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
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.
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.
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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
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
In wintertime, the southeast coast, including Garajau, Caniço, Reis Magos, Santa Cruz and Caniçal, can be a little bit more robust and windy than the south or southwest coast. However, Machico bay is naturally more sheltered and has a golden sandy beach. Click here to see hotel map.
Machico city has a sheltered bay and a golden sandy beach
The northern part of the island is Nature at its purest state, where rolling waves meet the greenest landscape (Laurissilva forest), the ideal setting to take a deep breath and relax. Porto Moniz, São Vicente, Ponta Delgada, Santana are some of the main towns and villages on the north coast. Porto da Cruz is a good example and a popular location for surfers. Click here to see map.
North coast from Porto Moniz to Ribeira da Janela
Madeira is famous for its levada and mountain walks, so where should you choose a hotel for your stay? Well, it doesn’t really matter, as all walking companies pick you up at your hotel in the morning and drop you off in the evening after your walk. The same goes for island tours and most other trips. We strongly recommend that you do not go on walks solo. Why? Accidents do happen and, therefore, we recommend that you use a professional walking company, with a qualified mountain guide. Most groups are between 8 to 12 persons, and transport is by minibus.
Beware of travel advisory sites
One site we consider that has more genuine reviews is www.booking.com, as you can only write your comments if you have actually booked and stayed in accommodation and given your personal details. Recently, an Italian restaurant made a complaint against one of the largest advisory sites due to a high number of negative reviews that were not true, claiming that it was being targeted by one of its competitors. Since the advisory site refused to remove the comments in question, the establishment decided to register a fictitious restaurant on the website, hired a company in India, which there are many, that specializes in writing fake reviews and, within six weeks, it became the number 1 restaurant on this international travel advisory website for its region, even though it did not exist. One of the solutions we propose at Madeira Portugal to stop this abuse would be to have a traceable international ID number for every person who wants to leave a review or a comment on any digital media, so that they can be held accountable for any untrue damaging comments.
Funchal Lido Promenade with the Clube Naval pool areas
Save some time and select from these Madeira hotels. Madeira-Portugal.com is the biggest online hotel and accommodation guide for Madeira, and we are part of Visitar Madeira Lda, an official promotional company. You can select your hotel from our guide, using the location maps to ensure you are exactly where you want to stay. Within our guide, you will find the best hotels and resorts, ‘quintas’ (manor houses), self-catering apartments, hostels, guesthouses and villas in the three, four and five-star categories, each of which we regularly visit and fully recommend.
We recommend our comprehensive destination travel guides for the island, www.madeira-web.com and www.madeira-live.com. These highly acclaimed tourism websites have videos and live webcams, all the things to do and places to see plus a wealth of other useful information, such as airport transfer services.
So whatever your preference, we are sure you'll find what you are looking for in our wonderful island!
Funchal Lido hotel area – from the left: Hotel Enotel Lido and Hotel Meliã
Pestana Promenade Hotel and the Funchal Lido Promenade
The famous Ritz Madeira cafe and restaurant, situated on the main street overlooking the beautiful gardens, is probably Funchal’s best place to people-watch and have a leisurely drink, snack or meal. The Ritz hosts a wonderful dinner dance and cabaret show every Saturday, starring Sian Lesley, who started her career at the Moulin Rouge, and later at the Lido de Paris and Casino da Madeira.
The Ritz Madeira seen from Municipal Garden
The Ritz esplanade by night
Madeira grows bananas throughout the year
Views of the capital, Funchal, from the mountains