Planning a Trip
The quickest and most convenient way to reach Madeira from Lisbon is on a 90-minute TAP flight. The daily flights (9-13, depending on the season) stop at the Madeira airport then go on to Porto Santo.
Getting to Madeira's capital, Funchal, is easier and cheaper than you might think, especially if you fly aboard any TAP plane into Lisbon from anywhere outside of Portugal and then connect with a TAP commuter flight from Lisbon to Funchal. If you fly business class into Lisbon from virtually anywhere within TAP's overseas network (including flights to Portugal that originate in both the New York area and London), no additional funds are charged for passengers continuing on to Madeira. If you're flying coach class, however, with even the cheapest of APEX deals, the supplement you'll pay for the final round-trip leg into Funchal will rarely exceed $100 and, in many cases, might not even exceed $50. If you're going to Madeira, it is wise to book all legs of your trip to Portugal as part of the same ticketing process.
In addition, TAP has five direct flights daily, and British Airways flies nonstop (Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat) from London to Funchal. Trip time is 4 hours.
In Madeira, planes arrive at Aeroporto de Madeira (tel. 29/152-07-00), east of Funchal, at Santa Cruz. Taxis into Funchal's center can take from 15 to 20 minutes and cost 25€ ($33) for a typical fare. However, the taxis that wait at the airport will take airline passengers anywhere they want to go on the island. If you're going to Funchal or from Funchal back to the airport, you can also take a bus, run by the Sociedad de Automobiles de Madeira (tel. 29/120-11-50), which can take from 40 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the number of stops) but costs only 5€ ($6.50) one-way. These buses run as needed and are timed to meet incoming and outgoing flights. They stop at three or four places in the town center as the need arises because there is no central bus station.
An English-speaking staff runs the desk at the Madeira Tourist Office, Av. Arriaga 16 (tel. 29/121-19-02; www.madeiratourism.org), in Funchal. It's open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm. The office distributes maps of the island, and the staff will make suggestions about the best ways to explore the beautiful landscape. They also have information about ferry connections to the neighboring island of Porto Santo.
TAP has an office in Funchal at Av. das Comunidades Madeirenses 8-10 (tel. 70/720-57-00 or 29/123-92-48). It's open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm.