Whether you are visiting Madeira for a few days or a few weeks, and whether you are renting a car or using public transport, solo or as a family – this guide will list all the best areas to stay in Madeira, whatever your needs and travel style. A complete breakdown of all cities and accommodation options will help you choose the area and accommodation in Madeira that works best for you.
If you are planning your travel to this stunning island, you are probably wondering where is the best area to stay in Madeira and where to book your accommodation.
Madeira can be a bit tricky to travel around, especially if you do not plan on renting a car. However, contrary to popular belief, you can visit and travel around Madeira without a car, but you will encounter some challenges. For this reason, choosing the correct town to stay in is crucial, because you want to have good transport links around the island.
If you plan to rent a car, this guide is also for you, as I will give you a brief description of the ALL towns and areas in Madeira you could base yourself in.
For each town, I will tell you what type of traveller that town is best for, if it is a good place to stay if you have a car or not, what you can do and see there, and I will give you my personal recommendations for accommodations. I hope that after reading this post you will find your Madeira travel planning much easier!
Table of Contents
Best areas to stay in Madeira by category - snapshots
If you are looking for a very quick answer to your question about where to stay in Madeira, below is a quick overview and my ‘one-sentence’ recommendations. Read on to the full guide to all Madeira towns below that to gain a bit more in-depth information.
Best areas to stay in madeira for solo travellers
The best towns and areas to stay in Madeira for solo travellers are Funchal, Machico and possibly Santana and Porto Moniz for those solo travellers looking for some more remote experience.
Funchal is also the best area to stay in Madeira if you are a solo traveller on a budget and without a car. In Funchal, you will be able to find the most affordable accommodation and public transport links to nearly every part of the island. This is also where you will find a few of great social hostels if you are looking to meet other travellers.
Best areas to stay in Madeira for families
The best areas to stay in Madeira for families are Canico, Machico, Calheta and Porto Moniz. Those towns offer plenty of activities, beaches, often bathing complexes, playgrounds and a good choice of hotels and homestays. Every single of those towns can be a destination on its own but also a great base for further explorations.
Best areas to stay in Madeira without the car
The best areas to stay in Madeira if you are travelling without a car are Funchal, Machico and Santana.
Funchal is unquestionably the best area to stay in Madeira if you travelling without a car. From Funchal, you will find public busses to nearly every other area on the island, a great selection of accommodations and plenty of day trips or organised tours to choose from.
You could easily base yourself in Funchal for the whole duration of your stay in Madeira and be able to experience all of the Madeira attractions from there.
If you are not afraid of a few challenges and want to stay slightly off the beaten path with some access to public transport and or dont mind taking a taxi every now and then, you could also consider Ribeira Brava, Porto da Cruz, Porto Moniz or Camara de Lobos.
Best areas to stay in Madeira for Hiking and Nature
If you are looking for the best area to stay in Madeira that is near beautiful hikes, surrounded by mountains and spectacular nature and offers peaceful tranquillity then San Vincente, Santana but also Porto da Cruz will not disappoint you!
The best areas to stay in Madeira for hiking and easy access to the majority of trails are Funchal, Santana and Calheta. Although each of those towns will give you access to different hikes.
From Funchal, you can reach many hiking trails by public transport and generally Funchal is a great hiking base in Madeira. From Funchal, you can reach hikes like Balcoes, Levada do Furado, Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco, 25 Fountains Levada Walk and many more.
Santana is a great town to stay in if you want to hike Levada do Rei, Balcoes, Levada do Furado, Levada do Caldeirão Verde and Pico Ruivo.
From Machico, you can reach 2 of the most spectacular hikes – the Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco and Vereda do Larano. Calheta is best to stay in if you want to be near the Levada do Norte, Levada das 25 Fontes, Levada do Paul, Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova.
