Where to Stay in Madeira 🇵🇹: Best Areas & Places to Stay in Madeira

As one of Portugal’s autonomous regions located off the northwest coast of Africa, Madeira offers a unique fusion of Portuguese and North African culture and cuisine.

When visiting this picturesque island, choosing the right neighborhood to stay in is key to experiencing the best Madeira has to offer. The island features diverse regions, each with its own vibe, attractions, and accommodation options at varied price points.

In this article, we list some of Madeira’s top neighborhoods and towns for tourists along with a breakdown of the top hotels, B&Bs, and holiday rentals in each area. Whether you’re looking to stay in bustling Funchal, relax in fishing villages like Camara de Lobos, or escape to the remote tranquility of Santana, you’re sure to find an area that suits your ideal island getaway

5 Best Places to Stay in Madeira: Quick Overview

👀 Best for first-time visitors Funchal
🏖 Best for beach lovers Calheta
👪 Best for families Santa Cruz
🌹 Best for a romantic trip Ponta do Sol
🧘🏻‍♂️ Away from the hustle and bustle Ribeira Brava

Where to Stay in Madeira Island: Best Hotels

Best Areas to Stay in Madeira on the Map

1. Funchal – Best Place to Stay on Madeira for the First Time

🌴 Garden City: Nestled on the southern coast of Madeira lies the vibrant capital city of Funchal. Known as the «Garden City», Funchal boasts colorful blooms, winding cobblestone streets, and sweeping Atlantic Ocean views that will delight nature lovers and city explorers alike.

🏰 Historic charm: The heart of Funchal lies in the old town, located just a 10-15 minute walk from the main cruise port. Must-see sights include the Sé Catedral cathedral featuring mosaic floors and beautiful paintings, as well as the nearby Mercado dos Lavradores farmer’s market which bursts with tropical flowers and local handicrafts.

🚠 Mountain views: Hop aboard the teleférico cable car for a thrilling ride up to the suburb of Monte, home to the striking moorish Monte Palace tropical gardens. The path winds upwards through eucalyptus groves before reaching the hilltop parish church Nossa Senhora do Monte, recognized for its distinctive tilework façade. On the return trip down, daredevils can ride a toboggan sledge raced by locals in straw boaters and white pants.

🌊 Oceanfront strolls: The best views in Funchal stretch along the oceanfront Avenida do Mar promenade, flanked by palatial hotels. Wander east to find strips of public black sand beaches and lidos to cool off from the year-round sunshine.

🚍 Well-connected: Accessing all corners of Funchal is easily walkable, though local buses run frequently for those preferring not to hoof it up and down the many hills.

Its blend of natural beauty and unforgettable atmosphere has made it one of the most beloved destinations in the Atlantic.

All Funchal hotels →

Where to stay in Funchal?

Expensive hotels:

  • Savoy Palace – a luxury hotel with ocean views, exquisite interior design and a wide range of services.
  • Royal Savoy - Ocean Resort – an elegant resort hotel with its own beach, spa and restaurants with panoramic views.
  • Quinta da Casa Branca – A charming boutique hotel in a colonial mansion with a picturesque garden.

Medium price range:

Inexpensive hotels:

  • 29 Madeira Hostel – friendly hostel in the city center, offers shared bedrooms and lounge area at an affordable price.
  • FX Pena – an economical hotel with simple rooms and basic facilities, good value for money.
  • Santa Maria Hostel – a minimalist hostel with a cozy atmosphere, located a few minutes from the beach.

2. Calheta – Quiet Neighborhood with Excellent Sandy Beaches

🐬 Coastal charm: Town of Calheta invites visitors to soak up the relaxed pace of life. Conveniently located just 40 minutes by car from the capital Funchal, this coastal gem prides itself on gorgeous natural scenery and easy accessibility.

🏖 Golden sand beaches like Praia da Calheta draw beachgoers who wish to swim in the temperate Atlantic waters or simply bask on the sand. For those seeking adventure, paddle boarding and kayaking adventures abound with rental shops dotting the lively marina.

🍹 Cozy village: The heart of Calheta village exudes cozy charm with its local craft shops selling handmade wares, and cheerful pubs where one can sample Poncha – a signature drink made from lemon, honey and sugarcane rum. The 16th century Igreja da Calheta church provides a glimpse into the history of this former fishing village.

