The beautiful island of Madeira is an emerald paradise, boasting mountainous landscapes and sun-drenched, traditional villages. The destination is perfect for hiking enthusiasts or couples looking for a romantic break away. Head to Porto Santo for golden sands and calm seas or travel to the bustling capital of Funchal to experience its upbeat and contemporary culture. You’ll be able to spend your days exploring the striking countryside and your evenings in the vibrant bars and restaurants. Madeira is widely known as the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’, which becomes obvious when you visit and are instantly taken away by its breathtaking beauty.
The stunning beaches of Maderia are exceptionally beautiful. Soft black sand and pebbles line picturesque coves that shelve into warm clear waters of shimmering blue. As well as sandy shores, there are numerous beaches with other unique characteristics. If you want to swim in a peaceful setting under the warm sunshine then Calhau da Lapa’s clear waters are perfect. Hidden at the bottom of a steep slope in Campanario, you won’t find sunbeds or parasols but will find secluded silence and crystal clear waves.
For incredible photo opportunities, visit Porto Moniz to witness the giant lava rocks that sit in the warm pools. Follow the steps into the natural bathing pools and relax, soaking up the beauty of the island’s famous scenery.
History and culture
The botanic island of Madeira is in the autonomous region of Portugal and first became a popular tourist destination in the 1850s. Surprisingly, in the 16th century, Madeira was Portugal’s top producer of wheat and then sugar cane, which brought in more wealth for the region. This started a variety of trade in the 17th century, including today’s most exported product, the famous Madeira wine.
Madeira is still rich in traditional culture that can be seen through its architecture and delightful customs. Recited by writer Ernest Hemingway as the ‘most exhilarating experience’ of his life; one of the most famous traditions, is a toboggan ride down the hill from Monte to Funchal. Take a ride in the wicker toboggans to be pushed by a team of Carreiros de Monte, who fly with you down the paved streets and break using only their rubber-soled shoes.
Food and drink
Madeira is widely known for its undeniable beauty, but also its rustic food and delicious wine. Traditional food consists of hearty meals like espetada, which is marinated garlic and beef cooked with bay leaves on skewers. As Madeira is surrounded by water, you can expect to find freshly caught fish dishes to suit your appetite in most restaurants. A top priority when visiting is to try the famous Madeira wine, made directly from the vineyards across the island.
Madeira’s nightlife is said to be quieter than those found on the mainland of Portugal. This said, you could still enjoy a late evening meal and a few cocktails in the numerous pubs and bars where live music and entertainment can often be found. The island really comes alive at the weekend where you can dance the night away in the several nightclubs that are open late. In Funchal, the atmosphere is more contemporary with an abundance of upbeat nightlife to enjoy throughout the week.