Best areas to stay in madeira for beach
If you are coming to Madeira to relax and spend a lot of time on the beach then the best areas to stay would be Calheta, Lido part of Funchal or Machico. In Calheta and Machico you will find lovely golden sand beaches and near Funchal Lido, you will be able to enjoy the bathing complex as well as Praia Formosa.
Santa Cruz and Ribeira Brava have pebble and dark sand beaches and Seixal has some of the most stunning volcanic beaches out there!
If you are looking for an ultimate beach holiday in Madeira you could also consider staying on the smaller island of Porto Santo.
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Best Areas to Stay in Madeira - Complete Breakdown of ALL towns
Funchal is without a doubt the best place to base yourself in Madeira. It’s a capital city and there are plenty of things to do in and out of the town and you can get to almost any part of Madeira by bus from here
In my opinion, it is also one of the most affordable places to stay in Madeira. You can find all kinds of accommodation here, including budget hostels, and with many supermarkets and stores to choose from, it is very easy to stay on a budget when you are in Funchal
Funchal will make a great base for all your explorations, as when you return from your adventures you can easily find a good restaurant to relax in and a sunset to ponder over. Since everything is within walking distance, it’ll be easy to relax after a long day of hiking.
Please note that Funchal is divided into 2 distinctive parts – the old town and the Lido. Lido is where you will find most of the hotels and all-inclusive resorts. The Old Town is the beating heart of Funchal and here you will find some of the best restaurants in town.
Anyone. But if you are visiting Madeira for the first time or want to explore Madeira by bus, Funchal is probably the best choice. Funchal is also great for travellers on a budget, as well as those who would like to splurge on good restaurants and excellent shopping. Funchal is the best area in Madeira for those travelling without a car. The transport links are excellent and you can reach almost any part of the country by public transport. Also, if you are looking for a very cultured area where you can explore museums, historical sites and seasonal events – Funchal should be your choice.
Things to do in Funchal:
- Explore Old Town painted doors
- Visit Monte Tropical Gardens
- Relax in Funchal Botanical Garden
- Spend day at Praia Formosa
- Explore Funchal museums
- Sample local specialities like Lapas or Poncha
Best trips near Funchal:
- Camara de Lobos alongside Cabo Girao – both can be done in one day
- Nuns Valley
Levada do Furado and Balcoes
Where to stay:
There are two great budget hostels in Funchal – Santa Maria Hostel and 29 Madeira Hostel. I stayed in both and I recommend both of them. Both are centrally located and have nice clean dorms, outside areas and a communal kitchen. Perfect if you are travelling on a budget.
If you want to stay close to the action (Funchal) but are looking for a quieter resort with a nice beach, Canico might be a good choice for you. Located only a 10-minute drive from Funchal and close to the airport, Canico is a good choice if you are looking for a peaceful yet traditional resort with plenty of good hotels. This area is also very popular among ex-pats. However, when staying in Canico, it is recommended to rent a car, as public transportation is not as easily accessible as in Funchal
In Canico you will find some beautiful beaches like Praia do Garajau or Praia dos Reis Magos, but also plenty of bars, restaurants, and activities. Just your typical beach tourist resort.
Travellers that prefer a peaceful resort vibe with a good choice of hotels, homestays, and nice beaches. Renting a car is recommended.
Things to do in Canico:
- Garajau Partial Natural Reserve, a marine park with a wide range of flora and fauna
- Cristo Rei lookout point
- Diving schools
- You will find plenty of organized activities and tour at your hotel
Where to stay:
And if you are looking for that spa experience in the beautiful nature then you should consider Quinta Splendida Wellness & Botanical Garden.
If you’d prefer to rent an apartment Infinito Azul has a front garden with fantastic views and great space for the price.
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Machico, after Funchal, is in my opinion one of the best places to stay in Madeira. It is not as vibrant and lively as Funchal but offers many things to do in and around town, some of the best hiking trails, and a beautiful golden sand beach.
Machico beach also has a promenade with small restaurants, beach bars, and ice cream parlours – an ideal place for an evening stroll, a meal, or a drink on the beach at the end of the day. Machico has a pleasant relaxed atmosphere and is perfect for a relaxing holiday.
I spent 10 days in Machico and really liked it there. I walked two stunning hikes – the Vereda do Larano and the Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco, I visited a few nearby towns and spent a fair amount of time chilling on the beach and sipping poncha. It wasn’t too bad at all.
Families looking for a seaside resort, couples, and avid hikers. Machico is also very solo traveller friendly. You don’t need a car to stay in Machico – the public transport links are excellent.
Things to do in Machico:
- Soak up the sun on the Machico beach also known as Praia da Banda d’Além
- Enjoy Water Sports Or Take A Boat Trip
- Visit Chapel of Saint Roque (Capela De São Roque)
- See the landing plane from Pico do Facho
Trips and experiences near Machico:
- Porto do Cruz
- Levadas: Levada do Castelejo, Levada dos Maroços, Levada Nova and Levada do Canical
- Walk the iconic veredas: Vereda do Larano and Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco
Porto da Cruz
I reached Porto da Cruz at the end of my Vereda do Larano hike and what a wonderful reward that was! It’s a charming little coastal town nestled in a valley between the cliffs and surrounded by the wilderness with Penha d’Águia mountain keeping the guard over it.
There are truly dramatic views of the ocean from here, and while there’s all that much to do there, it could be a decent area to stay in Madeira if you want to get away from it all yet be strategically located near some of the most spectacular hikes on the island.
You can easily access both the Vereda do Larano and Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco hiking trails and enjoy a good meal and award-winning poncha at the end of the day. The next day you can spend the day in the bathing complex or learn how to surf. Because why not!
Hikers looking for a quiet base with some good restaurants. Beginner surfers – Porto da Cruz is home to a surfing school. Those who want to escape the city and surround themselves with dramatic ocean views. Porto da Cruz is accessible by bus from both Funchal and Santana, so you do not need to rent a car to stay here. The hiking trails are within walking distance.
Things to do in Porto da Cruz:
- Try Paragliding
- Learn how to Surf
- Walk up Penha d’Águia
- Visit the old sugar cane factory of 1927
- Walk up to Fortim do Porto da Cruz, the ruins of the fort, standing on a small headland.
- Eat and drink!
Activities nearby Porto da Cruz:
- Vereda do Larano and Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco
- Portela viewpoint
- Boca do Risco – From Larano to Caniçal
Where to stay:
Jaca Hostel Porto da Cruz is one of the few hostels that exist in Madeira, making Porto da Cruz even more appealing as a base in Madeira, especially if you are a solo traveller. It is a very well-rated hostel that offers clean and nice dorms, pizza nights and a friendly atmosphere
If you are looking for private accommodation, I recommend Hotel Vila Bela and Nature Madeira Guest House. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, Hotel Costa Linda offers a perfect location and great facilities.
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Santana is best known for being Madeira’s most traditional municipality where you’ll find traditional A-frame houses with thatched roofs. The entire area has also been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in recognition of its superbly preserved biodiversity and commitment to sustainability. It’s a wild part of Madeira that for a long has been quite isolated.
Although all attractions in Santana can be visited in one day, there are actually some really cool places to visit around Santana (like Faial or Levada do Rei) that you’d otherwise only be able to reach by car. Santana is also a great town to stay in Madeira for hiking.
Rocha do Navio is my favourite part of Santana, where you will find stunning views of the rugged coastline and the islet of Viúva, as well as a tiny cable car that will take you down to the Sítio da Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve.
Also be sure to visit the Núcleo de Casas Típicas, where all the typical houses are on display, and Rocha do Navio.
You can make several day trips from Santana and many of them can be done by bus like Faial or Levada do Rei and Balcoes. Santana is also a good base for the Pico Ruivo hike.
