Madeira Information

Old May 15th, 2002, 02:36 AM
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Madeira Information

I am thinking of visiting Madeira for about 7 or 8 days in November, and have read the basic information about it, but still have a few questions.

Is it necessary or highly desirable to rent a car? We are interested in life in the towns, seeing scenic areas, and doing some hiking. Renting a car does seem to be ideal, but is it "good enough" to use the bus system, with an occasional taxi ride thrown in?

Is it ok to sleep the entire time in/near Funcahal and make day trips, or would it be better to stay in more than one location?

Most hotels described as being "in Funchal" seem to be adjacent to the city, sort of in a hotel zone. Only a few seem to be in the older part of the city. Are these nearby hotels within walking distance of the heart of Funchal? If not real close, we would rather be "in" the real city.

As you can see, all of these q's regard location and mobility. We can rent a car, but probably prefer not to, or maybe just rent one for a couple of days.

Any other tips on the island would would be helpful!
Old May 15th, 2002, 02:53 AM
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Rent a car for a coupple of days and drive to the northern coast, for example Porto Moniz. I have been to Madeira many times, and only once had a car. After 1/2 hours, just when we were on our way to the mountains, came an immensely thick fog and we had to sit parked for two hours. The busses cover well the eastern parts of the island, and you can also hire a taxi for a whole day. Sometimes we have taken a taxi to the beginning of a walk, and made a deal that he comes after few hours to the end to pick us up. Works well.

The bus system in Funchal is very good. I usually stay on Praia Formosa (between Funchal and Camara de Lobos). A bus takes me to town in ten to fifteen minutes. Plus there is an abundance of taxes who almost fight each other over customers. I prefer that to the hotel zone or center.

The hotel zone is on a walking distance, and there are frequent busses. You never have to wait many minutes. You can buy a 7-day tourist ticket, and drive busses in the Funchal area as much as you want. Those tickets are sold in the booth at the end of the street that runs next to marina. You need to show your passport when you buy the ticket.
Old May 15th, 2002, 02:57 AM
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Agree with Elina.
Bus system is fine for most touring, you could certainly just hire a car for a couple of days and use bus and taxi for rest.
I personally feel the hotel zone lacks charm and would recommend you opt for one of the hotels closer in to Madeira. Mostly these are classier and more expensive larger hotels, but there are also some smaller places round abouts and a few small 3 star hotels in Funchal itself.
We stayed once at Savoy and once at the Pestana Carlton (the one with the casino - we didnt go into the casino, not our thing, but we loved the location and pool/ garden views).
We felt that staying so close in to Funchal meant we had the best choice of restaurants and could really stroll in and out of central Funchal easily.
Old May 15th, 2002, 03:36 AM
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I forgot: get a bus time-table and study it carefully. You will notice that you can take bus to the beginning of some walks, and there is another bus from where the walk ends. For example one of the nicest levadas, Levada do Furado, is like this. A bus to Ribeiro Frio, walk the levada (3 - 4 hours), and another bus from Portela to Funchal.

Busses are also FUN, like roller coasters. Many drivers are want-to-be-a-rally-driver types. Often my hair stands up, and I have to look around to see how other people react. And when I see an old lady tranquilly knitting, I can relax and enjoy.
Old May 15th, 2002, 10:38 AM
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I think a car would be beneficial, but not absolutely necessary.
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