Weather in Madeira in December travel guide

Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 25.04.2024

December in Madeira transitions into a mild winter but still retains the warmth that characterizes the island's unique climate. A cool but still soothing Atlantic breeze blows across the island, ensuring that the weather in Madeira in December remains pleasant and inviting. With comfortably mild temperatures, December is the perfect time to stroll the levadas, enjoy the rich variety of local cuisine, and relax on the beaches where the tranquillity of the island's eternal warmth reigns supreme.

Highlights Madeira weather in December

The weather in Madeira in December is a showcase of mild winter charm, characterized by pleasantly moderate temperatures. Unlike many other destinations that experience harsh winters, Madeira experiences a mild change of seasons where the weather stays warm enough to encourage outdoor activities and exploration. Some of the highlights of December weather in Madeira include the following:

  • Moderate temperatures: Temperatures on the island range from 15 to 20°C (59-68°F), which is ideal if you want a winter vacation without the typical winter chill.
  • Moderate rainfall: While December is wetter than the summer months, which contributes to lush and colorful landscapes, it also offers sunny days perfect for exploring the island's natural beauty.
  • Sunny days: Despite increased rainfall, there will be plenty of sunny days to enjoy outdoor activities such as sightseeing and hiking.
  • Soft Atlantic breeze: A light breeze from the Atlantic keeps the climate comfortable - neither too hot nor too cold - ideal for leisurely strolls through the island's unique levadas.
  • Warm sea temperature: The surrounding sea maintains a pleasant temperature of around 19-20°C (66-68°F), favorable for swimming and water sports even in December.

Keen to visit Madeira? Talk to our local Portugal experts to kick-start creating your dream trip. And to ensure you're well-equipped for your trip explore our list of tips for traveling in Portugal.

Portugal, Madeira, city of Funchal on landscape seen from Pico dos Barcelos

Portugal, Madeira, city of Funchal on landscape seen from Pico dos Barcelos

Is December a good time to visit Madeira?

The weather in Madeira in December is mild and temperate, making it an attractive destination for those looking to escape the cold winters. Compared to the dry summer months, the weather becomes cooler and wetter but remains pleasantly warm. This period sees a combination of sunny days and moderate rainfall, which can have a dual impact on travel plans.

On the one hand, sunny days allow for uninterrupted outdoor activities such as hiking, exploring lush gardens, and admiring the island's festive decorations. On the other hand, the increased likelihood of rain may require flexible scheduling, especially for outdoor adventures and transportation, as periodic downpours can alter schedules.

December is also characterized by an outbreak of high season in Madeira, primarily due to holiday festivities and New Year celebrations that attract visitors worldwide. The island is known for its spectacular fireworks display on New Year's Eve, which draws crowds of people seeking both winter warmth and festive cheer.

Overall, December is a great time to visit Madeira if you want a balance of winter warmth, festive atmosphere, and natural beauty. Although the rains may require some flexibility in planning, the moderate temperatures combined with unique holiday activities make Madeira an attractive choice for a December vacation.

Editor’s tip: for a bigger picture of the weather, read up on the best time to visit Portugal.


Madeira @ Shutterstock

Average temperatures in Madeira in December

Madeira enjoys a mild and temperate climate in December, with average temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F) during the day and dropping to 14°C (57°F) at night. This slight difference between day and night temperatures means that evenings are comfortably cool, perfect for enjoying Madeira's festive lights and nightlife, while days remain warm enough for exploring the island's natural beauty and outdoor activities.

Compared to other seasons, temperatures in December are considerably cooler than the peak summer months of July and August, when average temperatures can rise above 25°C (77°F). However, December is warmer than the coldest months of January and February, where temperatures are slightly lower, highlighting Madeira's appeal as a winter vacation destination with its relatively stable and mild climate all year round.

The moderate weather in December provides a respite from the colder climates that characterize much of Europe and North America and makes Madeira an attractive winter vacation destination. The balance of moderate daytime temperatures and cool evenings provides a comfortable environment for enjoying both the natural and holiday aspects of the island.

Want even more inspiration for your Portugal adventure? Discover the best places to visit in Portugal.

What about the crowd & cost?

In December, Madeira sees an increase in tourist traffic, especially during the holidays, as visitors are attracted by the famous New Year fireworks and the festive atmosphere of the island. This period, on par with the summer months, is the high season, resulting in a general increase in prices for accommodation, flights, and some services. However, the cost is often justified by unique experiences such as the Christmas lights in Funchal, mild winter weather, and festive events unlike any other time of the year.

In comparison, months such as January and February following the holiday season, or late spring and early fall such as May and September, offer less tourist traffic and potentially more competitive prices but still provide pleasant weather and the opportunity to enjoy the island's attractions without the December crowds.

