Car rental in Madeira
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Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago of four islands, is known for its wines and gourmet food and being the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, football’s wonder boy. The islands boast pebbly beaches, rugged mountains, stunning volcanoes, lovely cliffs, and loads of sunshine. As public transportation is limited, the best way to sightsee on the islands is to rent a car on Madeira. When you have your own vehicle, you can travel as you like and when you please.

It’s your choice: where to go on Madeira

Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is a bustling and modern city surrounded by hills. Its history and culture attract hordes of visitors, with many cruise ships docking at its port. Visit the many museums in the centre, sample traditional cuisine, relax at botanical gardens, or just walk around to see how the locals live. The picturesque fishing village of Camara de Lobos, reputed to be Winston Churchill’s preferred painting spot, is another must-see. To cool off on hot days, drive inland towards Prazeres, which is surrounded by verdant forests and mountains. If you're into underwater sports, check out the long, sandy beach and excellent dive sites at Porto Santo Island. Its capital, Vila Baleira, is home to the Christopher Columbus House Museum, which houses interesting exhibitions and photos on maritime history.

What to do on Madeira

Surfers will love riding the waves in Sao Vicente, in the north of Madeira. The waves here are reported to be some of the best in Europe. Madeira is also a hiker’s paradise, with over 1,000km of footpaths along the levadas, or aqueducts. The PR1 Vereda do Areeiro trail connects two of the highest summits of Madeira – Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro – and offers stunning vistas. If you're staying in Funchal, venture on a cable-car ride for breathtaking views of the island. The cable car will bring you up to the Madeira Botanical Garden, which was established in 1881 and is considered one of the most picturesque areas in the region. If you have time to spare, swing by the Mercado dos Lavradores, Funchal’s main market. The art-deco structure, built in the 1940s, is embellished with striking azulejo tiling from mainland Portugal.

Important info about Madeira

Oval-shaped Madeira is characterised by high peaks, deep ravines, expansive laurel forest, and cliffs. The main island is blessed with a subtropical climate, with the northern part being wetter than the south. The other islands in the archipelago are semi-arid. Although it enjoys a Mediterranean climate, the island is in the north Atlantic Ocean and southwest of Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. The beaches are mainly rocky. Madeira’s agriculture sector thrives due to its fertile soil and favourable climate. The Madeiran diet focuses on fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables. Bananas, flowers, and grapes are important crops. Industrial activity on the archipelago is diverse, ranging from dairy to pasta to construction material production. The engine of its economy, however, is the leisure sector – the island is one of Europe's most attractive travel destinations.

Weather in Funchal, Madeira
Country Portugal
Language Portuguese
Currency Euro
Time-Zones Western European Time
Country Code +351

Good to know

There are two airports serving Madeira: Cristiano Ronaldo International and Porto Santo. The former, which services connections to Lisbon and major European cities, is the fourth-busiest airport in the country. Porto Santo receives flights from Funchal and has seasonal connections with mainland Europe and the UK. The ferries in Porto Santo are often used to travel between the islands. As public transport is limited, most visitors rent a car on Madeira. The minimum age to drive is 18, and surcharges apply for drivers under 25 renting a car in Madeira. Drivers must also have held their licence for at least a year. Madeirans drive on the right-hand side of the road, passing on the left. As the islands are mainly mountainous, expect hairpins and bends. Respect the speed limits, which are 50km/h in built-up areas, 90-100km/h on open roads, and 120km/h on motorways. The blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%.

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Our tour suggestions for Madeira

Madeira is made for road trips. Although the roads can be challenging, you'll be rewarded with views of lush green valleys, plunging sea cliffs, and sapphire seascapes. By renting a car on Madeira, you can explore all facets of this island gem. If you're based in the capital, Funchal, you could set out on a circumnavigation of the island, beginning and ending in the charming city. If you follow the VR1 from Funchal, you'll soon get to Cabo Girao, a stunning sea cliff. After stopping for a walk along the Skywalk, get back in your car and follow the VE3 through charming villages, and then ascend the ER209 for panoramic views. Venture down the ER110 to the black-sand beaches of Porto Moniz and then the VE2 to explore the volcanic coastline at Sao Vincente. To get back to Funchal, head south.

What to bring to your friends from Madeira

Madeira has a wealth of products that make ideal souvenirs. Thanks to its strong crafts industry, you'll find all sorts of beautiful embroidered linens, wicker baskets, paintings, jewellery, tableware, and ceramics at the shops and markets. Bird-of-paradise fridge magnets and Madeiran hats make cute souvenirs. If you love Fado music, buy CDs of local ballads for yourself or friends. There are also small shops selling locally produced soap, olive oil, sugarcane biscuits, and molasses. To share your experience with friends, bring them a book or two on Madeiran history or cuisine. Don’t forget an exquisite bottle of Madeiran wine, which you can easily find in supermarkets or at the airport if you don’t have enough time or luggage space. Small bottles of local specialities such as poncha da Madeira (an alcoholic drink made from sugarcane, honey, and orange or lemon juice) and licor de maracuja (passion fruit liqueur with seeds) are also excellent gifts.