Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken and understood, especially among younger generations.
This is a place of “Eternal Spring”… meaning that there are no cold winters nor hot summers. Temperatures here barely go under 15Cº or above 30Cº.
March and April may be the best months to visit the island, when the sun is shining, green all around and swell from north Atlantic is still getting to shore....
Although, it’s during winter that the best swell arrives!
Madeira cuisine isn’t much different from Portuguese cuisine. Sometimes it may change the name but not the dish itself! Despite being a bit away from the Mediterranean, it has a big diversity of flavours of Mediterranean influence.
You can have a full meal for very reasonable prices, specially away from Funchal.
There are some local dishes that you shouldn’t pass by, like the meat kebab or Seafood cataplana or Bacalhau - salted cod. Other particularly appreciated traditional items is the local wine – ask connoisseurs for cheap but good wine. They'll surprise you!
Service charges are usually added to hotel and restaurant bills, otherwise it is customary to leave no more than 10% tip. Bar staff and taxi drivers also expect tips, which usually entails rounding up of the bill to the nearest Euro.
Local time is GMT (same as UK).
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. outlets will fit the Europlug - round two-pin plugs.
There are no health risks attached to travel to Madeira. Health facilities are good and reciprocal health agreements exist with most European countries, including the UK, whose citizens can receive low-cost emergency care at state hospitals. It is advisable that travellers obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travel. Dental care and repatriation costs are not covered under this agreement, and medical insurance is therefore advised.
Safety is not a problem for travel in Madeira. Madeira used to have a very poor road safety record but the situation has been changing lately since new roads, highways and tunnels have been built all over the island and new severe laws have been imposed. So, exploring the island in a rented-car may be a good thing to do since distances are never too far and there's plenty to see.
Travellers arriving from non-EU countries do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 2 litres of liquor; 50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette; gifts up to the value of €33.50.
Entry requirements - Visas
The Schengen Treaty is fully applied in Madeira.
For EU countries or those under the Schengen Treaty, you may remain in Madeira as a tourist for a period not exceeding three months. If you intend to settle, you must apply for a Registration Certificate from the local Camara Municipal (Town Hall) or from the nearest office of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (Portuguese immigration authority).It is a legal requirement for foreigners to show some form of identification on request.
You need a valid passport or identity document for entry to and exit from Madeira. There is no minimum passport/document validity requirement but you should ensure that it is valid for the proposed period of your stay.
For other nationalities, procedures and required documents change according to different protocols established with those countries. Please check it in your island before travelling.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is necessary for entry for anyone travelling from an infected area and destined for the Azores or Madeira.
A minor under the age of 18 travelling to Madeira must either:
- be accompanied by a parent or guardian
- carry a letter of authorisation to travel from a parent or guardian. The letter should name the adult responsible for the minor during his/her stay.
How to get there
You can get to Madeira by plane or ferry.
Many flight companies, including low-cost, operate more than one daily flight to Madeira. There are plenty direct flights from almost all countries in Europe and overseas to Funchal airport. Madeira Island airport or Azores Islands airports also have regular flights between Europe and USA.
There are a few ferry connections from mainland Spain (from Cadiz port) or Portugal (from Portimao port).
The international access code for Madeira is +351. There are no area or city codes required. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant island code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Madeira is well covered by all modern mobile phone networks. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts.
- SOS: 112
- Tourist Information: 808781212
- National Information Service: 118
- Service Call for International Assistance: 120
- National calls to be paid at the destination: 120
- International Numbers Information Service: 177
- Weather Information Services: 12150
- Sports Information Service: 12157
- Poisoning: 808250143
- Civil Protection: 213148213
- GNR - Guarda Nacional Republicana: 213217000 / www.gnr.pt
- PSP - Police: www.psp.pt
American Express: 707504050 / 21427820502
Master Card: 800811272
Transport Information: www.transport.pt
Post Office: 707262626