Where to Stay Madeira in by Best Areas and Hotels
If you’re wondering where to stay in Madeira, or where is the best area to stay in Madeira, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will give an insight into the best places to stay in Madeira for first-time visitors, couples, families, backpackers, all budget travelers; read on as I show you the best of Madeira.
Located off the coast of mainland Portugal, Madeira is a stunning island that was first discovered in the early 15th century. An island brimming with culture and beautiful locations, it’s an incredibly popular destination among tourists with a wide range of interests.
While the variety on offer could potentially cause first time visitors some confusion when deciding where to stay, I’m going to try and make things much simpler for you, by outlining my top 12 areas to stay in Madeira and telling you exactly what’s so great about them.
So, if you want to visit Madeira but aren’t sure where to stay, I highly recommend reading on.
Where To Stay In Madeira: Tips & Info
Before you begin, there are a few things you want to consider when making your decision, that could help to narrow it.
If you take these and other similar facts that may be important to you into consideration before reading on, it will make coming to your decision considerably easier.
Where To Stay In Madeira – The 12 Best Areas To Stay In Madeira
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time we get into examining our list of areas. We are going to start on the south-eastern part of Madeira and move clockwise around the island, as almost all of the selections are coastal resorts.
Where to Stay Madeira Map
To see more detail of where to stay in Madeira map, go to google map;
1. Funchal – Where to Stay in Madeira for Nightlife, Shopping
We begin in the capital and most populous city on the island, Funchal, which is also our only destination not situated on the coast.
The historic centre of the island, the city was first settled in the early 15th century and was named after the Portuguese word for fennel, funcho, which grew in abundance in the area. As such, it is filled with historic buildings and sights, as well as more than 17 museums, which are sure to keep the history buffs occupied for a week or two.
For those of you that don’t want to fill your days with history and culture, or simply want some variety in your trip, there are also a wide range of shops, as well as marinas and beach resorts in the surrounding areas.
In fact, perhaps the biggest draw to Funchal is the big city feel it offers. With high-end hotels, restaurants and bars, this is an ideal location for those looking to enjoy a city break in the glorious weather, which remains warm year-round.
Younger visitors and party animals are drawn in by the nightlife, with bars open as late as 4am and clubs running all the way to 7am. No matter whether you prefer your nights wild or sophisticated, Funchal will have something to offer.
You even have a number of famous festivals and seasonal events taking place, from wine festivals and firework displays to Christmas a market.
At the end of the day, whatever it is you look for on a vacation, Funchal is a location that will have something to offer you.
STAY IN FUNCHAL IF:
- You are interested in the history of the island
- You enjoy museums
- Nightlife is an essential part of your trip
- You prefer staying in a big city
- You are visiting for any of the seasonal events
- You want to spend time shopping
- You want a wide range of bars, hotels and restaurants
2. Sao Martinho – Best Area to Stay to Visit the Church of St Martin
Located just to the south-west of the city of Funchal, but still in the Funchal municipality, Sao Martinho makes up the coastal part of the city’s metropolitan area. While popular for many of the same reasons as Funchal, such as its range of bars, restaurants, shops and hotels, there are 2 main attractions here that draw the visitors in.
The first is the Igreja de Sao Martinho, or Church of St. Martin. Construction originally started on the church in 1883, to replace the previous church, which was now deemed too small for the area. However, lack of funds halted progress for almost 25 years, until a local parishioner bequeathed his substantial fortune to the church upon his death.
It has now become an iconic landmark on the island which, while beautiful in its own right, combines with its hilltop location to provide an out of this world vista. If you visit at the right time of year, it even hosts the fabulous St Martins Day festival, which really helps to bring both the church and the area as a whole to life.
The other popular attraction here is the stunning harbour, which is considered to be one of the most spectacular in the entire world. The main port on the island and one of the most popular among European cruise tours, large ships can be seen sailing in and out on a daily basis.
Whether you fancy taking a cruise yourself, are docking on the island while already on one, or simply enjoy sipping a drink in a bar and watching the boats float across the waves, this is a fantastic option for you to choose.