Hikers without a car – many trailheads can be reached by bus from Santana. Nature lovers and those looking for a cooler mountainous climate.
Things to do in Santana:
- Natural Reserve of Rocha do Navio – viewpoint and cable car
- Núcleo de Casas Típicas Museum
Experiences and trips nearby Santana:
- Levada do Rei
- Levada do Caldeirão Verde
- Vereda da Ilha to the Pico Ruivo
- Madeira Theme Park
- Parque Florestal das Queimadas
Where to stay:
Finding accommodation in Santana was tricky for me as a solo traveller as I have seen entire villas and homes for nearly the same price as a hotel room. But I was determined to stay there so I booked this cute one-bedroom studio with Discovery Apartments. I enjoyed my stay there although it was definitely outside my usual budget.
If you are sharing your accommodation or dont mind spending a little more there are some awesome villas and holiday homes you can book for a very decent price like Casa Reis or Casas de Campo do Pomar.
Santana in Nature Bed & Breakfast offers good rooms with breakfast included as well as a jacuzzi and swimming pool but it’s slightly out of town. If you are looking for a centrally located hotel then you should check out the Hotel O Colmo.
Sao Vicente is a remote town of less than 6000 inhabitants located on the north coast of the island, about 45 minutes drive from Funchal. It is a very beautiful town nestled between the mountains between Santana and Porto Moniz and is best known for its natural pools and lava caves.
I very much wanted to stay in Sao Vicente for a few days, but unfortunately, the logistics of getting there were a bit complicated for me, and the hostel I chose wanted me to do a separate ‘test’ just to be able to stay there, which would make the stay quite expensive overall. So I didn’t go. I’m gutted and will definitely make it next time.
What my story proves however is that it is a tricky place to get to if you are a solo traveller on a budget and without a car. Not impossible, just a little difficult.
There are a couple of buses you can take from Funchal – Rodoeste bus nb 6 from Funchal to Boaventura and 39 bus to Porto Moniz – both busses stop in Sao Vicente. The journey is quite long but offers spectacular views, so I would not recommend it as a day trip.
But if you have all the time in the world, and what’s more, you are going to be driving then by no means please visit this amazing place! You’ll be very close to the black beach of Seixal ( stunning!), and you will be able to explore all the caves and lava pools, hike and spend time in nature. Sounds absolutely incredible!
If just going to Sao Vicente is too much for you, you can do a tour that also includes Seixal, Fanal and Porto Moniz
Outdoorsy travellers wanting to spend time in nature and far from the crowds. Car is very much desired, not exactly a budget-friendly location but definitely worth it.
Things to do in Sao Vicente:
- Sao Vicente Caves and Volcanism Center
- Try Poncha in ”Taberna São Vicente”
- Check out São Vicente’s bathing complex
- Learn how to surf at Madeira Surf Center
Adventures and trips near Sao Vicente:
- Walk the Old Road from São Vicente to Seixal.
- Ribeira da Janela beach
- Fanal Forest
- PR16 Levada Fajã do Rodrigues
- Jardim de plantas indígenas.
- Levada do Norte
- Porto Moniz and its natural pools
Where to stay:
You won’t an array of accommodations available in Sao Vicente but those that are there offer incredible views, gardens and a true back-to-nature vibe.
Casa Da Piedade situated in a restored 18th-century home also offers a swimming pool. Estalagem do Vale would be a good option if you are travelling on a budget yet it’s a hotel so no option to make your own meals.
Solar da Bica is a bit pricier but offers a heated pool, sauna, delicious meals and a common room with board games. And spectacular views! Calamar Hotel is more of a modern option located really close to Sao Vicente beach and the suites are equipped with a kitchenette.
Porto Moniz is best known for its incredible volcanic natural swimming pools, formed by coastal lava rocks.
