Car Hire

Driving in Madeira

Madeira has a new road infrastructure, which encompasses nearly 2/3rds of the Island, so getting around is easier these days. To be honest though, driving here can be a little difficult as many of the roads are narrow, the speed limit is seldom adhered too, and driving is on the right hand side.

In saying the above, Madeira is an island of contrasting scenery and has a multitude of places to visit and sights to see. It is therefore an ideal island on which to hire a car if you are an experienced and confident driver and take a leisurely tour around the island yourself.

Driving Tips

  • Please refrain from drinking too much of the the local Madeiran wine or extremely strong Poncha whilst driving - the same drink driving laws as the UK apply, and recently the Police force have been clamping down on this with regular Police checks – so be warned!

      • Always carry your car hire documents with you when driving - your hire contract, passport and driving license. Also you will need to ensure that the documents for the car are with you (old blue and green Livrette or new document with a hologram – regardless of whether you hire the car or own it yourself). These will be requested by the police if you are stopped for any offence. If fined, you may be expected to pay on the spot.

          • Remember to drive on the right!

              • Always wear your seat belts - a fine is applicable if you forget!

                  • Remember the speed limits. Main roads outside towns unless otherwise stated are 80kms/hr and town and country roads are 60kms/hr. The Via Rapida has a variable speed up to 100km/hr so keep an eye on the signs.

                      • When using the Rapido keep your lights on at all times, particularly through the tunnels.

                          • If it is foggy or there is an impending traffic jam, it is usual to use your warning lights to notify other drivers of an impending situation.

                              • Be very careful when entering and exiting the Via Rapida as the on/off slip roads are much shorter than the ones we are used to and some of the slip roads merge in the same direction and are accident hotspots.

                                  • In case of a breakdown on the Rapido ensure the safety and of you and your passengers first, wear the yellow vest provided and then take the Red Triangle out of the boot and clearly display it a few yards away from the vehicle to warn on coming traffic. Use your Hazard lights and wait at the side of the road (preferably a safe distance away from your vehicle).

                                      • The Rapido has cameras everywhere and a breakdown truck will be soon with you. If you have a mobile phone you can call for assistance, the telephone number is posted at intervals along the road.

                                          • Remember to use roundabouts in the opposite direction to back home! Also note that as they are a recent addition to the new infrastructure that you may find that you are in the correct lane on the roundabout to take the exit you need, whilst a local will use the outside line and will cut you up!

                                              • Do not use your mobile phone whilst driving, it is a finable offense.

                                                  • In general the local population are very polite on the roads and are used to the not so sure tourist, take it slow if you are unsure and do not be afraid to ask if you need help.
                                                    • What the signs mean?

                                                      ESQUERDA - LEFT
                                                      SEMÁFORO - TRAFFIC LIGHT
                                                      DIREITA - RIGHT
                                                      VERDE - GREEN LIGHT
                                                      (EM) FRENTE - FORWARD
                                                      AMARELO - YELLOW LIGHT
                                                      ATRÁS - BEHIND
                                                      PARA TRÁS - GO BACK
                                                      VERMELHO - RED LIGHT
                                                      POLÍCIA SINALEIRO - TRAFFIC POLICE
                                                      SENTIDO ÚNICO - ONE WAY

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