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Suggestions for places to stay on Madeira, but not Funchal? And driving?

Suggestions for places to stay on Madeira, but not Funchal? And driving?

Oct 27th, 2014, 05:25 AM
  #1  
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Suggestions for places to stay on Madeira, but not Funchal? And driving?

Any suggestions for places to stay that are not in Funchal? Funchal looks a little too large for us, wouldn't mind some place on the outskirts or nearby.

We will have a car. If we stay in Funchal is driving difficult to get out and about onto the rest of the island?
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Oct 27th, 2014, 05:32 AM
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Forgot to give you more details. B&B or Hotel fine, we like something really nice, but we don't use a spa or pool, so not necessary. Budget not too much of a concern. Love terraces, balconies, views. Would love to be able to walk to dinner.

Thanks!
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Oct 27th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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Funchal's not THAT large compared with other European cities and has a fairly laid-back atmosphere. Particularly if you stay in the main concerntration of hotels out to the western side of the city, the access by car to other parts of the island is very straightforward - just head up the hill until you meet the motorway then head east or west as required. The roads are generally good but do have some steep hills and tight bends that require an adjustment in driving style.

Among a shortlist of hotels IN Funchal that I really like are:

Melia Mare
Qunitinha de Sao Joao
Cliff Bay
Porto Santo Maria
Pestana Promenade (in fact all the Pestana hotels are a good standard).

I always recommend first time visitors to stay in Funchal just because it has the biggest choice of hotels, restaurants and other visitor-related facilities, and a favourable micro-climate as well. It's the only place of any real size on the island, but if you really want somewhere quieter (and that means much quieter), I'd suggest maybe Ponto do Sol or Calheta along the SW coast, Machico to the East or even Sao Vincente, a village on the north coast (be aware the north often catches windy wet weather when it's sunny in Funchal though).
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Oct 27th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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Thanks Gordon, I will check them out. If we plan to go around the "whole" Island is there another area/town to base in for a few nights on the north side?
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Oct 27th, 2014, 07:05 AM
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Funchal isn't a very large city. Avoid the 'Lido' area. Nice hotels but very touristy. The old town is much more picturesque. Check out Hotel Porto Santa Maria (Porto Bay). It's right in the old town at the sea promenade. It has free indoor parking and the hotel has a good restaurant. Definitely book a room with seaview.
Quinta da Casa Branca is also well located, a bit higher on the hill, close to Lido but yet somewhat away from the mass tourism hotels.

The other towns are smallish and you won't have many dining options. I'd suggest to stay in Funchal and make daytrips to the other towns.

Driving in Madeira is not hard at all. Roads are in good condition though a lot of them are windy. We found the locals to be very polite on the road.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 07:07 AM
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A nice place on the northcoast is Santana, though it's small.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 07:55 AM
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>>Thanks Gordon, I will check them out. If we plan to go around the "whole" Island is there another area/town to base in for a few nights on the north side?<<

There's really no necessity to move overnight locations, everywhere on the island is easily accessible as a day trip from any one location. AS I mentioned however, Sau Vincente on the north coast is a very "quaint" village in a stunning setting. Porto Moniz on the extreme north western tip is also well worth a visit. As already said though, these are all small places with limited dining options.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 09:08 AM
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We stayed on Madeira in the last couple of years at the Porto Santa Maria. The hotel is well placed for access to lots of local restaurants, the Old Town and it's easy to get in and out of the town from the hotel by car. You'll be out and into the countryside in 15 minutes, less in some directions.

As Gordon says, there is absolutely no need to change locations on such a small island, as if you use the tunnels through the mountains, you can be back in Funchal from the North coast in next to no time.

The Lido area, as Miriam says, has not much character about it and the town itself would be my choice every time. Friends of ours were out there last week and stayed at the Vines Hotel and came back with good reports on it.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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Where is the Lido area? I'm looking at some rentals also, and would like to avoid it as recommended, but not sure where it is?
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Oct 27th, 2014, 11:44 AM
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Does this location sound good?

