Where to stay in Madeira: Best Areas 2022

If you are tying to choose where to stay in Madeira, we feel your pain. There are several worthy places to act as a base for your visit, so today we will give you a rundown of the ones we think should be on your shortlist and hopefully help you make your decision.

Why Madeira Island is a great place for a getaway

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the island of Madeira is an excellent holiday destination, offering something for everyone. You will find a beautiful landscape, plenty of attractions and festivities, and several adrenalin raising adventure options.

Câmara de Lobos

One of the most attractive things about Madeira is the all-year-round pleasant weather, making any time of the year great for a stay in Madeira. However, if you want to swim in the ocean, we feel April to October are the best months for beach time.

While Madeira is a small island, it actually feels quite big, with several cities and many unique attractions. This makes it a bit of a challenge when you try to decide where to stay on Madeira.

If you intend to explore the entire island of Madeira relatively well, you will need to stay in Madeira for a week to ten days, depending, of course, on your pace and time in-between attractions.

To help you manage your time and itinerary, we have pulled together what we think are the best locations for your trip to Madeira. (link)

Choose a base for your stay in Madeira

Finding a base is a little easier if you know a bit about the key spots on the island, so below you will find a local view of the main areas on Madeira Island and what they offer visitors.

Funchal, the capital and the heart of Madeira

The capital city of the archipelago, Funchal, has a great variety of restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, tourist attractions, and accommodation options, ranging from guesthouses to luxury hotels. The city offers plenty of tours and public transport, making it a great base from which to discover other places on the island.

funchal-madeira
Spring in Funchal

Who should stay in Funchal

Funchal suits travelers who like to stay in the center of the action. It is a youthful and vibrant city, where you will stumble over street art on your way to the colorful Mercado dos Lavradores, which is, by the way, a great place to buy typical products from Madeira.

On the south coast of Madeira Island, Funchal, the capital city offers an abundance of things to see and do, making it a great place to stay in Madeira if you don’t want to spend too long moving around the island and prefer everything nearby. Family groups and solo travelers like the convenience Funchal offers.

Protected by Fortaleza de Santiago (1614), Funchal is a city enriched by Portuguese history, plainly seen in the architecture of historical city center.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden, Funchal

Don’t miss: From Funchal, you can take the Monte cable car up to the beautiful botanical gardens. Visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, an oriental garden with several Japanese gardens with Asian sculptures, and the Madeira Botanical Garden, where 2500 exotic plants from all continents are spread across five areas. 

  • Splurge: The Cliff Bay-PortoBay is a luxury hotel on a natural promontory with direct sea access and lush gardens. This hotel offers its guest the opportunity to take part in wine tastings and vineyard visits. There is a 2-Michelin star restaurant, Gallo d’Oro, on-site.
  • Splurge: Les Suites at the Cliff Bay is the best luxury hotel in Funchal. Resting on a cliff, it offers its clients luxurious rooms with panoramic views over the ocean. There is both an indoor pool and a heated outdoor swimming pool on the edge of the cliff, granting you spectacular views.
  • Mid-range: Hotel Orquidea is a three-star property with an expansive rooftop terrace overlooking the ocean. The property offers large twin, double and triple rooms, making it a good choice for small families. There is an onsite restaurant and a rooftop bar.

See more hotels in Funchal here

Final word: Funchal is the easiest city to move around in, with the best transport connections and where many annual festivities like Festival da Flor.

Santa Cruz

Not far from Funchal, in the southeast of Madeira Island, Santa Cruz is the second oldest municipality. Looking over the city is the Cristo Rei monument, an impressive 14m statue that is impossible to miss. The Aquaparquea, an aquatic amusement park, next to the Complexo Balnear da Ribeira da Boaventura, is a must for water babies.

Santa Cruz

Who Should Stay in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is an ideal place to stay if you like the idea of being near the capital but prefer things to be a little quieter. There are plenty of activities for kids when they tire of the beach. The old town features small cafés, restaurants, and shops, and in the newly renovated Lido area, there are plenty of luxury hotels to choose from.

Local Tip: You can enjoy a beautiful sunset over the ocean near the miniature Cristo Rei statue at Garajau viewpoint

See more hotels in Santa Cruz

Final word: Santa Cruz is a great choice for families

Câmara de Lobos

A small colorful fishing village with its boats bobbing in the water, Câmara de Lobos is on the south coast right next to Funchal. The home of Madeira’s wine, Poncha, Câmara de Lobos has a different feel to the busy city vibe of Funchal, but it still is lively, especially at night.

Câmara de Lobos, CC BY-SA 3.0

Why you should stay in Câmara de Lobos

From Câmara de Lobos, you can take a cable car or a boat to Faja dos Padres, a huge organic farm beside the Atlantic Ocean. At the bottom of the cliff, you will enjoy walking around banana plantations, corridors of fresh flowers and plants, and an organic meal eaten at the on-site restaurant.

