How to do Madeira on a Student Budget

Madeira, an Island off the coast of West Africa but owned and apart of Portugal, is actually quite cheap. You wouldn’t believe how much I spent while spending 5 days on the island – including flights from mainland Portugal (Lisbon in our case). But I won’t divulge how much just yet… first let me break it down for you and prove why this magical paradise, sometimes called the “Hawaii of Europe” is so affordable, so without further ado… Madeira on a student budget:

How to do Madeira on Student Budget

I’m still waiting for that money tree to sprout out of the ground in my backyard but at last, still nothing. But my love for travel can’t and won’t be stopped by having a limited budget. I mean I’ve been addicted to finding cheap flights domestically and internationally  for a while now because many people don’t realize what great deals are out there and ready for them to grab. From the U.S. to Europe, for instance, flights are as low as in the 300’s and 400’s down from the average $1000 price tag for a RT ticket, which used to be the norm. Flights within Europe though, can be as cheap as $20, $30 one-way depending on the route and time of the year. 
So…when planning my latest trip, and knowing I would be in Lisbon, I used google flights to find the cheapest tickets from the city. Since it was only a month before, flights were a little more expensive and it was also right around the holidays. After some searching, I found a good deal to a place called Madeira… and with a simple google search, my heart was set.
Madeira on student budget

Ana and I somehow were able to do Madeira for CHEAP! Find out how much we spent TOTAL, below:


Madeira on a student budget

Taking TAP Portugal or Easy Jet from Lisbon or Porto and you can usually find flights under $100 RT if you book enough in advance, even sometimes as low as $60 RT if you get lucky! There are certain places in Europe that are less expensive to fly to Madeira from, like London for instance. If will be the cheapest from mainland Portugal and Spain so this is the perfect place to go if you are already on the Iberian Peninsula (unless you get lucky and find a good deal from somewhere else!) 

Our flight was $74 RT


We got a wonderful Airbnb in the center of Funchal, the islands largest city, for $51/night split between two people. It was right in the middle of everything and had free parking.

We spent $25.50/night each!


Madeira on a student budget
So here is the thing as I did mention parking above, we did rent a car. We are under 25 so we were charged extra, and neither of us can drive stick so the price per day was more expensive since there were less options for automatic cars (keep that in mind when traveling outside the U.S.). We rented through Sixt car rental, a very affordable rental company I’ve had good experiences with a few times before, and got the car for $180 total for 5 days. If you drive stick, it would’ve been $150 and if you are older than 25 it would’ve been $120 for the 5 days, and again split that by two. 

We spent $90 each on the rental car.


We ate out a few times while in Madeira but for the most part, we cooked a lot and bought supplies for sandwiches and snacks to bring with us for our hikes. We spent maybe $20 each for groceries for 5 days for the two of us and then maybe another $40 each for eating out including some late night street food and drinks.

For example a Sandes de Carne de Vinho e Alhos from a street vendor will set you back 3 euros and in many bars, getting a quick expresso or cafe con leite will cost you a whopping euro.

We spent an estimated $60 each on food while in Madeira.


Madeira on a student budget

Sure you can go on tours, and in the summer months a boat tour is definitely worth it to see the island from a new perspective, and there many other wonderful types of tours you can take, but if you really are on a budget, you can still easily manage to pay nothing to have fun in Madeira. For one, hiking, or enjoying nature, is the number one thing you can do in Madeira and it is completely free. Take your rental car and just drive around to all the beautiful parts of the island. In Funchal we did go to Blandy’s to find out more about Madeira Wine but the tour and a tasting only set us back 5 euros. Taking the cable car to Monte (another must-do) is a little more expensive but again, choose how important everything you want to do is and compare it to a budget you’ve set to see what you can and can not afford to do.

Total on adventures was $6


We bought nothing other than the above the whole time we were on the island. So if you like to shop, whether for clothing or for souvenirs, just remember to keep that in mind as well when budgeting for your trip to the Portuguese island.

Final tally:

Split between two

Flight: $70 RT from Lisbon

Airbnb: $150 for five nights

including taxes and cleaning fees 

Car: $90 for 5 days

Food: $60

Adventures: $6

so drumroll please….



 for car, airfare, and where we were staying all for 5 days!!

We also booked not too far in advance so prices could have been even cheaper. Also the more people you go with (well as many as can fit in your car) will make it even cheaper to split everything and it’s a great place to come with a small group of friends anyway!

Madeira on student's budget

So there you have it my fellow college students desperate to travel the world for little to no $$$$. Always remember if you really want to go on that trip, you will make it happen so keep on dreaming and live your lives nomads, one flight, train, or car ride at a time!




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