Car rental Funchal
The best way to tour around Funchal, so you can visit the city’s cathedral, explore the quaint street art over at Rua da Santa Maria, and enjoy a wine tour and take a sip (or two!) of top-class Madeira wine, is to take a drive all over the city. You can always rely on a trusty car hire to take care of your car rental needs.
The capital city of Madeira, one of Portugal’s islands in the Atlantic, Funchal is also its biggest town despite having just over 100,000 inhabitants. Known for being the birthplace of football star Cristiano Ronaldo, Funchal’s biggest attraction may actually be the production of its very own Madeira wine. This helped in the development of the city’s economy and allowed it to evolve from an autonomous parish to a vibrant city back in 1508.
You’ll be pleased to know that the city boasts of a sub-tropical climate, which means plenty of time to breathe in the air along the seafront and to savour the city’s fresh locally caught fish and carefully marinated meat offerings – with a sip of their world-famous wine, of course. If you’re not a wine enthusiast, you can also try Madeira’s poncha: the local’s cure-all concoction. This potent mix of sugar cane rum, sugar and lemon juice can give you a revitalizing jolt to your senses, so pace yourself.
One of the most exciting things you can do in Funchal is to go and see dolphins and whales in their natural habitat, at sea! Since Madeira is in the North Atlantic Ocean, it’s located in the perfect position to spot migrating dolphins and whales. Depending on the season, you can easily locate humpbacks, minke whales, fin whales, bottlenose dolphins and even orcas if you’re quite fortunate. If you’re worried about the tour’s effect on the animals, you can rest easy knowing that there’s even a 10-minute restriction for all tours on the island.
You can do the usual tourist activities in Funchal like museum-hopping, wine-tasting or even cable car-riding. Or, you can take a step outside your comfort zone do something that’s unique to Madeira: go on a wicker toboggan sled ride down the steep streets of Monte. In the past, local residents used this as a means of transport, but today, you’ll be riding the toboggan which is then steered by two runners wearing traditional costumes. Don’t miss the chance to try it as you can only experience this in Madeira.
Explore with your rental car
The most convenient way to explore Madeira is to establish a base for yourself in Funchal and simply drive around the area using your rental car. Start the day with visiting Jardim Tropical Monte Palace, a multi-level garden with exotic trees, a museum, and even African sculptures. With a distance of only 7 km (4.35 miles), it will take you around 12 minutes to reach this destination by car. Don’t just stop here, though. You can also take the cable car to Madeira’s Botanical Garden and enjoy the stunning view it offers.
Afterwards, you can enjoy a filling lunch at Restaurante Taberna Madeira, one of Funchal’s highest-rated restaurants. It’s only 5 km (3.1 miles) from Jardim Tropical Monte Palace, only a 15-minute ride, so you can easily fill your tummy with traditional Portuguese meals such as their perfectly cooked tuna belly, fresh and juicy octopus and tasty blue mackerel. Pair with some of their world-famous Madeiran wine and end your meal with their delectable cake offerings.
Want a real life-changing experience? You can also include venturing inside a volcano in your to-do list. São Vicente Caves in Madeira is 31.9 km (19.8 miles) from Funchal and is home to nice caves, a museum with 3D movies about volcanoes, and even a real-live volcano. Take on the 35-minute drive and go on this interactive tour, it’s a must for every traveller visiting Madeira.
The nearest airport is located in Santa Cruz. Named as Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC) or Madeira Airport, this airport is 25 km (15.5 miles) northeast from Funchal. It used to be known as one of the most challenging airports because of its “mini” runway. Madeira Airport opened in 1964 with a runway of only 1,600 meters (0.99 miles) so only the most experienced and best pilots could land here. So that it can service its 3.5 million passengers per year, the airport extended its runway by 1 km (0.62 miles) on the year 2000.
When it comes to renting a car from Madeira Airport, you have different options according to your preference and budget range. Car rental companies such as Avis/Budget, Europcar, Goldcar/Rhodium, Guerin/Alamo/Enterprise/National, Rodavante, Hertz/Thrifty/Dollar/Firefly and Sixt are available. Car rental desks can be found on Level 0 of the main terminal. Service hours are usually from 7:00 am to 12:00 in the night.
Despite its offshore location, Funchal is one of the most popular destinations for travellers to Portugal. Known as the Hawaii of Europe, Funchal is especially enjoyable during the winter months, as tourists like to escape from the mind-numbing cold of Northern and Central Europe, to enjoy eternal sunshine in paradise.
Madeirans drive on the right-hand side of the road so better familiarize yourself first with their regulations before renting your own car. Additionally, the steering column is on the left for your reference. Seat belt is mandatory for everyone in the car, so take note. For your guidance, speed limit is: in built-up areas – 50 km/h (30 mph), on open roads – 90-100km/h (55-62mph), on motorways – 120 km/h (74mph). The main rule of thumb when driving in Madeira is to drive carefully to ensure your safety.
When it comes to renting a car in Madeira, you’re advised to rent a fairly good car, one that can help drive you around steep hills and narrow roads. Avoid renting mini-cars since you’ll need all the horsepower you can when climbing a lot of hills. Compact cars are the best for squeezing yourself in parking spots and tight roads.