STAY IN SAO MARTINHO IF:
- You want a range of clubs, bars, shops, restaurants and hotels
- You are planning to take a cruise or making a stop while already on one
- You want to visit the Church of St Martin or attend its festival
3. Camara De Lobos – Best Area for Wine and Seafood Lovers
A short way west along the coast brings us to our next destination, Camara De Lobos. Believed to be the location the first visitors to the island landed on, its name translates to “Sealion Chamber”, due to the quantity of them they discovered in the area.
Despite featuring the largest population anywhere on the island outside of Funchal, Camara De Lobos has still managed to remain relatively traditional, as the fishing and fruit farming town it has always been known to be.
Banana plantations, cherry tree orchards and vineyards are in abundance here, with a large proportion of the islands legendary wine originating in this location.
Being on the edge of such a tourist heavy area, it has allowed that element to slowly filter across and become just prevalent enough that the town can capitalise on the industry, without having to lose its identity.
Surrounded by a gorgeous bay on the coast and the Cabo Girao, the highest sea cliff in Europe, to the rear, the beauty of the town is almost unmatched anywhere on the island.
For anyone looking to sample fresh wines, fruits and seafood, experience some of the traditional culture of the island, and take in some breath-taking views, all while never being too far from the tourist luxuries and amenities many people crave on a vacation, there simply isn’t a better place to do it on Madeira than right here.
STAY IN CAMARA DE LOBOS IF:
- You want to experience a traditional Madeiran fishing village
- You want to sample fresh fruit, wine and seafood
- You want to be near to tourist conveniences
- You want to take in the stunning views
4. Ribeira Brava – Best Area for Stunning Views of the Bay
We move now to Ribeira Brava, a destination that gained its name from the river that once flowed through the hills, which translates to angry or wild river.
A small, sea-side town, this is an ideal location for anyone searching for a chilled out, relaxing destination. Featuring a stunning bay, that only looks better when viewed from the hills above, you can spend your days walking along the ocean, relaxing in the sand or enjoying the fantastic range of bars, cafes, restaurants and shops that are dotted throughout the region.
In recent years, the area has also begun to develop, in order to be able to cater more for tourists. This means hotels and resorts, as well as entertainment facilities, such as sports complexes and stadiums, have started to spring up, offering a well-rounded range of options during your stay.
Offering the combination of a relaxed small town with more touristic features, yet not having developed the massive crowds, Ribeira Brava is a fantastic choice for people looking for a little bit of everything during their vacation.
This is only furthered by the fact that the capital city of Funchal is only a 20-minute drive away, further increasing what’s available to you during your stay.
As an added note, if you happen to be lucky enough to visit the area in the month of June, you will get to witness the St. Peters day festival. This is a time of the year when the streets are filled with music, dancing and performances, giving you a unique view of the local culture.
STAY IN RIBEIRA BRAVA IF:
- You prefer a more relaxed, small town location
- You want to be situated near the capital city
- You enjoy sports
- You want to experience the stunning views of the bay
5. Ponta Do Sol – Best Quiet Traditional Location
The region of Ponta Do Sol has a name that literally translates to “sun point”, due to being the part of the island that traditionally receives the most sun each year. While that may seem ideal for anyone after a beach vacation, particularly outside of the height of summer, you may want to hold on for a second.
While the area does feature warm, crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming, the beaches in the region are pebbled, as opposed to sandy, meaning they aren’t ideal for those looking to sunbathe.
The area is instead best known for its fishing and farming industries, cultivating a great range of fresh produce and trading it, both around the island, as well as using its beautiful port to send the goods further afield.
This has slowly drawn visitors to the area, who are looking to experience a cultured view of the island and see a working village in full effect. This, as often happens, has cultivated a small tourist element in the area, with a number of resorts, restaurants and bars springing up throughout it.
So, while this is certainly not the sort of place to come for a fast paced, high octane vacation, it is an ideal choice for anyone seeking a more refined, exclusive trip, where you can take in some of the islands most stunning views, enjoy some of the freshest food you are ever likely to taste, or swim, dive and snorkel in its beautiful, warm water.
