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Self Catering Holidays in Madeira, Portugal: How to Choose The Right Property

Updated on November 28, 2016
Gabriel Wilson profile image

Gabriel lives with her family on the Island of Madeira, where a warm climate provides the perfect environment to enjoy the outdoor life.

A Beautiful Holiday Destination: Funchal Madeira's City

Holidays In Madeira: Funchal, Madeira
Holidays In Madeira: Funchal, Madeira | Source

Invest in a good travel guide to answer all those tricky holiday questions

Beautiful Two Bedroomed, Two Bathroomed Villa...

Holiday Villa
Holiday Villa

Panoramic Ocean Views: the Island offers amazing ocean views with clear blue seas

Amazing ocean views
Amazing ocean views

A Little Info About Madeira

Madeira is a beautiful Portuguese Island often referred to as "The Floating Garden", due to the abundance of exotic flora and fauna to be found growing among the mountain terrain. The Island is lush with Laurisilva forestry and preserved natural parks.

Water trails known locally as levadas meander all over the Island. These walk ways are very famous and attract many hikers from all over the world. The trails were traditionally built as irrigation channels and are still used for this purpose today, bringing water to the many farming terraces that adorn the hills on their decent to the turquoise blue waters of the Atlantic ocean.

Although the Island is only 57 km by 22 km, the vastness of the mountains defy these measurements with deep valleys and majestic peaks providing endless kilometers of discovery.

Being only 1000 km from Africa, the temperature of Madeira averages 22┬║ C throughout the year, making Madeira a very popular and sought after winter holiday destination. The summer months are hotter and attract many visitors eager to enjoy guaranteed sunshine.

Funchal is the Capital City and boasts many beautiful buildings, cobbled streets, pretty gardens and a well appointed marina.

The hotels are in abundance: 5 star deluxe hotels offer the usual luxuries: rose petals in bath water and champagne on ice. Efficient and well appointed Boutique hotels; great for exploring the city, offer more affordable accommodation for those that enjoy being out and about. Self catering apartments and Villas are becoming the new way to holiday on Madeira.

With new motor ways, wider roads and easy tunnel access, self catering holidays are becoming very popular and are now more easily accessible throughout the Island.

Rural Madeira is an amazing exploration; don't miss out!

Sites and Attractions: pretty gardens and village parties

Monte Palace Gardens
Monte Palace Gardens | Source
A typical Madeiran garden full of flora and fauna
A typical Madeiran garden full of flora and fauna | Source
A village festival full of colour
A village festival full of colour | Source
A flower carpet is laid on the street through the village
A flower carpet is laid on the street through the village | Source
A typical A-Framed House in Santana
A typical A-Framed House in Santana | Source

A Thomas Cook Guide to Madeira, Portugal

Contrasting locations on the beautiful Island of Madeira: from a quaint village to rugged heights in the mountains

A pretty coastal village on the northwest side of the Island offers a tranquil location
A pretty coastal village on the northwest side of the Island offers a tranquil location | Source
Calheta Beach: a popular holiday hot spot on the Island
Calheta Beach: a popular holiday hot spot on the Island | Source
A walk in the woods, a lush green central area of the Island
A walk in the woods, a lush green central area of the Island | Source
Overlooking the busy cosmopolitan city of Funchal
Overlooking the busy cosmopolitan city of Funchal | Source
The beautiful rugged mountain terrain over Serra da Agua, a hikers dream come true
The beautiful rugged mountain terrain over Serra da Agua, a hikers dream come true | Source

Self Catering Holidays In Madeira

As I have already mentioned the new and improved infrastructure on Madeira has made the Island easier to discover, hence the increase in rural tourism on the Island.

Rural Tourism: Choosing Your Accommodation

Deciding where you want to stay can be a major factor in choosing the right accommodation for your holiday. To help you decide I have divided the Island in two and provided a quick and easy synopsis of each side.

The West:

This side of the Island is more dramatic scenic wise than the east side. The climate is hotter and dryer. There are many small fishing villages adorning the coastline: Ponta Do Sol, Madalena Do Mar, Calheta, Paul Do Mar, to name but a few. The majestic plateau and the rolling hills offer endless exploration. The restaurants in general tend to be more localized and traditional. The people are very welcoming and generous. The west side of the Island is very rural and quite magical.

The East:

This side of the Island is more lush and green. High peaks and gorges are in abundance through the mountainous terrain. The original city of Machico and the airport are both situated on this side as are the Islands two well appointed golf courses: Palheiro Golf and Santo De Serra Golf. The peninsula: Ponte de Sao Louren├žo is found on this side. A very popular walk that takes you all the way to the end of Madeira. A breathtaking experience.

Factors To Consider Once You Have Chosen The Location:

  • Budget: How much to you have to spend?

Generally prices for properties are based on two persons sharing. Apartments are usually cheaper and the further form the city the keener the price. Villa's with pools are much more expensive.

