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Last Updated on November 21, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
In the fall of 2023, I was lucky enough to spend two months living in Lisbon and exploring the best that Portugal has to offer. Before I even took off for Europe, I knew that Madeira Island had already earned a place on my 2023 Portugal bucket list. Thankfully, September is arguably the best time to visit Madeira, so it seems our 5-day Madeira itinerary was meant to be!
I had fallen in love with Madeira through countless Instagram reels, blog posts, and a fair amount of TikToks texted to me by my travel buddy (since I refuse to re-download that dreaded app). As beautiful as the photos, videos, and guides were…they couldn’t prepare me for the real thing.
Madeira was, in one word, breathtaking.
Located about 1,100 km from the coast of Portugal and 500 km north of the Canary Islands, Madeira is known affectionately as “the Hawaii of Europe.” On one side, sky-high mountain peaks disappear into spooky fog, while on the other dolphins and whales swim through sparkling-blue waters. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
The town of Funchal is incredibly charming, with quaint little churches, tasty restaurants, and adorable souvenir shops on every corner. Whether you’re searching for culture, beaches, hiking, or views – you’ll find it in Madeira.
If you’re ready to book that Madeira vacation, but you’re asking yourself, “When is the best time to visit Maderia?” – then you’re in the right place. Keep reading for my guide to visiting Madeira in the spring, summer, winter, and fall!
When is the Best Time to Visit Madeira for Great Weather?
Madeira experiences mild, sub-tropical weather throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging from 16°C (61°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. Due to its location in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira enjoys a relatively stable climate with low humidity and plenty of sunshine. Long story short – Madeira is the perfect vacation spot pretty much year-round.
If you’re looking for warm and sunny weather, the best time to visit Madeira is from June to September. During these months, temperatures are at their highest and there is very little chance of rain. This makes it ideal for outdoor activities such as partaking in Madeira’s breathtaking hikes, scuba diving on the coral reefs, and exploring the island’s beautiful landscapes.
If you prefer a cooler climate and want to avoid the peak tourist season (BOO crowds 👎🏼), then March to May or October to November are the best time to visit Madeira. The weather is still pleasant, with temperatures in the low 20s (70°F) and there are fewer crowds. March to May is also a good time for nature lovers, as Madeira’s famous flowers are in full bloom.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, then winter (December to February) might be the best time to visit Madeira. While it may not be as warm, you can always bundle up for outdoor activities or try out some of Madeira’s indoor tourist attractions.
Keep in mind that Madeira can experience occasional rain showers throughout the year no matter when you visit. Thankfully, these are usually short-lived and only add to the island’s lush greenery. So no matter when you decide to visit, be sure to pack a travel umbrella or stowaway raincoat just in case.
The Best Time to Visit Madeira by Activity
While the weather in Madeira is generally mild and pleasant, some of Madeira’s most famous attractions are better enjoyed at certain times of year vs. others. Whether you’re interested in hiking, scuba diving, dolphin and whale watching, surfing, enjoying the blooming flowers, or all of the above – this is the best time to visit Madeira by activity.
The Best Time to Visit Madeira for Flowers
The spring months of March, April, and May turn Madeira into a botanical paradise! Madeira experiences mild temperatures during this time and every tree, plant, and shrub on the island goes into full bloom.
In fact, from May 2nd to 26th, 2024, you can visit the Madeira Flower Festival and take in the colorful floral displays to your heart’s content.
The Best Time to Visit Madeira for Hiking
The best time to visit Madeira for hiking is during the spring and fall. Temperatures are still warm in Madeira during these seasons, but not as hot as the summer months. There is also a lower chance of rainfall in Madeira during the spring and fall than during the winter. These seasons are perfect for those looking to explore the island’s beautiful and diverse hiking trails.
Experiencing the views from Madeira’s most famous hiking trail, Pico do Areeiro, is a must see in Madeira. I mean Lisbon has some great miradouros (like the Miradouro de Santa Luzia), but they’ve got nothing on Madeira. Just make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you!
The Best Time to Visit Madeira for Scuba Diving
The best time to visit Madeira for scuba diving is June through November. These months offer the best visibility for scuba diving in Madeira’s crystal-clear waters. You’ll also be able to see a wider variety of marine life during this time and be able to enjoy warmer water temperatures this time of year.
