Getting Around

There are lots of ways to get around Madeira: there are buses, you can hire a car, bicycle (if you're fit) or e-bike, hail a taxi, pre-book a tour or transfer - or just walk! Which is best will depend on how many are traveling and where you're going. On the destination pages you'll find some recommendations for specifc journeys, here we'll explain the transport options in general.


Historically, bus transport in Madeira, particularly outside Funchal, has suffered from ageing vehicles and network fragmentation owing to the number of different operators. This is all intended to change, with some structural alterations in the operation of the services, new buses and a common ticketing scheme that will allow passengers to transfer between different operators' services. The new network will operate under the designation SIGA. The first phase begins on 1st July, 2024, but it will be some time before all the different aspects of the scheme come together so there will be a wave of incremental changes in which aspects of the old system will persist, so in the short term things may actually be more complicated than they are now.

There were, inconveniently, 4½ different bus companies that operate scheduled services - the ½ arising because one of them operates both urban transport within Funchal and long-distance services using different buses and a different fare structure... The different companies covered different geographical areas, but their routes overlapped in some places.

Horarios do Funchal (HF) operate the yellow buses that provide local services around Funchal, including the more frequent Linha Verde services that run from the centre out along the Estrada Monumental. They also operate white-and-yellow interurban buses on routes principally to the north and east of the island.

EACL ran mostly between Funchal and the area round Caniço.

SAM ran the Aerobus connecting the airport to Funchal and the main hotel district as well as routes principally in the south and east. 

Rodoeste served the north and west of the island.

Under the new arrangements, there will be three operators. HF buses will continue much as before. EACL and SAM will merge to form a new company, Companhia de Autocarros da Madeira (CAM). CAM and Rodoeste will operate new buses bearing the SIGA brand while HF buses will have the SIGA logo added to their current livery. Electronic (smartcard) ticketing will be introduced across all routes with, eventually, a common fare structure. Bus routes themselves probably won't change much.

The one thing these changes won't do in the short term is make it easier to plan your journey. There is some transport information available in Google Maps, but it isn't available for all operators and it isn't always accurate when it's available. Some operators have developed apps, but they don't necessarily work well, or even at all. The most reliable source of information is the paper timetable you'll find posted at bus stops, though be aware that these will often list only the times the buses start their journey and won't tell you when they are likely to arrive at that specific stop. At present, the bus operators maintain their old websites where you can also find timetables. The intention is to consolidate the information into one system, but that's some way off.

For urban buses in Funchal there is presently a flat tariff, which you can pay on board, or you can buy a multi-journey Giro ticket at one of the ticket offices around town with a saving if you prepay for 10 or more trips. Outside Funchal, fares operated on a zoned basis.

For airport travel, the Aerobus has its own fare structure (cash only, €6 one-way and €10 return as of June 2024) and departs from a dedicated stop outside airport arrivals; in the opposite direction, the stops served are marked with a green sign. There's a second airport bus stop (around 50m to the right of the Aerobus if you're facing away from the terminal) that serves local buses that travel west into Funchal and east to Machico and beyond. Whereas the Aerobus has substantial space for luggage, the local buses generally do not.

Taxis and Ride Sharing

You'll find officially-licensed yellow taxis at ranks in many locations which operate metered fares. On a slow day, taxis may come up to groups of tourists at bus stops to popular destinations and offer fixed-priced rides. You can pre-book a taxi either by telephone or through the Taxi in Madeira app which will often be cheaper than a metered journey. Bolt operate in Madeira and at present have integrated their app with the licensed taxi operators so you can choose the service you want from available vehicles.

Car Hire

Since Covid, there has been a massive expansion in car hire on the island with dozens and dozens of new operators. Congestion has become a problem at a number of popular visitor destinations, so please consider whether a car is your best option. Not all companies can be reached through the comparison websites: some smaller hire companies may simply operate by phone, through a shop or via an online form that gets e-mailed to the office. Use websites to compare prices, but you may need to ring up if you want instant confirmation. Also be aware that it is now common for the insurance "excess" to be of the order of €1000 or even more and for the "waiver" that reduces this excess to have many exclusions, so you might want to investigate your own car hire excess insurance to avoid nasty surprises.

Driving on Madeira can be a challenge - the topography doesn't allow for much space for acceleration lanes on modern roads and the old roads can be extremely steep, winding and have deep gullies - or even sheer drops - at the sides. Navigation software varies widely in its understanding of the suitability of roads for vehicles.

Tours and Transfers

It can be more convenient to visit certain destinations by pre-booked tour or transfer.  You can get to most popular locations with a shared bus tour (and guide), by private guided tour or by shared or private transfer (you're dropped off and left to your own devices). Many agents on the island will book these services for you.


You can hire road bikes, mountain bikes, e-bikes and associated equipment from many locations. Madeira is not ideal terrain for casual cycling, though there are some dedicated cycle tracks, but it offers all sorts of opportunities for cycle sport.


Electric scooters arrived in Funchal in September 2022. They're not permitted to operate on pavements and there are only short stretches of cycle lane, so using them involves close contact with other road traffic.