🚢 Well-connected: Public buses from Funchal run frequently for those relying on public transport. For ultimate convenience, Calheta’s marina even offers boat connections to Funchal and other coastal villages several times per week.

Whether you seek sand, village life or heart-pumping sports, Calheta welcomes visitors with open arms. Its laidback vibes let you set your own pace to soak up the very best of Madeira’s Atlantic coastline.

All hotels in Calheta →

Where to stay in Calheta?

Luxury Hotels:

Mid-range hotels:

  • Quinta das Vinhas – cozy small hotel in traditional Portuguese style among vineyards, offers an authentic experience.
  • Les Terrasses Suites – modern apartments with all amenities and breathtaking panoramic views.
  • The Rum Inn – a welcoming colonial-style hotel with a rich history, wine cellar and Creole restaurant.

Inexpensive hotels:

3. Santa Cruz – Best Town to Stay in Madeira for Families

🌅 Picturesque town: Tucked away in the green hills northeast of Funchal’s city center lies the charming and laidback town of Santa Cruz. Known for its colorful homes, quaint streets, and relaxed coastal vibes, Santa Cruz offers visitors a taste of authentic Madeiran life.

🚶🏻‍♂️ Walkable streets: Getting around Santa Cruz on foot is easy thanks to its compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets. The neighborhood wraps around the sheltered Santa Cruz bay, with picturesque homes built right up to the water’s edge.

🍳 Local flavors: Venture inland just a bit and you’ll find cozy local restaurants serving up specialties like espada fish and poncha – a sweet fruity rum punch. Meanwhile, the seaside is dotted with small beaches and tidal swimming pools carved into volcanic rock formations.

🎢 Family fun: Santa Cruz offers many fun family activities to entertain kids, including go-karting for thrill-seekers, Aquaparque Madeira water park for splashing around, and Madeira Theme Park’s rides and attractions for all-day amusement.

Jardim Botânico da Madeira
Jardim Botânico da Madeira
Jardim Botânico da Madeira
Jardim Botânico da Madeira
Aquaparque Madeira water park
Aquaparque Madeira su parkı

⚓️ Well situated: What makes Santa Cruz so convenient is its proximity to Funchal’s top attractions. It’s just a short 20 minute drive to Funchal’s historic old town. The neighborhood also provides easy access to hilltop viewpoints like Pico dos Barcelos and tropical gardens such as Jardim Botânico da Madeira.

So whether you’re looking to experience authentic Madeiran culture close-up or have a home base near Funchal’s can’t miss sites, you can’t go wrong staying in Santa Cruz.

All hotels in Santa Cruz →

Where to stay in Santa Cruz?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • Casa do Miradoro – a cozy family-run hotel with great valley views, perched on a hill above Santa Cruz.
  • Hotel Solar Bom Jesus – a comfortable hotel with swimming pool and restaurant, surrounded by a garden.
  • Villas Madalena Chalets – a picturesque complex of villas by the sea with ocean views.

4. Machico – Great Place to Immerse Yourself in History

🗿 Rich history: Machico is located on Madeira’s picturesque eastern coast. Known as the first settlement on the island dating back to 1419, Machico boasts a rich history interwoven with captivating tales of early Portuguese explorers. Today, Machico charms visitors as a relaxed yet vibrant town.

🏖 Scenic coast: The main highlight of Machico is its scenic harbor and beach, Praia de Machico, conveniently located near the town center. Several beachfront restaurants and bars like Maré Alta offer prime views of magical sunsets over the water – the perfect place to end the day with a cold beer or fruity Poncha cocktail.

🏘 Quaint streets: Wandering Machico’s quaint cobblestone streets gives visitors a glimpse into historic island life. Be sure to stop in at Forte de São João Baptista, an imposing stone fortress dating from the early 1700s that protected Machico from pirate attacks and now houses an interesting naval museum.

✈️ Convenient location: Its prime location means attractions feel easily accessible for first-timers. Funchal, Madeira’s capital city and transport hub, sits just 30 minutes west, while Madeira Airport and buzzing Santa Cruz can also easily be reached.

With its laidback seaside atmosphere and charming blend of history, culture and natural beauty, Machico makes for an idyllic home base to explore this magical island.

All hotels in Machico →

Where to stay in Machico?

