Although the best way to explore Madeira is by car, the terrain is steep. A recently developed road system, much of it through tunnels, circles much of the island and links the north and south coasts, but anywhere off this road can be tortuous and slow. For example, the twisting, turning drive from Funchal to Porto Moniz in the west is only 156 km (97 miles) round-trip, but it takes all day if you go the scenic route. Road signs are generally adequate, but get an up-to-date map, particularly if you want to take advantage of Madeira's fast new highways.
Car Rental Contacts
Auto-Jardim. Rua Ivens 12, Funchal, Madeira, 9000-046. 291/213100; 291/524023; www.autocarhire.net.
Bravacar. Caminho do Amparo 2, Funchal, Madeira, 9000-248. 291/708900; 291/524016; www.bravacar.com.pt.
Guerin. Estrada Monumental 241, Funchal, Madeira, 9000-100. 707/272007; www.guerin.pt.
Lidorent. Edifício Alto Lido, Estrada Monumental, Estrada Monumental 316, Funchal, Madeira, 9000. 963/108800; www.lidorent.com.
Moinho. Porto Santo Airport, Porto Santo, Madeira, 9400-110. 291/980700; www.moinhorentacar.com.
Rodavante. Edifício Baía, Estrada Monumental 187, Funchal, Madeira, 9000. 291/758506; 291/524718; 291/982925; www.rodavante.com.