Since the beautiful island of Madeira has so much to see and do, and is very varied for such a small landmass, it’s important to pick the right base so that you can make the most of your time. I’ve made it easier for you to choose where to stay in Madeira. Discover which part of the island suits your needs best with my Madeira accommodation guide, which includes carefully selected hotels and lodging suggestions.
Why Funchal makes a great base
If you’re visiting Madeira without a car but want to explore the island, it makes most sense to choose accommodation in Funchal. Not only is the old town an interesting destination in its own right – see this post for what to do in Funchal – Madeira’s capital city is also the starting point for most organised tours and bus routes.
Many of the resort hotels are clustered around the Lido promenade, which is great for ocean views and swimming pools and handy for restaurants and shopping. It’s a bit of a trek into the old town from here, although there are regular buses and taxis shouldn’t cost much. This is the most ‘touristy’ part of the city and good for families and doesn’t involve many hills.
There are several more original, boutique style hotels scattered throughout the hills of Funchal old town if you want a more unique experience.
5 star hotels in Funchal
The spacious and elegant rooms of 5-star Quintinha Sao Joao are surrounded by peaceful and landscaped gardens. Treat yourself to one of the wide variety of treatments available from the onsite spa or make use of indoor and outdoor pools according to the weather. On the outskirts of Funchal, the hotel offers a free shuttle service to and from the marina (although it’s walkable if you’re fit) and an indoor car park on site.
Belmond Reid’s Palace is a charming 5-star resort hotel set in a superb location overlooking the Atlantic with very professional staff. It has several pools, an oceanfront spa and direct access to the ocean. All rooms are elegantly furnished with period décor, light and spacious. The complimentary minibar is a welcome bonus, as is the free parking. Note that dress codes apply. e.g. for afternoon tea.
Quinta da Casa Branca is a boutique hotel within an elegant manor house with luxurious rooms set within botanical gardens that includes a banana plantation. A heated pool, health club and spa provide a variety of health and beauty treatments. The two restaurants provide excellent al fresco or terrace dining.
The luxurious, 5-star all-inclusive Enotel Lido Madeira Hotel offers an indoor and outdoor pool, and sauna and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean with direct access to the oceanfront promenade.
Alternatively, the award winning The Vine Hotel is certain to leave you with a truly memorable experience. It overlooks the port and the bay and is thoughtfully designed with a different colour scheme reflecting the four seasons for rooms on each floor.
If you enjoy golf, gardens and views, you can’t go wrong with Casa Velha do Palheiro. This 5-star manor house hotel dates back to 1804 and is set within glorious gardens, offers discounts on its golf course and a shuttle bus service to Funchal, although there is free parking on site, too. Spa treatments, indoor and outdoor pools, a tea room and restaurant add to its appeal.
4 star boutique accommodation in Funchal
The beautifully designed Castanheiro Boutique Hotel successfully retains elements of the original building, located on a quiet road yet very close to the old town and amenities. Sea and hill views from the year round rooftop pool and hot tub are spectacular. Rooms are spacious, modern and clean, beds are extremely comfortable and breakfasts are excellent.
The ARTS IN Hotel Conde Carvalhal is a restored Madeiran mansion that boasts suites which are located in the original mansion, while the studios are situated in the modern annex. Besides its panoramic views over the city, the mountains and the sea, there is a lovely botanical garden in which to relax.
The Hotel Baia Azul has been newly renovated and is very close to Funchal’s Lido beachfront. This 4-star hotel offers 3 swimming pools, 3 restaurants, a spa and a sun deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the gardens. Underground parking is available (at extra cost).
Other Funchal accommodation options
The small 3-star Hotel Albergaria Catedral is, as you might have guessed, not far from the cathedral and smack bang in the heart of Funchal old town. Clean, comfortable rooms, air conditioning and free parking make this a good city centre option.
3-star Hotel do Carmo is also handy for exploring the old town and, as a slightly larger hotel, features a rooftop pool and pleasant outdoor spaces in addition to 1960s themed public areas and spacious rooms.
For somewhere unique and cosy in the hills above Funchal, Quinta Devónia by Travel to Madeira is perfect. There is a choice of houses or a cottage surrounded by an organic fruit and vegetable garden, which guests are welcome to use. It is a 15 minutes drive up in the hills above Funchal so a car is useful unless you intend to just stay there and relax. See photos and reviews.
None of these take your fancy? Search Booking.com for hotels in Funchal
If you are more in the market for independent apartments and villas in Funchal, there are plenty to choose from.
Places to stay in Madeira east of Funchal
Why stay in Machico
If you’re looking for golden sands, Machico is one of the few beaches in Madeira where you’ll find them. The U-shaped bay makes for calm waters, too. Close to the airport and motorway and served by several daily buses, the small, attractive town has all you need for a relaxed holiday with or without a car.
