How to Discover Madeira, a Hidden Gem in the Atlantic Ocean
…and Do It as Cheap as Possible
Madeira is truly a hidden gem of Portugal. It's the island in the Atlantic ocean with genial climate, clean narrow streets, safety, and stunning landscapes, where you can get new gastronomic experience, try surfing, trekking, paragliding, and all these you can find only on 740 square kilometers.
Our team came here to participate in the "); background-size: 1px 1px; background-position: 0px calc(1em + 1px);">Madeira Startup Retreatprogram and discovered some tips and tricks you can use before coming to this terrific place.
#1 Go during the low season
The very first advice is to come during the low season. Firstly, you can manage to spend less money. Secondly, in particular, on Madeira, there is no really bad weather, and you can swim in the ocean all year.
#2 Find the cheapest way to book a flight
The easiest way is to book your flight to Lisbon first. And this is the perfect opportunity to have a walk around this city, see beautiful azulejos, climb on one of the hills and watch the city from above, especially if you haven't visited the capital of Portugal before. To come to Funchal, which is the major city of Madeira, you only need to check the flights of low-cost airlines. The price for a one-way flight is about $30–40 (luggage is excluded), it can be even cheaper if you are coming to Madeira during the low season
#3 Check Airbnb and negotiate the price
We were searching for accommodation on our own and checked lots of properties on Bookig.com and Airbnb. But all of them were out of our budget. Anyway, our story didn't end here. We sent several messages to the hosts and told them that we only have $1,000 for 1,5 months. In those messages, we gave credit to the hosts as well as the property and explained why that was the most suitable option for us, also mentioning the low season. And you know, what happened next? The very first letter worked! Never hesitate to negotiate the cost, write what sum you are planning to spend and count the low season. This works, you only need to communicate.
#4 Spend on transportation less
The best way to discover the island is to make round trips, renting a car. The price for the day-long rent starts from EUR 10 (approx. $11–12). Check different car rentals and compare rental periods, so you can find the best deal.
Public transport is well developed here. A single trip by bus costs from 1.85 to 1.95 EUR ($2 — $2,18), but if you buy a reusable card for more than 10 trips, the trip is much cheaper — $1.25 ($1,36).
Uber and Bolt are also there and they started working at the end of 2019 — beginning of 2020. Not during rush hour, you can catch quite reasonable rates, which, if you share the trip with 2–4 people, will be much cheaper than public transport.
#5 Find the cheapest and delicious food and beverages
Excellent weather conditions allow islanders to grow fruits and vegetables throughout the year: bananas, mangoes, passion fruit, and other fruits. In Madeira, you can try some very unusual things: anona, bananas, guava, different types of passion fruit, including tomato flavored. You can try it all for free in the market — Mercado dos Lavradores. But we do not recommend you to buy anything here. The prices are several times higher than if you buy fruit in small shops — fruterias.
In Funchal, there are a large number of cafes and restaurants where you can eat cheaply. Lunch will cost no more than 6–8 EUR ($6,5– $9). There are many inexpensive cafes around the Jesuit college, where you can taste both national Portuguese cuisine and Italian, French, Japanese dishes. There are also places where you can try the national drink poncha for lunch or dinner for free (a classic recipe that includes local rum and orange juice). For example, at the restaurant called O Garrafão.
#6 Enjoy free sightseeing
Madeira is an atypical beach resort. Here you can find activities for every taste: surfing, trekking, yoga classes, sea walks with dolphins, paragliding and even specific sledding without snow. However, the best sights are free: there are mountains, numerous waterfalls and levadas (irrigation canal systems common throughout the island), steep capes overlooking the endless ocean and relict forests. Visit Cabo Girão, climb to Madeira's highest point, Pico Ruivo, and swim in volcanic pools near Porto Moniz or Seixal. Madeira, despite its relatively small territory, hides many amazing places that are guaranteed to leave unforgettable emotions and cool pictures.
Finally, calculate the budget
So, we're calculating a weekly budget per person (apart from the flights):
Accommodation in two-room apartments — from $160.
Meals — about $120.
Transport (car rental for 3 days, bus pass with 10 trips) — about $40.
Entertainment — free of charge :)
You can easily fit in the budget, and discover a new stunning destination. If you want to participate in one of the small-group tours, visit YouTravel.me.