Best drives around Funchal

Scenic Drives to Experience Around Funchal

Funchal, the enchanting capital of Madeira, is not just known for its vibrant culture and picturesque cityscape but also for the captivating drives that offer breathtaking views of the island. For those who wish to immerse themselves in the beauty of Madeira, taking to the road is an experience like no other. Dive into our guide on the best drives around Funchal and get ready for an exhilarating journey.

Best drives around Funchal 2
Best drives around Funchal 2

The Appeal of Road Trips Around Funchal

Funchal's strategic location provides easy access to some of the island's most majestic views. From cliff-top drives to serene coastal routes, renting a car is the best way to delve deep into the wonders of Madeira.

  1. Complete Freedom: Choose your stops, set your pace, and alter your itinerary as you see fit.
  2. Hidden Gems: Beyond the popular tourist spots lie hidden vistas waiting to be discovered.
  3. Economical Travels: Especially for groups, opting for cheap car rentals can make the journey more cost-effective than other modes of transport.

Top Scenic Routes to Consider

Coastal Drive to Câmara de Lobos

Embark on a mesmerizing coastal drive leading to the traditional fishing village of Câmara de Lobos. The azure waters coupled with the scent of the sea make this drive a refreshing experience.

Mountainous Adventure to Curral das Freiras

Drive through winding mountain roads leading to Curral das Freiras, also known as the “Nun's Valley”. This secluded village, surrounded by towering mountains, offers a spectacular view, especially during sunset.

Northeastern Route to Santana

A trip to Santana, known for its unique A-frame houses, takes you through dense forests and offers panoramic views of the north coast. Along the way, you might also stumble upon serene waterfalls and verdant meadows.

Cabo Girão Skywalk Drive

Venture to one of Europe's highest sea cliffs, Cabo Girão. The Skywalk here offers an unobstructed view of the vast ocean and the vibrant cityscape of Funchal.

Southwestern Journey to Ponta do Pargo

This drive, leading to Madeira's westernmost point, offers breathtaking views of steep cliffs dropping into the roaring ocean. The lighthouse at Ponta do Pargo is a perfect spot for some memorable photos.

Tips for a Memorable Driving Experience

  1. Select the Right Vehicle: Depending on the terrain, consider choosing a suitable car. While a compact car might be perfect for city drives, you might need a sturdier vehicle for mountainous routes. Check out some notable car hire options in Funchal.
  2. Stay Updated on Weather: Some routes, especially the mountain roads, can become challenging during adverse weather. It's always good to check the weather forecast before setting out.
  3. Keep a Map or GPS Handy: While exploring the best drives around Funchal, having a reliable GPS system can help you navigate through unfamiliar terrains.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a special permit or license to drive in Funchal?

No, a standard EU driving license is typically sufficient for tourists to drive in Funchal. Non-EU residents should consider obtaining an International Driving Permit.

Is it safe to drive in Funchal's mountainous areas?

Yes, while the roads can be winding and narrow in places, they are well-maintained. However, it's recommended to drive cautiously, especially if unfamiliar with mountain driving, and to avoid these routes in adverse weather.

Where can I find cheap car rentals in Funchal?

Funchal offers a variety of car rental services, from local companies to international brands. Researching online and booking in advance can often fetch you the best deals.

Are there specific traffic rules I should be aware of while driving in Funchal?

The traffic rules in Funchal are similar to other European cities. However, always stay updated on local signage, speed limits, and parking regulations. Roundabouts are also common, and vehicles inside the roundabout usually have the right of way.

How long does it take to drive around the entire island from Funchal?

Madeira is relatively compact, but the driving time can vary depending on the route and stops. Typically, a full island tour, including leisurely stops, might take a day. It's recommended to plan your itinerary based on your interests and available time.


Madeira's charm lies not just in its destinations but also in the journeys leading to them. By embracing the road, you get to witness the island's beauty in its purest form. So, gear up, select your preferred route, and set out for an unforgettable road trip around Funchal. Safe driving!

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