Getting around Madeira


What is the best way to travel around the island? Where can I get to by bus and what are the average car rental prices?

In general, many natural attractions are only accessible by car, but even if you don't want to drive or can't drive, Madeira is definitely better explored by bus than, say, the Azores.

Car rental in Madeira

The best way to get around Madeira is to use the services of car rental companies. It's the only way to really get to all the treks and, for example, to the mountains, a car is the only way to go.

All the big multinational car rental companies have a branch in Madeira and many local ones, the vast majority of them will rent you a car directly at the airport.

Average prices for a 7-day rental , depending on the size of the car, range from 0 eur 29 eur 183 eur. You can compare all the prices in, for example, the search engine.

For detailed information on rental prices, when to book a car or even the traffic on Madeira's roads, see the chapter Car rental Madeira.

Buses in Madeira

It's important to realise that although you can reach many interesting places by bus, you will miss the opportunity to explore more of the mountains in the central part.

If you want to visit places like Pico Ruivo, Pico do Arieiro, the levadas of Olbasti Encumeada or Rabaçal, you will need to rent a car.

In the capital city of Funchal you will find a dense network of public transport buses. There are stops literally at almost every turn, as the city is situated on a steep hillside, so every step counts.

There is also a fairly dense network of intercity buses on the island, these are colour coded according to the areas they serve and are operated by different companies.

It is therefore important to study the individual timetables and frequency of services carefully before each journey, which can be restrictive on the return journey. The vast majority of intercity services depart from Funchal and unless you want to hire a car, it is almost essential to find accommodation in the largest city.

Book a hotel in Funchal

Each company uses different tickets, which cannot be confused with taking a different bus.

Below we describe all 4 companies and the areas they cover.

A useful aid for planning especially travel with First Horários to Funchal, but also an introduction to the bus system in Madeira, is provided by this official Horários to Funchal guide. For intercity services, all stops are on signs and often the stations are not announced in any way, so it will be necessary to use the online maps on your mobile phone.

Bus timetables should always be taken with a grain of salt. Often only the departure times from the termini are given and the stops in between only have a very indicative timetable. But the fact is that otherwise the bus service is reliable and the service will always run, albeit with a slight delay.

Buses Horários do Funchal

The official website with timetables, route maps for each line and current ticket prices is:

These buses provide services in the following areas:

  • Funchal's dense and busy public transport network
  • Funchal - Curral das Freiras
  • Funchal - Ribeiro Frío - Faial - Santana - Porto da Cruz - São Jorge - Arco de São Jorge
  • Funchal - Camacha - Santo da Serra

City buses (Urbano) in Funchal are all yellow with a white stripe, intercity buses (Interurbano) are grey and white with a yellow stripe.

Fares and tickets

Funchal city bus tickets use a GIRO card, which you top up over and over again with more tickets.

The first purchase of a card costs 0,50 eur + the price of the selected ticket. So don't throw the card away! You can buy the card from ticket machines or ticket booths, but these are usually only in the centre. However, it can also be bought from the driver for a total of 1,95 eur (0,50 eur for the card + 1,45 eur one ride). You can only reload the card at vending machines or ticket booths. In this case, the fare works out as follows:

  • 1 ride - 1,35 eur
  • 1 ride when 10 tickets are topped up - 1,25 eur
  • 1 day (valid only on a calendar day) - 4,50 eur
  • 3-day - 11,50 eur

Pay intercity bus tickets in cash at the driver's desk, as accurate as possible. Fares are broken down by zone and prices range from 2,20 eur to 3,35 eur.

Intercity buses leave from the lower cable car station at Monte, see map.

Buses SAM

The official website with timetables, route maps for each line and current ticket prices is:

SAM Madeira buses serve the eastern part of the island (Funchal - Caniço, Santa Cruz, airport, Machico, Santo da Serra, Porto da Cruz, Faial, Caniçal and others, see route map ).

SAM have green and white buses with a narrow yellow stripe, but often their buses are all white with just the green and yellow SAM logo. This company also operates the Aerobus express service connecting the airport with Funchal.

Fares and tickets

Fares depend on the number of zones and range between 1,95 eur and 4 eur (see the zone overview table at - the airport is in the Machico zone).

You can buy them in exact cash from the driver, or use a Flexicard, which costs 2 eur to buy and top up with a minimum of 10, maximum of 50 rides.

However, the price of an individual ticket is not discounted compared to paper ones from the driver. More interesting is to use the Flexicard Days card (again at 2 eur), which can be used to top up multi-day tickets:

  • 24 hours: 10 eur for the entire SAM network
  • 3 days: 10 to 15 eur depending on the number of zones
  • 7 days: 15 to 25 eur depending on the number of zones

A special tariff applies for the Aerobus line - 5 eur one-way fare, 8 eur return ticket valid for 1 year. The Aerobus is about 10 to 15 minutes faster than the regular lines that also go to the airport and you can use them to get to Funchal cheaper.

You can only buy a Flexicard at two points of sale (see exact location:, not from the driver.

Rodoeste buses

The official website with timetables, route maps for each route and current ticket prices is:

Rodoeste covers the largest area of the island and connects Funchal with all the municipalities in the west.

On the north coast, it goes as far as the municipality of Arco de São Jorge, where the Horários buses connect to Funchal.

See a more detailed map of the towns Rodoeste serves:

Rodoeste buses are white with a red and yellow stripe and have the most modern fleet of any Madeira company.

Fares and tickets

Fares are calculated by zone and cost from 2,20 eur to 6 eur, see the fare table and zone map: Always pay at the driver with the most accurate amount if possible.

Caniço buses (EACL)

The official website with timetables, route maps for each line and current ticket prices is:

The smallest company mainly covers services between Funchal and Caniço (SAM buses can also be used to get to Caniço centre, but they don't stop in the city at as many places as EACL). The buses are also used when going to Garajau to the statue of Christ. EACL buses are white, red and grey.

Fares and tickets

Tickets can be purchased from the driver in exact cash. From Funchal to Caniço cost 2,20 eur, and within Caniço cost 1,30 eur.

From Funchal, buses leave from the lower station of the funicular to Monte, see map.


All official taxis in all cities in Madeira have the same design and exact rates. The only official taxis are yellow with a blue stripe and must always use a taximeter.

In Madeira you will practically not encounter unfair practices of taxi drivers in relation to tourists. The starting rate is around 3 eur, then you pay about 0,70 eur for each kilometer of driving.

There are plenty of taxis in all major cities, mostly in the centres of the villages, and in Funchal all over the city.

There is also an Uber app in Funchal (Google Play / App Store), which usually runs at lower prices than regular taxis.

Cable cars

A non-traditional mode of transport can be cable cars. There are a total of 8 public cable cars in operation in Madeira, but they serve as a sightseeing experience rather than transport from point A to point B.

For more information, see the chapter Activities in the section "Sightseeing and cable cars".

By boat and plane to Porto Santo Island

Part of the Madeira archipelago, the smaller island of Porto Santo is a popular destination for beach hiking because of its long beaches with fine sand. From Funchal, you can also take a day trip to Porto Santo, either by boat or by plane.

Ferries to Porto Santo run once a day, always in the morning from Funchal and in the evening around 6pm back from Porto Santo. The cruise takes 2.5 hours one way and a return ticket works out at 70 eur. For more information, visit

Planes fly from Madeira to Porto Santo twice a day and a return ticket costs from 80 eur. The flight takes about 20 minutes and you can buy tickets on the Binter Canarias airline website.

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