restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels, and it has a lively atmosphere. Madeira is not big, so you can easily make day trips from here with tours or your own rental car. If you want to spend a few nights outside the city, that can also be fun. If you have a rental car, it’s a good idea to plan out what you want to see and do and pin these places on Google Maps, for example. This way, you can see what is close to each other and what you can easily combine in one day. Of course, it can also be a lot of fun to do a road trip. With our itinerary for a Madeira road trip, you’ll visit the most beautiful places and stay at unique hotels along the way.
Tip: A hotel with a pool is always nice, but because Madeira has almost no sandy beaches, a hotel with a pool is extra enjoyable here. If you’re still looking for a beautiful hotel, check out our favorite hotels with pools in Madeira.
#8 Renting a car is ideal in Madeira
The best way to explore Madeira is definitely by renting a car. Taxis are expensive, and the attractions are scattered all over the island. With a rental car, you have the freedom to discover the most beautiful places. The roads are in excellent condition, and although it takes some getting used to the curves, tunnels, and mountain roads, after a few days, you won’t know any different. Without a rental car, you will be very dependent on tours and taxis, and you will most likely see much less. Curious about our experience? Read our tips for renting and driving a car in Madeira.