Medium price range:

Inexpensive hotels:

5. Ribeira Brava – Where to Stay in Madeira Away from the Hustle and Bustle

🌄 Scenic gateway: Conveniently located just a 25-minute drive west of Funchal, Ribeira Brava makes an ideal home base for travelers looking to explore the island while avoiding the bustling crowds of the capital.

Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava
Ribeira Brava

🏞 Stunning views: As you arrive here, you’ll immediately notice the breathtaking mountain scenery: lush hillsides cascade down to the Atlantic coastline. The nearby promenade invites leisurely seaside strolls, allowing you to soak up panoramic ocean vistas.

🍴 Tasty treats: If hunger strikes, Ribeira Brava spoils visitors with mouthwatering regional cuisine spotlighting fresh seafood and tropical fruits. At family-run snack bars, sample addictive bifanas pork sandwiches or passionfruit-stuffed pastel de nata custards.

🌋 Easy excursions: When ready to explore beyond town, Ribeira Brava makes a convenient gateway for island excursions. The volcanic peaks of Serra de Água lie just 7 miles south. Levada pathways for hiking wind through the laurel forests nearby as well.

With a proximity to top sights, Ribeira Brava captivates visitors as one of the island’s most convenient home base. Its relaxing vibe invites both peaceful relaxation and active adventures during your island trip.

All hotels in Ribeira Brava →

Where to stay in Ribeira Brava?

Expensive hotels:

  • Hotel Do Campo – a luxury hotel with a gourmet restaurant and spa in a picturesque location overlooking the ocean.
  • Sonho do Oceano – elegant premium apartments with panoramic ocean views and personalized service.
  • Rocha Mar 3M – a chic oceanfront hotel with its own beach, gourmet restaurant and great rooms.

Medium price range:

  • Dazkarizeh73 – a cozy family hotel with comfortable rooms, a swimming pool and panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  • Casa Velha D Fernando e Casa Avó Augusta – traditional Portuguese-style guesthouses offering homely comfort at a reasonable price.
  • Vila Brava Cottage – a picturesque hotel in the countryside with a swimming pool and valley views, suitable for a relaxing vacation.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Dazk Golden Estate – simple and inexpensive apartments with kitchen and balcony, located near the beach.
  • Guesthouse-TheView – a cozy guesthouse with spectacular panoramic views and friendly service.
  • Quinta do Cabouco – a guesthouse offering comfort for budget travelers.

6. Caniço – Where to Stay in Madeira Without a Car

🌊 Seaside charm: Caniço is a lovely seaside area, located on the eastern side of Madeira’s capital. Despite being only a short 15-minute drive from Funchal’s city center and main attractions like the Farmers Market and Catedral do Funchal, Caniço has retained its small-town charm and relaxed pace.

🏖️ Scenic coastline: The real jewel of Caniço lies along its rugged Atlantic coastline. Cliffs plunge into crystalline waters that beckon snorkelers and scuba divers to explore. Small stone beaches tucked into rocky coves offer sunbathing with picture-perfect ocean views. And a seaside promenade stretching 3 kilometers from Garajau to Caniço centre gives walkers, joggers and cyclists plenty of room to roam.

🐋 Ocean adventures: For those craving adventure, numerous tour operators run dolphin and whale watching excursions that depart right from Caniço’s dock. Paragliding adventures also soar over the neighborhood regularly, giving breathtaking aerial views over the village and coastline.

🛺 Well-connected: Local buses run frequently between Caniço and Funchal, making it easy to go sightseeing in the capital city while staying in the peaceful surroundings of Caniço village life.

And with plenty of excellent seafood restaurants, small shops selling handmade wares, and tranquil hideaways to enjoy Madeira, you’ll find Caniço has all the makings of an unforgettable island getaway.

All hotels in Caniço →

Where to stay in Caniço?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • Quinta da Paz – a cozy family hotel in a tropical garden with swimming pools, suitable for holidays with children.
  • Apartments Madeira – spacious apartments with kitchen and balconies, located near the beach.
  • Inn & Art Madeira – a small colonial-style boutique hotel with a homely atmosphere.

7. Ponta do Sol – Best Place to Stay in Madeira for Couples

🌅 Volcanic vistas: Nestled on Madeira Island’s southwestern coast, the village of Ponta do Sol offers visitors breathtaking volcanic ocean vistas and a delightful small-town atmosphere.

