Is Madeira safe to visit? My honest thoughts!

Is Madeira safe to visit? Here’s my complete run down and thoughts of my time on the island.

I recently spent four days on this beautiful island and found it to be a very safe destination.

Here’s my full breakdown!

Is Madeira safe to visit?

Absolutely! While Madeira is a rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean, it’s part of the European country of Portugal, meaning that it has all of the rigorous safety regulations of the rest of the country. 

In fact, the island’s crime rate is much lower than that of mainland Portugal; the capital, Funchal, is extremely safe for visitors. 

Because of the activities you’ll be doing in Madeira, there are a couple of things to be mindful of, including driving safety, hiking safety and swimming safety.

All of these are safe, but it’s recommended to have full awareness of what each activity entails before beginning it!

Is Madeira safe for solo female travellers?

I visited Madeira with my mum but did spend a bit of time on my own as well. 

I felt 100% safe walking around Funchal (even very early in the morning, before it got light) and received no harassment or hassle. 

Therefore, I think that yes, Madeira is a safe place for solo female travellers, but I would recommend taking usual precautions to amplify this safety. 

Crime rate in Madeira

The crime rate in Madeira is incredibly low. 

If you’re looking at stats, Funchal’s Crime Index stands at 19.11, while London’s is considerably higher at 54.46. 

In fact, Numbeo reports that in nearly all categories (such as “worries about being mugged or robbed” or “worries being subject to a physical attack because of your skin color, ethnic origin, gender or religion”) Funchal is “low” or “very low” whereas London is “moderate” or even “high” in some categories. 

So, if you feel safe travelling in London, you should feel even safer in Funchal! 

Is driving in Madeira safe? 

Driving in Madeira isn’t dangerous, but I would only recommend doing so if you’re a confident driver. 

If you do decide to drive on the island, be cautious and attentive. 

The roads are often narrow, winding, and steep, especially in rural or mountainous areas. 

As soon as you drive in from the coast, you’ll be going uphill and due to the island’s terrain, some routes incorporate sharp turns and steep inclines. 

Plus, you’ll need to be prepared for varying weather conditions, as fog and rain can reduce visibility. Ice and snow are, however, very rare (and only at the highest altitudes). 

Always follow local traffic laws, use seat belts, and avoid driving under the influence of alcohol. 

If you don’t fancy driving, there are plenty of tours that’ll take you to Madeira’s highlights.

Sea safety in Madeira

Despite it being an island, there aren’t that many swimmable beaches in Madeira. 

Being an Atlantic Island, the coastline is rather rocky, with the occasional patch of sand to relax on.

Because of the island’s Atlantic location, there are rips and currents; so I’d highly recommend only swimming at lifeguarded beaches. 

Complexo Balnear da Barreirinha near Funchal usually has a lifeguard. 

If you take a day trip to Porto Santo, another island in the Madeiran archipelago, you’ll find more gorgeous sandy beaches here!

Hiking safety in Madeira

Madeira is possibly most well-known for its robust hiking network; trails crisscross the island, summiting its major peaks and following its famous levadas

Hiking in Madeira is generally very safe; routes are well-marked and there’s usually good mobile signal.

I’d recommend just ensuring you hike to your ability. For example, the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike, which I did, was incredible but very challenging, with lots of uphill climbing. 

Be prepared for changeable weather, too – because of Madeira’s topography, conditions are often very variable. If you’re hiking at higher elevations (Pico Ruivo is the highest point), pack some layers, because the temperature will be completely different to Funchal’s!

And, of course, make sure you bring enough water and enough food to keep you energised (pastel de natas are a fantastic hiking snack) and always let people know where you are and what time you think you’ll return. 

Scams in Madeira 

There aren’t really any scams per se in Madeira, but a couple of things I was told to watch out for were: 

  1. Taxis: I was told that some may charge inflated rates, especially from the airport or in tourist-heavy areas. To avoid this, we used Bolt, where we could see the estimated fare before booking. 
  2. Funchal Farmer’s Market: Visit this farmer’s market, but be mindful of overcharging. Some vendors may increase prices for tourists. I was recommended to not buy anything from there and to favour smaller souvenir shops instead. 

Are the Monte toboggans safe?

The Monte toboggans often come up on lists of the top things to do in Madeira – Ernest Hemingway even called them “the most exhilarating experience of his life” – but I didn’t fancy them! 

They’re not unsafe – 99.99% of tourists finish their ride unscathed, but there is the occasional accident (such as this one) which has left tourists in hospital. 

So, while the risk of something going wrong is minute, it is there. It’s up to you to assess that risk to see if it’s worth the adrenaline rush! 

Is Madeira airport safe? 

Funchal Airport has been dubbed one of the most dangerous in Europe, but while there can be slightly rocky and turbulent landings and takeoffs (ours was completely fine, however), it’s still safe to fly into. 

Pilots who land in Madeira have all the necessary training, and flights are delayed if the weather is particularly bad. 

There hasn’t been a commercial plane accident since the 1970s when aviation safety looked very different (and before the runway was extended!). 

I’m a nervous flier and I was completely fine landing in Madeira. 

Can I drink the tap water in Madeira? 

Absolutely! The tap water in Madeira is fresh and clean.

We filled our bottles up straight from the tap in our Airbnb and asked the restaurant staff for table water. 

Food hygiene in Madeira

There’s nothing to worry about with food hygiene in Madeira; because tap water is safe to drink, the food options are all completely hygienic.

If there’s ever any issue with food poisoning, it’s due to particular restaurants not following hygiene methods (which can happen anywhere in the world) and hasn’t got anything to do with Madeira as a whole. 

Do be a bit careful with poncha, the island’s signature drink – it can be very strong!

Tips for staying safe in Madeira 

While Madeira is very safe, here are some tips for maximising that safety!

  1. Be Prepared for Climate Differences: Madeira’s climate can vary greatly, so it’s important to be prepared for weather changes. Pack clothing that can handle both warm and cooler temperatures, and always carry a rain jacket or umbrella for unexpected showers.
  2. Avoid Purchases at the Funchal Farmer’s Market: While it’s a popular spot for tourists, be cautious about making purchases here as prices can be inflated. Visit to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and sights rather than shopping.
  3. Use Bolt Taxis for Transport: To ensure fair pricing and avoid overcharged fares, opt for Bolt taxis when getting around. These ride-sharing services offer transparent pricing and can be more reliable than traditional taxis.
  4. Don’t Drive if You’re Not Confident: The roads in Madeira can be challenging, with narrow, winding paths and steep inclines. If you’re not comfortable with such driving conditions, it’s safer to use public transport or taxis.
  5. Be Cautious When Walking at Night: While Madeira is generally safe, it’s wise to avoid walking alone late at night, especially in less populated areas. Stick to well-lit, busy streets and always be aware of your surroundings.
  6. Ensure You Have EU Roaming: Staying connected is important for safety, especially if you’re hiking on the island. Make sure your phone has EU roaming so you can easily access maps, call for assistance, or contact emergency services if needed.

So, is Madeira safe?

Absolutely! Madeira is one of the safest destinations in Europe.

If you want to do some more research, check out my Madeira YouTube playlist.