The most important things to know before visiting Madeira for the first time.
Mathias De Coensel
The official language of Madeira is Portuguese, and it is always a good idea to learn a few key phrases to be polite, such as "please" and "thank you." However, English is widely spoken in tourist areas, so visitors should not have too much difficulty communicating with locals. It is worth noting that some visitors who have previously visited the Portuguese mainland may notice a slightly thicker accent in Madeira.
The official currency in Madeira is the euro, which is widely available and can be easily obtained at various locations, including Madeira International Airport and the cruise terminal. ATMs are also available throughout the island and accept foreign debit and credit cards for euro withdrawals, with most machines located in Funchal. While travelers' checks are still accepted in banks, they are considered outdated nowadays. It is advisable to avoid exchanging money at hotels, as rates tend to be higher. Instead, it is recommended to use ATMs or exchange currency at reputable banks or exchange offices.
In Madeira, the local power supply voltage is 220V, 50Hz, and the sockets are typically round, two-pin. Visitors who need to power devices that are not compatible with this voltage should bring a voltage converter, as they may be difficult to find on the island. However, it is worth noting that many modern laptops and smartphones, including iPhones, are designed to accept both 110V and 220V, so visitors should check the specifications of their devices before traveling.
Madeira is located in the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) time zone, which is the same as UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). The island observes daylight saving time during the summer months, moving forward one hour in March and back one hour in October. This is the same as the United Kingdom, although it's worth noting that strictly speaking, GMT remains the same in the winter months. Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that Madeira uses a 24-hour clock rather than the am and pm system commonly used in other countries.
Madeira enjoys a mild and pleasant climate that has earned it the nickname "the island of eternal spring." The average temperatures on the island are around 25 °C (77 °F), and there are about 8 hours of sunshine per day, making it a popular destination for sun-seekers. Visitors to Madeira can also expect minimal rainfall, particularly during the summer months, with average monthly rainfall typically ranging from 5 to 10 mm. Overall, the mild and stable climate of Madeira makes it an attractive year-round destination for those seeking a pleasant and relaxing vacation.
Best Time to Visit Madeira
Madeira is a destination that can be enjoyed year-round thanks to its mild Mediterranean climate. However, the period between April and October is considered the best time to visit as the coastline is home to up to 20 species of whales and dolphins, making it an ideal time for marine wildlife watching. Visitors should note that the weather is generally warmer and drier during the summer months, which is also the peak tourist season. However, shoulder seasons such as spring and autumn can offer a pleasant climate with fewer crowds, making it a great time to visit for those who prefer a more relaxed and quieter atmosphere.
How many days for Madeira
Madeira is a relatively small island, but it offers a wealth of activities and sights to explore. I recommend spending at least one week on the island to fully appreciate its natural beauty and cultural attractions. For visitors who want to combine hiking, sightseeing, and relaxation, a 10-day itinerary may be more appropriate. This will allow for more time to explore the island's diverse landscapes, from the rugged coastline to the verdant mountains, and also provide ample opportunity to unwind and enjoy the island's laid-back atmosphere. Ultimately, the duration of a trip to Madeira will depend on individual preferences and interests, but I recommend allowing enough time to fully appreciate all that the island has to offer.
How to travel Madeira
A recommended way to fully experience Madeira is to choose a central location and rent a car to drive around the island, which provides greater freedom and access to remote sites. While public transportation is available, it may not reach all the less-traveled spots. However, if you prefer not to rent a car, Funchal, the capital city, is an ideal base as it offers numerous accommodation options, dining venues, and cultural landmarks. Funchal also has a well-connected network of buses, and taxis are readily available. Nevertheless, keep in mind that some of the island's most hidden attractions may still require a vehicle to access.