Remember that distances are short on Madeira, but you should allow plenty of time to cover them because of the winding roads.
By Bus -- The cheapest, albeit slowest, way to get around Madeira is by bus. If you want to tour on your own, you can make excursions on local buses that go all over the island at a fraction of the cost the tour companies charge, but you will miss the commentary of an organized tour, of course. A typical fare in Funchal is 1.15€ to 2.10€; rides in the countryside can cost 4€. Sometimes only one bus a day runs to the most distant points. Some of the rides into the mountains can be quite bouncy and uncomfortable. There is no bus station in Funchal, but you can buy tickets for anywhere on the island at any of the newsstands in the center of Funchal. For information about schedules, call tel. 29/170-55-00.
Most buses depart from the large park at the eastern part of the Funchal waterfront bordering Avenida do Mar. Buses to Camacha or Caniço leave from a little square at the eastern sector of Rua da Alfândega, which runs parallel to Avenida do Mar near the marketplace.
By Taxi -- The going taxi rate is about 90€ per day, but three or four passengers can divide the cost. Always negotiate (many taxi drivers speak English) and agree on the rate in advance. Most taxis are Peugeots or Mercedes, so you'll ride in relative safety and comfort and won't have to worry about navigating the nightmarish roads. If you're in Funchal, you'll usually find a line of taxis across from the tourist office along Avenida Arriaga.
By Car -- Unless you're a skilled driver used to narrow roads, reckless drivers, and hairpin turns, you should not rent a car on the island. If you need to, however, most hotels can make arrangements for car rentals.
Avis (tel. 800/331-2112 in the U.S.; www.avis.com.pt) has offices at the Aeroporto da Madeira, in Santa Cruz (tel. 29/152-43-92), and in Funchal, at Largo António Nobre 164 (tel. 29/176-45-46). Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001 in the U.S.; www.hertz.com) has a kiosk at Aeroporto da Madeira, in Santa Cruz (tel. 29/152-30-40). Budget Rent-a-Car (tel. 800/472-3325 in the U.S.; www.budget.com) has an outlet at Estrada Monumental 239 (tel. 29/176-65-18). You can also rent vehicles at Europcar, Aeroporto da Madeira (tel. 29/152-46-33; www.europecar.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.