In this article, I’m going to answer your question: should I rent a car in Madeira? I’m also going to tell you everything you need to know about renting a car in Madeira and what it is like to drive a rental car in Madeira.
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If you don’t already have your trip booked, I’m sure I’m convincing you to visit. Check out these resources and tools to help book and plan your trip!
- Booking.com – offers accommodation and unique places
- Vrbo – world’s leading marketplace for vacation rentals
- Hostelworld – global hostel-focused online booking platform
- Wayaway – flight aggregator to find the best rates on airline tickets
- GetYourGuide – find top-rated tours and activities in your destination
BACKGROUND ON MADEIRA
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is an archipelago (group of islands) which includes Madeira (the most populous), Porto Santo, and Deserates. In this article, I am specifically going to be speaking about the island of Madeira.
This island is best known for its famous wine, viewpoints, hiking, unique flora and fauna, and pre-historic laurel forest which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, this island is perhaps most well known for being home to the most famous football player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. The airport is even named after him!
Madeira is a wonderful place to visit year round and offers opportunities for both adventure and relaxation. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already highly considering visiting Madeira or even have your trip booked. So let’s get to the reason you’re here: renting a car in Madeira.
SHOULD I RENT A CAR IN MADEIRA?
Before traveling to Madeira, I was asking this same question. Most things I read online said something along the lines of a car being useful but not required. However, after traveling to Madeira, I believe you should definitely rent a car in Madeira if you want to make the most of your time on the island.
I recommend renting a car for the entirety of your trip. There really isn’t much to do in Funchal (Madeira’s capital city, where you are likely staying) so you are going to want to venture out quite often, not just for a day or two. Lastly, renting a car in Madeira is pretty affordable, so even if you are a budget traveler it may still be your best option to see the island.
I rented a car from Cassiano’s Rent A Car through DiscoverCars. DiscoverCars is an international car rental website that compares multiple rental companies so you can get the very best deal! Their rental car experience makes booking your perfect car seamless and affordable.
IS A CAR NECESSARY IN MADEIRA?
It’s not necessary to rent a car in Madeira, but it’s highly recommended. Even if you are staying in the capital city of Funchal, you are definitely going to want to venture out to other parts of the island. Also, since Madeira is extremely mountainous, it’s not the best place to travel by foot. My Airbnb was a 25-minute walk directly uphill from the center of Funchal, so the car was a lifesaver!
It is possible to get around Madeira without renting a car but will make your trip much less flexible and spontaneous. If you do not want to rent a car, you can join tour groups which will take you by bus to different locations. I’m not sure the price of these tours, but we saw many tourist buses so they are definitely a popular option.
IS IT DIFFICULT TO DRIVE IN MADEIRA?
As I mentioned, Madeira is very mountainous. If you are visiting a place such as Fanal forest, you will spend a good amount of time driving uphill. In the higher elevation areas it can also get quite foggy (see below). As someone who doesn’t do this type of driving very frequently, it honestly was a little nerve wracking. However, I was with a friend of mine who was also a registered driver on our rental car, so she handled most of the steep driving!
I did most of the driving throughout Funchal and on the motorways. The motorways are very well organized, but you should know there are many tunnels (over 150 in fact). These tunnels are important because they connect the small villages and make traveling around the island much more accessible. It only takes a little over an hour to get from one side of the island to the other! Off the motorways, the roads can be pretty narrow. For this reason it’s important to take it slow and even honk your horn to make your position known if need be.
After the first day, I felt quite comfortable driving in Madeira. It also helped that I had a high quality and trustworthy car that I booked through DiscoverCars! If you’re ready to rent a car in Madeira for your upcoming trip, I highly recommend you book through DiscoverCars to find your perfect ride.
DO I NEED A CREDIT CARD TO RENT A CAR IN MADEIRA?
You may be able to rent a car in Madeira even if you don’t have a credit card. According to DiscoverCar’s website:
Depending on where you want to rent a car, it may be possible to find some suppliers that accept debit cards. Make sure you check the Security Deposit section of the Rental Conditions and not just the Payment Methods, as some suppliers accept debit cards for payment but still require a credit card for the security deposit.
Our website has a specific filter you can use to only show those suppliers that accept debit cards. You can find it on the left-hand side of the desktop version and at the top of the mobile version.
Since we’re talking about credit cards, I thought it would be a good time to plug my favorite travel credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’m actually obsessed with this credit card as I’ve been able to book so many hotels and flights just by using my points. Another benefit is the auto rental collision damage waiver. With this, you don’t have to purchase the additional insurance from the car rental company. You can learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits here.
WHAT IS THE BEST RENTAL CAR COMPANY IN MADEIRA?
I 100% recommend the rental car company Cassiano’s Rent A Car which I booked through DiscoverCars. A representative from their office picked us up at the airport in an airconditioned van and took us to their facility only a few minutes away. The check in process was easy and simple and I drove away in less than 30 minutes. The car was in excellent condition and I faced no problems throughout my rental. All in all, I paid $187 to rent the car for three days (this cost also included an additional driver).
To find the perfect rental car for you, search below on DiscoverCars (you will likely see Cassiano’s Rent A Car as an option)!
A few other things you should know about driving in Madeira.
- You drive on the right side of the road, like in most of Europe (excluding the UK and Ireland).
- The blood alcohol limit for driving is 50mg per 100 ml of blood, which roughly translates to one beer… but this widely differs from person-to-person. To avoid legal issues, avoid all alcohol while driving!
- Local drivers are a little aggressive and drive much quicker than the speed limit. Just let them pass you and don’t be intimidated.
To sum things up: yes, you should rent a car in Madeira! Have a great time and don’t forget to check out DiscoverCars for all your car rental needs!