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Should we hire a car in Madeira?

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North east England
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Should we hire a car in Madeira?

We are staying at the Hotel Porto Santa Maria, for a week, in January and hope to do lots of walking and site seeing.

As we are staying in Funchal, which has a regular bus service, we wondered if a car was necessary, or advisable, to get the most out of our holiday.

Thanks

Odette

Madeira, Portugal
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for Funchal, Madeira, Madeira Islands
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1. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

Hiring a car is one way of getting around the Island, but there are a few drawbacks. The driver misses out on scenery and not all roads have stopping places. The driver needs to be a very confident driver, the roads are not signposted in the same way as in the UK and the roads are often narrow,steep and far from straight, with some hairy drops and narrow bends. Although self drive gives you more freedom, this is still possible by either hiring a taxi and it's driver for a full day or half a day, he/she will tailor the trip to your needs and will have good local knowledge, this costs around €100 full day. You can go on organised trips, Mini buses are recommended as they are able to go where the large coaches cannot get, also smaller groups and not so many pick-up stops so you get on your way quicker. Most do hotel pick-up also. Good Companies who get good reviews include

www.madeirahappytours.com

www.madeira-seekers.com

www.mountainexpedition.pt (jeep safari)

The bus service is cheap and regular but many buses are not designed as tour buses and mainly for transporting locals around to the city, so often take ages to get to where you want. The yellow city buses go from City towards Praia Formosa and back, some go towards rural villages.

Enjoy your time in Madeira

Edited: 30 November 2012, 18:36
London, United...
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2. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

Personally I don't think we would have had the same enjoyable experience on our visits to Madeira if we hadn't gone out and explored the island in a hired car. It's part of the fun of being on holiday and stumbling upon hidden gems.

Have a look at my previous responses on this subject to see my car hire recommendations based on the 30 or so visits in which we have hired a car in Madeira.

Bristol, United...
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3. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

Perfect location for walking and site seeing.

My advice- Don't hire a car, rent a taxi for either ½ or whole day, they take you to the real Madeira, real local l restaurants, bars etc. And you decide where and when you want a refreshment break!!!

I would also reiterate what Flowercity stated “The driver misses out on scenery and not all roads have stopping places. The driver needs to be a very confident driver, the roads are not signposted in the same way as in the UK and the roads are often narrow,steep and far from straight, with some hairy drops and narrow bends.” Having driven in most of Europe, America and Canada I have chosen not to drive in Madeira!

Also I strongly recommend the local buses they are brilliant and oh so cheap, if you plan it you can virtually cover all the tourist hot spots but at a fraction of the price and from the bus you see the the real villages etc. Have a fantastic holiday- we are also there in January so lets hope the sun is shining on us all.

Edited: 30 November 2012, 19:23
Funchal, Portugal
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4. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

I live in a rural area of the UK and am totally dependant on my car, so when I'm in Madeira I love to take advantage of the public transport. The buses are great for getting around Funchal and all over the island, but more than that they offer you a real slice of Madeiran life - from the animated conversations between passengers and the driver, and a wish they would just let him concentrate on the road! - to the joy of striking up a conversation with local people about where to visit, where to eat, what to buy, and the pleasure of meeting the children, and of course trying out a bit of Portuguese. I've taken taxis, and they're great, but nothing beats the bus service.

Paignton, United...
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5. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

I have been to Madeira many times and I would never hire a car. Previous replies have really said it all, but I believe it's unfair on the driver who will inevitably miss out on the sights due to their having to concentrate on the driving: and you really do have to concentrate in Madeira!

You will find the bus network very extensive - relax and let the bus driver do his job!

North east England
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6. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

Thank you to everyone for your advice.

We have decided to use the buses to look around the island .

We are looking forward to our first holiday in Madeira and hope the weather will be kind to us in January.

Ladylee--We are going to stay in Funchal from 21st until 28th January and flying from Manchester. If you are in Madeira at the same time we might bump into you !

Thanks again

Odette

London, United...
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147 posts
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7. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

Look forward to reading your post holiday trip advisor report on your travels around Madeira island on the buses.

Glasgow, United...
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8. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

Odette - I think that is a good decision. I have never driven in Madeira. As previous posts say, public transport is first class if you wish to get around independently,' tailor made' taxi trips are good and organised tours offered by companies such as Madeira Happy Tours is also an option. Quite a good choice without worrying about the stress of driving, inspecting the car for damage etc.

Durham
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9. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

The buses are good, but they don't go everywhere on the island and on some routes there are only a couple a day. Driving is not that difficult in Madeira especially with the new roads and tunnels. Another advantage in having transport to hand is that if the weather is poor you can drive to another part of the island where it is better. I would hire a car for at least part of the stay.

10. Re: Should we hire a car in Madeira?

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