Portuguese is the official language in Madeira. It is worth picking up a few key phrases if you want to be polite, such as ‘please’, ‘thank you,’ etcetera, although English is widely spoken in tourist areas. People who have visited the Portuguese mainland may notice a thicker accent in Madeira.
Madeira uses the euro, which is available worldwide, including at Madeira International Airport and at the cruise terminal. ATMs accept foreign debit cards and credit cards for withdrawals in euros; most ATMs are located in Funchal. Travelers’ checks are old-hat nowadays, although they are still accepted in banks. Avoid changing money at your hotel, as rates tend to be much higher.
Madeira is on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), the same as UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). It observes daylight-saving in the summer, moving forward one hour in March and back one hour in October. This is the same as the UK, although, strictly speaking, GMT always stays the same as per the wintertime. Note that Madeira uses a 24-hour clock as opposed to am and pm.
The local power supply is 220V, 50Hz, with typically round, two-pin sockets. Bring a voltage converter if you need to power any devices as they may be tough to find in Madeira. The latest laptops and iPhones tend to accept both 110V and 220V.
The Madeira archipelago has the same country code as Portugal: +351, while the area code is 29 (for hard lines). There are pay phones in the main towns that will connect directly back home (prefix +1), and major mobile operators in the States allow roaming. There are free WiFi hotspots in main towns (look for the blue and white boards), as well as Wi-Fi in selected bars and cafés. Internet cafés are also dotted about.
Visitors heading out of the EU (in-transit) can purchase duty-free in Madeira. Limits for the US are: 200 cigarettes, 250g tobacco, two liters of wine, and a liter of spirits. If you are traveling to another EU country, you’ll need to buy from a shop beforehand and pack the merchandise into your luggage.
The Madeira Tourist Office can be found on Avenue Arriaga, Funchal: +351-29-121-1900, or at http://www.visitmadeira.pt/?s=menu&e=/info/useful-information/24-Madeira-Tourist-Offices&i=eng. Staff members speak English.
Consulates in Madeira
US Consulate: +351-29-123-5636 British Consulate: +351-29-121-2860 German Consulate: +351-29-122-0338 Dutch Consulate: +351-29-170-3803 Swedish Consulate: +351-29-123-3603 Norwegian Consulate: +351-29-174-1515 Danish Consulate: +351-29-176-1997 Finnish Consulate: +351-29-122-7111 Belgian Consulate: +351-29-121-0200
Emergency services: 112