STAY IN PONTA DO SOL IF:
- You want a destination that is warm year round
- You prefer a quiet, traditional location
- You aren’t worried about soft, sandy beaches
- Nightlife isn’t important
- You want a slower pace to your vacation
Our next destination of Calheta is remarkably similar to Ponta Do Sol in a number of ways, which is perhaps unsurprising, given how close the two destinations are to one another. That said, there are two major differences that separate the two locations.
First off, is the beautiful, sandy beach at Calheta village, with its waters almost completely surrounded by rocky outcrops. This makes the town a perfect choice for anyone who wants to spend their days lying on the soft sand in a quiet location, or swimming in calm waters, which are especially well suited to those who enjoy the water but aren’t such strong swimmers.
The second difference is that Calheta is known for its numerous, stunning hiking trails, up into the hills behind the area. This makes it the perfect choice for anyone who wants to explore the natural beauty of the island, both inland and by the coast.
So, while it doesn’t feature quite the same high temperatures year-round as our previous location, it does offer more value for the hikers and sunbathers out there. If the overall vibe of these areas appeals to you, determining which of those two factors is more important to you will help you to determine which one to stay in.
STAY IN CALHETA IF:
- You want a quiet, traditional location
- You want to go hiking on some of the islands most stunning trails
- You enjoy the water but aren’t a strong swimmer
- You want to sunbathe on a quieter, more relaxed beach
7. Porto Moniz – Best Area to Stay for Stunning Waterfalls
We’re now going to leave the southern coast of the island and head to the very north-western point of Madeira, which is Porto Moniz.
A relatively small settlement, it has gained quite the following over the years for its natural pools. Lava has formed craters that have filled with sea water, making for a unique experience of being able to swim and relax in the crystal-clear waters, without having to worry about depth or the tide.
Frankly, it’s even just cool to be able to say you’ve swum in a pool created by a volcano and many visitors will visit just to be able to have that experience and make that claim.
The pools aren’t the only attractions here though, as there are a few other features that many visitors find enjoyable.
First off, there is the stunning forest and waterfall in the valley to the rear of the village. These locations are perfect for people to spend their days ambling through the woods, taking in the stunning natural sights, in the fabulously warm weather.
Then there is also the wine making and fishing industries that prop up the area’s economy. Once you’ve spent your days swimming in the pools, strolling through the forest and marvelling at the beauty of the waterfall, what better way to unwind than to sit down to a meal of some of the freshest seafood you will ever taste, while getting to sample some of the legendary Madeiran wine, right from its source.
STAY IN PORTO MONIZ IF:
- Great want to experience swimming in pools made of lava
- You enjoy walking in forests
- You want to see a stunning waterfall
- You want to taste fresh wine and seafood
8. Sao Vincente – Best Area to Stay for Experience Culture
As we begin to move east along the northern coast, we come to the town of Sao Vincente. Despite being a coastal town, like most of the ones we have looked at before, what’s on offer in Sao Vincente is vastly different to the other destinations.
A picturesque seaside town, the appeal to this area is one that revolves less around beaches and tourism, instead being more focused on the history, culture and natural beauty of the island.
Lavish 13th century manor houses are dotted around this vibrant destination, showing clear depictions of the type of thriving area Sao Vincente has been in the past. There’s even a beautiful chapel to demonstrate the religious history of the town.
Now filled largely with the local, working class people, it gives you a chance to fully embrace their culture, spending time in their traditional bars and restaurants, and seeing how it has progressed and changed over the years.
The area is also incredibly beautiful, with an abundance of greenery and vegetation meaning it relies less on beaches and coastal views than some other parts of the island.
Admittedly, Sao Vincente is more of an acquired taste than a few of the other destinations we’ve looked at, but it certainly has a charm all of its own and is ideal for those looking for that cultured, historic, traditional vibe on their trip.
STAY IN SAO VINCENTE IF:
- You want to take in the culture of the area
- You prefer greener, more natural areas
- You are interested in the historic manor houses located here
9. Santana – Best Lucury Area to Stay in Madeira
We now move some distance along the coast, to the north-eastern part of the island and the town of Santana. Much like our previous destination, the main draw of this location is the history on offer. That said, when compared to Sao Vincente, the sites on offer are both more targeted towards tourists, as well as greater in number.
