ER101 Antiga is a free car wash road in Madeira

In the northern part of Madeira Island, in Portugal, lies a rather peculiar and dangerous road called Antiga Estrada Regional 101 (ER101). Due to Madeira's dramatic coastline, the road has many curves, narrow passages, and steep climbs and descents. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world.

ER101 Antiga

What's ER101 Antiga?

Built after World War II, ER101 Antiga is the oldest and most beautiful road on the island. This one-direction road runs along the ocean, with several cliffs and tunnels through the rock.

Why is ER101 Antiga famous?

The peculiarity of this paved road, apart from its narrowness, is that along the path, in the rainy season, waterfalls cascade down from the sheer cliff, sparkling in the sunshine. Locals refer to stretches of the road as the "free car wash" because on stormy days, waves arrive at some points on the road, sweeping away all those who circulate around.

Is ER101 Antiga open to vehicles?

Some stretches of the road are collapsed and closed to vehicles. Many parts of the road have been renewed with bridges and tunnels, allowing most of the island to be within acceptable reach from Funchal. Some parts of this old road remain in good condition and are still accessible; it is still in use between Sao Vicente and Boaventura. The portion between Ponta Delgada and Boaventura is not for the faint-hearted but definitely worth a drive. Passengers enjoy the scenery, but the driver must remain concentrated on the road.

Is ER101 Antiga difficult to drive?

The coastal road is narrow and winds up and down, left and right. Even though you're driving close to the sea, it looks more like a mountain road. From time to time, the road gets very narrow, and you’ll hope there won't be any opposite traffic. The drive is deemed too dangerous due to rock falls. Usage is under the exclusive and only responsibility of users. For safety reasons, due to its narrowness, there is one-way traffic on many parts.

Is ER101 Antiga worth it?

It’s one of the best coastal drives in the world. Due to the many views of the coast and the Atlantic, this is absolutely the road to be taken by tourists. This part of the road is one of the top tourist attractions of the island. At times, you have the ocean underneath or a waterfall crashing on the roof, and you drive through a weeping tunnel or get a free car wash.