Holidays in Madeira
Natural and botanical beauty are the hallmarks of Madeira, but this sun-drenched island also offers traditional villages, fresh seafood and stunning scenery. The bustling capital, Funchal, is where you will find everything from cable car rides to boat trips around the island. Madeira is affectionately known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’. Hike through the lush, emerald green mountains at the heart of the island or sunbathe on the golden sands of Porto Santo on your holiday to Madeira.
Between May and September when the climate is comfortably warm with little rainfall.
The only airport on the island is Madeira Airport (FNC), around 16km northeast of the city of Funchal.
Book a Thomas Cook holiday to Madeira for lush, green scenery, remarkable black sand beaches and quaint little towns with cobbled streets.
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Madeira’s largest city, Funchal is located on the south coast of the island. For a taste of Madeiran life, take a wander through its narrow streets. Sample authentic Madeiran dishes like sopa de tomate e cebola, a tomato and onion soup topped with a poached egg, in one of its many traditional restaurants. Quaint little art galleries, museums and markets can be found throughout the city. Just 6km east from Funchal is the quiet seaside village of Caniço de Baixo. An oasis of calm, the idyllic resort is perched upon a hill overlooking the sea. Take a stroll along the cliffs and admire the panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
For unforgettable views of Madeira’s rich landscape, visit the tiny village of Curral das Freiras or the dramatic cliff face at Cabo Girão. Explore Funchal’s Gothic Sé Cathedral and travel by cable car up to the charming little village of Monte, which offers dazzling views over Funchal Bay. Take advantage of Madeira’s crystal clear waters and go scuba-diving in Garajau National Marine Park. For fun in the sun, take the kids to Aquaparque waterpark or the picturesque black sand beach at Praia de Laje.
Food in Madeira is rustic and hearty, with its roots in traditional peasant cooking. Meat lovers will enjoy tucking into a plate of espetada - mouth-watering chunks of beef marinated in garlic, salt and bay leaves and then cooked on a skewer over a hot grill. Fish is fresh and plentiful across the island, with tuna and cod playing a big part in the local diet. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to try bolo de mel, a dark, sticky honey cake which dates back to the 15th century. A trip to Madeira isn’t complete without a glass of the local tipple, the famous Madeira wine.
If you’re looking for things to do in Madeira, why not try a day at the beach? Madeira beaches are known for their warm, clear blue waters and rich, black sand. Visit the tranquil beach at Calhau da Lapa or take in the rugged natural beauty of Porto Moniz which is dotted with giant black lava rocks. One of the best places to visit near Madeira is the island of Porto Santo, with its long stretches of soft, golden sand and azure blue water. Porto Santo was once the home of Christopher Columbus and is popular for its peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
Two-thirds of Madeira is classed as a nature reserve, so you’re never far from lush green scenery or a dramatic landscape. Some of the most awe-inspiring attractions in Madeira can be found in the mountains. One of the most beautiful places in Madeira is Cabo Girão, the second highest cliff face in the world, which offers dazzling views. Venture off the beaten track to see Curral das Freiras (‘Nuns’ Valley’), a tiny village hidden between two mountains at the centre of the island. For something more explosive, visit the volcanic caves of São Vicente and learn about the volcanic eruption that gave birth to Madeira 400,000 years ago.
Walkers: A full day discovering the towering cliffs, beautiful views and tumbling waterfalls on the dramatic west coast.
Culture lovers: Sample unlimited local food and wine. Enjoy a fado singer and watch dancers in traditional dress.
Beach lovers: Explore the golden sandy beach at Porto Santo.
Language: The language spoken in Madeira is Portuguese.
Currency: The currency used in Madeira is Euro (€).
Local time: Madeira has the same time as GMT/UK time.
Fly to: The only airport on the island is Madeira Airport (FNC), around 16km northeast of the city of Funchal.
Flight time from UK: 3.5-4 hours
Tourist Information: Further Madeira tourist information can be found at www.visitmadeira.pt
Visa & Health:Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Madeira.
Temperature: Between the mid-teens and early 20s (°C).
Best time to visit Madeira: Between May and September when the climate is comfortably warm with little rainfall.
Madeira weather is pleasantly mild during the summer. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the weather in Madeira stays warm throughout the year, with an average temperature of 17 °C during the winter. Remember to bring a brolly though; Madeira’s sub-tropical climate means that rain is likely.
By taxi: With a number of ranks dotted around Funchal, taxis are an easy and convenient way of getting around the island. They’re easy to identify too; look out for the yellow cabs with blue stripes down the side.
By bus: Madeira has reliable and cheap buses that serve the whole island.
By hire car: If you fancy being adventurous, hire a car and explore the mountainous terrain outside of the city
Wine Rally: Speed junkies won’t want to miss this annual car racing event in August. Check the race course beforehand so you can find a good spot along the roads to watch.
Wine Festival: For a real taste of the Madeiran culture, head to this local fiesta at the end of August. Traditional parades, regional food and live music are just some of the cultural activities that you can expect during the event.
Nature Festival: Held for one week in October, the Madeira Nature Festival is a fantastic chance for the whole family to enjoy a range of outdoor activities. From bird watching to horseback riding, there’s an outdoor pursuit for every taste.
Atlantic Festival: Enjoy this cultural and fun event; with music, fireworks and street performances every Saturday night throughout June.