The paradise Island of Madeira is the main island of a group of islands lying 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent. The archipelago, discovered by the Portuguese in 1418, is made up of the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and the uninhabited islands of Selvagens and Desertas. The islands are hilly and of volcanic origin and the coast of Madeira is steep and rocky with deep eroded lava gorges running down to the sea. Porto Santo is an island of unique beauty and quite different from Madeira. It is located 40 km northeast of Madeira and its 9 km of coastline is covered in fine golden sand leading to a clear and deep blue sea. Traditional Portuguese culture and the overwhelming beauty of these natural resources make Madeira an ideal holiday destination.
Restaurants & Food
Because of the richness of its marine life, Madeira has a wide variety of fresh seafood, which add to a rich, healthy and tasty gastronomic tradition. Dishes such as the black swordfish, tuna steak, tuna “escabche” and the traditional espetada (meat brochettes), served with fried corn (a regional staple) and the very tasty bolo do caco (round flat loaf typical of Madeira), are dishes that everyone who visits the island must sample. Madeira has restaurants to suit all tastes, ranging from the most modern and sophisticated establishments to the typical and welcoming “tascas” or local inns where regional dishes are always on the menu.
Visitors can choose between the established luxuries of traditional hotels built more than a century ago, or more contemporary types of accommodation such as small hotels in rural areas. These have the merit of offering closer contact with the population and with the islands’ wonderful natural surroundings.
Classification of Hotels is according to the international 1- to 5-star system and their prices are officially approved. Apartment hotels are classified from 2- to 4-star, Motels from 2- to 3-star and Boarding Houses from 1- to 4-star.
The government-run pousadas offer very good value and are often situated in places of scenic beauty in converted castles, palaces or old inns offering modern tourism facilities, and quaint and personalized means of accommodation.
Weather in Madeira
These islands, because of their privileged geographical position and mountainous relief, have a surprisingly mild climate. Very mild average temperatures, 22ºC in the summer and 16ºC in the winter, and a moderate level of humidity, confer upon these islands exceptional subtropical features. The seawater temperature is also very mild, because of the influence of the warm Gulf current, presenting averages of 22ºC in the summer and 18º in the winter.
Banks and Currency
The Currency of Madeira is the Euro. Banks are open from 8:30 to 15:00hrs, Monday to Friday. Foreign Exchange offices work from 9:00 to 13:00hrs and from 14:00 to 19:00hrs, every day, except on Saturdays when they open from 9:00 to 19:00hrs. Outside these periods, the hotels can make currency exchanges
Visitors coming from the European Union, members of the Shengen Treaty, are granted unrestricted entry. Visitors from member states that are not signatories to this treaty need an identification document. International visitors should have a valid passport, and in some cases, a visa to visit Portugal might be requested. Please check with your local tourist authority.
Driving in Madeira
The car is a comfortable means of getting around on the islands is trouble-free thanks to the modern road structure, which has been significantly improved in recent years. Practically all points of these islands are served by a good road and transport network. You will need legal ID; valid national or international driving license, both with photographs, car registration documents or equivalent, proof of ownership of the vehicle or equivalent and insurance certificate. In the case of a hire car, the driver should also keep a copy of their hire contract with them at all times. Goeasy Travel has arranged the best value Car Rentals in Madeira for you. To get your free quotation please email or call for your car hire quote.
The region has very well developed in terms of IT networks and telephone communications. The international access code is +351, and the regional area code is 291.
In case of an Emergency
There are 67 health centers situated around the Madeira island, and one at Porto Santo. In Funchal there are two hospitals. There is a Lost Property section in Funchal, at Rua da Infￃﾢncia, 28, Tel.: 291 208200
European Emergency Number: 112
There are a huge variety of festivals and events in Madeira. As well as exploring the island, there is a wealth of cultural, sporting or leisure activities. For a current program of events please go to the Madeira Tourism Board
Driving tips in Madeira
Driving is on the right hand side of the road. Getting around on the islands is trouble-free thanks to the modern road structure, which has been significantly improved in recent years.
Practically all points of these islands are served by a good road and transport network. You will need legal ID; valid national or international driving license, both with photographs and in the case of a hire car, the driver should also bear the hire contract.
The speed within cities and villages is limited to 40 – 50 km/h outside to 80 km/h. Seat belts are required both front and rear of the vehicle. Drinking and driving is not allowed in Madiera
Madeira and the Azores islands, because of their privileged geographical position and mountainous relief, have a surprisingly mild climate. Very mild average temperatures, 22C in the summer and 16C in the winter, and a moderate level of humidity, confer upon these islands exceptional subtropical features. The seawater temperature is also very mild, because of the influence of the warm Gulf current, presenting averages of 22C in the summer and 18 in the winter.
For more information see the official tourist board for Madeira