Should you rent a car in MadeiraPortugal>Madeira

Anyone lucky enough to have a window seat when landing at the amazingly engineered airport that serves Madeira’s capital Funchal will notice not just that the airport is incredibly close to the city centre, but that all of the resort areas on the southern side of the island are very tightly packed together. This is hardly surprising, given that the rugged terrain on Madeira makes it difficult to build anywhere in the island’s interior.

Although there are no fixed rail train services anywhere on the island of Madeira, local and regional bus services are available through a variety of different bus companies, and with a bit of planning it is possible to travel pretty much throughout the whole island by bus. Many resorts will also offer guided bus tours of the island’s interior.

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Naturally, as with any island destination with no regular rail service, a hire car can be quite useful in Madeira. However, in an island that is so well known for its plant life, the two most impressive gardens on the island are both within the urban area of Funchal itself. You might not fancy walking up to these gardens in the heat, but buses are still widely available, and you might still prefer the breezy walk down.

If your plan is to hire a car in Madeira, but just to get one for a day or two, then it’s always worth checking the rental terms – a full week hire might be much better value than a shorter hire period if the rental contract is on a full tank to empty tank basis. However, if you are staying in the centre of Funchal, it’s always worth checking parking arrangements first.

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  • Price wise, It’s usually worth hirng a car in Madeira, especially if you are visiting away from the peak tourist season.
  • Fuel costs are unlikely to be a major problem as you are unlikely to do much mileage – just check the terms of your fuel deal before confirming your rental.
  • Freedom and flexibility – as with anywhere.
  • Madeira is exceptionally hilly – a car will be better if you don’t want to be walking up steep hill sides.
  • Bus routes are generally slow and infrequent.
  • Buses aren’t very well integrated – to travel across the island starting from the airport can take 3 trips, with long gaps between services. Buses are only really useful to get you round the whole island if you are staying in the capital Funchal.
  • There are FOUR different bus stations in Funchal – one for each part of the island.
  • There is no rail service of any kind.
  • Madeira is popular year round, including as a winter sun destination. Car rental prices tend to fluctuate, but not as much as they do in places like Faro on the Algarve, where there is more of a peak in demand in the summer, and not so much demand in winter.

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  • The island is relatively small – a car might be useful some of the time, but not always for a full week.
  • Traffic can be a problem on any denseley packed holiday island.
  • Parking – you will of ten have problems finding a parking space.
  • Check your fuel contract – Madeira car hire can be poor value if you have to pay for a full tank of fuel you won’t use.
  • Buses are very good in the main town and resort areas.
  • Buses are excellent value compared to northern Europe.
  • Madeira has a pleasant climate with many gardens – ideal for walking around, providing you are reasonably fit.
  • Madeira Cable Car – a great way to see the city from above, and also to visit the botanic gardens is to take the Madeira Cable Car.

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So, do I need to hire a car in Madeira? On balance, our Madeira car hire advice is that this is the sort of island it’s actually very easy to get around just by using local buses, walking in places, and probably making a few journeys by taxi, but it’s unlikely really to be worth justifying getting a hire car, unless you are staying well away from the urban area of Funchal.

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Author: Carometer

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