Madeira has cast off its reputation for being quiet and gentile, and has transformed into an island packed with post-sunshine fun. As it continues to attract a younger crowd, nightlife in Madeira has upped its game, offering outstanding nightclubs, atmospheric bars, and exciting music venues. However, don’t think of this as the Portuguese answer to Ibiza; there’s something for everyone, even if you’re not into clubbing.
For those who like their Madeira nightlife a little more laid-back, there are rustic restaurants situated in picture-perfect surroundings, serving sumptuous and leisurely dinners. Whether you want to kick your heels up to the latest tunes or enjoy a quiet drink under the stars, you’ll find the Madeira nightlife that suits your tastes.
If you’re looking for the best Madeira nightclubs, you’ll want to head for the island’s capital, Funchal. It’s home to one of the oldest Madeira nightclubs, and still one of the most popular, Vespas. This is where you’ll find the die-hard dance crowd. The club is housed in an expansive warehouse, close to the harbour. If you want big-name DJs and cheap drinks, be sure to go on a weekend. During the week, the club plays current sounds and things don’t get started until midnight.
Vespas has a serious rival in the O Molhe nightclub. Also situated close to the docks, O Molhe has the added bonus of being set in a 17th century fortress, built on top of an outcrop. Like Vespas, it doesn’t get going until around midnight and the party takes place both inside and along the battlements. For those who need to give their feet a break, there are secluded lounges in which you can enjoy a drink and a much-needed sit-down.
Bars in Madeira
While most towns will have a bar or two in which to enjoy a drink, Funchal is home to the cream of the crop. Surprisingly, it’s the Old Town that’s home to some of the best new haunts, such as the 23 Vintage Bar. The perfect spot to indulge in a pre-club cocktail, it attracts both visitors and locals, who come for the retro tunes and the outdoor terrace.
For something with a touch of elegance, hunt out the Bar do Museo. Primarily a wine bar, it’s the place to enjoy a little glass of something fruity while listening to live music from local musicians.
Alternatively, the Café de Teatro is where you’ll find the arty crowd hanging out, sipping on perfectly-mixed cocktails and deep in animated conversation at the tables outside. With a backdrop of small, cobbled streets, it’s totally stylish, very ‘avant-garde’, and a great place to go people-watching.
However, if bars and clubs aren’t what you want from your nightlife in Madeira, you’ll find some superb restaurants in which to spend an evening or two. For dining with a superb view, head for Xopana. Set atop the main hill that overlooks the city, you can enjoy modern Portuguese cuisine, in sleek surroundings.
Funchal doesn’t have the monopoly on Madeira nightlife. If you like your restaurants rustic and romantic, make your way to Porto Santo, where you’ll find Pé na Água. Set on just a short beach, you can dine under the stars, on some of the freshest and finest seafood on the island.