These natural pools were created by the sea in the lava formations. Nowadays, of course, there are additional platforms, stairs, and lounging areas have been added, but there are still some parts that are 100% untouched. It is a great experience. The water is the perfect temperature and the area is breathtaking.
But Porto Moniz is much more than pools and relaxation. This area of Madeira is packed with great hikes and natural wonders to explore, especially if you have a car. From Porto Moniz, you can visit the black sand beach of Seixal, Achadas de Cruz, the scenic and steep cable car which will take you down to one of the most unique places in Madeira or the Ribeira da Janela beach. Porto Moniz is one of the main attractions, but also one of the best areas in Madeira to stay a little longer than a day.
Travellers looking for some relaxation by the pools but also the opportunity to do hikes and explore the wonders of this area. Car is preferred if you want to take most of the area but you can also get to Porto Moniz by bus from Funchal. Porto Moniz is also a great area to stay in Madeira as a family.
Things to do in Porto Moniz:
- Natural Lava Pools
Porto Moniz Aquarium
Miradouro da Santinha – a viewpoint offering great views of the town
João Baptista Fort
- Snorkelling or diving
Things to do in the area:
- Ribeira da Janela
- Achadas de Cruz
- Fanal Forest
- Levada 25 Fontes hike
Where to stay:
There are quite a few good accommodation options in Porto Moniz for families as well as for couples. Not so much for solo budget travellers, unfortunately.
If you are a couple or a small family you could rent one of those cute well-equipped studios like Ninho Gaivota or The Jolie Apartments. If you are travelling as a bigger family then consider renting an apartment or a house like Casa da Grota which features a patio, BBQ facilities, wifi and private parking.
Ponta do Pargo
You can visit Ponta do Pargo if you are in Porto Moniz or Calheta, but this area is also worth considering as a starting point on its own. Ponta do Pargo is still one of the off-the-beaten-path areas to stay in Madeira, although it offers spectacular sunset views and wonderful walks.
Ponta do Pargo is the westernmost point of Madeira. Here you will not only experience one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life, but also feel like you have arrived at the end of the world. Many visitors come here to admire the incredibly beautifully located lighthouse and the view of the surrounding area, stay a few hours at most and then continue their journey.
But it is worth staying in Ponta do Pargo for a little longer. In this area, you will find some spectacular hikes that will reward you with some of the best views in Madeira. And with Garganta Funda, Achada do Cruz and Porto Moniz not too far away, you can fill your time with many trips and adventures.
The town itself is pretty laid back and there’s not much going on, but there are some nice restaurants and places of interest. So if you are looking for a more secluded with access to exciting hikes and activities as well as a few restaurants and a bar or two, this could be the area in Madeira you are looking for.
Sunset lovers looking for remote and peaceful areas and hikes with some of the best views. Definitely, a car is needed if you are looking to make the most of the area and travel to see Garganta Funda or take a day trip to Porto Moniz.
Things to do in Ponta do Pargo:
- Farol da Ponta do Pargo
- O Farol Restaurant
- Church of São Pedro
Experiences and trips nearby:
- Porto Moniz
- Ribeira da Janela
- Levada Ponta Do Pargo
- Miradouro Garganta Funda
- Achadas da Cruz
- Vereda do Pesqueiro do Calhau
- Miradouro Pico Vermelho
Where to stay:
You will only find a handful of accommodation options in Ponta do Pargo but of great quality. A studio at Herdade do Pedregal is a good value for money for a couple and a nordic style chalet at Madeira Sunset Cottage is just spectacular. Both options would be a great choice for couples.
For families or groups of friends, this Vilas Felicidade Rocha by An Island Apart villa is a great choice as it’s conveniently located and offers a swimming pool as well as a big garden and a very well-equipped kitchen.
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Paul do Mar / Prazeres / Jardim Do Mar
I have grouped these three villages in one chapter, mainly because of their close location and similar size. They are located near Calheta and offer a remote, different kind of stay in Madeira. I suggest you choose one of them, as the other two can be easily explored on foot or by car. All 3 are often overlooked as places to stay in Madeira but are definitely worth considering.
