The best independent guide to Madeira
The best independent guide to Madeira
Madeira is often referred to as “the island with the eternal spring”, and this is the best way to describe the varied weather of the island.
The island sits in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream, nullifying any extreme seasonal temperatures, while the prevailing winds and high mountains ensure rain falls throughout the year. Considering that Madeira is on the same latitude as Morocco, the weather is much less intensely hot during the summer, reaching a pleasant average of 26C in August.
There are two distinct seasons to Madeira: a slightly cooler and wetter winter (October to April) and a drier and warmer summer (May to September), but the location on the island has just as much an effect on the weather as the time of year.
The majority of the rain falls on the interior mountains or the rugged northern coastline, while the east and south (including the main city of Funchal) are significantly drier. The eastern side, close to the airport, maybe drier but is often exposed to strong winds.
Just by simply crossing the island you can leave hot sun in Ribeira Brava, pass through cold mountain fog at Serra De Agua, and get drenched by an intense rainstorm at Sao Vicente. This variable weather causes locals to joke “that you can experience all four seasons just by moving round the island”.
In summary, Madeira has great weather during the summer (except for June!) and winter months that may be cloudy and wet, but will be much more pleasant than mainland Europe.
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January to March - (Low season) – An equal number of grey days as bright sunny days, but there is always the chance of heavy rains especially over the mountains
4 weeks after Easter – The Flower Festival, the whole of Funchal is adorned with flowers and the island is full of colour (a great season to visit)
June – Dry and warm, but the island can be covered by solid clouds for days, often referred to as “June gloom”.
July-September (High season) – Warm, dry weather and is the best season to visit
October-December (Medium season) - There is an increase of cloud and chance of rain but there can be bright and warm spells. This is a popular season for travellers getting away from the dismal weather of Europe.
Note for June: The typical weather for June is for dense cloud, but it varies yearly. If you come expecting full sun and sunbathing weather (as with the rest of Portugal), you will be disappointed, but if you come for a sightseeing holiday, you will have a great time.
The best time of year to visit Madeira is between July and September, when the weather is at its warmest and driest.
This weather is warm but not incredibly hot as with much of southern Europe, reaching a maximum of 26C in August (as compared to 31C for Rome or 32C for Madrid). As this is the peak season the island will be busy with tourists and accommodation and flights will be at their most expensive.
Our favourite time to visit Madeira is during the Flower Festival, which lasts for the four weeks after Easter. The culmination of the festival is the carnival (check local listings for exact dates).
Madeira is not a winter sun destination, as with the Canary Islands or Egypt, but it will be significantly better than back in your home country. The closer to December, the higher the chance of rain showers and overcast days, but the average temperature will be pleasantly warm.
To get the most from a holiday in the winter season, it is best to have flexible plans. When the weather is dry and sunny, take day trips to explore the island, or if the weather is poor, relax at your hotel, have long meals and drink some Poncha!