Then make your way up to Cabo Girao, the highest cape of Europe, 580 meters above sea level. Here you can look down on the ocean and the coastline of Madeira through the beautiful glass skywalk. Not far off, you can walk to Curral das Freiras, a valley surrounded by tremendous mountains, and check the viewpoint that looks down upon the valley from Eira do Serrado.

Finally, watch the stunning views of the sunrise and sunset, on Pico do Areeiro or from a hike-away Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of Madeira.

There is enough variety of accommodations here, from shared rooms to country cottages and hotels, even one at the bottom of the cable cars.

  • Casa da PraiaLocated on a quiet street with stunning views over the ocean, this property is just 2 minutes from the beach.
  • Village Cabo GiraoWith 1-4 bedroom villas and apartments with access to indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and free private parking. A good choice for families with playgrounds and activities for kids.

See more hotels in Câmara de Lobos

Final word: Santa Cruz is an ideal choice for nature lovers and hikers. Nearby are some of the most breathtaking views in Madeira.

Machico

Machico, the oldest municipality located on the east coast, where the Portuguese Joao Goncalves Zarco and Tristao Vaz Teixeira stepped foot on Madeira Island for the first time in 1419. The town is fairly close to the airport and offers quite a variety of public transport, being a great choice for families and anyone who enjoys a variety of activities both on sea and land.

Machico

Who should stay in Machico

Machico is a great choice for those who love the beach or for sports enthusiasts. Spend the day at sea, head out on a whale-watching tour, or bask on one of the beautiful sandy beaches the Banda D’Alem beach, or on the famous pebble beach Sao Roque beach.

If you’re a golf lover, the Santo da Serra Golf Course is a three nine-hole course 500 meters above sea level.

Not far from the old town of Machico, you can go to Caniçal, an ancient fishing village, and visit the Whale Museum, where giant whale bones remember the old and, now forbidden, whale hunting days, or you can walk towards the eastern cape to spend your afternoon on the beach with fine black sand “Prainha”.

Local Tip: If you hike Ponta de Sao Lourenco, go to the furthest point Ponta do Furado where you can find a staircase with a view of the other Madeira Islands, the Desert Islands, and Porto Santo on the horizon.  

Caniçal is also a popular starting point for hiking to Ponta de São Lourenço, a natural reserve home to many birds and endemic plant species, from where you have a panoramic view of Madeira. 

  • Luxury: Dom Pedro da Madeira – Right next to the natural dark sand beach “Prainha”, This is a luxury hotel catering to families. There is a huge range of room sizes and styles, many with beach views. Suites offer separate living areas.
  • Moderate: Amparo – a great value family-run hotel known for its marvelous breakfast. Just a two-minute walk from the beach.

See more hotels in Machico

Final word: Machico is a brilliant choice for nature lovers with lots of natural attractions nearby

Calheta

Hugged by tall cliffs, near sandy beaches and great hiking trails Calheta on the south coast is the biggest producer of sugar cane, bananas, and grapes in Madeira. It also offers the warmest weather year-round.

Who should stay in Calheta: Things to Do and See

If you’d like to visit a beautiful sandy beach while you stay in Madeira, consider Calheta’s golden sand beach covered in sand imported from Morocco.

But Calheta is more than its sandy beaches, from here you can make it to Madeira’s highest plateau, Paul da Serra, a nature reserve with a breathtakingly beautiful hike declared as a Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Paul da Serra

Walking ahead, you will enter the road leading you to Faja da Ovelha, a small village that seems to have stopped in time. Enjoy the “Bolo do Caco” on the roadside and then walk up the road to the most western point in the archipelago Ponta do Pargo, characterized by its lighthouse built on a steep hillside and the panoramic sea view.

Local tip: If you like hiking, don’t miss trailing the Levada of 25 Fontes in Rabaçal, a hiking trail of medium difficulty that guides through the forest Laurissilba da Madeira, UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you go down the PR6, you can visit the lake of 25 Fontes (waterfalls).

  • Splurge: Savoy Saccharum Resort & SPA – has spacious rooms and amazing sea views that you can watch from your private balcony. It also has a stunning rooftop infinity pool from where you can gaze into the horizon.
  • Moderate: Calheta Beach Savoy Signature, a beachfront hotel you can choose to book from single, to double rooms, suites, and apartments, all equipped with air conditioning. This family-friendly hotel offers a kid’s playground and outdoor pool, one of them on the sun terrace.

See more hotels in Calheta

Final word: Calheta offers some of the best sunsets on the Island.

Jardim do Mar

Jardim do Mar is in the municipality of Calheta, on the southwest coast of Madeira. This village looks alive with the colorful wildflowers, steep cliffs, and deep blue sea. Jardim do Mar is popular among solo travelers, young couples, and surfers.

