Where to stay in Madeira for first time: 8 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Madeira as a first-timer can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find safe places to stay in Madeira for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Madeira for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Madeira and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Madeira is a sought-after destination for travelers, known for its stunning natural beauty, including rugged coastline, lush forests, and towering mountains. It offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, surfing, and whale watching.

The island is an autonomous region of Portugal, located in the Atlantic Ocean southwest of Portugal’s mainland. It is an archipelago composed of four main islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, and the uninhabited Desertas and Selvagens Islands. Madeira Island is the largest and most populous of the group.

The capital city of Madeira is Funchal, which is a vibrant and picturesque city with colorful houses, charming streets, and beautiful gardens. 

The economy of island relies heavily on tourism, agriculture (especially the cultivation of bananas, sugarcane, and wine grapes), and the production of traditional crafts such as embroidery and wickerwork.

The region has a rich cultural heritage, influenced by Portuguese, African, and Caribbean traditions. Madeira is famous for its New Year’s Eve celebrations, including the spectacular fireworks display in Funchal, the capital city.

Is Madeira safe to visit?

Madeira is generally safe to visit, even for solo travelers. It has a low crime rate, but pickpocketing and being overcharged by a taxi driver can occur, especially in Fulcal. So, I advise you to take normal safety precautions such as keeping your valuables secure, and ask for a taxi meter/Uber to avoid these risks.

If you’re hiking, stick to designated paths, avoid venturing into remote areas alone, and pack appropriate gear. Be aware of potential hazards, such as loose rocks/slippery surfaces when hiking along levadas. If you’re visiting the beach, swim only in designated swimming areas and follow lifeguard instructions.

Where to stay in Madeira for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Madeira for first-timers and tourists are Funchal, Caniço, Calheta, Ponta do Sol, Santa Cruz, Ribeira Brava, Machico, and São Vicente. 

In general, Funchal, the capital city of Madeira, is a popular choice for tourists. It offers a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and attractions such as the old town, the Funchal Marina, and the famous Monte Palace Tropical Garden. Funchal also serves as a great base for the island without a car.

During my trip to Madeira, I stayed in Funchal at the mid-range Three House Hotel. It was conveniently located close to several noted attractions, including Almirante Reis Beach, Cathedral of Funchal, Mar Avenue and Madeira Botanical Garden. The view from the rooftop was stunning, especially at sunrise.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Madeira for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Madeira first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Madeira first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Madeira, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Madeira have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

8 Best/Safe areas to stay in Madeira for first-timers and tourists:

1. Funchal

Funchal is an excellent choice for first-time tourists visiting Madeira. As the capital city, Funchal offers a wide range of accommodations, dining options, cultural attractions, and recreational activities.

Funchal serves as the main transportation hub on the island, making it a great base for car-free travelers. The city is easily accessible from Madeira Airport and the main ferry terminal, providing convenient access for visitors arriving by air or sea.

Funchal boasts a variety of attractions that cater to different interests. You can explore historical sites such as Sé Cathedral and Fortaleza do Pico, stroll through beautiful gardens like Monte Palace Tropical Garden and Jardim Botânico, or explore local culture at Farmers’ Market and Museum of Sacred Art.

The city is renowned for its stunning scenery, with lush green hillsides, colorful flowers, and sweeping ocean views. You can take advantage of the city’s scenic viewpoints, including Miradouro da Torre, Pico dos Barcelos, and the cable car ride to Monte, which offers panoramic vistas of the coastline.

Funchal has a diverse range of restaurants and cafes serving both local cuisine and international dishes. You can sample traditional espetada, black scabbardfish, fresh seafood and regional wines. The city also has a vibrant nightlife scene, with lively bars, clubs, and live music venues to suit every taste. 

Funchal is a shopper’s delight, with an array of shops and boutiques selling everything from locally-made handicrafts and souvenirs to designer fashions and luxury goods. You can browse through street markets, artisanal shops, and modern shopping malls like La Vie Funchal and Madeira Shopping.

Despite being a bustling city, Funchal offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. You can enjoy activities such as hiking along the Levadas (irrigation channels), whale and dolphin watching excursions, boat trips along the coast, and even paragliding for the adventurous.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Funchal for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Barceló Funchal Oldtown, 5-star hotel centrally located in the heart of Funchal, close to everything, easy to explore on foot and by public transportation. Near restaurants, old town, the marina, and buses to explore the island. It has a rooftop infinity pool with great views over the city and sea.

