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Discover Madeira, Portugal's Atlantic outcrop

The volcanic origins of the archipelago of Madeira make it a true paradise for hikers in search of wild, untamed landscapes.
  • Madeira, Portugal
    © Anna Lurye / 123RF
  • Madeira, Portugal
    © Copyright: Eugene Sergeev
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Portugal

Madeira's multiple levadas, the island's network of irrigation canals, offer unforgettable walks through tunnels dug into the mountains and along hidden forest paths. Its subtropical climate allows the island to enjoy mild temperatures all year round. Those looking for miles of sandy beaches should head to Porto Santo. The island is still untouched by mass tourism, only a few hotels have set up shop.

Madeira: the key figures

Surface area : 320.0 km2

Population : 275000 inhabitants

  • Cost of living: as on mainland Portugal, the cost of living is lower than in the UK.
  • The subtropical climate, which is only a few hours flight away, allows you to enjoy the sun even in the middle of winter.
  • The luxury hotels, night clubs and glitz take away from the natural beauty of Funchal.
  • Given the size of the archipelago, it is difficult to avoid noisy tourists and partygoers of all nationalities.

Madeira: what to visit?

Landscapes

  • The Pico Ruivo , The summit of Madeira , Portugal
    The Pico Ruivo
  • Paul da Serra Plateau , Mist over the plateau , Portugal
    Paul da Serra Plateau
  • Farmlands , A series of harvests , Portugal
    Farmlands
  • The Valley of Nuns , The village of Curral das Freiras , Portugal
    The Valley of Nuns
  • Ponta de Sao Lourenço , Northern Madeira , Portugal
    Ponta de Sao Lourenço
  • Ponta de Sao Lourenço , Northern Madeira , Portugal

Coasts

  • Local colours, Camara de Lobos, Coasts, Madeira
    Camara de Lobos
  • Refreshing swims, The natural swimming pools of Porto Moniz, Coasts, Madeira
    The natural swimming pools of Porto Moniz
  • The North Coast , Rocky escapades , Portugal
    The North Coast
  • The North Coast , Rocky escapades , Portugal

The fauna and flora

  • The Funchal botanic garden. , A countryside full of flowers , Portugal
    The Funchal botanic garden.
  • Precious bunches, Vines, The fauna and flora, Madeira
    Vines
  • The moray eel, Submarine wildlife, The fauna and flora, Madeira
    Submarine wildlife
  • The moray eel, Submarine wildlife, The fauna and flora, Madeira

Arts and culture

  • Religious monuments, The Manuelian and Baroque styles, Arts and culture, Madeira
    The Manuelian and Baroque styles
  • Portuguese inspiration, The Azulejos, Arts and culture, Madeira
    The Azulejos
  • Sweet wine, Madeira wine, Arts and culture, Madeira
    Madeira wine
  • Embroidery, Arts and culture, Madeira
    Embroidery
  • Handiwork, Basketworks, Arts and culture, Madeira
    Basketworks
  • Handiwork, Basketworks, Arts and culture, Madeira

Madeira: what to buy?

Local handicraft is much the same as that of mainland Portugal (such as pottery) but you can pick up some magnificent examples of embroidery and lace and all sorts of wicker objects and furniture. Shops are open from 9:00am until 1:00pm and then again from 3:00pm until 7:00pm during the week and from 9:00am until 1:00pm on Saturday.

Madeira: what to eat?

Although there are many meat dishes, especially in the form of meatballs, Madeira is the ideal place to enjoy all kinds of fish. Specialities include sea food, swordfish and tuna steak and are all accompanied by corn fritters. For dessert, the honey cake bolo de mel is a must. All washed down with a glass of Madeira wine of course!

Madeira: what are the cultural particularities?

The island of Madeira lives to the rhythm of festivals such as the flower festival or carnival and the inhabitants underpin absolutely this joyful atmosphere. For example, if you go up to the top of Funchal, you will find, next to its church, the departure point of a rather amusing escapade: the chance to get back to the bottom of Funchal in an unexpected form of transport - a wicker basket supported by two men!

Madeira: travel tips

For lovers of sailing, touring the archipelago is a real treat. Arrival into the bay of Funchal, nicknamed the 'pearl of the ocean' is a magnificent sight. One of the main activities of the archipelago is fishing and game fishing trips out to sea can be arranged from Funchal. This is something you must include on your itinerary if you want to make the most of the sea and spend some quality time with the locals.

Contrary to its reputation, Madeira is not an island simply for lazing around. Its volcanic origins explain the presence of the high mountains and their valleys from which paths follow the irrigation canals known as levadas. To cover any part of the 1,400 miles of treks available make sure you have packed some good walking shoes! The trek leading to the summit of Pico Ruivo requires a lot of physical effort but is instantly rewarded by the stunning view from the top.

Madeira: Latest hotel reviews
  • 8.7 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Belmond Reid's Palace
    Funchal - Portugal
    Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    An internationally-renowned establishment, one of the "Leading ...

  • 8.65 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    The Cliff Bay
    Funchal - Portugal
    Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    A very comfortable hotel in an exceptional location! Overlooking ...

  • 8.5 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Meliã Madeira Mare
    Funchal - Portugal
    Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    The Melia Madeira Mare is certainly one of the best establishments ...

  • 8.35 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    TUI Sensimar Savoy Gardens
    Funchal - Portugal
    Hotel 4 Etoile(s)

    This hotel was fully renovated in 2008 and is particularly well ...

  • 8.2 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Vila Baleira
    Camacha - Portugal
    Hotel 4 Etoile(s)

    As the newest establishment in Porto Santo, the Vila Baleira ...

  • 8.2 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Choupana Hills Resort
    Funchal - Portugal
    Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    Located above Funchal, the Choupana Hills is a hotel that gives ...

  • 8.15 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Quinta Das Vistas Palace Garden
    Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    This hotel located on the Funchal heights is the perfect place ...

  • 8.1 /10
    Rated by Easyvoyage
    Jardins do Lago
    Funchal - Portugal
    Hotel 5 Etoile(s)

    Charm and elegance are the key words to sum up Jardins Do Lago. ...

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