Grab your map and look around 250 miles north of the Canary Islands and 400 miles west of Morocco and you will find the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira. However, what a map will not tell you is just how varied the island is and how much it has to offer.
Madeira’s coastline is made up of cliffs, giving spectacular, uninterrupted views over the Atlantic, and while the beaches may not be plentiful, her nearby sister makes up for this. Madeira is possibly the most varied and naturally beautiful places out there.
An Explorers Paradise
One of the greatest tourist attractions of the Island of Madeira lies in its spectacular landscape. Its luxurious vegetation and impressive viewpoints continue to fascinate its visitors time after time.
Majority of the rain falls in the North and North-West, whereas the South-East remains relatively dry. To even this out dozens of channels have been carved into the landscape to deliver water to those drier areas. As a result, this has created walking trails with dramatic and stunning views and making previously impassable locations now accessible. One of my most recommended routes is the ‘Levada’ mountain trails where you will cross mountains and valleys and even go into tunnels. These hiking trails present you with truly stunning and unrivalled views of the island.
On the East of the island lies the Nature Reserve Ponta de Sao Lourenco home to some impressive coastal walks and volcanic rocks streaked with red hues; there’s new views around every corner with lookouts to the famous Ponta do Furado. This is a hike worth doing for the sweeping views of the Atlantic and Instagram-ready snaps that look like you are on the edge of the earth.
If you are up for a challenge, Madeira’s highest peak Pico Ruivo is walkable in the right conditions and appropriate gear. Taking around six-hours in total, you will view Madeira from arguably the best points as well as meeting the resident birdlife and lizards along the way too. There are shorter more manageable paths too if you do not fancy the full six-hour hike.
Thanks to its excellent location, Madeira sees hot, dry summers and milder yet still warm winters; temperatures hover around 27ºC in the summer and 20ºC in the winter.
While Madeira is not necessarily blessed with endless beaches, its neighbour Porto Santo, located just 41 miles to the North-East is. The 9km long beach has given Porto Santo its popular name of ‘Golden Island’ and this beach was voted best sand dune beach in the ‘7 Wonder Beaches of Portugal’. So, if your thing to is be by the sea head over to Porto Santo and visit this gem for some rest and relaxation.
The range of accommodation in Madeira is both top quality and vast. The history of the hotel industry is led by Reid’s Palace, which has now been in existence as a hotel for more than 120 years and is still to this day one of the most popular choices. The Vine Hotel contrasts nicely with this thanks to its modern contemporary feel and rooftop infinity pool perching you right above Funchal. The Cliff Bay also proves popular with direct access to the sea and home to the only two Michelin star restaurants on the island. Aside from these 3 top-ranking hotels on the island, there are many other new additions being made regularly. Most recent of those being the Cristiano Ronaldo themed hotel ‘CR7’ which is sure to attract fans of the named Portugese national footballer and those who wish to holiday in his footsteps.
A Wine Connoisseurs Dream
Madeira wines have been globally recognised for their quality for almost 600 years and are one of the island's major exports. It would be rude not to explore the famed ‘Wine Routes’ or visit the Madeira Wine Festival while you are here.
Enjoy these world-renowned wines through a ‘Wine Routes Tour’. Adventure around the island taking in picturesque sites, sweeping valley views; learn about local wine customs and production from local winemakers, and of course, sample a variety of wines.
If you time your visit in the late Summer to early Autumn, you may just catch one of the islands main tourist attractions, the Wine Festival. Taking place during the grape harvest, this event aims to recreate the old traditions which were developed over centuries. You could even catch a musical concert taking place in one of the vineyards across the region.
Must See’s & Do’s
By this point your ‘Madeira To Do’ list should be jam-packed. If its not, here are some final suggestions to make sure you get to see and do it all.
1. Look down from Cabo Girao Skywalk, the highest cliff skywalk in Europe and second highest in the world behind the Grand Canyon.
2. Go canyoning for an adrenaline boost. Just outside of Funchal is the Parque Ecologico do Funchal which offers the perfect setting for canyoning, abseiling, waterfall jumping, and swimming in forest rivers.
3. Whale & Dolphn watching is extremely popular in Madeira as it’s one of the best locations in the world for it. There are around 80 species worldwide and you can see 29 of these in Madeira year-round.
4. Visit Funchal. The capital is compact enough to see in a day with its amazing architecture, colourful markets, toboggan rides and some fantastic restaurants.
5. Take the cable car to see Funchal from above and while you are there visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
6. Enjoy a round of golf at some of the best golf courses around with the added value of beautiful natural landscapes.
So whether you are a sun worshipper and plan to visit in the summer or prefer a more bearable climate and plan to visit in the winter, you must explore all the gems Madeira has to offer.
Contact me for further information and a bespoke holiday quote tailored just for you.