For years, people visited to see the traditional homes of the island. White buildings, with red doors, blue trimmed windows and sloping, triangular, straw covered roofs. These dwellings had long been inhabited by local farmers and fishermen, giving visitors the opportunity to see how they have lived over the years, first-hand.
As the number of visitors grew, the area took advantage of it and created a number of hotels, bars, restaurants and shops in the area, to ensure the visitors were well catered for. However, in October 2004 those efforts went into overdrive, with the creation of the Madeira Theme Park in the area.
Covering over 7 acres, the park has been designed to show visitors the culture, history and traditions of both Madeira, as well as the neighbouring island of Porto Santo. Exhibits have been designed to show off the history of the area, with artifacts relating to the culture and daily lives of the local people included in many. All of these, combined with the scenic location of the park, give a truly in-depth look at how things have developed here.
This intentionally historical draw, combined with the tourist conveniences on offer, make Santana a totally unique experience and one that is perfectly suited to people looking for a vacation that includes both of those elements
STAY IN SANTANA IF:
- You are interested in learning about the culture and history of the island
- You enjoy tourist luxuries and conveniences
- You like beautiful scenery
- You want to see genuine historical artifacts and buildings, first-hand
10. Machico – Best Area to Stay in Madeira for Golf
Next, we move to Machico, at the very north-eastern tip of the island. Among all of the destinations on Madeira, this is potentially one of the more high-end, even featuring one of its premier golf clubs.
The area features the third largest population on the island and has many tourist bars, hotels and restaurants, so you will comfortably be able to find a vibrant experience waiting for you, if that’s what you’re after.
It is also known to feature the mildest temperatures on Madeira. While this doesn’t make it the obvious choice for those who’s primary goal is working on their tan during the trip, it does make it well suited for anyone looking to enjoy the beauty and culture of the island, without pouring with sweat throughout.
That said, the area does still feature a beautiful beach, and while the temperatures may not be scorching, they are certainly pleasant, making it a good option to take a swim or have fun on the sand for a while.
With numerous nature walks or “Levada’s” in the area, as well as the beautiful harbour and scenic views across to Porto Santo, it also makes it an ideal spot for anyone looking to enjoy a laid-back stroll around the island, taking in its beauty and culture as you go.
STAY IN MACHICO IF:
- You prefer milder temperatures
- You want to play a round of golf
- You enjoy going for walks
- You want to enjoy a meal or drink while sitting by the harbour
- You want to take in the beautiful coastal views and those of Porto Santo
11. Santa Cruz – Where to stay in Madeira Close to Airport
Our penultimate destination of Santa Cruz is located on the eastern coast. One of the most populous towns on Madeira, it has traditionally been a farming and fishing town, like many on the island.
This began to draw a small number of tourists to sample the fresh food and fish on offer in the area, which in turn helped to develop a unique form of tourism. The locals began producing a mass of traditional wicker baskets and embroidery to sell as souvenirs to people travelling in the region, which gradually grew the numbers of people coming to purchase these iconic gifts.
However, it was when the international airport in the area expanded in 2002 that tourism exploded in the area. Named after iconic footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, a native of the island, this brought a huge influx of tourists the area, leading to a boom in infrastructure to support this new industry.
Bars, shops, restaurants, beach resorts and even a golf club were constructed, to ensure people continued to visit the area and spend their money. That has allowed it to become a very well-versed destination, with attractions to keep guests entertained morning, noon and night.
From days golfing and swimming, to walking trips exploring the history and culture of the town, as well as bars and beaches to simply laze your days away, Santa Cruz is the perfect choice to meet your needs, all without ever having to move too far away from the airport.
STAY IN SANTA CRUZ IF:
- You want to remain near the airport
- You are interested in purchasing traditional, hand-made, souvenirs
- You want to see a little more of Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport
- You like tourist amenities and conveniences
- You want to play a round of golf or two
12. Porto Santo – Best Exclusive Destination to Stay in Madeira
Our final destination of Porto Santo may seem a little strange, as it isn’t actually located on Madeira. Instead, it is a small island just off its coast. The reason I’m including it is to provide an out of the box type of choice for you, as well as because it’s a popular excursion for people staying on Madeira. With daily flights and ferries to the island, it makes for one of the longer, more unique options available.