Luxury ($$$): Savoy Palace – The Leading Hotels of the World, beautiful 5-star hotel, located near the beach, walkable to the town center, but also easily done by taxi or bus. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a 24-hour front desk, and airport transfer. They also offer bike rental/car rental services. 

Mid-range ($$): TURIM Santa Maria Hotel, popular 4-star hotel, in central Funchal, easily reachable by bus from the airport. Also close to the famous market, the harbor, and cable cars. They have a great breakfast with lots of good choices.

Budget ($): The Marketplace by Storytellers, 3-star accommodation, located 5 mins walk from Almirante Reis Beach. Apartment comes with kitchen facilities, a safety deposit box, and good breakfast. Short distance away from a traditional local market and a shopping mall with a supermarket.

Hostel ($): 29 Madeira Hostel, great backpacker accommodation in the center of Funchal, featuring both dormitories and private rooms with shared bathrooms. You can find lots of restaurants serving local dishes nearby.


2. Caniço

Caniço is a picturesque coastal town located just a short distance from Funchal. It offers a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Funchal while still providing convenient access to the island’s attractions.

You can enjoy leisurely walks along the promenade, relax on the sandy beaches, or explore the hidden coves and natural swimming pools along the coastline.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Caniço:

Mid-range ($$): Sentido Galosol, 4-star beachfront resort with a private beach area in Canico, 20 mins drive from the center of Funchal. Close to the beach, restaurants and cafes. They have delicious breakfast with a huge selection of dishes and diversity from day to day.

Mid-range ($$): The Views Oasis, 4-star beach hotel, close to the airport. It features a 24-hour front desk, free private parking, buffet breakfast, children’s playground, and a fitness center.  There are several restaurants within walking distance. There are regular local buses and shuttle buses to Funchal nearby.

Luxury ($$$):  Palheiro Village – Golf, Gardens & Spa, 5-star hotel on the hill, near Caniço and Funchal center. It has  panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Funchal. It features a golf course, car rental, airport shuttle, gym and spa center. Apartments and villas come with a fully equipped kitchen. Good base if you have a car.


3. Calheta

Calheta is a charming coastal town located on the southwest coast of Madeira, known for its beautiful sandy beaches, and opportunities for hiking, with trails leading into the surrounding mountains.

Calheta is one of the few places on Madeira with man-made golden sandy beaches. The main beach, Praia da Calheta, offers calm waters perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sport activities. It’s an ideal spot for families and sun-seekers looking to relax by the sea.

Calheta serves as a gateway to some of Madeira’s most scenic levada walks. Levadas are ancient irrigation channels that wind through the island’s lush landscapes, offering hikers breathtaking views of mountains, forests, and waterfalls. Popular nearby trails include Levada Nova and Levada do Rabaçal.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Calheta:

Luxury ($$$): Saccharum – Resort and Spa, 5-star design hotel in a quiet and peaceful area on Calheta Beach, between the mountains and the sea, easy walk to the marina. It has a rooftop infinity pool, 3 swimming pools, family rooms, and wonderful breakfasts. Car hire is recommended if you want to explore the island easily.

Mid-range ($$): Calheta Beach – All-inclusive, 4-star hotel located on Calheta Beach, next to a supermarket, and  25 mins drive from Funchal. There is a taxi rank nearby, making it easy to get around. It has indoor/outdoor pools, spa, fitness center, and comfortable rooms with a balcony.

Mid-range ($$): Socalco Nature Calheta, lovely peaceful hotel in Calheta, located 5 mins walk from Calheta Beach, offering free private parking, which is a bonus for those who have a rented car. The rooms have amazing views.


4. Ponta do Sol

Ponta do Sol, translated as “Point of the Sun,” is a charming coastal town nestled on the south coast of Madeira. It is known for its sunny climate, stunning sunsets, and laid-back atmosphere.

True to its name, Ponta do Sol is one of the sunniest spots on the island, enjoying mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine throughout the year. This makes it an ideal destination for visitors seeking warmth and relaxation.

The town is built along a picturesque bay, with colorful houses cascading down the hillside. You can enjoy panoramic vistas from Ponta do Sol Viewpoint and the coastal promenade.

