Madeira & Porto Santo - A brief tourist guide to the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo. Madeira's year-round Spring-like climate, with temperatures varying between 19º C (66º F) and 24º C (75º F), together with its distinctive geographical formation, encourages you to participate in a variety of outdoor sporting activities wich, in turn, lead to closer contact with this island of exceptional beauty. For more detailed guides about Lisbon Region or Portugal, don't hesitate te contact us.
Madeira is the main island in the Archipelago of the same name, which also includes the islands of Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens. Because the two latter are uninhabited and retain their primitive natural style, they are classified as nature reserves.
The Island of Madeira is situated about 1000 km (621 miles) from mainland Portugal, an hour and a half's flight from Lisbon. With the advent of Madeira's international airport, the island's intercontinental flights connections were significantly improved.
Madeira's year-round Spring-like climate, with temperatures varying between 19º C (66º F) and 24º C (75º F), together with its distinctive geographical formation, encourages you to participate in a variety of outdoor sporting activities wich, in turn, lead to closer contact with this island of exceptional beauty.
Located in its picturesque bay, the island's capital Funchal lies between the deep blue of the sea and the green of its softly curving mountains.
Although the town portrays the cosmopolitan rhythim of the great urban centres, as you make your way along the characteristic streets, squares and parks, or sense the familiar environment and friendliness of the people.
Walking along footpaths and irrigation canals, know as “levadas”, which encircle the whole island, your anticipation of the beautiful scenery ahead increases, culminating in a perfect encounter with the Laurissilva forest, distinguished as World Natural Heritage.
However, the island of Madeira holds many more tourist attractions that will surely enrich, in some way, the lives of all our visitors. Every year a variety of entertainment and musical events celebrate the traditions of the island. A culture arising from five hundred years of history can still be observed in the various museums and heritage buildings. Here you will find the other side of life, Tradition and Entertainment.
Porto Santo is the smallest inhabited island in the Madeira Archipelago. It is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, in the extreme south-west of Europe. It is a Portuguese island and so it belongs to the European Union. It is part of the Euro Zone and the Schengen Area. The climate in Porto Santo is dry and stable. The temperature does not vary much between seasons and so we can normally go to the beach all year round.
The sea around the island is calm and crystal clear. You can get to Porto Santo by sea or by air. The island has an international airport, a pleasure boat harbour and a marina. You can fly to Porto Santo from Madeira in about 15 minutes or go by boat, which takes about two hours. The island is around one hour’s flight from Europe.
Porto Santo has a health unit that is equipped to deal with most normal medical situations. The health centre has a haemodialysis unit with a capacity for eight patients and also a physiotherapy unit. In case of emergency, there is a Portuguese Air Force plane or helicopter on permanent standby in Porto Santo for immediate evacuation to Funchal Hospital.
Porto Santo has a modern road network connecting the main points of the island. The island is fairly flat, so riding a bike is easy and a lot of people use this form of transport there. Outside the towns, why not venture out on to the tracks and dirt roads and discover breathtaking scenery and unforgettable places?
Population: 255 000 people live on these islands according to data collected in 2001. Half of the population lives in the capital. Population density is very high, reaching 337 inhabitants/sq km in Madeira and 112 per sq km in Porto Santo.
Time: Madeira follows Portuguese time with Summer time. Clocks advance one hour in the last Sunday of March and go back one hour in the last Sunday of October, according to the regulations of the European Union.
Water: There is plenty of water of an excellent drinking standard. Porto Santo uses treated seawater, but all of it can be consumed.
Hospital Centres: There are 67 health centres situated around the Madeira island, and one at Porto Santo. In Funchal there are two hospitals.
Police: The police presence is very discreet. If you need help, dial 112. There is a Lost Property section in Funchal, at Rua da Infância, 28, Tel.: 291 208200
Safety: Madeira is one of the safest holiday destinations in the world. If you take the minimum sensible precautions, you probably won’t experience any problems. Most of the hotels have safes or deposit boxes where you can keep your valuables.
Tips: In hotels and restaurants the bill normally includes service. The normal rate for good service is 10%.
Camping Parks: There are two official camping sites on the Madeira archipelago, one in Porto Moniz and the other in Porto Santo, in the town of Vila Baleira.
