Welcome to our home – Madeira island!
Our Madeira hotel guide, www.madeira-portugal.com, is published from our offices on the main street, Avenida Arriaga, in Funchal, the capital of Madeira. This hotel guide was first published in 1997 and is now the No. 1 online hotel guide in 12 languages and on page 1 of Google in more than one hundred countries. Due to Madeira’s geographical characteristics, the purpose of our guide is to help you choose the location and accommodation best suited to your needs, whether you prefer five star hotels, four star hotels or three star hotels, self-catering apartments, ‘quintas’ (manor houses), villas, hostels or guesthouses.
As a green volcanic mountain rising from the ocean, The Island is full of surprises. Unlike other volcanic islands, it has no arid areas – quite the contrary. Due to its fertile land and all year summer climate, this island is always in bloom with colourful flowers, fruit and vegetables. One interesting fact you may not know is that Madeira grows bananas throughout the winter months and is Europe’s only winter sun destination, together with our closest neighbours, the Canary Islands.
Unlike the Canary Islands, where the capitals are in the northern part and the tourist region is a one-hour drive to the south, Madeira has 80% of its tourist accommodation in the south in and around its capital city. Funchal is probably Europe’s safest and cleanest city, with no pollution, and even with so many tourists all year round, especially for New Year’s Eve, Carnival and the Flower Festival, this sophisticated and crime-free city has its own pace and keeps its normal working rhythm. But unlike other European tourist destinations, tourists do not overpower city life, being rather a positive addition, bringing together a variety of cultures and encouraging the city to develop and improve itself, but in a natural and gradual way. Throughout the years, Madeira has received several tourism awards, including the world’s leading island destination for 2015.
Hotels from the left: Cliff Bay, Belmond Reid’s Palace, Pestana Carlton Beach Club, Royal Savoy, Regency Club and Penha de França Mar
Location – Where should you stay?
Whether you prefer hotels, serviced apartments. manor houses/quintas with sea views or mountain views, one of the most important factors in choosing your accommodation is most definitely location. Why? Well, Madeira is a green floating garden of blooms that, like Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, rises spectacularly from the sea and mysteriously disappears into the clouds.
But don’t forget: the higher you go, especially in winter, the cooler it gets. So, if you want to avoid that, here’s a word of advice: stay below the so-called ‘banana line’. Confused? It is actually quite simple. Bananas are cultivated up to 200 meters above sea level, an altitude range that offers better climate conditions throughout the year. And if the tastiest bananas in the world prefer these weather conditions, probably so will you, especially in the winter. On the other hand, during summer time, the mountains are a fantastic option.
Even though in Madeira it is always summer, due to the island’s altitude difference, there can be snow on the mountaintops in the winter, as in Pico do Areeiro, but sunshine and 23 °C at sea level or below the banana line.
‘Banana line’ (in yellow), up to 200 meters above sea level Full Screen
Funchal – The capital city of Madeira
Since 1887, Madeira and its capital, Funchal, have been one of the oldest tourist destinations in Europe, chosen by European royal families and well-to-do travellers to spend their vacation in a sunny place, particularly during the winter. With its natural bay, the capital, Funchal, is located on the south coast, in the warmest, most sheltered part of the island, and the city centre expands from the harbour towards the mountains. All cruise liners berth in the Funchal city harbour within short walking distance of the main street.
About 80% of tourism, including hotels, apartments, villas and quintas/manor houses, is concentrated in the Funchal city area, between the old town and along the southwest coast, through the Promenade in the Lido area and on to Praia Formosa, which is the largest beach area.
But bare in mind, that even in Funchal, some hotels are inland, outside the city centre, in urban areas. So expect a distant sea view, as well as a hilly terrain with a steep gradient, which makes any walk more difficult. Besides, being on the outskirts of the city, there won’t be many restaurants, bars and other facilities around within walking distance. So, in this case, it is advisable to hire a car .
Funchal Hotel Map – from the old town, on the right, through the Lido area on to Praia Formosa beach Full Screen
Funchal hotels with sea access
From the old town (on the right-hand side of our Funchal map) to Praia Formosa (on the left), all hotels have amazing ocean views and several have direct sea access. But even if the ocean is not just a step away, many hotels are within a few hundred meters from seawater pools, with good facilities and safe access to the ocean. In the old town, there is Barreirinha beach complex, with a seawater pool and direct ocean access, as well as Praia de São Tiago, a pebble beach right next to Forte de São Tiago. Most of the hotels from the harbour to the Lido area have sea access. The Lido Promenade starts at Hotel Pestana Palms, and you can walk all the way along the seafront to Câmara de Lobos.
On the right-hand side of Hotel Pestana Palms on our map is Clube de Turismo da Madeira, a private club with an elevator which takes you down to a seawater pool with a restaurant, bar, sunbathing areas and safe access to the sea, to which tourists may have access all year round for a small daily fee. On the left of the Hotel Pestana Palms on our Hotel map is the Lido complex, with Funchal’s largest seawater pool, sunbathing areas, restaurant, bar and other facilities. A small daily admission fee is payable. Further along, about 200 meters, you come to Praia do Gorgulho, an excellently located pebble beach with showers and WC. Right next door is Clube Naval, a private club where non-members may spend the day on a sun lounger for a reasonable admission fee (in July, August and September, there is a different price for high season).
Moving further along the Promenade, you come to Ponta Gorda pool complex, which is very popular with local families with lots of children during the summer and offers direct sea access. Right next door are Poças do Governador natural pools. Walking along the botanical Promenade and slightly uphill, past Hotel Pestana Grand, you come to Centromar shopping centre, take the stairs cut into the cliff to Doca do Cavacas, beautiful small volcanic pools with direct sea access and a charming seafood restaurant. Adjoining Doca do Cavacas is a short man-made well-lit tunnel (from November to March 09:00–22:30, and from April to October 09:00–23:00) that takes you directly to Praia Formosa, the largest beach area on the island. It has excellent support facilities, such as changing rooms, lifeguard surveillance, car park, restaurants and bars.
Walking west further along Praia Formosa Promenade, where the pebble beach gets more sandy, you come to the beginning of a boardwalk, which takes you along the sea all the way to Câmara de Lobos. The Promenade walk between Hotel Pestana Palms and Câmara de Lobos, with the sea on one side and the botanical gardens and cliffs on the other, is between 4 and 5-km long. Regardless of which hotel you choose between the old town and Praia Formosa, you will always have many restaurants, bars and shops only a few minutes away.
Outside Funchal, along the southwest coast, you will find a more countryside area that is calmer than Funchal city centre, starting from Ribeira Brava to Ponta do Sol, Madalena do Mar, Calheta, Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar. All of these small towns have sea front locations and wonderful warm climate all year round. The village of Paul do Mar, with its rolling waves, is now becoming internationally famous as a surfing paradise. Click here to see map .
Ponta do Sol village – the southwest coast is the sunniest part of the island throughout the year