Funchal is the capital of the Madeira Islands and is located on the south coast of the archipelago’s main island Madeira.
Funchal’s climate consists of hot dry summers and very mild winters, with consistently warm temperatures throughout the year. Generally the majority of rain falls between October and March, while the rest of the year is very dry.
The surrounding seas are warm thanks to the ocean currents in the area. This helps dictate the climate and means an absence of extreme hot or cold temperatures and cooling winds visit the island to keep summer temperatures very pleasant. Humidity is usually comfortable in Funchal and stays quite stable year round at between 64% and 68%.
The prevailing winds in the region have a significant effect on Funchal’s weather. The main wind to affect the weather is the north east trade wind that comes down from the coast of Portugal. This helps to moderate summer temperatures but can also bring the rain in winter. Also you get hot winds that blow over from North Africa. When these prevail it’s the one time you can experience very hot weather in Funchal.
Being on the south coast, Funchal is one of the sunniest and driest place in Madeira. This is a summary of the weather in Funchal during the different seasons of the year:
Summer is the most popular time to visit Funchal thanks to the great temperatures and abundant sunshine. Days are characterised by sunshine, minimal rain, and crowds of visitors hitting the beach and exploring the numerous cultural attractions.
June to September is classed as the summer period, although temperatures are still warm in the months either side of this period. In summer the average daily highs are around the mid-20s with August and September usually providing the highest temperatures at around 25°C. Temperatures vary relatively little between night and day as lows rarely drop far below 20°C, though in June and July they can fall to 18°C and lower. Summer temperatures are generally very comfortable; cooling sea breezes usually ensure that the weather is never particularly scorching.
Sometimes, however, it can get very hot in Funchal and temperatures touching 40°C have been recorded. This happens when the ‘Leste’ wind blows across from North Africa bringing the desert heat and soaring equatorial temperatures with it. Although this wind only prevails a few times a year, it is well known for its ability to bring scorching temperatures in the mid-30s and above.
Rainfall is extremely low throughout summer. June averages just 5mm, while July and August often see no rainfall at all. Rainfall starts to increase a little from late September, which averages 25mm.
Because of its location close to North Africa, Funchal unusually sees less hours of sunshine in summer than in winter. From June through to September you can expect to experience around 5-7 hours of sunshine a day, though in July and August this can drop down to 3.
Temperatures remain warm throughout autumn, although rainfall is more likely. October and November see excellent daytime temperatures with highs averaging in the low to mid 20s. It doesn’t drop below the high mid-teens at night either. Sometimes temperatures can get up into the high 20s and with plenty of sunshine around it can be a great time to visit Funchal, especially as the crowds are fewer and the prices cheaper than the summer months. On average you can expect to experience temperatures of around 21°C during the autumn months in Funchal.
Rainfall does increase throughout autumn. October sees around 80mm and November is one of the wettest months of the year with close to 100mm of rain. Because of its Mediterranean climate, the rainfall tends to occur in short sharp showers instead of drizzling out over many days, so you actually only get about a week of rainy days per month in autumn. This leaves lots of sunny days to enjoy.
In autumn the daily hours of sunshine begins to increase from summer, and you can expect to experience between 6-7 hours of sunshine per day.
Storms can come in from the Atlantic in late autumn and, though not frequent, they can bring a couple of days of wet and windy weather.
Winter weather can be very good in Funchal thanks to its Mediterranean climate. Certainly it never gets cold and, with highs averaging nearly 20°C and lows in double figures, it is hard to describe this season as ‘winter’. Even the low average temperatures are mild, rarely dropping below 14°C throughout the season, meaning that al fresco dining is still a popular activity from December to February! On average you can expect temperatures to sit at around 18°C, which is extremely mild for this time of year in Europe.
There is a healthy 8-9 hours of average sunshine per day, rising to about 10 hours in January. The good weather makes Funchal a great place to escape the cold winters elsewhere in Europe.
Rainfall is quite high in early winter, averaging more than 80mm. Again, though, most of this falls in short bursts or over a couple of days in heavy storms so there is plenty of sunny weather. January is the wettest month of the year, with around 110m of rain falling throughout the month. This drops significantly in February to around 80mm – the average for the winter season.
Spring is another good time to visit, especially in late spring when the first summer weather arrives and when the city blooms into flower. The summer crowds haven’t yet arrived on the shores, meaning you can explore the cultural attractions in peace whilst soaking up some early summer sun.
Temperatures in early spring are warm; March and April see highs averaging 19°C and lows never really dipping below 13°C. In May daytime temperatures are regularly in the 20s and this marks the start of the long hot sunny summer days.
Early spring is still a little wet with around 60mm of rainfall in March and 80mm in April, but May signals the end of the rainy season with only around 20mm of rainfall expected throughout the month and an average of 6 hours of sunshine per day. There are around 8 and 7 hours of sunshine per day in March and April respectively.