Located 27-miles off the coast, the island is known as a tourist paradise. It features high end resorts, beautiful sandy beaches, a wide variety of bars, shops and restaurants, as well as even having its own golf course.
Despite all of this, due to its remote location, it attracts considerably less visitors than you would normally find in such a place. This gives it an air of exclusivity, where you can come to enjoy all of the tourist luxuries you could imagine, all while still being able to relax is a serene destination, without being surrounded by mobs of people.
STAY IN PORTO SANTO IF:
- You want a quiet and isolated beach resort
- You like traditional tourist amenities
- You fancy playing some golf
- You are ok with not staying on the main island of Madeira
- You want an exclusive destination
So, now that we’ve taken care of the best destinations, I’m sure there will be some of you with a few questions still lingering. That’s why, in order to make sure you can get your choice of location spot-on, I will now answer several the most frequently asked questions people have about Madeira.
- Where To Stay In Madeira For Hiking?
- Where To Stay In Madeira For Walking?
- Where To Stay In Madeira For Beaches?
- Where To Stay In Madeira Without A Car?
- Where To Stay In Madeira In January?
- Where To Stay In Madeira In March?
- Where To Stay In Madeira In April?
- Where To Stay In Madeira In November?
- Where To Stay In Madeira In December?
- Is Madeira Portugal Worth Visiting?
Where To Stay In Madeira For Hiking?
For anyone visiting Madeira with hiking as one of their primary goals, I’d have to suggest staying in Calheta. Known for featuring several the most stunning trails on the island, this will give you a range of choices, all with stunning views, so you can take a different hike every day of your stay if you wish.
The Vila Maria Quinta is an ideal choice for where to stay, as it is located in the hills near where the trails begin and features an “exceptional” 9.5/10 rating on booking.com. This makes it the perfect spot to kick off your daily hikes and then relax in a little luxury when you return for the evening.
Where To Stay In Madeira For Walking?
While some of you may think hiking and walking are pretty much the same thing, there is quite a big difference between a strenuous hike up a mountain and a leisurely stroll along a beach or nature trail.
That’s why my answer to this question is going to be different from the previous one, and I am going to recommend Machico as the best place to stay on the island for walking.
Featuring beautiful beaches and some of the best nature trails on the island, combined with its mildest temperatures, Machico is the ideal destination to enjoy a trip filled with long walks along the coast and through the country, without working up too much of a sweat.
For those who chose to stay here, I would recommend the Dom Pedro Madeira as the perfect place to do so. A 4-star hotel, with an 8.1/10 rating on booking.com, it’s an ideal place to relax in a little bit of luxury, after a long day spent walking your socks off.
Where To Stay In Madeira For Beaches?
While the beaches on Madeira are primarily known to be made of rocks and pebbles, there are a few of the more traditional sandy beaches on offer as well, the vast majority of which are man-made.
While I will give an honourable mention to Calheta, for its beautiful beach and high temperatures, I have to go with Machico as my recommendation on where to stay if beaches are your priority.
Not only does it feature one of the most popular beaches on the island, but it is also located near two of the other most highly rated choices, Prainha and Seixal. This variety just puts too much on the table for anywhere else on the island to compete with.
Similarly to my answer on “where to stay for walking” above, I will again suggest the Dom Pedro Madeira as the best choice for accommodation, as it simply stands out as the best option in town.
Where To Stay In Madeira Without A Car?
When it comes to where to stay without a car, it unquestionably has to be the capital city of Funchal. It has by far the most to offer in terms of attractions and nightlife, is located near both a beach resort and the harbour, as well as being extremely close to the airport.
This means that travelling around, whether that be at the beginning, middle or end of your trip, will always be quick and easy.
The Quinta Jardins do Lago is a stunning, 5-star hotel, with an “exceptional” 9.7/10 rating on booking.com, located in the centre of the city, that is simply perfect for maximising the ease and enjoyment of your trip even further.
Where To Stay In Madeira In January?
