Madeira is a beautiful island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Portugal. It is known for its stunning natural beauty with rugged mountains, lush forests, and breathtaking coastlines. The island’s mild, subtropical climate makes it a popular destination year-round.
In this travel guide, I will share tips and useful information about renting a car in Madeira.
Should I rent a car in Madeira?
There are lots of reasons why you might want to rent a car in Madeira:
- A rental car gives you the freedom to explore the island at your own pace. With a car, you can visit the island’s many beaches, forests, and towns without relying on public transportation or tour groups.
- Hiring a car could save you time. Madeira has a relatively small public transportation network, and buses and taxis can be limited, especially in rural areas. With a car, you can get from one place to another quickly and easily.
- You could save money by renting a car. Taxis and tour groups can be expensive, but hiring a car during your trip can often be the cheaper option.
- Having a car allows you to visit off-the-beaten-path locations easily. You can explore the many hidden gems on the island – some of which are not easily accessible by public transportation.
I usually use Discovercars to book my car when traveling. This platform is one of the highest customer-rated car rental comparison sites, offering a convenient and easy way to get the best car rental deals.
You can easily find the car that best fits your needs and budget by comparing prices and options from multiple rental car companies.
In Madeira, I have found some really good deals several times. They also provide extra insurance coverage at a reasonable price.
Is driving in Madeira difficult?
Driving in Madeira is not necessarily difficult, but it can be challenging in some areas. The island has many steep and winding roads – which may be a tad difficult if you’re not used to them, so it’s important to drive cautiously.
This is especially true for the steep road on the way out of Funchal. Smaller cars will have to take it slowly. There are plenty of places to stop, so it’s still quite safe.
With that being said, Madeira is generally a safe place to drive. The roads are well-maintained, and the traffic laws are similar to those in other European countries. As long as you are familiar with the local laws and drive responsibly, you should have no problem driving on the island.
And since it’s an island, distances are short, so don’t expect large journeys between stops. The locals are pretty relaxed and impatient – beeping is not common.
Popular car rental locations in Madeira
Car rental companies are generally located in the major cities and towns on Madeira, including Funchal, the capital city. Some of the most popular car rental locations on the island include:
- Funchal Airport – Many car rental companies have desks at the airport, making it convenient to pick up a car as soon as you arrive on the island.
- Funchal City Center – Several companies are located in the city center, making it easy to pick up a car if you are staying in the city.
- Caniço – This town is located near the airport and is a popular tourist destination. You can find several car hire companies here.
- Calheta – Located on the island’s west coast, this town is known for its beautiful beaches and marina. There are also some car rental companies here.
What do I need to rent a car in Portugal?
To rent a car in Portugal, you need to have a valid driver’s license from your home country, which needs to be at least 12 months old. For most countries, you won’t need an International Driving Permit (IDP) – but getting one might be a good idea as it’s cheap and quick.
In addition to a valid driver’s license, most companies require a credit card to pay for the rental car. They won’t accept debit cards, so always have a credit card handy. The name on your credit card needs to be the same as your passport. Some rental places let you pay in cash or with a debit card – but this is quite unusual.
Finally, you need to be at least 19 years old to rent a car in Portugal. Some companies may have a higher minimum age requirement for more powerful cars, so always check first.
Overall, to rent a car in Portugal, you’ll need the following:
- A valid driver’s license that’s at least 12 months old.
- To be at least 19 years old.
- A credit card to pay, with a name matching the one on your passport – in most cases. Sometimes cash or debit is accepted.
Which car rental company should I use in Madeira?
There are three main car rental companies in Madeira. You probably care most about getting the best price, so use Discovercars to find the best deal from these companies.
- MadeiraCar – a local company that usually has the best deals. They’ll even accept cash or debit card without too much hassle.
- Europcar – a large international company. You’ll need a credit card for payment.
- Alamo – Another multi-national company. A credit card is recommended. You can pay with debit, but there are extra terms.
They all have booths at the airport – so you can pick up a car as soon as you arrive.
Which type of car is best to use in Madeira?
Should you choose a small, compact petrol car in Madeira? Or would a larger SUV be more appropriate?
This depends on your plans and preferences. If you plan to spend most of your time in the city, a small car may be the best choice, as it will be easy to park and navigate crowded streets.
If you plan to explore the island and visit rural areas, a larger car with good ground clearance may be more suitable. This will allow you to navigate the island’s winding roads and hills easily.
If you are visiting Madeira during the summer, you could even try a convertible, as you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful weather and stunning coastal views.
What about renting an electric car to use in Madeira?
If you are keen on looking for a greener option – It is possible to drive an electric car in Madeira, though it may not be the most convenient choice.
Madeira has a relatively small and underdeveloped infrastructure for electric vehicles, with only a handful of charging stations on the island.
If you are planning to drive an electric car, you’ll need to plan your trips carefully and make sure you have enough time to recharge your vehicle at one of the few charging stations on the island. There’s also the possibility of long wait times if there’s a queue.
You may want to consider renting a conventional car instead. Hopefully, using an electric car will be much easier in the near future, but at the moment, it might not be worth the inconvenience.
Portugal driving rules you should know.
As far as I know, Portugal doesn’t have any particularly unusual driving rules. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- The speed limit on highways is 120 km/h, and on other roads, it is generally 90 km/h. The speed limit in residential areas and near schools is below 50 km/h.
- Using a cell phone while driving is illegal unless you use a hands-free device.
- Seat belts are required for all passengers in the car.
- Children under 12 years old must ride in the back seat.
- You must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.
- It is illegal to turn right at a red light unless there is a sign indicating that it is allowed.
- Headlights are required at all times, even during the day.
I hope these information and tips will help you in renting a car in Madeira. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to comment.