Driving Handbook for Tourists in Madeira: 7 Ultimate Cross-Island Road TipsMadeira Guide 

Driving Handbook for Tourists in Madeira: 7 Ultimate Cross-Island Road Tips

Madeira is an adorable island in Portugal. It welcomes tourists with splendid landscapes, a warm subtropical climate, delicious food, endless hiking paths, natural swimming pools, inviting beaches, the highest grassy cliffs, and Atlantic coastlines of unbelievable beauty. Among iconic symbols of the place are wines, Cristiano Ronaldo, waterfalls, and Laurel Forest.


The flavour of the local wines is a peculiar mix of caramel, fruits, and citrus peel, enriched by nutty and woody notes. Duke of Clarence, Henriques & Henriques, Justino are among the best-known kinds of local wines.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The island is the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, – the fact is reflected in the name of the local airport, Cristiano Ronaldo Museum, the CR7 hotel, and a statue of the legendary football player.


Wherever you go in Madeira, you are sure to come across a waterfall. They appear all of a sudden out of nowhere. Many of them don’t even have names. But others are quite famous, such as Risco, Véu da Noiva, grandiose 25 Fontes, and tiny Anjos.

Laurel Forest

One of the impressive natural landmarks of the island is Laurissilva. The gorgeous subtropical forest with unique pandemic plants and animals. Laurel Forest attracts crowds of trackers and hikers from all over the world.

Best tips for driving in Madeira

Are you going to travel through the “Pearl of the Atlantic” by car? Then, our Madeira roundabouts guide will be helpful for you. Turn your journey into a unique experience using our tips and tricks.

1.   Reserve a car online

The most exciting way to enjoy all the uniqueness and diversity of Madeira is by driving across the island by car. If you’re planning to explore Roundabouts in Madeira comfortably, apply for a car rental at Madeira Airport. Hikers also will need Madeira car hire service to get to the starting point of the most stunning trails.

2.   Select a proper vehicle

Driving Handbook for Tourists in Madeira: 7 Ultimate Cross-Island Road Tips
Driving Handbook for Tourists in Madeira: 7 Ultimate Cross-Island Road Tips 3

Madeira’s roads are far from being homogeneous. On your way, you can come across mountain roads, narrow pavements, steep routes, and many tunnels. So, you should be quite a confident driver to make a journey through the island. The main criteria for selecting a vehicle for a safer trip:

  • Compact car with massive engines. In Madeira, you will drive mainly narrow up-and-down roads. Your auto should be small or medium-sized and have a powerful engine with enough horsepower. For instance, the Renault Clio V6, Volkswagen Golf R, Ford Focus RS, Audi RS 3, and BMW M2 CS combine a small auto body and a “strong” engine.
  • Automatic transmissions. Choose an automobile with an automatic transmission. It’ll help you to master serpentine mountain roads. You won’t have problems with riding down and coming up, speeding up or slowing down.

3.   Reserve a parking lot in Funchal in advance

Every traveller is highly advised to drop into Funchal – the capital city of the island. Things to include in your to-do-list:

  • Walk through beautiful tropical and botanical gardens.
  • A trip on the sky high-ride with unmatched scene-scapes of Funchal.
  • Experience Monte Toboggan Ride – one of the most emblematic entertainments involves zooming down through the city’s streets in a rattan sledge driven by two carreiros.

Hire a car in Funchal at a reliable company to see the key sights of the city, such as São Tiago Fortress or Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte. And don’t forget to reserve a parking lot in advance. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find a free parking space in Funchal.

4.   Follow rules and regulations

Madeira traffic rules are completely usual. We have listed the most essential road regulations for a careless and enjoyable trip:

  • Be of age for driving. The minimum driver’s age is 18.
  • Follow the speed limits. The maximum speed limit for the island roads is 90 km/h. In residential areas, you are not allowed to go faster than 30-50 km/h.
  • Buckle the seat belts. Any driver – experienced or not – is aware of the crucial importance of seat belts. They are obligatory and they do save lives.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. The allowed amount of alcohol in the blood is 0.05%. You’d better exclude beverages when you are at the wheel. And don’t let anybody in your company occupy the front seat under the influence of alcohol. It is also forbidden by the Portuguese rules.
  • Take care of the little ones. Passengers under 12 years are not permitted to sit on the front seats. For kids under 12, whose height is less than 1.35 metres, special car seats are demanded.
  • Keep the right side. Remember that Madeira’s traffic is right-hand. So, drive to the right side and overtake from the left.
  • Turn on the headlights. The Roundabouts in Madeira are rather hilly. The mountain landscape is mottled with tunnels. When driving through underpasses don’t forget to use dipped beam headlights.
  • Don’t use mobile phones. Speaking on the phoneat the wheel is prohibited by the island regulations unless you have a hands-free system. Headphones are also illegal.
  • Turn off your GPS device. The GPS navigators which show the location of fix-speed cameras are outlawed. Other types of GPS devices are permitted.

5.   Hold on to traffic culture

Driving Handbook for Tourists in Madeira: 7 Ultimate Cross-Island Road Tips
Driving Handbook for Tourists in Madeira: 7 Ultimate Cross-Island Road Tips 4

The local drivers are friendly and keep the rules and regulations. You won’t have trouble on the roads. But the most common advice for tourists is to give way to local drivers if they go faster than you. Do not increase your speed, just let them overtake your vehicle calmly. You don’t know the tricky and sometimes complex roadways as natives do.

6.   Retain the emergency guidelines

We deeply hope that kind of information won’t come in useful, but take note – the phone number in case of emergency is 112. The instruction in case of the incident is as follows: get in touch with emergency services, police, and your rental provider.

7.   Bear in mind specific roundabout navigation tips

  • Use GPS navigators. They will help you to concentrate not on the route, but on the driving.
  • Drive slowly.  It’s not a shame to travel at low speed. Just the opposite, a steady pace is a safer and more useful way of driving for a first-time tourist. Take your time to admire the perfect landscape of the island.
  • Look up to see the mirror. Quite a strange advice, isn’t it? But for Madeira, it is a common thing. Big round mirrors are fixed everywhere on roadside posts. They are meant for drivers who are stuck with no visibility on narrow winding mountain roads.
  • Enjoy the scenery. Driving in Madeira is a sheer delight. The island offers stunning landscapes with subtropical greenery, cosy colonial-style houses with red-tiled roofs, and “outrageously opulent” views on the Atlantic waterfront.

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