DRIVING BY CAR IN MADEIRA – OUR TRAVEL TIPS

1. Madeira is part of Portugal`s overseas provinces as an autonomous region, part of the EU. In Madeira island you have to drive on the right, the same as in Portugal or the most of EU countries

2. The island is small, about 55-60 km long and 15-20 km wide. Small dimensions are easy to handle

3. In Madeira, you will experience one of the most challenging drives you ever had. If you want to be alive, you have to adapt your driving to this island, your past experiences in other mountainous areas will help you to be safe on the roads.



4. You will need a good car with a strong engine and breaks, and excellent driving skills, confident and concentrated driver. When you choose a rental car model for your day trips in Madeira, try to avoid the relatively low-powered models, they will suffer on the hills, so you will need to shift in first gear.

5. In Madeira the road network is very good and modern. There are two motorways: the 44 km long VR1 (via rapido 1) road on the south-eastern part of the island, providing a fast connection between Funchal and the Madeira International Airport and VR2 with a short section at Camara de Lobos (construction interrupted). Main roads signed VE are also important parts of the road network. VR1 and VE1, VE2, VE3 roads form a 170 km long “ring” road which goes around the island, with high number of tunnels and roundabouts. But the ring is broken, from Sao Jorge to Boaventura on the northern area and from Ponta do Pargo to Porto Moniz on the western area you have to drive on side road signed ER 101, which is less developed and full of twisty, hilly sections that take a long time to traverse. It takes 3 and half hours to do a single trip by car around the coastline without stops. VE4 road cross the island, going from Ribeira Brava (southern coast) to Sao Vicente (northern coast), providing smooth and faster driving (only 20 minutes). There are lots of other side roads signed ER inside the island which cross the mountains. Locals call “caminho” the narrowest, steepest and most dangerous side roads on the highest altitudes of the island, usually one lane roads.


6. There can be rock fallings on the roads, drive carefully.

7. You can often find open rainwater channels on the margin of the roads, which save the road from rainwater runoff coming from the mountains, drive carefully, aim to stay far from these channels.


8. Local pedestrians often use the road to walk on it, as there are few pavements at the side of the road on Madeira. Reduce your speed, be careful of them.

9. Finding parking places in Funchal is not always easy. Payment needed in most of the urban carparks (0.6 EUR per hour), you have to use the “pay and display” machines. From Saturday 2 pm to Monday morning you don`t have to pay for parking.


10. You can find lots of viewpoints across the island (“miradouro”) with outdoor ovens, fireplaces, wooden furniture in a nice park environment. Some of the viewpoints have toilets, handwashing opportunity, eateries, cafes. Parking places are usually available for the tourists at the viewpoints for free.

11. Before you start your trip, check the parking opportunities on the maps, it is very useful for travel planning. But be careful because google streetmaps are from 2009-2018, not fresh.

12. We used the offline Google Maps for navigation, getting driving directions from point A to point B. The map area must be downloaded before travel, when you do have internet service. It worked well, but there were unpunctualities on the maps.

13. If you are afraid of driving a car in Madeira, you can choose taxi service or public transport or you can book tours and adventures from a tour operator company.