  • Your Party: How many in your party?

As prices are generally based on two sharing, an additional charge per head, per night is to be expected.

  • Children: Have you children in your party?

These days children over two usually pay full price due to the fact that they are in effect using the same facility as an an adult. While under twos are sometimes free, this is not always the case. Baby cots and high chairs are usually at an extra charge.

Beware of security issues should you have small children in your party. Is the property safe for small children ie balconies, walled garden, staircase?

  • Elderly people: Do you have elderly people in your party?

Madeira is a very hilly destination and many properties will be on different levels. Be sure to ask the owner about the property situation, entrance, staircases etc.

  • The size: How big a property do you want?

Older properties can be quite small and also quite dark. If you specifically want a big and airy property check out the actual square meterage of the property. When properties mention attic style rooms or outside rooms be sure to check the exact criteria with the owner.

  • Bedrooms: Do you want your own room?

Sleeping arrangements can differ depending on the property. Just because the property sleeps 10 persons doesn't mean you will all sleep in beds in a bedroom.

  • Bathrooms: Do you want more than one bathroom?

Some older properties will not have a second bathroom. If more than one bathroom or a downstairs toilet is an important factor make sure you ask the owner.

  • Garden: Do you want a garden?

Many properties will show lush green pictures which may not be anywhere near the property. Renovated properties will have terraces and even balconies but no garden. If you want a garden then be sure to ask the owner.

  • Pool: Do you want a pool?

Many people chose to rent villas with pools. However there are two factors to consider. The size: be sure all that extra money is not for a large foot spa. The time of year: unless the pool is heated November through to March can be a bit cool. Also if you are close to one of Madeira's man made beaches or pebble beaches the water is wonderfully clean and very safe to swim in.

  • BBQ: Are you planning to bbq?

The facilities many include a bbq, however the bbq may simply be a portable one from a local hard wear store. If your heart is set on a large open built bbq, again you will need to be precise in requesting whether the property has one or not. Newer rentals may not have built in bbq facilities.

  • The view: How important is your view?

Views are always a little tricky. If a sea view and nothing but a sea view is crucial for your holiday accommodation be sure to look out for panoramic views and again consult the owner.

  • Distance: Local amenities?

Check out the closeness of all local amenities; beach, marina, restaurants, supermarkets, wine store, motor ways, chemist, airport etc. While rural for some means miles from anywhere for others it's a small village with all mod cons.

Why Choose Self Catering Holidays?

There are numerous reasons why self catering holidays are a great way to holiday and discover the Island of Madeira. I have outlined a few that are more general and broadly positive other than just a personal choice.

  • Cheaper accommodation: Self catering holidays are generally cheaper than hotels, especially if your party is two or more.
  • A lot more space: Whether you opt for an apartment or a villa, you will have loads more space than a single hotel room, meaning more comfort and more privacy.
  • More individual: Owners are very welcoming and often provide that little extra attention as opposed to a busy hotel full of rambling quests.
  • More relaxing: No queues for breakfast or fighting for sun loungers.
  • Home comforts: A hotel room will never equal the comforts of a living room or provide a large fridge. There is nothing quite like your own space.
  • Tranquil settings: Rural Madeira is very different from the bustling city of Funchal. The peace and quiet is spell bounding.
  • Get to know the locals: There is always a big difference between the people you meet in a city and the people you meet in the country. The rural locals love to chat and give you presents of homemade wine, homegrown fruits or freshly baked cakes. Language is never a barrier and hand signs will take on a whole knew meaning.
  • Practice your language skills: The only way to learn a little lingo is living among the locals. Portuguese is mainly spoken in the more rural parts of Madeira
  • Shop for local foods: Freshly caught fish straight from the ocean is sold daily from the small fishing villages. Local markets sell fruit, vegetables and baked goods. Homemade wines and ciders are also readily available. Locals display signs advertising bees honey, fresh eggs, homemade goods and traditional fruits for sale.
  • Eat in rural restaurants: You won't get fancy plates or linen napkins but you'll get the best food on the Island. Deep fried maize flavored with herbs, soft and buttery on the inside, crisp and golden on the outside. Soft flaky fish or juicy beef flavored with garlic and sea salt. Huge beef tomatoes with olive oil, homemade potato chips and freshly baked flat bread smothered in garlic butter. Tapas of salted olives, cured pork and fried squid. Need I say more?
  • Accessibility: The countryside is full of interesting places and famous landmarks. The best of Madeira is what you discover on your own or with a little direction from the locals. Once you are out of the city, Madeira is an open book.
  • Discover the real rural Madeira: Holidaying in rural Madeira is an experience that one can't explain. This floating garden is truly a beauty.

If you haven't yet visited the beautiful Island of Madeira, it may be time to book yourself a self catering holiday now.


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