Madeira, where spring never ends. Digital Nomad Guide
Madeira has not by accident earned the nickname “the island of eternal spring”. In the homeland of Cristiano Ronaldo, it is never too cold or too hot, with an average temperature of about 22 degrees C. We will take today a sneak-peek into Digital Nomads Village. While the fact that this island attracted remote workers is nothing new, it wasn’t until 2021 that the first official Digital Nomads Village opened. This initiative was founded by the Regional Government of Madeira, Startup Madeira with one goal: to create a unique community for digital nomads from around the world.
Madeira archipelago is almost 500 kilometers from the African coast, less than twice as much as Portugal, and by plane, we can get here from Lisbon in an hour and a half. Almost 260,000 inhabitants live here, of which almost half – in Funchal, the capital of the island. The archipelago includes Madeira with the surrounding islands, Porto Santo, and the Desert Islands, which, as the name suggests, are uninhabited to this day.
Soft colors soothe the senses, all possible shades of green and the blue of the sea are a sign that we are in a subtropical climate. Most residents of Madeira immodestly believe that it has the best climate in the world. It is said to be the land of eternal spring, where it is never too cold or too hot. The average annual temperature in Madeira is about 22 degrees C. Only in full summer, when the dry Saharan wind “Leste” comes from the east, temperatures can rise to as high as 33 degrees. Thanks to such microclimate on the island it is possible to grow grapevine, bananas, maracuja, and cherimoya similar in taste to sweet cream.
Digital Nomads Madeira Islands
In 2021, the Regional Government of Madeira created a tester project called Digital Nomads Madeira Islands. The concept is to provide living, coworking, and community for digital nomads on the island. It is not only a good infrastructure for work but also allows to meet interesting people from around the world and be part of an active community. The project immediately attracted the interest of the press and nomads from all over the world, resulting in almost 5,000 registrations from over 90 different countries.
As part of the digital nomad village setup, there is a free co-working space for anyone who comes to join the village in Ponta Do Sol, located in the John do Passos Cultural Centre in Ponta Do Sol. It is free for anyone who is part of the program to use. It can accommodate 30-40 people. Free Wi-Fi is 500 Mb (Download) and 300 Mb (Upload). It follows the rule, first came, first-served, but you need to enroll tho the program beforehand. Various cafes and restaurants in the village center also host digital nomads.
Ponta do Sol is situated in the south of the island. The area is made up of picturesque seafronts with pebble beaches and beautiful palm trees that line the promenades. This is a beach lover’s paradise as there are four popular beaches in the area for relaxing, which are Anjos, Lugar de Baixo, Madalena do Mar, and Ponta do Sol.
Just press the “book your spot!” button on the Digital Nomads Village webpage and register. Most of all, though, you’ll get access to the official Slack channel of the Nomad Village community in Madeira, where you can find roommates, travel partners, and useful tips from those who are already there. Also information about private nomad events, workshops, meetups, and tours.
The apartments that are on offer in the program are for to 2-4 nomads, so you can get a great deal if you can team up with other nomads. The three main locations of the DNV are Ponta Do Sol, Funchal and Santa Cruz.
Surf the wind and spy on whales 🙂
And now it is our time to surprise you! Madeira is still a relatively undercrowded surfing location, where you could have an amazing surfing experience. The best surf areas in Madeira are found on the main island’s western shore. The Madeira Surfing Association has published a pocket guide detailing the island’s top 11 wave peaks. There are five magnificent breaks on the southwestern side that prefer NE winds. One of them is Jardim do Mar. It’s Madeira’s most famous surf area, but only intermediate and advanced surfers can handle it. Among others are Ponta Pequena, Paul do Mar, and Faj da Ovelha. Ponta do Pargo, Achadas da Cruz and Porta do Tristão and Fajã da Areia.
For those who like a more stable environment, I would recommend sea kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding. This can be done on the budget by simply renting a boat for an hour (11 EUR-18 EUR). A 3-6 hour kayaking and snorkeling tour is more or less 35 EUR.
Madeira is an island famous for its marine life and one of the most popular attractions is whale watching. For about 30 EUR you can take a 2 to 3-hour dolphin and whale watching cruise.
The place will delight nature lovers and active recreation and hiking fans. Even Madeira’s capital, Funchal, resembles an amphitheater – residents have their homes perched on the slopes of the surrounding mountains.
Because Madeira is a volcanic island with many steep terrains, natural waterfalls, and stunning UNESCO forests, hiking is one of the most popular hobbies. Hiking in rough terrain can be challenging, and the weather can change quickly, so always be prepared or go with a guide if you are inexperienced. There are several hiking guide books available both before and on the island, so if you’re a seasoned hiker who prefers to go it alone, I’d recommend obtaining one before you go.
& Hike the Levadas
The levadas are a complex water system that transports water around the island for agricultural purposes. There are around 1,350 miles of levadas on the island, and they are very well constructed. The levadas network on Madeira Island provides with breathtaking treks, some on reasonably easy roads, some in tunnels, or walking several minutes on the edge. Given the popularity of these treks, an effort has been made to categorize the numerous trails, from easy for beginners to the most difficult, long, and even dangerous. Remember to get yourself the levadas trek guide, with descriptions and maps of various trails. And good shoes!