🍌 Point of the Sun: Known as the «Point of the Sun» thanks to its positioning to capture Madeira’s sunsets, Ponta do Sol charms with its picturesque pebble beach and bountiful banana plantations ensconcing the village.

🗺️ Well positioned: Centrally located just 30 minutes west of Funchal’s city center, Ponta do Sol makes an ideal home base for exploring Madeira’s top sights. Levada pathway hikes into the Laurel forest and trips to Cabo Girão’s sky-high cliffs or the UNESCO-listed Laurissilva forest are easily accessible.

🛶 Coastal charm: In town you’ll uncover quaint shops, tascas taverns packed with locals and tourists alike, and historic buildings like the hilltop Nossa Senhora da Luz church.

🎣 Rich history: Wandering Ponta do Sol’s narrow cobbled lanes reveals its rich history as one of the first settled villages on Madeira. Dating to the 15th century, Ponta do Sol emerged as a vital winemaking hub and later became home to prosperous sugar plantations. Today it retains its heritage as a fishing village.

Its small size and friendly community feel make it easy to settle into island life in this sun-kissed corner of Madeira.

All hotels in Ponta do Sol →

Where to stay in  Ponta do Sol?

Expensive hotels:

  • 1905 Zino's Palace – an elegant premium hotel with luxurious rooms, panoramic ocean views and top-notch service.
  • Enotel Sunset Bay – a modern hotel with chic rooms, an ocean-view pool and a fine dining restaurant.
  • Estalagem Da Ponta Do Sol – a cozy colonial-style boutique hotel with great service and mountain views.

Medium price range:

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Blue House – a simple and inexpensive hotel with clean rooms, ideal for budget travelers.
  • Top view – an economy hotel with panoramic ocean views, good for short stays.

8. Sao Vicente – Best Natural Scenery on the Island

⛵ Seaside village of Sao Vicente is located on the north coast of Madeira Island. Despite its small size, it excels in terms of culture and coastal beauty.

Sao Vicente
Sao Vicente
Sao Vicente
Sao Vicente
Sao Vicente
Sao Vicente

🏞 Cliffside trails: Perched right on the edge of tall cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the views from Sao Vicente are breathtaking. Local hiking trails lead along the cliffsides, passing through flower-filled gardens with panoramas of the village. The pebble beach also provides a pretty spot for swimming in the summertime.

🏠 Colorful homes: Wandering the streets reveals Sao Vicente’s collection of traditional Madeiran homes, many boasting terra cotta roofs and vividly painted accents in shades of yellow, green, and blue. The small main square comes alive at night when locals gather at its handful of restaurants and bars.

⛪ Landmark church: The pastel-hued Sao Vicente church provides an easy landmark to orient yourself when exploring the village. It also hosts Sunday mass that visitors are welcome to attend to experience an integral part of local culture. Just downhill lies a small maritime museum documenting Madeira’s sailing history for those looking to learn more about the island’s relationship with the sea.

🚶‍♂️ Walkable streets: Getting around the neighborhood is delightfully walkable. However, if you want to explore farther afield, there is a bus stop 5 minutes from the main square offering regular service to Funchal’s city center and beyond.

It’s the perfect place to soak up the island’s unique blend of natural wonders, arts, and Portuguese heritage.

All hotels in Sao Vicente →

Where to stay in Sao Vicente?

Expensive hotels:

  • Estalagem do Mar – an elegant ocean-view hotel offering luxury rooms and suites, as well as a pool and spa center.
  • Casa Oliveira Esmeraldo – a colonial-style boutique hotel with exquisite decor and first-class service.

Medium price range:

  • Solar da Bica – a picturesque hotel with a swimming pool, tropical garden and panoramic mountain views.
  • Madeira Surf Lodge – a cozy hotel with spacious rooms and Wi-Fi, located near the beach.
  • Quinta Vale Vitis – a picturesque hotel in vineyards, with a swimming pool and rooms in an unusual style.

Inexpensive hotels:

9. Porto Moniz – Cheap Accommodation in Madeira

🔥 Must-see: Known for its breathtaking natural pools, Porto Moniz is a must-see neighborhood on Madeira’s northwest tip.