Accommodation in Machico
White Waters Hotel is a modern family run 3-star hotel situated in the main square and close to beach. Rooms are bright and airy with some ocean facing balconies. A relaxing rooftop sun terrace gives panoramic views of the island. There is an onsite restaurant and free parking. Check prices and availability
If you’re looking for an apartment, the 3-bedroomed VIP Baia penthouse apartment is a good option. Spacious, light and well equipped, it features panoramic mountain views, a garden and terrace. It’s centrally located with restaurants and shops very close by and about a minute’s walk from the beach. Underground parking is also available. Get full details
Close to Sao Roque Beach, The Modern & Recycled House offers a large open-plan beachfront apartment that comes with its very own pool table! There is a small balcony with a wonderful view of both the sea and mountains. Check out the details on Booking.com.
Casa da Graça is a clean, bright 4-bedroomed holiday home that boasts a great location and views from the terrace. You can make use of the hot tub after a long day of sightseeing and there is free car parking. See photos and prices.
Using Santa Cruz as a place to stay on Madeira Island
Smaller than Machico but even closer to the airport is the coastal village of Santa Cruz. It has a pretty historical centre with a few cafés and restaurants, a market and a delightful promenade.
Where to stay in Santa Cruz
The small but luxurious 5-star Albatroz Beach and Yacht Club offers beautiful spacious rooms all with balconies and views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Deserted Islands. Within the 400 metres of private sea front you’ll find three pools. There is an a la carte restaurant onsite, which is handy because this is a little bit out of the town centre, and staff are very friendly and helpful. See photos and reviews on Booking.com
Salt Water Villa is a 3-bedroomed holiday home located on the beachfront and features a private pool and parking on site. The garden and outdoor facilities give you the chance to relax and recharge those batteries. See photos and full description
The 4-star Vila Galé Santa Cruz has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fitness and wellness centre and rooms with sea views. They also offer a free shuttle into Funchal a few times a day.
Where to stay west of Funchal
Sunny Ponta do Sol
Ponta do Sol is a small, attractive town on the southern coast of Madeira with a pebble beach and could be a possible base if you have a car or stay in a hotel that offers transfers.
Hotels in Madeira – Ponta do Sol
Estalagem Da Ponta Do Sol is 4-star design hotel perched on a cliff facing the Atlantic Ocean and featuring an infinity pool and hot tub with panoramic views. Room décor is totally white and each room has floor to ceiling windows leading onto balconies, some with sea views others with garden views. Customer service is excellent and there is a free shuttle service to the airport if you don’t intend to drive. Get full details and availability
Combining luxury and history is the former summer residence of a noble family at 1905 Zino’s Palace. You can stay in a room overlooking a terraced banana tree plantation or enjoy a superb ocean view. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and the hotel also provides car hire for guests who want to explore the surrounding area. See photos and reviews.
Right on the seafront, with lots of bars and eateries close by, is the Enotel Baia do Sol. Rooms are bright and give you a great view of the ocean or bay. There is an in-house restaurant that serves typical Madeiran dishes. Check the photos and prices.
There are several private villa and apartment rentals in this area too.
The quirky Castelo Austria is one such property. Bright and colourful, it has a terrace with a small pool overlooking the ocean. Wood interiors with effective use of natural stone in some rooms. Equipped kitchen and BBQ with free public car parking close by. Check availability and photos.
Stay in Calheta for the marina and sandy beach
The addition of a marina and imported golden sand from Morocco has raised the profile and appeal of Calheta as well as the number of restaurants and cafés. It’s also home to a vintage sugar cane factory and a contemporary arts centre should you be looking for some cultural activities.
Unless your accommodation offers regular transfers to Funchal, or you’re happy to stay put, you’ll need a car to get around the rest of Madeira. With a vehicle, you have good access from Calheta to many of the popular walking trails in the west of the island.
Special places to stay near Calheta
4-star Quinta das Vinhas is a gorgeous 17th century country manor house with many original features, surrounded by vineyards. There are two outdoor pools and plenty of options for sitting or lounging in the gardens. Guided tours of both vineyard and wine cellars can be arranged. Rooms are comfortable and spacious and there’s a range of accommodation options. You’ll need a car to explore further. See photos and check availability
For 5-star hotel luxury overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Savoy Saccharum Resort & Spa is your best bet. Featuring a wellness centre, indoor and outdoor pools and rooms with balconies overlooking the sea, marina and beaches, a mini museum about the local sugar cane industry and interesting design features. Check availability and photos
If you prefer to rent a private house, Atlantis Country House is a restored rustic-styled 2 bedroom property with panoramic views of the ocean just 5 minutes by car from Calheta. Some rooms have exposed stone walls and wooden beams and the dining room has floor to ceiling windows with spectacular views. The host is very helpful. Check availability on Booking.com
And for something completely unique and utterly charming, Casas Maravilha offers holiday cottages made from recycled wooden pallets, glass and other recycled and sustainable materials in an agricultural setting. Fresh ingredients are available for cooking and it is a very relaxing experience. A car is essential, although it’s only a short drive to restaurants and shops. See photos and verified reviews
Beautiful Jardim da Mar village
This delightful coastal village is a maze of cobbled streets and cute cottages with flower-filled gardens and stunning views. You need a car if you want to go exploring but note that many of these lanes are too narrow to drive down so you may need to leave your vehicle in the central car park and walk to your accommodation.