Ponta do Sol is home to a small pebble beach, Praia da Ponta do Sol, where you can swim, or relax by the sea. The beach is protected by breakwaters, making it safe for families with children.

The area around Ponta do Sol offers access to several scenic levada walks. Popular nearby trails include Levada Nova and Levada dos Moinhos, which wind through picturesque valleys and forests.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Ponta do Sol:

Mid-range ($$): Enotel Sunset Bay, 4-star beachfront hotel located in the picturesque Ponta do Sol village, offering views of the sea. The hotel has excellent breakfast, complimentary parking, a gym, and a pool, and a terrace on the top for sunbathing. Great beach from swimming just across the road.

Mid-range ($$): Estalagem Da Ponta Do Sol, 4-star hotel in a beautiful location, on the top of a cliff and accessed via external lifts. A lift can take you down to the Ponta Do Sol village and then a short walk to restaurants, bars and the beach. 

Budget ($): Encanto do Sol, beachfront guest house located in Ponta do Sol, 5 mins walk from Ponta do Sol Beach. It has a picnic area, a 24-hour front desk, free parking, and rooms with a fully equipped kitchen.


5. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a charming town located on the eastern coast of Madeira, just a short drive from Funchal and the island’s international airport. It is a convenient base for travelers arriving by air.

The town has a lovely waterfront area with cafes and restaurants, as well as a promenade for leisurely strolls. Santa Cruz offers a quieter atmosphere compared to Funchal, making it suitable for travelers seeking relaxation.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Santa Cruz:

Luxury ($$$): Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club, 5-star hotel in Santa Cruz, Close to the airport but not too noisy. The hotel offers complimentary airport shuttles to Madeira Airport. It has free parking, and you can rent a car to drive up to Funchal, 20 mins away.

Mid-range ($$): Santa Cruz Village Hotel, popular 4-star hotel in Santa Cruz. It has a mini-market, luggage storage, and free parking. You can enjoy outdoor activities nearby such as golfing and hiking.  Close to the airport, ideal base for late arrivals and early departures. The beach is only 5 mins walk away.

Mid-range ($$): Vila Gale Santa Cruz, 4-star accommodation located in a tranquil area of Madeira,  only 5 mins drive from Madeira International Airport and Pico do Cruz Mountain. Close to the airport, a useful location for an early morning flight.


6. Ribeira Brava

Situated between Funchal and the western part of the island, Ribeira Brava is a charming town surrounded by mountains. It offers a peaceful atmosphere with picturesque views and a pleasant waterfront area. 

Ribeira Brava is a good option for travelers looking to explore the island’s interior and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Ribeira Brava:

Mid-range ($$): Dazkarizeh73, great 4-star accommodation in Ribeira Brava, featuring an outdoor infinity pool with Ocean views. It has stunning sights especially at sunset. Rooms are comfortable and clean.

Mid-range ($$): Guesthouse-TheView, 4-star quiet and beautiful place in Ribeira Brava close to the ocean. There is a pool with comfortable sunbeds. Very close to a bus stop.

Budget ($): Dazk Golden Estate, 3-star adults-only relaxing and tranquil guest house in Ribeira Brava, featuring a pool, an open-air bath, outdoor fireplace, and yoga classes. It has a marvelous sunset. 


7. Machico

Machico, one of the oldest towns in Madeira, has a rich history and charm. It boasts a beautiful bay with a sandy beach, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Machico also serves as a great base for exploring the eastern part of the island, including attractions like Ponta de São Lourenço and Porto da Cruz.

Popular nearby trails include Levada do Caniçal and Levada dos Maroços, which offer opportunities for hiking and birdwatching amidst beautiful scenery.

Best places to stay in Madeira in Machico:


8. São Vicente

São Vicente, located on the north coast of Madeira, is known for its dramatic landscapes and natural beauty. You can explore volcanic caves at Grutas de São Vicente, hike along scenic trails, or simply admire the rugged coastline. São Vicente offers a more secluded experience away from the busier tourist areas.

Best places to stay in Madeira in São Vicente:


In conclusion, Funchal, Caniço, Calheta, Ponta do Sol, Santa Cruz, Ribeira Brava, Machico, and São Vicente are the best places to stay in Madeira for tourists. Funchal in overall is the best location for first-timers and car-free travelers to book their accommodations and explore the island.

You can continue reading other destinations in Portugal in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Madeira. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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