Wondering where to stay in Madeira? Before I decided to visit Funchal, I knew close to nothing about Madeira. I was aware is an island in the Atlantic also called "the Spring island". I expected some good seafood and had an idea about the levada walks. When I finally arrived in Madeira, my jaws dropped, as this is hands on heart, one of the most incredible islands I've seen, with crazy good views, fantastic hiking opportunities and great food. Most importantly, Madeira was not busy with tourists but had a rawness to it still. One minute I was in Funchal, close to all amenities, the next I was meandering in the wilderness, on my way up to Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest point.
Where to stay in Madeira
For my stay in Madeira, I decided to rent a car even though driving in Madeira can be challenging. Caniço is located 15 minutes away from Funchal, but it's much cheaper. The flat I stayed in was in a villa, called Apartments Madeira, overlooking the ocean. It was a lovely little apartment with French doors, with one of the most inviting views over the Atlantic. Close to Caniço, there is also a lovely beach. The road to this beach is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Imagine a very narrow road which fits only one car at the time. All the way to the beach, there are tight curves, not to mention the steepness of the road. It takes several minutes to reach the beach from the top of the hill, but here's the catch. If there is a car coming up, meeting you halfway, you are both pretty trapped there. As the road is so steep, it would make it close to impossible for you to reverse up the hill or for the other car to reverse downhill. Either way, you need seriously good clutch skills, so don't take this lightly. And before you ask, no, there isn't any other way to get to the same beach. And yes, it is worth the trouble, as I got to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic, right from Caniço.
Close to the villa, there is also plenty of free street parking which makes it easy to rent a car. Would I recommend staying in Caniço without a rental? Probably not. If you want to depend on public transport, then it's best to be in Funchal, as you have more options. It's also easier to access restaurants and morning markets, as well as the famed Botanic Garden and of course museums. There is a special charm to Funchal, but if you don't mind skipping the odd drink in favour for cheaper (and in my opinion better) accommodation, then head over to Caniço.