Winter weather in Madeira
It is rather easy to pack for your holidays in Madeira during the summer season. Deciding on what to pack during the winter and off-season is a bit more tricky… As this winter has shown, the weather in Madeira cannot be predicted and the differences can be really high.
Our weather report – Weather in Madeira in December/January
To show how changeable the weather in Madeira can be, and how it can vary between different regions, I prepared this weather report. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, to register the weather I used a free app – Weathershot.
We started off in Calheta, on the 18th of December, a day after landing. It was sunny, 21-22 degrees C and there were many people on the beach, some of them swimming in the ocean. We also used that chance to sunbathe on the top deck of Savoy Saccharum hotel.
The weather stayed like that until the beauuuuutiful golden sunset, but the next day everything changed.
I am not sure why the app is smiling to us, because the day was cloudy, foggy and rainy…
We escaped from Calheta to Funchal, where the weather was slightly better. It was still cloudy and humid, but definitely not cold, and rather pleasant.
During the next two nights, we were staying at Eira do Serrado Hotel. This hotel is very interestingly located- right on top of the mountain with a direct and spectacular view of the famous Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras). Most tourists remember this place as one of the most popular stops during probably all daily tours, near the observation deck Miradouro to Curral das Freiras.
When we entered the hotel, I run straight to the window to see the fantastic view of the valley.. but it turned out that I had to be patient. The entire valley was covered with clouds. You could not see anything except (occasionally) small parts of one the peaks, and a famous green deck of Eira do Serrado Hotel where weddings are being organized.
Here, for example, you are able to see how unreliable weather forecasts are in Madeira if they do not receive the data from the right weather station and present a general forecast for Madeira Island.
Room view on the clouds is fantastic, but I still could not wait to see the Valley of the Nuns. I was mentally prepared that I would probably see it the next day, as the weather was predicted to be much better.
We went to the hotel restaurant for dinner, and somewhere halfway, I looks to my right and… Imagine my surprise when I realized that what I thought were Christmas lights hanging on the deck, turned out to be actually street lights of the village in the Valley of the Nuns, seen from a distance…
The sky cleared out at night, and for the first time we were able to see the beautiful Valley of the Nuns with our own eyes …
The weather was perfect. The app showed only 16 degrees C, but we felt that it was much warmer, at least 20 degrees in the sun. The sun felt pretty strong, but indeed, there was a big difference between the temperature in the sun and in the shade.
At night, after returning to the hotel at the top of the mountain, the temperature dropped again to around 10 degrees.
The next day we returned to Funchal and to good temperatures, even in the late evening.
The application indicated 17 – 22 degrees, but again, I had the impression that it was much warmer.
December 23 was the day we sunbathed the longest during our trip. This is the weather I wished for our entire stay in Madeira.
The weather during the Market Night (December 23) was good, but Christmas Eve was cold, rainy and windy…
It was raining even in Funchal it kept raining until the first day of Christmas. It was windy and stormy. The strong waves caused a lot of damage and led to a fatal accident- a tourist fell into the ocean while taking pictures of the waves. A bystander went to his rescue but ended up losing his life…
I am not able to explain the middle picture, as for sure it was not a temporary situation:
The Old Town in Funchal has never looked so deserted, gray and sad as on the first day of Christmas…
On the second day of Christmas, on the other hand, it was warm and sunny from the early morning hours; from Funchal to Canico, which we passed by on the way to Levada do Furado (hiking route: Ribeiro Frio to Portela – PR10)
In the Laurel forest (Laurisilva of Madeira) the weather app was not able to receive the right data. It frequently showed the generic prediction for Madeira Island, from a weather station located elsewhere. When it received the measurements from Santana it showed more accurate weather conditions: approx 16 degrees C and clouds.
It was quite cold, cloudy, humid and foggy. When walking on along the levadas in the Laurisilva forests (For those who do not know – levadas are open canals typical for Madeira, developed from the early 16th century, to distribute water from the wet regions on the north of the island to the drier regions on the island) you can often expect such weather conditions.
The walk was very pleasant, it did not rain and it was so beautifully quiet…. It is not recommended for tourists to do levada walks during or after rain, when the trail is slippery.
After leaving the Laurisilva forest in the town of Portela and returning to Funchal, it turned out that we found the city exactly as we left it in the morning – the city was sunny and warm and people wore short sleeves.
This great weather held for a couple of days… We loved it.
Two days later, we took a small tour to the western parts of the island. We drove along the south coast in an open convertible – the weather in Ribeira Brava, Madalena do Mar, Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar was simply great. The perceived temperature seemed again to be higher than what the app indicated.
We enjoyed the sun and watched the beautiful sunset at the surfers’ bar in Paul do Mar.
On December 29th, we were planning to visit Queimadas, Faial and the stunning Balcões observation deck in the north of Madeira, but the weather there was not best. Live weather webcams in these areas showed rain and unfavourable conditions.
We decided change our plan from north-east to north-west, all in all, the weather there was slightly better. That day, opening the roof of a convertible would be more of a torture than pleasure. The sky was gray and we were all wearing sweaters or jackets.
The weather in the north of the island is usually worse than in southern Madeira and I can not disagree. These few times, when I visited this part of the island out of season, I never saw it sunny…
It is probably just bad luck, but I can not wait to see the beautiful Seixal beach on a sunny day, in all its beauty and splendour…
On the way back to Funchal we passed through the Paul de Serra plateau. This is where we found, next to the divine silence, dense fog and the lowest daily temperatures of our stay in Madeira.
On Sunday, December 30, we stayed in Funchal, but we went to the higher parts of the city – San Martinho area.
Northern areas of Funchal are usually slightly colder than the areas located directly on the southern coast.
Unfortunately, New Year’s Eve 2018/2019, as well as Christmas Eve 2018, were days with the worst weather…
The mood was not as good as last time. Many tourists came to Madeira especially for the fireworks show, but the weather was so bad, that everyone who could, stayed indoors. It rained heavily and it was windy.
In the late afternoon, the boats started arriving in Funchal and queuing up for the show, but the weather wasn’t improving…
It kept on raining. Our only hope was the weather forecast indicating a small “window”, exactly around midnight…
And as predicted, the rain stopped around midnight, but not for long! Probably a lot of cameras got wet that night… Mine too, unfortunately. I won’t be able to share any beautiful fireworks pictures this year.
The weather failed Madeira a bit this Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The New Year celebrations were not as spectacular as last time, at least in my humble opinion. I believe, however, that the next years the weather will be great again and I will continue coming back to Madeira in this beautiful period.
The days between the important holidays were mostly warm and sunny. When we are looking through our photos we see clearly that most days were nice, unfortunately, these most important ones somehow did not have that much luck.
Year 2019 welcomed us with clouds. Maybe thanks to that, it was easier for us to leave the island…
Despite that, we came back home fulfilled, satisfied and with a light tan. We are already planning another holiday in Madeira, this time in the summer season.
Most of the photos represent the weather conditions accurately. The app was not fully accurate when the weather changed suddenly, or when it received data from the wrong weather station. You can not blame the app for receiving the right data in the middle of the Laurisilva forest or other remote locations. In larger cities, the app worked (with some small exceptions) really well.
I hope that the post was useful.
Many thanks to #weathershot and #madeiraweather for making this post possible!
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