The roads of Madeira

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Madeira has an expressway road network that goes almost all the way around the island. These expressways almost all have road tunnels due to Madeira's mountainous terrain. (There are just over a hundred tunnels in Madeira!) These lanes are numbered VE1 to VE7 (Expressway) and also the VR1 (Fastway) around Funchal. They allow you to get around the island quickly by car and have the particularity of being free.

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There is of course a secondary network of regional roads (Estrada Regionale) which allow you to get around the island. However, these roads are much more winding as they go through the mountainous interior of Madeira Island.

VR1: South East Expressway

The VR1 is Madeira's main axis, in a way the only motorway. It allows you to get to and from the capital very quickly. The VR1 covers the whole south-eastern area of the island: from Ribeira Brava to Canical, passing of course through Funchal. There are some tunnels, but also some very long bridges.

The main towns served by the VR1:

    Ribeira Brava
    Camara de Lobos
    Santa Cruz

VE1: North-East Expressway

VE1 covers the north-eastern part of the island. It runs from Machico to Santana. It is cut off (probably because of the relief) and resumes from Boa Ventura to São Vicente.

VE2: Northwestern Expressway

VE2 is the route that links São Vicente to Porto Moniz. It provides access to the entire northwestern part of the island, including Seixal and Ribeira de Janela.

VE3: Southwestern Expressway

The VE3 provides access to the south-western part of the island: from Ribeira Brava to the tip of Ponta do Pargo. It serves the villages of Ponta do Sol and Calheta, among others.

VE4: South-North Expressway

The only expressway that does not run along the coast, VE4 takes you across the middle of the island, from south to north, linking the villages of Ribeira Brava and Sao Vicente.

VE5, VE6 and VE7

Shorter expressways that allow you to take tunnels and get to Curral das Freitas, Camacha, and finally VE7 which links Jardim do Mar to Paul do Mar

The secondary network:

The roads numbered E.R.101 to E.R. 220 are numerous and allow you to access various points on the island with your vehicle. These roads are more winding and often have a gradient. This is something to consider when choosing a rental car. A small engine is not necessarily ideal in Madeira's picos!

Touring the island by car

It takes between 3 and 3.5 hours by car to drive around the island using the expressways. This represents a total distance of around 160 km. The main stages pass close to the following towns: Funchal, Caniço, Santa Crus, Porto Da Cruz, Faial, Santana, Sao Jorge, Sao Vicente, Seixal, Porto Moniz, Ponta do Pargo, Paul do Mar, Calheta, Ponta do Sol, Ribeira Brava, Camara de Lobos, Funchal.

Carte interactive de The roads of Madeira

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) :

+ How are the roads in Madeira?

The expressways and highways are very smooth and relatively flat. They do, however, pass through numerous tunnels. The secondary network, E.R. 101 to 202, are much more winding as they generally climb into the Madeiran mountains. Some of them are particularly steep.

+ What are the King's roads? (Camino Real)

The Camino Real are the very first roads that were built in Madeira, as early as the 16th century. There are 5 of them, the biggest one goes all around the island. Today, the road network has largely evolved with many tunnels. The paths still exist and have sometimes become hiking trails, quite demanding.

+ Do you have to pay for roads in Madeira?

No, Madeira's roads and many tunnels are completely free.

+ Are there any motorways in Madeira?

No, there is not motorways in Madeira. There are, however, expressways, which generally run along the coast. These are called VR1, and cover the south-east coast from Ribeira Brava to Caniçal, the eastern tip of the island. There are other expressways named VE1 to VE7 which cover the island's road network, with the particularity of taking you through long tunnels.


Rousseau Gérard, le 18-10-2022

Ayant connu Madère en 1995 et 1999, je suis très satisfait d'avoir eu accès à votre site et voir toutes les réalisations routières qui ont été réalisées (et ce qui n'est pas routier d'ailleurs sur le net !). Je visiterai à nouveau en avril 2023 pendant 11 ou 12 jours pour mon plus grand plaisir. Le dépaysement avec la vie continentale sera moindre sans doute qu'au siècle dernier, mais Madère reste Madère et c'est le principal.

Bonjour et merci pour votre commentaire, effectivement j'imagine que l'île a beaucoup changé depuis les années 2000. Madère est d'ailleurs devenu une destination très (trop ?) touristique, notamment depuis 2 ans avec les vols low coast. Il y a beaucoup plus de touristes, ce qui fait du bien à l'économie certes, mais cela rend l'île moins... intîme... dira-t-on...
bon voyage à vous en 2023 !

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