Set in the charming old part of Funchal, just by the old fortress, typical Portuguese restaurants and village life. You can walk to any place in Funchal from here. A couple of metres away is the Barreirinha Beach, Funchal market, cafés, florists and the shopping heart of the island. Peaceful residential area.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 11:49 AM
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The Lido (sometimes disparaging known as the "Hotel Zone") is the area along Estrada Monumental to the west of the centre of Funchal. It's the location for many large 4 and 5 star hotels and restaurants. The seafront promenade has been opened up into an attractive pedestrian corridor with immaculately maintained gardens. I've stayed here and elsewhere in the dozen or so trips I've made to Madeira over the years. It's not to everyone's taste, but it is MUCH classier than some of the trashy, over-developed Spanish resorts.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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>>Does this location sound good?<<

Yes not bad, judging from the photos (I googled the owner's description) this place is just up the hill to the East of the centre of the old town on the coast. Does it have it's own parking (street parking in this area is not good) due to the narrow, busy roads? Bear in mind you can get a 4-star full service hotel in Funchal for the same price as this appt.
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Oct 27th, 2014, 12:31 PM
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We actually like self catering apartments, we're not crazy about fancy hotels with spas etc. But one thing we definitely want is Ocean terrace/balcony! An apartment for the 3 of us also saves us many $$$ (we need a second room for my sister-in-law) And I will check about parking!

Porto Santa Maria does have rooms, but they won't guarantee which room we get, and if they will be close to each other
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Oct 27th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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Casa do Papagaio Verde might be something for you. I found it on a Dutch 'charming inns' website. It's smallish, and has both rooms and apartments. It's at the opposite end of the old town (10 min. drive), on the hill, overlooking the ocean. It gets excellent reviews on both booking.com and Tripadvisor.
http://www.casadopapagaio.com/index.php
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Oct 28th, 2014, 05:55 AM
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Wrenwwood, re your location request. The old fort is a stroll along from the Hotel Porto Santa Maria but I'd hesitate to say that it's a few metres from the centre of Funchal. The beach isn't very attractive either if I remember it correctly.

I think that they've worded it cleverly about its proximity to the beach to make it sound like it's a few metres from everything else too.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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@ Rubicund
Funchal, and Madeira in general, isn't famous for its nice beaches! There are a few (near Canico) but most of the coast is rough and rocky.
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Oct 28th, 2014, 09:44 AM
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If you do stay there, don't miss a meal in the fabulous Restaurante do Forte:- http://www.grupo-forte.com/forte/
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Oct 29th, 2014, 06:00 AM
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I did check out Restaurante do Forte it looks wonderful.

Back to square 1, while corresponding with the apartment owner over a 2 day period she booked to someone else. I was a little surprised as she didn't even give me a heads-up that someone else had inquired.

I still don't mind the idea of staying near or in Funchal for a few days, and then a few days on the north coast. I realize that it's very easy to drive to the north coast from Funchal, but the scenery on the north coast looks amazing.

Middle of March ~ more chance of rain and less sun on the north coast?
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Oct 29th, 2014, 07:11 AM
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>>Middle of March ~ more chance of rain and less sun on the north coast?<<

In a nutshell, yes. But better than it would be Dec thru Feb.

The scenery is remarkable, hugh sea cliffs and Atlantic waves battering the rocky coast.
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Oct 29th, 2014, 07:32 AM
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You have to be lucky with the weather year round (although July and August have pretty stable summer weather). We went in late April and have had such bad weather the whole week. We haven't been able to do one single levada walk (which was the main reason for visiting Madeira) due to inundations of the walkways. On one of our daytrips in the mountains (Boca da Encumeada) we walked up to the miradouro for what should have been a splendid view on the southcoast as well as on the northcoast ... if there wouldn't have been these thick low hanging clouds. No, this wasn't our most sunny holiday!
But I agree, mid March should be better than Dec thru Feb.
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