Madeira, alongside neighbouring Porto Santo and the Azores archepelago, is a Portuguese island dependency. Like the Canary Islands though, it's closer to the African coast (around 497 miles) than to Portugal and Lisbon (621 miles). Madeira sits to the southwest of Lisbon, and flight times from Lisbon Airport are just over an hour. From the UK a flight to Madeira from London takes around 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Madeira operates on GMT time during the summer. As with the rest of the EU, clocks go back an hour in Madeira on the last Sunday in October then one hour forward again come the last Sunday in March. If telephoning the international code in Madeira is Portugal's 351 then 291. Special rates apply from midnight to 8am. Funchal is well served by telephone kiosks and many bars, hotels and restaurants have payphones. Most take phonecards purchased in newsagents. European mobile phone coverage is good on Madeira, but US mobiles are not compatible. Electricity is 220 volts, with 2 pin sockets/adapters needed. Madeira uses metric weights and measurements, and European clothes sizes. Bear this in mind if you're visiting Funchal's superb Marcado dos Lavradores/Workers' Market (highly recommended!)
Many visitors coming to Madeira opt to stay in Funchal, and getting from Madeira's Santa Catarina Airport to Funchal couldn't be easier now via the relatively new motorway link (around 25 minutes). You can't bring your own car into Madeira, hence the huge number of car hire firms based here. Budget car rental pick-up from Madeira Airport is easiest (see budget Madeira car rental weblink right, or contact Iknow Holidays booking line direct for details). Taxis and buses operate from Madeira Airport, and buses run regularly into Funchal.
Madeira is a Portuguese dependent island with its own autonomous regional government. Currency like Portugal is the Euro, and Funchal has plenty of banks and ATMs. Other resort centres around Madeira are well equipped with ATMs and resort facilities. You just need a valid passport to come to Madeira, no visa is required. No special immunizations are required. Visitors should note that there is no free health service on Madeira, so it's well worth considering medical insurance to cover emergencies during your visit. Alongside this you'll need to obtain your EHIC health card (see below).
Madeira's Airport, to the east of Funchal, is served by flights from a choice of European destinations including the UK. Pre-booking flights to Madeira well in advance is recommendeded, as flying into Madeira (except for some luxury cruises) is the only way to enter the island. Funchal flights get booked up quickly in peak summer season! (see cheap flights Madeira weblink right, or contact Iknow Holidays direct for flight bookings).
Madeira is a rugged and mountainous island formed more than 20 million years ago as a result of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions underneath the Atlantic. Coastal resort areas are lowlying, but move into the centre of the island and heights can reach a peak of 1862m/6108ft at Pico Ruivo de Santana. Temperatures can drop at heights, and Madeira is subject to what is called capacete - essentially a blanket of cloud on the coast come mornings, which drfts off to the mountains mid-afternoon. This happens particularly in February, March and June. Be aware of this, and bring clothes for all eventualities. The south coast is generally sunnier (hence its popularity). For uninterrupted sunbathing sunshine consider Porto Santo!
Travellers to Madeira with pre existing medical conditions needing comprehensive travel insurance for both themselves and their fellow travellers should contact Freedom Insurance Services Ltd tel no 0870 774 3760 quoting Reference No IKM01. Freedom is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority reference number 306536, and is a subsidiary of the NW Brown Group Limited, also based in Cambridge, UK. Freedom offers quality pre existing medical condition travel insurance to suit your specific requirements and needs, including medical travel insurance for both single trips and where possible annual policies.
Freedom's aim is to allow you to enjoy your holiday with the travel medical insurance you need for full peace of mind. Freedom are especially recommended for travellers with specific pre-exisiting medical conditions and they work in partnership with medically based affinity groups and entities within the NHS. Freedom employs a combination of insurance and medically trained staff, and has an emphasis on care, sensitivity and confidentiality when searching for the most appropriate pre existing medical condition travel insurance for your needs.
The Freedom project works in partnership with several leading medical charities, entities within the NHS, leading travel agents and High Street financial services companies. Contact Freedom Travel Insurance Services Ltd on Telephone Number 0870 774 3760, Quoting reference number IKM01.
Holiday travel insurance cover for Madeira holidays is a must as there are many accidents, incidents and emergencies that could occur during your holiday, for example lost luggage or stolen passports. In the event that your holiday is cancelled or shortened because of illness or injury, or if your money is stolen, Travel Insurance is an imperative back-up. You'll need to check the small print on all travel insurance policies to see exactly what you are covered for.
A wide choice of Travel Insurance policies are available, (check the Holiday Travel Insurance weblinks right for details and booking online). Double check you've the right travel insurance policy to suit you and your family. Cheap travel insurance is not always best, although most will opt for it. If you're undertaking an activity holiday trekking, mountain biking or climbing around inland Madeira, check you're covered for all possible risks or accidents. Check the weblink right for cheap holiday insurance with 'Insure and Go', or phone Iknow-Holidays booking line direct for advice and assistance.
All British Citizens with UK passports travelling to Madeira are advised to obtain European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), and indeed on top of this additional Medical health insurance cover. EHIC cards have now replaced the old E111 form! EHIC cards are free, and very easy to obtain, either online via the weblink right, or by obtaining an EHIC form from your local post office. Free health care is not offered on Madeira, so visitors are recommended to take out additional Medical Insurance cover for their holiday. See the NHS 'Fit for Travel' weblink right for advice and assistance.
The British Embassy office on Madeira is located in the capital Funchal at
British Honorary Consul, Funchal (Madeira), Rua da Alfandega 10, 3C, 9000-059 Funchal Madeira. Tel. (351) (291) 212 860 867. Open Mondays to Fridays 8am to 1.30pm, and 2pm to 3.30pm.
It's well worth having a read through the travel advice on Portugal and the Algarve from the Foreign Office on the weblink right. There's some particularly useful advice on car hire and road safety, beach safety and following beach flag warnings, local laws and customs and more. Click on the 'What we can do to help' link when things go wrong.
Another holiday essential you may want to consideris pet sitting services for your pets whilst you are abroard. Pet sitting services are becoming extremely sophisticated, to the extent of not just pet sitting but also offering other services such as taking care of your business whilst you're on holiday, a live in pet sitting service and keeping an eye on burst pipes and other household emergencies.
Absentia Pet Sitting Service is an excellent pet sitting company choice (see their website link to the right). They offer individually tailor-made pet sitting packages to suit your needs and requirements. For advice on pet travel, obtaining pet passports and general advice on taking your pet abroad check the DEFRA pet travel weblink right.