Paul do Mar has perfect waves for surfing, considered by some to be the best in Europe, so the village attracts many surfers. It is an old fishing village surrounded by towering cliffs and put to sleep by the sound of the waves. The village of Paul do Mar is located at the bottom of the cliff. If you hike up, you will reach the second of the magical villages – Prazerez.
Prazeres is a small community located on a huge terrace from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the sea and the surrounding area. In this small charming village, you will find a handful of accommodations, some restaurants and very picturesque walking paths. There is also a small farm-like ZOO with a variety of animals such as pigs, goats, turkeys, chickens and donkeys
Finally, there is Jardim do Mar – the most picturesque village in Madeira and the meeting point for surfers from all over the world. Jardim do Mar is a small, charming village with narrow cobblestone streets, colourful flowers adorning the houses, and a beautiful waterfront promenade. It’s the most beautiful of all the 3 villages I mentioned. In the village, you can enjoy surfing and dining in excellent restaurants, but also hiking the nearby levadas.
Hikers and surfers looking for a rural area to stay in Madeira. If you make any of those villages your permanent base car would definitely be needed to see the rest of the island.
Nearby levadas and hikes:
- PR20 Vereda do Jardim do Mar
- Levada Prazeres – Raposeira
- PR6 Levada das 25 Fontes / Levada do Risco
- PR19 Caminho Real do Paul do Mar
It is a bit tricky to find accommodation in this area but I found this gem in Jardim do Mar which would be great for a solo traveller or couple. Cecília’s House offers great value for money and a super friendly host. It is also perfectly located!
Casa De Cha in Prazeres offers nice and cosy rooms with a balcony for a decent price with breakfast included.
Calheta is a very popular seaside resort, renowned for its golden sandy beach, an abundance of hotels and restaurants, as well as beautiful surroundings and many great hikes and walks nearby.
Calheta is one of the few areas in Madeira that has a sandy beach. It is a man-made beach that is great for swimming thanks to the walls built to protect it from high waves and the current. If you are looking for a place where you can enjoy the sea and the sun, Calheta is the place for you. Calheta enjoys (together with Ponta do Sol) the sunniest and warmest climate in Madeira and has an excellent tourist infrastructure.
Besides lazing on the beach, there are plenty of fun things to do in Calheta. You can visit the nearby villages of Jardim do Mar or Paul do Mar, you can surf, dive or try paragliding. The Marina is a meeting and socializing point for locals and tourists, filled with restaurants and bars. Those looking for some cultural experience can visit the Mudas Contemporary Art Museum and if you want to go hiking, you will find beautiful trails near Calheta, such as Levada do Risco, 25 Fontes or Paul da Serra.
Tourists who want to spend most of their time at a beach resort and in the meantime have the possibility to do some day trips and hikes nearby. Calheta is also an ideal place to stay in Madeira for families. If you want to use public transportation and travel around Madeira a lot, Calheta is not the best choice for you.
Things to do in Calheta:
- Sandy beach and calm sea
- Casa das Mudas art center
- Sugar Cane Mill and Museum
- Typical resort activities like eating drinking and shopping
- Surfing / Diving / Paragliding
- Levada 25 Fontes e Risco hike
- PR19 Prazerez to Paul do Mar
- Paul da Serra
- Jardim do Mar, Prazerez and Paul do Mar villages
Where to stay:
Given Calheta is very much a beach resort you won’t find many budget options here, but there is plenty of mid-range and luxury accommodation options on offer.
If you are a budget traveller and determined to stay in Calheta, Sunset House in Arco da Calheta has excellent reviews, even better views and is reasonably priced. The Rum Inn is located right in the centre of Calheta, not far from the beach, and boasts very comfortable rooms and excellent hospitality.
