Which part of Madeira is best for me? This is probably one of the questions anyone considering moving to Madeira will ask themselves at some point. You know, Madeira is a wonderful island (some say the best island in the world) so obviously all parts of Madeira are great. But to you, some might be more awesome than the others.
Answering this question is definitely not easy, but I’ll try. Let me just note that I am going to talk only about the areas and not give pros and cons of specific villages.
City life in Madeira
Of course, if you love the city life there is only one solution for you: Funchal. Now, given that you love Madeira I don’t think you are a big city lover. If you think that you will feel better in Madeira when you are surrounded by lots of people, restaurants, bars, shops and everything you can think of, then move to Funchal. Madeira’s capital has a lot to offer, and especially for people like us who are new to the island, Funchal has its advantages. Everything you need is easy to reach, you will probably get to know locals sooner, the infrastructure is much better than it is on the rest of the island (public transport!) and if you have never lived on an island before, the dreaded lockdown-fatigue on an island will probably not come as quickly as it might when living in other areas of the island. However, Funchal is the capital, which means that this is where most of the locals live and most of the tourists reside. It is expensive. I’ve asked around how much it actually costs to rent an apartment in Funchal, you can read about it here. Below you can see a rather unusual picture of Funchal – just because I love beaches, here is Praia Formosa.
Suburban lifestyle at its best
In case you prefer to live in an area that is not particularly touristy and where you might be able to afford living in a house with a large beautiful tropical garden, but still want to be close to Funchal and would like to have almost the same advantages as in the city, you should have a look at the villages just a little to the east of Funchal. On the east coast of Madeira there are a few villages that you can also reach from Funchal by public transport. Canico and Santa Cruz are areas that many people move to, even from Funchal. The reason is that it is much quieter than the city. But be careful, too close to the airport means it is anything but quiet. That being said, watch out for Machico! It’s a pretty big village and very very close to the airport. But sure, it depends where in Machico you live, as you will not hear the planes from all parts of the village. I stayed in Machico only once and part of the reason I never came back was that from my AirBnB I could hear the planes land at 1am – the first time I heard one I thought it was an explosion. One day I will give it a try again – Machico certainly is beautiful.
Serenity and living close to nature
If you love to be surrounded by nature and appreciate Madeira for its tranquility, then the northern or western part of the island is for you. Both parts have in common that the villages are sometimes difficult to get to, there is not much infrastructure and there is only one bus going around, there are not as many restaurants as in the other parts of the island (but still plenty if you ask me) and the walks, hikes and nature in general is closer. When you live in these parts of the island, your kids will probably not go to the international school in Funchal, but a local one. In some areas there might be less additional classes like tennis or so on, but in the next bigger village you will still be able to find plenty of activities for you and for your children.
The Hawaii of Europe
On Madeira’s north coast you will find the most dramatic cliffs, lush green mountains and perfect waves, but also rain. This region is usually a little colder and wetter than the rest of the island. In winter, you may not see the sun for two weeks because it is just too cloudy. But if you don’t mind the rain you will absolutely feel like you are in a jungle (or Jurassic Park). There are many villages along the coast, some are bigger and more touristic, like Sao Vicente or Porto Moniz, others are a bit smaller but just as beautiful, like Ponta Delgada, Seixal or Boaventura. I can totally understand why people are moving to this part of the island – without it’s north coast Madeira would definitely not be called the Hawaii of Europe. But I decided against it because I believe I would have to invest a bit more money in the house to avoid mold. The other reason I decided against moving to the north coast is that I wanted to see Atlantic sunsets every evening from my living room.
Big island life on the west coast
The western part of the island is much drier (and so is your house), as it is the part where you will find most of the sun. It is well known for its sunsets and picturesque villages down the coast, like Ponta do Sol, Calheta and Jardim do Mar, which are all surrounded by banana trees and steep cliffs. There are also many surfers around, as Jardim and Paul do Mar are known for their perfect (big) waves. With all the lovely little seaside bars, the banana trees, surfers and the mountain / cliff backdrop, this is the area that really gives the atmosphere of island life, or communicates the Madeira vibe best, in my opinion. Everything is calmer and everybody is nicer (so it seems to me). Of course, there is no real big city in this area, as even Calheta is rather small, but you will get anything you need anyway. Clearly I love this part most, maybe I’m not too objective here 🙂 but who would not want to have a sunset view like on the featured image on top?
Summing up, all parts of Madeira are great. It always depends on what you need and what you are expecting from your future home. Keep in mind that in all the different areas you will find homes that are better suited for you and some that are not. Some not mentioned important factors are the weather, altitude and access (some streets are just too steep). More on the specific features of the areas later. I hope this post will give you some basic overview and ideas, and as always, I am very much looking forward to your opinions/experience and additional advice. Lotsa love, Hana.
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