Practicalities of Studying in Madeira

Housing, getting visa, opening a bank account, health insurance, etc.


Where is Funchal?

Funchal is the capital of the Madeira archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal. A popular and easily accessible tourist destination, Madeira offers a compelling combination of breath-taking scenery, great food, a relaxed lifestyle and rich local colour.

Often you will hear about Funchal or Madeira being used interchangeably, but keep in mind: Funchal is the city, Madeira is the island.

Read the New York Times article on Madeira (2010/07/11) – a cool place to go!


Travel – How to get here

Madeira is one of Europe’s most popular island holiday destinations and English is widely spoken. It is well connected to the continent with regular short hop flights to Lisbon International Airport (11 per day), and less frequent direct connections to other major cities in Portugal and to London, Amsterdam, Berlin and other European cities. It has a modern airport 25 kilometers from the center of Funchal, the capital city, and possesses a safe and modern network of highways and tunnels which facilitate rapid travel by car.

January/February is low season for flights to Madeira. TAP is the national carrier; Easyjet flies direct from the UK and Lisbon. Typical costs and trip durations for economy class travel to Madeira (FNC) are in the ranges indicated below:
From Portugal: 50-200 Euro, 1-2 hours
From Europe: 60-500 Euro, 2-7 hours
From the Americas and Asia: 600-1300 Euro, 8-20 hours

How to get to Funchal

Getting to Funchal (airport code FNC) is easy. It is well served by both national and international flights. The airport and transportation infrastructure are modern and efficient with approximately 100 flights arriving daily.

Portuguese national carrier is TAP, a Star Alliance member partnering with Air Canada, Asiana Airlines, Continental, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, United Airways and US Airways, among many others. Funchal also enjoys direct connections to much of Europe and beyond through carriers such as AirBerlin (Germany), Easyjet (UK), Transavia (France) and SATA (Ireland, Denmark, Sweden).


Visa information

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal, which is a member of the “Schengen Agreement countries.” At this time, a tourist visa is not required for citizens of EU countries, USA, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. Citizens from other countries may require a tourist visa. If you have any doubt whether you need a visa to visit Portugal, please check for yourself.

If you are coming to Portugal for studying or working you will need to get a visa before entering the country (even though that you don't need it to visit Europe).

More information on how to get the visa is available here (General information about Schengen visas and Instructions on how to get a visa).


Getting around

Getting To and From the Airport

  • Frequent public transport (bus) from airport to hotel district: 3 Euro
  • Shuttle bus airport – hotel district (approx every hour): 5 Euro (ask the driver to get off at your hotel and he will direct you to the closest stop)
  • Taxi (airport-hotel): 40 Euro
  • Car rental from the airport (approx): 35 Euro / Day

Getting around the City

There are a few options for public transportation on the island of Madeira, which include taxis and buses.

Taxis are available in the major cities and tourist areas throughout Madeira. They can be recognized by their blue stripes and yellow color. Catching a taxi is generally easy. There are plenty driving around the busy streets, which will stop when signaled by pedestrians. Catching a taxi at the airport is never a problem, and there are many taxi ranks (stands) around the city. Hotels and Restaurants will be happy to arrange for a pickup. Fares in the city are set by the government, and based on either destinations, or distance meters. Fares outside of the city are generally based by the kilometer. Any time that the meter is not turned on, make sure to agree on a price before beginning a journey. Don’t be afraid to bargain.

  • Typical price for a taxi around central Funchal: 3-10 Euro

(Image source: Google Image)


Buses on the island are reliable and affordable. Their downfall is that certain routes are only traveled once a day. There are three main companies that offer services around the island, and all three make stops in Funchal (the island’s capital and major city). Current, detailed information about routes , fares and timetables can be obtained at most hotels, and in all bus stations.


View Funchal and Madeira bus schedules and routes from Horarios do Funchal, the municipal bus company.

Information source: Tripadvisor

(Image source: Flickr)


Cool Places in Madeira

Madeira’s selection of interesting things to see is a varied one, providing something for all tastes. Madeira Island is where you’ll find the bulk of the sights of interest, including the ancient churches of Igreja de Sao Joao Evangelista and Se Cathedral as well as the fascinating Sao Vicente Caves. A ride on the island’s cable car is a must if you want great views and a better idea of the island’s geographical layout.


Funchal Cable Car (visit)

The views that a ride on this cable car offers along its journey from Parque Almirante Reis to Monte Palace Tropical Garden is outstanding. The ride takes around 15 minutes and en route presents visitors with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Roughly four passengers can fit in one car, meaning families can ride together above the whitewashed houses below.


Church of St John the Evangelist (Igreja de Sao Joao Evangelista – visit)

The foundation stone of this splendid structure was laid in 1647 but it was some 23 years before its completion. Built in a style typical of the Jesuit order, to which it belongs, the church features a high nave, either side of which sit identical chapels illustrating a style that first emerged in the country during the 16th century. Inside the church are magnificent gold altarpieces that date from between 1647 and 1660, and an equally impressive carved high altar.


Monte Palace Tropical Garden (Jardim do Monte Palace – visit)

The gardens of the former Monte Palace Hotel are a popular attraction that feature some of the finest examples of nature under creative human influences. The indigenous plant life of Madeira Island is represented, while exotic plants on display include specimens from Scotland, Belgium and South Africa, among other countries. The collection of Japanese koi carp is also well worth seeing.
Tel: (+351) 291 74 26 50


Santa Maria (visit)

The capital’s oldest street dates to the 1400s and although 5,000 years of progress have inevitably made their mark, it still retains an old-fashioned ambience and a number of classic buildings along either side of the traditional cobblestone thoroughfare. A local boat tour based off of the ship Columbus sailed to America can take you on a beautiful relaxing excursion. After which you can  take a walk along Avenida do Mar and you’ll come across the local fish market, the Barreirinha Bathing Complex and the Chapel of Corp Santo, plus an art museum and a selection of restaurants.



Sao Vicente Caves (visit)

Formed from volcanic activity some 400,000 years ago, the Sao Vicente Caves are a fascinating attraction that can be visited on a daytrip from Funchal or anywhere on Madeira Island. The caves, which were borne out of massive lava emissions, can be walked through independently or on a half-hour long tour, with some interesting geological formations presenting themselves along the way. There are also various exhibits offering background on the history of the caves.
Tel: (+351) 291 842 404


Se Cathedral (visit)

Located in Funchal, the Se Cathedral occupies a site that first saw a church erected sometime in or near the 1400s and saw enlargements in both 1438 and 1450. Construction on the current structure started in 1485 but it wasn’t until 1517 that the church was finally consecrated. The cathedral incorporates a mix of influences, including those of Gothic, Portuguese late-Gothic and Moorish origin.


You can sign up for tours!

Intertours offers many touristic adventures (“Excursões” such as island bus tour, Porto Santo, or Levada Walks) for conference participants who are staying before or after the conference – Availability would depend on the weather and people from Intertours would be on site at the conference to provide tour details and options.

Download the brochure
Contact Intertours via email
Visit Intertours website
Tel: (+351) 291 208 900
Fax: (+351) 291 225 020

Information source:
For more information about cool places in Madeira, visit