For a larger property with ocean views and an infinity pool and sun terrace, The House of the Sea and Mountain is clean and spacious and sleeps up to 6 people. You can drive right up to the property and there’s parking space for one car. Helpful hosts and a well-equipped kitchen make for a pleasant and relaxing stay. Check availability and amenities
Places to stay in the north of Madeira
My special spot, Sao Vicente
My top choice for a place to stay on the north of Madeira would be São Vicente. Surrounded by gorgeously green mountains, it also has a black sand beach, a quaint village centre and a strip of seafront restaurants. You can also explore Madeira from the inside at the nearby volcanic centre.
There are a few buses a day that connect São Vicente with Funchal and other places on the north of the island but a car would give you greater flexibility.
Madeira accommodation in São Vicente
Choose between guest bedrooms or self-contained apartments at Solar da Bica, a delightful country hideaway with a heated indoor pool, biological produce from their own vegetable garden and stunning views. You’ll want your own transport if you stay here. Check photos and availability
Casa da Piedade is another charming property, this time with an outdoor pool, surrounded by mountains and a gorgeous garden. It’s a bit closer to São Vicente so if you don’t mind a 20 minute walk, you could manage without a car. Check current prices
Solar do Carvalho is a restored historic house offering bright and vibrantly decorated rooms. There is a comfortable living room, a modern kitchen with a wood stove and laundry room. It has a nice garden and close to a forest. The host is very hospitable and breakfast is plentiful. Parking is very good. See photos and check availability
I fell in love with Quinta O Refúgio, a 2 bedroomed house above the village of São Vicente, a perfect getaway spot. The gardens are the best feature and the little terrace overlooking the ocean. Ema is an attentive host. Note that the bed in the second bedroom is not ideal for very tall people. Check availability for your stay
North Coast Guest House is another little haven just up the hill from the village so the free parking is handy. The host’s two dogs roam freely around the pretty gardens but are not allowed in the house. Each double room has a private bathroom and breakfast is included although you also have access to a shared kitchen, dining room and living room. See photos and check prices
Not far from Sao Vicente you will find Pestana Quinta do Arco Nature & Rose Garden Hotel. With stunning mountain and sea views the whole experience is enhanced with the gorgeous rose garden with more than 1700 different species of roses, blooming from April to December. Check out the photos and fall in love.
Porto Moniz for pretty pools
This small, northwesterly coastal town is most famous for its natural swimming pool complexes. Their popularity means there are several restaurants and accommodation options in Porto Moniz so it could be a useful place to stay if you don’t need much more to keep you entertained.
You can get to Porto Moniz by bus but the journey is long and unless you’re happy to stay put once you’re there, it would be best to have a car to give you some freedom.
Hotels in Madeira – Porto Moniz
The 4-star Aqua Natura Madeira hotel overlooks the main swimming pool complex and the ocean and offers many extra facilities (jacuzzi, massage, gym). Its spacious rooms are nicely decorated and have a balcony with sea views. There is a 24 hour restaurant on site serving a range of dishes. See photos and check availability
Hotel Euro Moniz Sol is closer to the smaller swimming pool complex and provides decent 3 star accommodation. The public spaces feature enticing photos of Madeira’s natural beauty and there’s an indoor pool and sauna for when the weather’s not so wonderful. Free parking is a bonus. Check prices and availability
Casa das Escaleiras is a clean, spacious and light modern holiday rental that sleeps 4 in a quiet location above the village yet close to natural swimming pools. The terrace has lovely views of the ocean and the kitchen is well equipped. Access to the house could be a little difficult if someone has mobility issues but there is parking. Hosts are very helpful. See photos and full description
Check out some of my other articles about Madeira:
Madeira guide books and maps
Guide books for Portugal rarely go into any detail about the Madeira islands so you should consider buying a dedicated book.
Take a look at these via Amazon:
DK Eyewitness have thought of almost everything in their guide to the Top 10 (gardens, beaches, museums, walks etc.)Top 10 Madeira (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide)
If, like me, your interests centre around food and walking, this guidebook may fit the billMadeira (Walk and Eat) (Walk & Eat)
Dedicated wine buffs should consult this guideMadeira: The islands and their wines (The Classic Wine Library)
Another general interest guide book is the Lonely PlanetPocket Madeira (Travel Guide)
If you’re driving in Madeira, it’s wise to have a paper map of the island as well as GPS navigation – try this Madeira map.
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