Religion: Portuguese culture is very influenced by religion. Catholicism predominates but others religions can be practiced.
Electricity: voltage:220/380 volts at a frequency of 50 Hertz. All sockets Follow European standards. To use American type-plugs, a 220 volt transformer should be used together with an adapter plug.
Money: Portugal is one of 12 European Union countries whose common official currency is the euro.
1 euro is divided into 100 cents. The coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros.
The notes are differentiated by their size and colour and come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros.
One side of the coins has a common design (the European side), and the other side has a national symbol. All euro coins can be used in any euro-zone country, irrespective of which national symbols they display.
ATMs - Automatic Teller Machines (Multibanco): Portugal has a national network of cash machines (ATMs) identified by the symbol MB (Multibanco), from which you can withdraw cash 24 hours a day.
Currency Exchange: You can exchange money at banks, which are open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. five working days a week; at bureaux de change; and at automatic currency exchange machines (these are for currency sale transactions only).
Car rentals: There are car rental services at airports, international rail terminuses and in the main towns and cities.
Drivers with mobility difficulties, or anyone who prefers to, can rent automatic or adapted vehicles.
To rent a car you must: be at least between 21 and 25 years old, depending on the company’s rental policy, show identification (identity card for EU citizens or a valid passport for other nationalities), have had a driving license for more than one year.
Banks: Banks are open from 8.30 a.m. to 3 p.m. five working days a week. Portugal has a national network of cash machines (ATMs) identified by the symbol MB (Multibanco), from which you can withdraw cash 24 hours a day.
Pharmacies: Pharmacies are open on weekdays between 9am and 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm and on Saturdays between 9am and 1pm. They display an illuminated green cross outside when open at night. All of them have information posted on the door indicating the nearest pharmacies that are open at night.
Shopping: In general, shops are open from Monday to Friday, from 9 or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some close for lunch from 1 to 3 p.m. On Saturdays from January to November, shops generally close at 1 p.m. though in city centers some are open in the afternoon. Shops tend to stay open on Saturday afternoons and sometimes even on Sundays in December for Christmas shopping. There are plenty of shopping centers inside and outside the cities that are usually open from 10 a.m. to midnight every day of the week. They generally have stores with the main international brands. However, traditional shops with Portuguese products can be found particularly in the streets of the older neighborhoods of towns and cities.
Telephones: In public telephone booths, coins and special cards can be used. They are sold in Portugal Telecom shops, post offices and some kiosks and news-stands (with a sign indicating this). All telephone numbers in Portugal are composed of nine digits. To call from abroad to Portugal, it is necessary to dial the international access code 00 and the country code 351. To call abroad from Portugal, dial 00, the country code, the area code and then the number wanted. The dialling codes of the various countries are affixed in public telephone booths.
Internet: Internet access is available on payment in some cafés and in numerous post offices that have the Netpost service. In various hotels and public facilities, like conference centres and shopping centres, there are duly marked "wireless" areas where it is possible to access wireless Internet.
Driving: Vehicles drive on the right in Portugal. Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles coming from the right have priority in squares and at intersections. At junctions with roundabouts, vehicles already on the roundabout have right of way. Road signs comply with international rules. Compulsory papers: personal ID, driving licence, motor insurance certificate, vehicle registration or equivalent, vehicle logbook (livrete) or equivalent. On the spot fines are issued.
Speed limits for cars without trailers and motorcycles:
50 kph - in built-up areas
90 kph - on normal roads
100 kph - on roads restricted to motor vehicles
120 kph - on motorways
It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.5 grams per litre or more. All occupants must wear seat belts.
Disabled access: many hotels have accommodation that has been adapted for use by people with motor disabilities. However it's a good idea to contact them directly for details. Public transports usually have reserved seats for passengers with difficulties, but there is no access for people in wheelchairs. Lisbon metro is not fully accessible to people with motor disabilities. Blind passengers are allowed to travel with their guide dogs, provided that they wear a collar and muzzle. All Portuguese airports have wheelchairs and disabled toilets and transfer facilities. They also provide special assistance on request. There are many limitations on disabled mobility and we recommende that you obtain more detailed information from the services you plan to use.