Submerge in green in botanical gardens
When in Funchal, you shall visit Jardim Botânico da Madeira There two ways to get there. Or hike up or take the cable car ride up (15 EUR) to the botanical gardens. The serene Jardim Botânico da Madeira contains a mix of tropical flora and water elements, it is a tropical paradise. On the way back you may try toboggan, the carreiros do montes that are pushed down the hill from the Botanical Gardens. The basket is pushed by two drivers who hang on the back. A ride down the hill costs around 35 EUR for two.
As befits an island, Madeira’s tables are dominated by fish and seafood. Madeira’s specialty is tuna served in countless ways, espada with fried bananas, as well as shrimp, mussels, octopus, crabs, and crawfish. The Madeira Wine Festival is held from late August to early September. Madeira wines are famous for being a little sweeter and darker than regular wines, especially red. Harvesting begins at the end of August and the country celebrates it at the carnival. It also coincides with European Folklore Week, making the atmosphere a unique experience.
A little of the history of an island
Legend has it that the first couple of lovers arrived on the island, right where the town of Machico is located today. They were, according to folk tales, the English traveler Robert Machim and his beloved and companion Ana d’Arfet. According to another version, in 1419, when the Portuguese fleet was beating more lands to the north of Africa, one of the captains Joâo Gonçales Zarco discovered the island by accident. However, it is just as likely that the island had been visited earlier by Arabs, Phoenicians, and Celts.
15 years before the discovery of America, Christopher Columbus came to Madeira with an expedition to get sugar, and the place captivated him so much that he settled in Porto Santo and married one of the governor’s daughters. It is said that it was here that Christopher Columbus first heard sea tales of new unknown lands, hidden somewhere at the edge of the seas.
Madeira itself owed its wealth to trade with the New World. The Spanish ruled here between 1580 and 1640 and English troops arrived during the Napoleonic Wars, but for the rest of the time the island was under Portuguese rule. It was so until 1976 when it was granted autonomy, parliament and government with headquarters in Funchal.
What is worth seeing?
Located on the south of the island, the capital of Madeira is practically a vertical city. Like a great amphitheater, residents have their homes on the slopes of the mountains that surround it. The city was founded in 1425 by the explorer of Madeira, Zarco the Sailor. The sugar cane trade was mainly behind the town’s wealth, and the newly enriched merchants were keen to invest in the arts, as evidenced by the collection of Flemish paintings and sacred art. This, however, also attracted buccaneers, which is why houses were built on the island facing the sea to be able to spot danger in time. Towering over the city is the Sé Cathedral in Portuguese Baroque style, known as Manueline. But the most charming part of the city is the Zona Velha, the port district, a testament to the city’s history, with narrow streets, wooden lookout points, full of restaurants and craft stores. The Fish Market and the Mercado do Lavradores, where you can buy fresh tropical fruits, complete the colorful old town of Funchal.
I also recommend visiting Curral das Freiras, Santa Cruz ( for families), Camara de Lobos, Machico, Caniçal (rural and hiking), Ponta do Sol (mentioned before, a place for beach lovers home to the first Digital Nomad Village)
Places for shorter stays are very easy to find on Bookings, Airbnb, searching the words “Alojamento Local”. For longers stay you can use one of those search services.
- NomadX website – the site allows you to find stays in different areas of the island, with a minimum stay of 14 days. (with promo code DigitalNomadsMadeira 25% discount)
- Digital Nomads Village https://digitalnomads.startupmadeira.eu/accommodation/
- Santa Cruz, Co-Living @ Santo da Serra – Quinta do Cabeço Alto
- Flatio (with promo code DigitalNomadsMadeira 25% discount)
- Local search: madeiradirect.com, gabinohome.com, and idealista.pt.
- Vila Galé ( 72 EUR /month, 24/7 access, an onsite gym, and hot-desking)
- Quinta Splendida. ( 116 EUR per month)
- Cowork Funchal It costs just 14.30 EUR for daily entry, monthly hot desking costs 166 EUR, and weekly costs just 51 EUR.
- Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva you have to spend a minimum of around 12 EUR in the café. This coworking space has breathtaking views of Funchal and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Copass a high-end office-type coworking space For hot-desking, it will cost around 16 EUR per day.
- Dinner for one 10-20EUR
- Beer 2,5 EUR
- Uma Bica (expresso) 2 EUR
- Water (1.5 liter bottle) 1 EUR
- One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 1.5 EUR
- Basic Utilities (Monthly) 110 EUR
- Internet 40 EUR
- Apartment (1 bedroom) from 700 EUR
The Enchanted Terraces in Porto Monitz
On the north-western tip of the island of Madeira, you can find Porto Monitz, a small town very famous for its natural pools formed in volcanic reefs. These volcanic pools are very picturesque and make for a great place to spend a few hours swimming in the deep blue waters. You can reach them through hiking paths, enjoying breathtaking views. Being a volcanic island means there are many cliffs and coves, which isn’t always ideal for beach days but excellent for adventures.
I hope I have convinced you to start your digital nomad experience at Madeira. Vá, divirta-se!