Renting an apartment with a view would be an excellent choice for a couple or family and Horizon View 1 probably has everything you might need for a great stay.
If you are looking for a great and comfortable hotel with a pool The Estalagem Engenho Velho has it all – beautiful modern rooms, an infinity pool and delicious food. Atrio is another hotel worth considering. It has a gorgeous garden, heated swimming pool, spa and boats with incredible views.
Finally, if you are looking for a truly all-inclusive experience with pools, spas, gyms, food and all that all-inclusive jazz – then look no further than Savoy Calheta Beach.
Ponta do Sol
Just like Calheta, Ponta do Sol is located in the sunniest part of Madeira. Here you will experience the most sun throughout the year so Ponta do Sol is a great choice for those seeking relaxation and relaxed vibes. However, what makes Ponta do Sol different from Calheta is that the atmosphere here is a bit more residential and relaxed.
Be aware though that the beach in Ponta do Sol is pebbled and it feels much more rustic compared to the tourist-friendly golden beach of Calheta. The beachfront is lined with colourful buildings that have retained their traditional character, and the old town centre of Ponta do Sol is very charming to walk around. Here you will find some excellent restaurants and a few interesting sights.
The town also strives to accommodate digital nomads. In fact, in Pont do Sol you will find a digital nomad village with plenty of coliving accommodation to rent, free working space and, of course, the chance to meet other like-minded people.
Travellers who need sun and sea in their lives, but are looking for a more refined kind of resort. Those who do not mind pebbly beaches and like water sports and hiking. Digital nomads looking for a quiet and sunny place to work, enjoy their free time in nature, and take trips around Madeira. A car is recommended, but there is a bus that goes from Ponta do Sol to Ribeira Brava, Funchal and Pont do Pargo – so it’s not essential.
If you want to stay in this part of Madeira but don’t feel like a typical resort feel – Ponta do Sol will be a great choice.
Things to do in Ponta do Sol:
- Lugar de Baixo Palace
- The church of Nossa Senhora da Luz
- The Subtropical Floriculture Center
- Parque Infante D. Henrique
- Cultural Center John Dos Passos
- Palace of Zinos
- Ponta do Sol Bridge
- Paul do Serra
- Ribeira Brava
- Cascada dos Anjos
- Madalena do Mar & Rota Banana
- PR7 Levada do Moinho
Where to stay:
You can of course opt for a Casa do Sol which is a two-bedroom apartment with stunning views and everything you might need for a comfortable stay.
1905 Zino’s Palace is the most popular place to stay in Ponta do Sol but definitely on the more luxurious side.
For those who are looking for a beach resort with a local vibe, slightly isolated yet still with some semi-decent transport links and good access to hikes and nature, Ribeira Brava is a good area to stay in Madeira.
I wouldn’t recommend this place as a permanent stay, but if you are looking to change things around, and stay in a beautiful setting while avoiding the typical vacationers from Calheta or Ponta do Sol, it’s an ideal place.
I actually seriously considered staying here for a few days but in the end, I opted for a day trip mostly because I didn’t find any affordable accommodation that would be centrally located. This has not changed since so if you are a budget solo traveller, Ribeira Brava might not be the best area to stay in Madeira.
Yet, you will find some surprising things to do and places to discover in this area, like the hidden gem of Calhau da Lapa (where you can also stay in a cave hotel on a secluded beach), an excellent farmer’s market, and a nearby hike that leads up to Cabo Girao.
Those looking for some chill time in a small seaside town with some access to hikes and activities. If you are looking for excellent transport links, think twice but if you don’t mind waiting for a bit for a bus and navigating around bus changes if you wanted to go anywhere further than Funchal or Ponta do Sol then go for it! Mostly however it’s an area in Madeira more suitable for travelers with a car.