On my scuba diving excursion in Madeira, we saw enormous groupers, trumpetfish, flounder, moray eels, daytime octopus, spider crabs, an eel garden, sea stars, lobster, and the biggest round stingray I’ve ever seen in my life! I highly recommend diving with Cipreia Dive Club for your scuba dives in Madeira. After our vacation in Lisbon, it was great to reconnect with nature while hiking and scuba diving in Madeira.
The Best Time to Visit Madeira for Dolphin and Whale Watching
Dolphin and whale watching is one of the top things to do in Madeira! If seeing majestic whales in their natural habitat is on your bucket list, then plan to visit Madeira from May through June and September through November. It’s the peak season for whale watching and you’ll have a high chance of spotting various species, including sei whales, humpback whales, fin whales, Bryde’s whales, minke whales, and even orcas if you’re lucky! Pilot whales and sperm whales can be seen in Madeira throughout the year.
Dolphins are a very common sighting in the waters around Madeira year-round. Bottlenose dolphins are the most common, but you might also spot striped dolphins, common dolphins, pantropical dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, or Risso’s dolphins.
On our very first day in Madeira, we booked seats on an eco-catamaran dolphin and whale-watching tour. I highly recommend booking this tour for your Madeira trip – the dolphins and whales popping out of the water is a sight I’ll never forget.
The Best Time to Visit Madeira for Surfing
While Madeira may not be known as a top surfing destination, it does have some great waves from October through April, especially in December and January. This time of year is when the North Atlantic swells hit Madeira and light up the point breaks on the island.
The Cheapest Time to Visit Madeira
The best time to visit Madeira for budget travelers is in winter or November to February. This is Madeira’s off-season, meaning prices are cheaper and there are fewer crowds. Keep in mind that visiting Madeira during the off-season means the weather might not be as pleasant as other months.
However, never forget that Madeira is nicknamed “The Land of Eternal Spring.” Basically, even when the weather isn’t great, it’s still pretty good. And babe, we love a good travel deal 👏🏼
When to Visit Madeira to Avoid the Crowds
The best time to visit Madeira if you want to avoid the crowds is the off-season from November through February. Prices are also cheaper during this time, so it’s a great option for budget travelers.
Winter is also a great time to visit Madeira for surfers!
Madeira Weather by Month
Not sure when the best time to visit Madeira is for you? No worries! Below, you can see a list of the best things to do in Madeira Portugal, and which months are best to do them in.
Visiting Madeira in January
- Madeira has great surfing this time of year
- Prices are cheaper in Madeira in January
- There are fewer crowds in Madeira in January
- If you visit for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be able to attend Madeira’s famous firework display in Marina do Funchal – one of the best things to see in Funchal Madeira
Visiting Madeira in February
- February is arguably the cheapest month to visit Madeira
- There won’t be many tourists or crowds on the island in February
- It’s a good month to surf in Madeira
Visiting Madeira in March
- Madeira’s flowers have begun to bloom in March
- The weather is beginning to warm up
- Tourism is still low, so there won’t be many crowds
- Prices are cheaper than the summer months
- March is the beginning of Madeira’s hiking season
- It’s still surfing season in Madeira
Visiting Madeira in April
- Madeira’s flowers are in full bloom
- This is a great month for hiking
- April is the end of the best time of year to surf in Madeira
Visiting Madeira in May
- Madeira’s Flower Festival spans almost the entire month of May
- The flowers are in full bloom
- May is a great month for hiking in Madeira
- This is the beginning of Madeira’s best whale-watching season
Visiting Madeira in June
- June is the beginning of Madeira’s best scuba diving season
- It’s officially on-season in Madeira
- Prices are higher in June
- Madeira is getting more crowded
- Depending on the year, June might have good hiking weather or it may be a bit too hot to hike
- It’s a great time to whale-watch in Madeira
Visiting Madeira in July
- Temperatures, prices, and crowds are high in Madeira
- Visibility and water temperatures are high – making it a great month to scuba dive
- The weather might be nice enough to hike in July if you’re lucky
- July is one of the best months for swimming and enjoying the beaches in Madeira
Visiting Madeira in August
- August is the hottest month in Madeira
- It’s a great time of the year to scuba dive
- Prices are higher in August
- Madeira tends to be crowded this time of year
- August is the best month to swim in Madeira since the water is at its warmest
Visiting Madeira in September
- I visited Madeira in September!
