Madeira has many newly asphalted roads and a recently completed dual carriage motorway with many impressive, highly engineered tunnels taking you through and under the huge mountains that were once extremely terrifying to manoeuvre around.
This has made driving Madeira a much easier prospect than it once was. Now you can get from one area of the island to the next very easily and without that “edge of a cliff” feeling. However, you can still experience these thrilling scenic drives if you so wish but it’s nice to know that these days, you have the choice.
Madeirans drive on the right hand side of the road and all cars have the steering column on the left. Seat belts are required at all times. Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to sit in the front seats. The speed limit within cities and villages is limited to 40 – 50 km/h. On motorways the limit is 100 km/h. You can still find narrow cobbled roads within the cities and villages. Some people prefer to park in the many car parks and walk around these quaint little streets while others enjoy cruising around in their open top cars, sunglasses on, while enjoying the sunny days and people watching.
Madeiran drivers are used to the many tourists that come to the island and are very friendly and courteous. When you leave the cities and take a drive along the more adventurous roads and mountainous terrains, be aware that using the gearbox of your car (moving down the gears) will help you slow down and keep the brakes cool even on the most demanding slopes. Petrol stations can be found in all areas of the island but do fill up before leaving the city of Funchal to save yourself any unnecessary worries. Always stay within the legal speed limits and remember that drinking alcohol and driving is an offence throughout Europe. Just take your time, wear your seatbelts, take it easy and enjoy the beauty of Madeira!