Things to do in Ribeira Brava:
- Walk the stair to the hidden beach of Calhau da Lapa
- Ribeira Brava beach complex if you don’t like pebble beach
- Ethnographic Museum of Madeira
- Fort of São Bento
- Farmer’s Market
Best trips near Ribeira Brava:
- Ponta do Sol
- Camara Do Lobos
- Levada Nova and Levada do Norte hiking trails
- The real path of Encumeada PR2
Where to stay:
Hostel Casal São João is a well-rated hostel in Ribeira Brava if you are looking for budget accommodation. But keep in mind that it is not centrally located.
You will not find luxury hotels in Ribeira Brava which for me adds to its charm. Madeira Island Villa Oceane with its stunning views is a pretty spectacular villa you can rent for a surprisingly great price. Guesthouse -TheView offers nice, clean rooms, a swimming pool, and pretty awesome views too.
For budget accommodation in the town centre, you could stay in Vale Mar. Yet it has a bunch of mixed reviews.
Camara do Lobos
Although Camara de Lobos is a popular day trip from Funchal it could also be a good area to stay in Madeira if you want to stay relatively close to the capital yet in a more traditional and laid-back town.
Camara de Lobos is a cute colourful fishing town located only 9 km west of Funchal and is definitely worth staying in for longer for its laid-back atmosphere, scenic views and tons of photo opportunities. Although there are not heaps of things to do, Camara de Lobos has a lot of charm and could make for a great base if you just want to relax after exploring the island during the day.
Camara de Lobos bay is a picturesque place overlooking some of the highest cliffs in Europe, where brightly coloured boats rest on the beach and numerous restaurants offer the freshest fish. In fact, this bay inspired Winston Churchill who was visiting in January 1950 and he spent his time immortalizing it in his paintings.
The great thing about staying in Camara de Lobos is that you can easily get to Funchal (even by walking), as well as some of the most famous sites like Cabo Girao.
Travellers who want to stay in a traditional fishing village with laid back atmosphere and good restaurants. Camara de Lobos is one of the best areas to stay in Madeira if you have a car. There are a few buses running through the town but if you are planning to explore a lot, a car will be essential.
Things to do in Camara de Lobos:
- Relax at the harbour
- Photograph street art
- Eat and drink (fresh fish and Poncha)
- Viewpoints of Miradouro Winston Churchill or Jardim do Ilheu
- Praia de Vigaro for swimming
- Levada do Norte
- Famous skywalk of Cabo Girao
- Faja do Padres Cablecar
- Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley) and Jardim da Serra Viewpoint
- Miradouro da Torre
Where to stay:
Pestana Churchill Bay is located right at the bay and boasts really nice rooms and a swimming pool with a view. Pestana Fisherman Village is located in the town centre, close to the beach and offers super comfortable rooms.
This apartment at Villas Quinta da Lapa by Ana Lodges is slightly higher up and requires a car but the value for money is incredible.
Attic Bay is an apartment located at Camara bay and is super cute and equipped with everything you might need. This one is gold!
I hope you found this guide to the best areas to stay in Madeira useful and it will help you in planning your stay on this incredible island. I loved Madeira and I am sure you will love it too!
If you have any questions or think I have missed something important, let me know in the comments below!
Have a wonderful time in Madeira and happy travelling!
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My favourite Travel Resources
- For most of my accommodation, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellations and access to tons of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
- Make sure you download Google Maps and, for each new destination, download an offline map of your location and surrounding area. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to navigate around the town.
Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey-planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.
123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey-planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport – you will use this app for sure!
The travel insurance I use is Heymondo, and their plan suits me perfectly. They have clear policies with no deductibles, the price is excellent for what they offer and the price doesn’t go up when you are over 30 years old. They have a dedicated, easy-to-use app and free assistance calls.
I can get a cover for a month or three months and I know I can travel with peace of mind and get the best product for my money. And it also covers COVID-19.
- I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and Wise work fantastically. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts.
- I booked most of my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations.
For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!