Madeira weather - the climate of Funchal
Pleasant year-round weather is one of the greatest factors to play into Madeira’s success as a tourist destination.
The Portuguese archipelago located in the Atlantic, only around 600 miles away from Lisbon (1.5 h flight) is visited by over a million tourists a year.
The archipelago is composed of two major islands: Madeira and Porto Santo, as well as of several inhabited islets.
The climate of Madeira is in the area of influence of the North-Atlantic Anticyclone, also known as Azores High a block of high atmospheric pressure causes the air to circulate clock-wise. The Azores High is responsible for mild and warm year-round weather conditions atypical to this longitude.
In the winter time, the temperatures in Madeira remain at steady 16°C while the summers are comfortably warm, with only occasional heat waves. With a good amount of sunshine hours per day and abundant precipitation, Madeira boasts beautiful, tropical-like vegetation; lush greenery of the forests and colourful, exotic flowers are the trademark of the island.
Please note that weather conditions in Madeira may vary considerably depending on the location. The northern part of the island is usually slightly cooler, wetter and greener. The southern part, where the capital, Funchal is located, benefits from a better sun exposure, is warmer and drier.
Find out, below, what weather conditions to expect in Madeira (Funchal) throughout the year.
Given the mild character of Madeira climate, no distinct transition between winter and spring is felt on the island.
After a fairly warm winter, the temperatures increase only a little bit – to an average of 16 and 17°C in March and April. The arrival of spring is announce by the longer hours of sunshine and by the flowers blooming all across the island rather than by increasing temperatures. Usually only by the end of May the temperatures in Madeira reach 20°C.
One of the greatest attractions of Madeira, the Madeira Flower Festival takes place in spring (usually after Easter).
The probability of rain decreases significantly from mid-March and in May there are, on average, only 3 rainy days.
The sea is still fairly cold in March, at around 17°C and doesn’t warm up until late May.
Summer in Madeira
Funchal summers are warm, yet you are unlikely to experience oppressive heat, common in continental Portugal.
Daytime temperatures usually oscillate around 23-25 degrees and nights remain fairly warm as well. Occasionally, the island suffers from periods of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching even 40°C. The heat is usually responsible for wildfires which Madeira suffered a few in the last decade.
Rain is practically inexistent in Funchal in July and through most of August and the sea warms up to 22-23°C. There are 8 to 9 sunshine hours in Madeira during July and August.
Summer is a great time to relax by the beach in Madeira. Keep in mind, though that Madeira beaches are pebbly and dark-sanded. For soft, white sand beaches, travel to the nearby Porto Santo.
Autumn holiday in Madeira
In September the weather is still ‘summery’ in Madeira. Only in October a decrease in temperatures is felt, although during the day they often round 20°C. With the still rather warm sea (19-20°C), October is a great time for an off-season / autumn holiday in Madeira.
The only factor to interfere with your Madeira break, though, may be rain, as the chance of precipitation increases considerably starting from mid-October.
When venturing out of Funchal, be prepared that the weather may change drastically in Madeira even in the span of one day. This is felt especially in the highest parts of the islands.
The locals often say that in Madeira you can experience 4 seasons in one day and they are not far from the truth. When hiking or venturing out on longer trips in Madeira, always bring a an additional jacket with you.
Madeira in winter
Rain is the strongest argument against visiting Madeira in the winter. Not strong enough, though to discourage thousands of tourists who still choose this Portuguese island over many other destinations in this part of the world, amongst them, the much warmer Canary Islands.
There are on average 8 to 9 rainy days per month in Funchal between November and February. In the higher parts of the island, rain may be even more frequent. Snow cover is frequent on Pico Ruivo, Pico das Torres e Pico de Areeiro the island’s highest peaks.
The time around Christmas and the New Year’s is high season for tourist on Madeira due to the exuberant festive decorations and especially, the over-the-top New Year’s firework display.
Read also: What to see in Funchal, Madeira.