- September is a great time to scuba dive in Madeira
- It’s a great month for whale and dolphin watching
- Temperatures are ideal for hiking this time of year
- Prices and crowds are still high but are starting to decrease
Visiting Madeira in October
- October is a great time to hike the best mountains in Madeira
- It’s a great month to scuba dive
- Whale-watching season in Madeira is still at its peak in October
- Prices and crowds are decreasing
- Surfing season is starting up again
Visiting Madeira in November
- November is the end of peak whale-watching season in Madeira
- It’s also the tail end of Madeira’s best scuba diving season
- It’s a great time to surf in Madeira
- Prices are cheaper and there are fewer crowds
Visiting Madeira in December
- The Funchal Market is in full swing for Christmas
- Madeira is decorated beautifully for the holiday season
- Temperatures are lower
- Some of the best surfing of the year is in December
- Hotels, resorts, and activities are cheaper and there are fewer crowds
The Best Things to Do in Madeira
There are so many exciting things to do and places to visit in Madeira Portugal. During our five days in Madeira, we did our best to see the best that the island had to offer…which was a lot. If you’re wondering what to do in Madeira Portugal, then keep reading for my top 10 things to do in Madeira!
- Book a whale and dolphin-watching boat tour
- Hike to Pico do Arieiro
- Take the cable car to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden
- Drive under the Cascata dos Anjos (waterfall) near Ponta do Sol
- Take a dip in the Porto Moniz Natural Pools
- Visit Fanal Forest for a spooky photoshoot in the fog
- Relax on the sandy beach in Praia do Porto do Seixal
- Sample the local Portuguese cuisine in Madeira
- Go scuba diving
- Explore Funchal, Madeira’s capital city
The Best Time to Visit Madeira Island Portugal: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, the best time to visit Madeira for great weather depends on your personal preferences and which activities you want to do during your trip! Whether it’s soaking up the winter sun on the beach, scuba diving the coral reefs, or getting lost in the fog in Fanal Forest, Madeira has something to offer year-round for every type of traveler.
Best Time to Visit Madeira Portugal FAQs:
The best month to visit Madeira depends on your preferred activities and interests. However, generally, the months of April, May, September, and October are considered the best time to visit due to pleasant weather conditions and fewer crowds.
The rainiest months in Madeira are usually November through January. However, rainfall can occur at any time of year due to the island’s location in the Atlantic Ocean.
The best time to go to Madeira ultimately depends on your preferences and priorities. If you are interested in hiking or flower viewing, the spring months of April and May would be ideal. For water activities like scuba diving, the summer months of July and August offer warm temperatures for underwater exploration. To avoid the high tourist season, consider visiting in September or October when the weather is still pleasant but with fewer crowds. Overall, Madeira has something to offer year-round, so it ultimately depends on your interests and schedule.
Maderia is a wonderful place to visit during Christmas. The island is beautifully decorated with festive lights and decorations, and there are plenty of events and activities to enjoy. The mild winter weather makes it perfect for exploring the island’s many hiking trails or taking a leisurely stroll through the charming towns and villages. Plus, there are plenty of exciting Christmas traditions to explore in Madeira, such as the famous Funchal Market. Whether you’re looking for a warm and festive holiday or simply want to escape the cold winter weather, Madeira during Christmas is a great choice.
Did you know that Madeira hosts one of the world’s most famous firework displays for New Year’s Eve? On December 31, tourists, locals, and cruise ships gather in Marina do Funchal to experience the dazzling firework displays and ring in the New Year in style.
The hottest month in Madeira is typically August, with average temperatures reaching around 26°C (79°F). However, the island’s mild climate means that even during the peak summer months, temperatures rarely exceed 30°C (86°F). This makes Madeira a great destination for those who enjoy warm weather but prefer to avoid extreme heat. Even in the winter months, temperatures in Madeira remain mild and pleasant, making it a popular year-round European destination for travelers. So whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on the beach or explore the island’s natural beauty, there is no bad time to visit Madeira.
Due to the extreme height differences and varying microclimates all over the island, it’s very difficult for the best Portuguese travel apps to accurately predict the weather in Madeira.
That being said, according to locals, the most accurate weather apps for Madeira are Windy and MadeiraWeather. These apps provide the most reliable weather forecasts, including temperature, humidity, wind speed, and rainfall predictions. It’s important to note that the accuracy significantly decreases when you’re searching weather patterns more than 2-3 days in the future.
Pro Tip: Be sure to check the weather before attempting the Pico do Areeiro hike. We didn’t, and our five hours of hard work were rewarded with views of the inside of a cloud.
October is a great time to visit Madeira, especially if you want to scuba dive, hike, or surf Madeira’s beautiful landscape. Temperatures are still pleasant in Madeira in October and both crowds and prices are decreasing at this time of year.