Nevertheless, even though in December Madeira has higher tourist numbers and prices, the benefits of visiting the island during this festive month - enjoying the holiday spirit, exceptional weather, and colorful celebrations - make it an attractive choice for those looking for a unique winter vacation destination.

Looking for a destination to have an unforgettable Christmas? Explore our list of the best Christmas destinations.


Toboggan wooden sledge, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal @ Shutterstock

Unforgettable and customizable Portugal itineraries

Are you ready to plan your dream trip to Portugal? The local experts at Rough Guides can help you create a fully customized and unforgettable itinerary tailored to your preferences. Here are three tantalizing travel options you should consider:

  • The Real Algarvian Experience (7 days): Experience the real Algarve - taste local produce, drinks, and traditional dishes, visit historical sites, and take part in culinary events. If you are fascinated by the culture and gastronomy of this nation and want to learn more, this itinerary is for you.
  • Madeira and São Miguel - guided island adventures (9 days): Visit Portugal's two autonomous regions: Madeira, the island of eternal spring as it is known, and São Miguel, nicknamed the green island. Guided tours will introduce you to the highlights of both islands, with plenty of time to explore on your own or simply relax.
  • The cities of Portugal (9 days): Explore the two major Portuguese cities of Porto and Lisbon. Although you'll explore more than just the cities, on this trip you'll see the beautiful Duoro Valley by bike, the Minho region (Portugal's birthplace), learn more about wine making, relax on Nazare Beach, and more!
  • Discover more of our Portugal itineraries.

What to do and see in Madeira in December?

In December, Madeira offers a combination of festivities, natural beauty, and cultural experiences, making it an interesting and enjoyable destination for all types of travelers.

  • Christmas lights in Funchal: the capital turns into a winter wonderland with spectacular Christmas light shows. A stroll through the streets of Funchal bathed in the glow of thousands of lights, is a magical experience that captures the festive spirit of the season.
  • Attend a New Year's Eve fireworks spectacle: Madeira hosts one of the most spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks displays in the world, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Watching the sky over Funchal Harbor light up in dazzling colors is a must-see event that attracts visitors from all over the world.
  • Enjoy the island's gardens: Madeira is famous for its gardens, such as the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Madeira Botanical Gardens. Even in December, many plants are in bloom, creating a colorful and serene setting to relax and contemplate the beauty of the island.
  • Take a Poncha tasting tour: Poncha is a traditional Madeiran drink made from distilled alcohol, honey, sugar, and lemon or orange juice. A poncha tasting tour will introduce you to this local delicacy and show you the best places to taste and enjoy it.
  • Visit the Nuns' Valley (Curral das Freiras): travel to the heart of Madeira to discover this secluded village surrounded by high mountains. The views from the road are breathtaking and the chestnut and cherry delicacies are a must-try during the winter season.

Madeira offers only a fraction of the unique experiences that Portugal has to offer. For even more ideas for your vacation, see our guide to the best things to do in Portugal.

Turquoise waters at Machico bay, Madeira © Balate Dorin/Shutterstock

Turquoise waters at Machico bay, Madeira © Balate Dorin/Shutterstock

Visit Madeira in different months

A year-round paradise, Madeira offers unique experiences every month to suit a variety of travelers' preferences. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures, cultural events, or just a relaxing vacation in nature, Madeira's diverse climate and activities ensure that there is always something special to do here.

  • January: Experience the tranquility of post-holiday Madeira, ideal for enjoying its natural beauty without the crowds of tourists.
  • February: Take part in the vibrant festivities of the Madeira Carnival, one of the most colorful and lively events on the island.
  • March:  Spring awakens with blooming flowers and ideal temperatures for hiking and outdoor activities.
  • April: Delight in the Madeira Flower Festival, where the island explodes with color and fragrant displays.
  • May: Enjoy comfortable temperatures and the start of the season of outdoor activities, including the Madeira Island Ultra Trail.
  • June: Take part in the Atlantic Festival with fireworks and music, which marks the beginning of the summer festivities.
  • July: Enjoy the summer heat, ideal for beach walks and water sports in Madeira's crystal clear waters.
  • August: Experience the peak of summer with lively street festivals, including the popular Madeira Wine Festival.
  • September:  Take advantage of warm seas and less crowded attractions as the high season comes to an end.
  • October: Watch the leaves change and enjoy the mild weather, ideal for exploring the island's natural landscapes.
  • November: Enjoy the quieter side of Madeira and the wine harvest festivities, ideal for food lovers.
Olga Sitnitsa

written by
Olga Sitnitsa

updated 25.04.2024

Online editor at Rough Guides, specialising in travel content. Passionate about creating compelling stories and inspiring others to explore the world.

Planning your own trip? Prepare for your trip

Use Rough Guides' trusted partners for great rates

Ready to travel and discover

Get support from our local experts for
stress-free planning & worry-free travels

Plan my trip ⤍