Porto Moniz
Porto Moniz
Natural Swimming Pools, Porto Moniz
Natural Swimming Pools, Porto Moniz
Natural Swimming Pools, Porto Moniz
Natural Swimming Pools, Porto Moniz

🚘 Getting around: When you arrive, parking and navigating the neighborhood is straightforward. The town is compact, centered around its picturesque port lined with cafés and restaurants serving fresh seafood. From there, it’s a short walk to the various volcanic pools and the interesting Aquarium of Porto Moniz, showcasing local marine life.

🏊‍♂️ Main draw: The celebrated pools are the main attraction. Formed by lava flows reaching the sea, the partly enclosed pools feel like natural infinity hot tubs filled with crisp, azure water perfect for swimming. Entry fees are minimal and lifeguards are on duty. Nearby companies offer other water activities like canyoning, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding.

🌲 Outdoor adventures: Those seeking adventure can take one of the Levadas—ancient water channels turned scenic trails—to glimpse majestic sea cliffs, waterfalls, and Madeira’s unspoiled interior. The Levada do Alecrim starts right in town. Others are easily accessed via the pathways near the Farol lighthouse just west of the pools.

🍽 Tasty treats: When hunger calls, seafood restaurants like Restaurante O Aquario along the harbor serve savory specialties like Espada fish and limpets. And there are plenty of cafés in which to sip strong Portuguese coffee and enjoy pastries filled with custard and local fruits.

🎵 Lively nights: As the sun sets, the tiny main square comes alive. Street musicians play Spanish guitar and fado songs while visitors relax and share travel stories over bottles of Madeira wine.

The friendly, festive atmosphere makes clear why Porto Moniz is considered one of Madeira’s most charming villages.

All hotels in Porto Moniz →

Where to stay in Porto Moniz?

Medium price range:

  • Aqua Natura Bay – a modern hotel overlooking the ocean, offering rooms with balconies and a rooftop pool.
  • Aqua Natura Madeira – a comfortable eco-tourist-style hotel with its own beach and spa center.
  • Studios by Aqua Natura Hotels – an aparthotel with fully equipped studios and access to the facilities of neighboring Aqua Natura Hotels.

Inexpensive hotels:

Which Places on Madeira Island Should Tourists Avoid?

While Madeira Island has many stunning sights, a few places pose more risks or difficulties for visitors.

☁️ Foggy peaks: The island’s tall peaks, including Pico do Areeiro and Pico Ruivo, often get enveloped in dense fog with little visibility. Narrow trails and steep drop offs around these mountains can be very dangerous, especially if you lose your way. You’d be better off sticking to lower mountain hikes under 4,000 feet.

💧 Slippery canals: Levadas, the irrigation canals that crisscross the island, also pose hazards. Some levadas remain unfinished, without protective railing. It’s easy to slip and fall into these concrete channels.

🛣 Remote villages: Remote villages in Madeira’s upland interior tend to be difficult to access, with winding roads and limited services. Unless you have a specific reason to visit, you’ll likely enjoy the coastal villages more. Similarly, beaches in isolated areas see unpredictable waves and lack lifeguards.

With a little bit of care, you can safely take in Madeira’s charms and natural beauty. Simply avoid its most secluded peaks, paths, villages and shores.

FAQs about Visiting Madeira

Which part of Madeira is most beautiful?

The south and west coasts of Madeira Island are likely the most beautiful areas, known for their dramatic cliffs, quaint seaside villages, wine growing regions, and abundance of flowers. The north tends to be more developed and less picturesque.

Is Madeira or Azores better?

Madeira edges out the Azores as the more appealing island destination overall due to its stunning scenery, pleasant climate, high quality hotels and restaurants, and wealth of activities from hiking the levadas to wine tasting. However, the Azores offer their own charm.

How long should you spend on Madeira?

I’d recommend spending at least 5-7 days on Madeira to properly experience its highlights. You could fill a 10-14 day trip easily without getting bored, but a hurried 3-4 days would miss too much. Pace yourself and immerse in what each region offers.

Why is Madeira so cheap?

Madeira is very affordably priced compared to other islands and European destinations. Competition between hotels keeps accommodation costs low year-round. Additionally, most attractions are inexpensive or free, and you can eat extremely well for much less than other islands.

Which side of Madeira is warmer?

The south coast of Madeira Island stays milder in temperature over the course of a year. The north sees more shifts in weather patterns. Pack layers if visiting during the winter rainy season.