Travelling in January can be a strange experience, as many are still feeling the hangover of the festive season we’ve just left behind. However, on Madeira, they are keen to hold on to the spirit a little longer.
Firstly, in the capital of Funchal, there is the Cantar Os Reis. Held on the 12th night after Christmas, musicians from around the island perform in the streets and in auditoriums, to provide that last little bit of festivity for people.
Then, in nearby Santa Cruz, the Santo Amaro festival is celebrated a week later, where families set up festively decorated stalls, containing food prepared to provide one final festive meal.
So, if you’re travelling to Madeira in January, I would recommend staying in one of these two places, in order to take in this unique experience and help you rid yourself of the post-Christmas blues.
Where To Stay In Madeira In March?
Anyone travelling to the island in March simply has to stay in Funchal during their visit, as there is just so much going on.
From the Festival Of Wine, Embroidery & Handicrafts, and the Madeira Literary Festival, to the Earth Hour Funchal Race and Madeira SUP Challenge, in addition to the abundance of attractions already in the city, there just simply isn’t another location on the island that has as much to offer at this time of year.
As I stated in the “where to stay without a car section”, the Quinta Jardins do Lago is my preferred choice of hotel, and I will recommend it again here too.
Where To Stay In Madeira In April?
By April, the weather will just be beginning to warm up, opening a much wider range of possibilities for you to enjoy on your trip. With that in mind, I would suggest visiting Ponta Do Sol.
As the warmest place on the island, you will be able to enjoy most of the activities you could in the height of summer. When you then consider this is also the time when the town holds the Regional Sugar Cane Fair, displaying the history and culture of the area and giving you the opportunity to sample some of its finest food, drinks and cakes, it really becomes a no brainer.
While there, I would also recommend staying at the Estalagem Da Ponta Do Sol. A beautiful, 4-star hotel, with a “superb” 9.2/10 rating on booking.com, it is sure to make an already great experience just that little bit better.
Where To Stay In Madeira In November?
While November is somewhat of an unusual month in which to travel, it is also the month where the Church of St Martin, in Sao Martinho, hosts its St Martins Day festival, making that an ideal place to stay on your trip.
The area surrounding the church is known for growing chestnuts and grapes, which are both harvested and prepared for the festival. Fresh wines and roasted chestnuts are then served in the church’s grounds, along with numerous other local foods, for the two days of the 10th and 11th of November.
This unique experience is both beautiful and culturally enriching, making your November stay a magical one to remember.
For the best way to experience the festival, the Vila Marta features an “exceptional” 9.6/10 rating on booking.com and is one of the closest properties to the church, meaning you can spend less time traveling and more time eating, drinking and making the most of this fantastic occasion.
Where To Stay In Madeira In December?
Of all the months for me to select the best place to stay in Madeira, December is undoubtedly the easiest, and the area that I would recommend is the city of Funchal.
With December being the centre of the festive season, it’s a perfect time to explore the islands traditions in that respect. For starters, Funchal hosts a stunning Christmas market, and the streets are decorated with beautiful lights and decorations.
Then, when the 31st comes round, it rings in the new year by hosting one of the largest firework displays in not just Madeira but the entire world. These two facts make it an ideal destination to make the most of your stay.
Also, I know I’ve mentioned it twice before, but if you do plan on staying here, I would highly recommend staying at the Quinta Jardins do Lago, in order to truly get the most out of your trip.
Is Madeira Portugal Worth Visiting?
Madeira is a stunning island, featuring a beautiful combination of natural and urban beauty, traditional and modern entertainment, as well as enough history, culture and beaches to keep even the pickiest of travellers happy.
If you are looking for an island vacation, then I would say the answer to this question is a resounding yes, Madeira is absolutely worth visiting. Quite frankly, it can compete with any other island destination that comes to mind and is well worth both your time and money.
Madeira is a fabulous destination, that has something to offer for travellers from all walks of life. While the attractions can vary from place to place, if you know exactly what you are looking for, you are almost guaranteed to be able to find it here.
Hopefully after reading this, you will now be able to pinpoint the location that offers everything you need, so all that’s left is to go and start getting things booked, so you can set off on your very own dream vacation to the island.