Calheta

Local Tip:  Small paths can lead you through beautiful landscapes overlooking the nearby village of Paul do Mar. So be sure to bring comfortable shoes with you and dare to explore!

Where to say in Jardim do Mar Madiera

  • Moderate: TarmarPlace a small pet-friendly hotel just 100m from the beach. Many rooms have ocean views and some have balconies. The private balcony suites have amazing views. The property has a rooftop terrace.
  • Budget: Cecilia’s House – with homely rooms and a private bathroom, this is a reasonable choice if you are on a budget.
  • Soul Glamping: a luxury tent that accommodates up to four guests, with a hot tub overlooking the ocean or for a good budget hotel (link to our glamping article)

See more hotels in Jardim do Mar

Final word: Madeira’s meeting point for the surfing community.

Ponta do Sol

Ponta do Sol is a coastal charming town on the southwest coast of Madeira. Its privileged location granted its name since Ponta do Sol receives excellent sun exposure all throughout the year. Ponta do Sol is a quiet place, great for relaxing and popular with romantic couples. The pebble beach palm tree promenade gives way to colorful seafront hotels and tall apartments on the opposite side.

Ponta do Sol

Why you Should Stay in Ponta do Sol

In the center of the village, you will encounter a 15th-century church, Nossa Senhora da Luz, that is definitely worth a visit because of the beautiful interior in Baroque style. From Ponta do Sol you can reach Canhas, a small agricultural village with vast green plains from where you can quickly reach Paul da Serra and its levadas (hiking trails).

You can also choose to go to Madalena do Mar, a town surrounded by rocky slopes that offers a magnificent view of the high volcanic cliffs and narrow elongated coast.

Local Tip: Madalena do Mar is home to the largest banana plantation in Madeira. Every July a huge 2-day festival, Festa da Banana, sees a celebration of the importance of the fruit to the community.

Where to stay in Ponta do Sol

  • Splurge: Estalagem da Ponta do Sol – set on top of a cliff, they have transformed this farmhouse into a luxury hotel with a stunning infinity pool and a hot tub with panoramic sea views.
  • Luxury: Escarpa – The Madeira Hideaway, another luxury hotel with double rooms with balconies and villas, an outdoor pool, and a substantial breakfast.

Find more hotels in Ponta do Sol

Final word: Ponta do Sol is a brilliant choice for a romantic getaway

Porto Moniz

Stretching out into the sea, Porto Moniz is a municipality on the north coast of Madeira. Porto Moniz is famous for its natural saltwater pools, surrounded by volcanic rocks that protect them from the violent currents of the Atlantic Ocean.

Porto Moniz natural swimming pools

But Porto Moniz is more than its natural swimming pools. It is home to Ribeira da Janela Levada, they say the path is one of the most beautiful in Madeira. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the end of the walk, the ocean views are wonderful.

Who Should Stay in Porto Moniz

If you love swimming, walking, and eating delicious seafood, Porto Moniz is for you.

Following the path between Ribeira da Janela and the plateau of Paul da Serra, you can find the beautiful Fanal Forest, a magical home to six- hundred-year-old trees. From Porto Moniz, you can get to the small village Achadas da Cruz, where you can get a panoramic view over the green hills and blue sea when riding up the cable car.

Where to stay in Porto Moniz Madeira

  • Moderate: Aqua Natura is a seafront chic hotel with spacious rooms and amazing views over the Atlantic Ocean, just 1 minute away from a natural swimming pool.
  • Budget: Hotel Salgueiro is a great budget hotel with everything you need, and a fantastic spacious terrace with ocean views.

Find more hotels in Porto Moniz

Final word: Perfect for those who love a mix of hiking and dining

São Vicente de Fora

On the northwest coast of Madeira, São Vicente de Fora is completely surrounded by mountains and green landscapes.

Where to stay in Madeira Sao Vinente de Fora
São Vicente de Fora

Who Should Stay in São Vicente de Fora

If you love volcanoes and are curious about geology, go on a tour at the São Vicente Caves, where you can see how the lava traveled by the shape of the tunnels. If you have time, it is also worth a visit to the Centro de Vulcanismo de Sao Vicente, where you can learn about volcanoes and how the island of Madeira was formed.

If you are interested in the local flora, the indigenous garden, and the Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, are most definitely worth a visit.

Where to stay in São Vicente de Fora Madeira island

  • Guest House: Solar da Bica – a comfortable 3-star guest house facing the mountains with a stunning indoor pool with views of the mountains.
  • Guesthouse: Casa Da Piedade – a restored 18th-century home with indoor and outdoor pools. Rooms are bright and the property has a very relaxed ambiance and free parking.

FInd more hotels in São Vicente de Fora

Final word: São Vicente de Fora is a great place for exploring the island’s geology

So there you have it – a quick rundown of the best areas to stay in Madeira. Before you decide check out our guide on the beaches of Madeira and the best things to do when you visit.