Serving two million passengers annually, Madeira’s quirky airport sits just to the northeast of Funchal at Santa Cruz. It is single terminal facility that is noted for its raised runway, part of which sits over the ocean on a complex of pillars. Flights are mainly regional (within Europe), so North American travelers will need to connect in Paris, London, or Amsterdam. The best options are typically offered on flights to and from the UK.
Several UK based airlines serve Madeira, including EasyJet, Jet2, Monarch, and Thomas Cook Airlines through London (Heathrow, Gatwick, and Luton airports), Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and Glasgow. Flying time from London is 3 hours, 30 minutes. Portugal’s TAP is the main local carrier, with most flights coming in from Porto and Lisbon, as well as from London and Madrid.
Much of the terminal building is underground. It is modern and has dozens of check-in desks, although the facility does not have air-bridges, meaning passengers are bussed or need to walk to their planes. Facilities include ATMs, currency exchange, restaurants, snack bars, duty-free shopping, and Wi-Fi in many areas. A tourist information desk can be found on Level 0.
Taxis are readily available to Funchal, Santa Cruz, and other areas around Madeira, taking about 20 minutes to reach the capital. Fares are high from the airport, but reasonable within Funchal itself and Madeira Airport Transfers (+351-925-145-769) operates all hours. The S.A.M. bus (Sociedad de Automobiles de Madeira) is cheaper, but takes a good 45 minutes, stopping several times. There is also the more expensive Aerobus, which stops at the big hotels en route, as well as Avenue Infante.
Funchal is 12 miles to the southwest of Madeira International Airport, about a 20-minute drive along highway VR1. The relatively redesigned coastal route is a four-lane freeway that also serves Machico (north) and runs through Santa Cruz en route to Funchal. If staying in Porto Moniz, expect a one-hour drive via Funchal and São Vicente, cutting across the mountains.