Madeira is an archipelago of small islands that belong to the country of Portugal and are found off the northwest coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. Only two of these are inhabited – Madeira and Porto Santo – but it is a place that is famed for being one of the best island destinations in the entire world for its natural beauty and range of experiences on offer.
The Portuguese archipelago is often compared to Hawaii, and whilst you won’t get the same tropical weather conditions during a visit in March, you can still enjoy unbeatable island scenery. It’s also known as ‘the island of the eternal spring’ because of the pleasant conditions all year round which are perfect for exploring or relaxing.
Reasons to Visit Madeira in March
- March is the off-season for tourism in Madeira, making prices for accommodation across the islands very low
- Although the weather isn’t as hot as it gets in the summer months, conditions are still very mild in Madeira in March and there is a fair amount of sunshine every day
- If you’re a fan of hiking then March is the best time of the year to come and explore the terrain of the islands, as the weather conditions are ideal for long walks
Weather in the Madeira in March
The weather in Madeira in March starts to shift towards a summer climate after the winter months, with temperatures rising and chances of rain decreasing as the month goes on. It’s not a tropical island destination by any means, but if you’re coming from a country further north then you’re bound to enjoy the heat you find when you arrive here.
The average high temperature in Madeira in March is 19°C, usually dropping down to around 14°C in the evenings. When the sun is out this will feel very warm and pleasant, but we advise you pack a light jacket to slip on if the temperature suddenly drops when it gets dark.
On average, the sea temperature in Madeira in March is 18°C every day, which will be quite bearable for swimmers who don’t mind the cold too much. Watersports are a popular pastime on the island, and if you’re wearing a wetsuit then you’ll find these ocean conditions very pleasant.
Clouds and Rainfall
The weather in Madeira in March shifts between clear skies and overcast conditions, so you can expect to get a fair bit of sun during your holiday. There is an average of 10 days of rain on the island over the month, but showers don’t tend to last very long and often totally blow over in a couple of hours.
There is an average of 6 hours of sunshine every day in Madeira, which should give you more than enough time to work on getting a tan if you’re spending time on the beach. The sun tends to rise between 7 am and 7.30 am and sets after 7 pm, with the days getting longer as the month goes on.
Where to Go in Madeira in March
Perched on the northwest tip of Madeira island is Porto Moniz, a town backed by the mountains and looking out over the sea. It’s a part of the island that is best visited if you have a car in which to get about, but once you arrive it makes an excellent base for day trips and hiking expeditions.
What attracts most tourists to Porto Moniz are the natural volcanic pools that fill with the sea as the tide comes in and create incredible spots for sheltered swimming. These pools can get very busy in the summer months but in March you won’t have to share with many other people and can enjoy the warm, crystal clear water in peace.
Vila Baleira is the only city on the island of Porto Santo and is the best place to stay if you’re coming to this part of Madeira. The streets along the beachfront are lined with palm trees and the houses themselves provide a very quaint backdrop to your visit, making it a great location for those who are looking for a slower-paced holiday.
The beach to the west of Vila Baleira is known as being one of the most beautiful in Portugal, with 9km of golden sand and beautiful views out to sea. There are several luxurious resorts near Vila Baleira that make the most out of the coastal scenery and will be much quieter and cheaper in March than later on in the year, so if you fancy treating yourself whilst on holiday then this is the perfect place.
What to Do in Madeira in March
Walk Through the Valley of the Nuns
If you drive from the city of Funchal for about 40 minutes, you’ll reach the part of Madeira known as Camara De Lobos or the Valley of the Nuns. It gets its name from the ancient nuns who used to hide from pirates within the valley and is an ideal part of the island for hiking, offering incredible views and a real mixture of terrain.
Visit a Viewpoint
There are numerous famous viewpoints across all of the islands of Madeira, each offering unbeatable panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding landscapes. Miradouro das Flores on Porto Santos is one of the most famous, but all of the sightseeing spots involve excellent hiking routes and a brilliant place to stop and take a selfie.
Drink a Poncha
The most famous drink in Madeira is the Poncha, made of honey, lemon and sugar cane alcohol. You should give this signature beverage a try at least once during your stay on the islands, although be warned – it’s incredibly strong!
Crowds & costs
Peak seasons for tourism in Madeira are over Christmas and the summer holidays, making March an excellent time to visit if you’re on a budget or don’t want to be sharing the island with crowds of other tourists. Most hotels and resorts will be offering low-season prices, and flights or boat trips to and from the island will be cheaper than in the summer and winter as well.
It’s worth noting that events like the Madeira Literary Festival or SUP Challenge may make some areas of the island busier than usual, so it’s worth checking in advance if you’re staying somewhere that might suddenly become overrun with visitors. In general though, Madeira is very quiet in March and offers an ideal escape from other busy tourist destinations.
March festivals & events
Cherimoya Fruit Festival
The Cherimoya Fruit Festival celebrates the most grown and cultivated fruit in Madeira; the cherimoya which is a round-shaped fruit that has dark green skin. Since 1990 this festival has taken place annually in the small village of Faial on the northern coast of Madeira, and there is local entertainment along with displays and samples of the fruit and the produce that is made with it.
Madeira Literary Festival
The annual Madeira Literary Festival is an important part of the island’s cultural calendar, taking place over a week in either March or April in the city of Funchal. The event has attracted many famous writers over the past few years and is made up of talks, readings, debates and signings in various locations.
Madeira SUP Challenge
In the last couple of years, Clube Naval Funchal has held the Madeira SUP Challenge in March for serious fans of stand up paddleboarding to take part in and complete. Over four days there are two main races and lots of workshops and other activities for those who enjoy this popular new watersport, leaving Funchal full of SUP enthusiasts during the week that the event takes place.
Frequently asked questions about Madeira in March
What clothes to take to Madeira in March?
The weather in Madeira in March is mild and breezy, so your best bet is to pack light layers of clothing that you can add or remove depending on weather conditions. If you’re planning on hiking during your visit you will have to bring suitable shoes and other equipment, and we recommend a warm outer layer for if the temperature drops in the evenings.
Is Madeira expensive?
Depending on where you stay, shop and eat in Madeira it can be an expensive place to visit on holiday. As with most places however, if you venture out from typically touristy parts of the island you will find much cheaper options for food and other items, and you can easily save money as well by choosing not to eat and drink out during your stay. Visiting the islands in march will also make your whole holiday cheaper as you’ll be paying off season prices for travel and accommodation during your stay.
March is not one of the most popular times of the year to visit Portugal, but we think that’s all the more reason for taking a trip to Madeira. If you’re a big fan of the outdoors then the archipelago has scenery to explore by the bucketful, and the weather conditions are ideal for exercising in the great outdoors and soaking up your surroundings.
If you’re a traveller who prefers relaxation over adventure, then March in Madeira offers you the chance to enjoy the islands’ resorts before they become crowded with summer holidaymakers. This is a destination that is seeing more visitors arriving every year, so visit in the offseason whilst it remains quiet and discover what it is that makes Madeira such a brilliant place.