When you arrive in Madeira, take a good look around. The pleasant colours soothe the senses with different shades of green set against an azure sea – the hallmark of the subtropics.
Most people who live here find that Madeira has just about the most perfect climate in the world — it only rains sometimes and it is never too hot.
Due to its mountainous topography, the island is full of diverse microclimates. The difference in altitude makes it possible in winter to find snow on the top of the mountains, as in Pico do Areeiro, but sunny weather and 23 ºC at sea level or below the ‘banana line’. The bay of Funchal, protected by the highest peaks, enjoys the best sunshine. That’s why most of the popular hotels are located here, along the southern coastline. Further down the southwest coast, at Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Sol, Madalena do Mar, Calheta, Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar, backed by the lower hills of Paul da Serra, the sun shines brighter during the summer months, and it’s sunny and pleasant throughout the winter. Some towns along this coast are very popular among international surfers.
Madeira has lots of sun and a fair bit of rain, as you can see in our annual weather charts. To see the archipelago’s satellite image, click here.
Madeira Annual Climate
Autumn: September, October, November
Autumn arrives gently in September, and the weather is still warm and sunny in October and November, although there is a chance of rain, with about seven rainy days, an average that is quite low for this time of year when compared to other places. Temperatures average between 23 ºC and 17 ºC, which is actually better than the English summer. So this is still a great time to come to Madeira for those who prefer a quieter experience.
Winter: December, January, February
It’s a bit hard to actually talk about winter in Madeira, as in Madeira it’s always summer. During these months average temperatures only drop by approximately 4 °C. So, during the day in Funchal it’s around 20 ºC and at night it’s usually above 14 ºC. Thus, this temperature range is particularly appealing to northern European tourists, who seek Madeira as a winter sun destination. In terms of rain, the average continues to be some rain on seven days per month in December and January, with a slight improvement to six days in February. Keep in mind that Madeira grows bananas during the winter.
Spring: March, April, May
With the arrival of spring, days get longer, rainfall tends to be lower and temperatures start increasing in April and May. By this time, the whole island is in bloom, attracting more and more tourists, eager to discover the great outdoors in this sunny piece of paradise.
Summer: June, July, August
Thanks to its great weather, this island is particularly popular among tourists during the summer months. Temperatures average at a maximum of 24 °C and a minimum of 17 °C, so the nights are really pleasant and it’s comfortably warm during the day (although temperatures can get up to around 33 °C when the east wind coming from the Sahara desert blows for a few days). During these months it rains very little. In fact, in July and August it might not even rain at all, except high in the mountains, and we get some rain only by the end of September.
The prevailing wind is the northeasterly trade wind that gathers off the Portuguese coast and runs down to the Cape Verde Islands. It brings moisture and large sea swells to the north coast, and often, particularly in the morning, adversely affects the weather on the eastern end of the island, between Caniço and Caniçal. However, when westerly winds are blowing, these areas can be surprisingly dry and sunny, while the southern and western coasts can be cloudy.