Introducing holidays to Madeira
Those in the know refer to Madeira as the Pearl of the Atlantic or ‘the floating garden’, and if those nicknames don’t conjure images of an island of staggering beauty, we don’t know what will. With the shimmering deep blue waves of the Atlantic visible from any location on Madeira, it is little wonder this amazing archipelago’s reputation precedes it; and with a mild tropical climate the whole year round, it’s perfect for both Winter and Summer trips away. The gorgeous capital city of Funchal on the sun-soaked southern coast is first port of call for many visitors to Madeira; famed for its pristine port, historical monuments and huge amount of shops and restaurants on offer. We’re sure you’ll find your new retreat for 2017 with a holiday on Madeira Island, with cool and humid climes, rugged mountainous landscapes as far as the eye can see and richly diverse vegetation, you’ll feel as if you’re in a tropical paradise; while the neighbouring island of Porto Santo contains endless stretches of golden sand and is famed for its rare unmatched beauty not found anywhere else in the region.
Madeira is well known as a sub-tropical Atlantic paradise just 960 KM from the proud capital of Portugal, Lisbon; but the island has a bustling capital of its own in Funchal, which most visitors will want to check out. Set against a jaw dropping background of imposing cloud-kissed peaks on the southern coast of the island; this vibrant city unfurls into rows of hilly steppes and flatter terraces; adding to the stunning landscapes the island is famous for. But Funchal also has cultural and historical delights aplenty to offer its guests including a wide range of historic monuments littered all over its landscapes; from sea forts and holy convents, to a colonial-style cathedral and a number of museums. Breaking up the city’s urban makeup you’ll find bursts of life and colour in the exotic flora and fauna kept within the endless number of gardens and parks spliced into Funchal’s landscapes. Amble through one of the cities numerous daily markets and haggle yourself a bargain on the freshest fruit and seafood on the island before dipping into Old Town for a glimpse into the past... You could even hitch a ride on a cable car to catch a bird’s eye view of it all!
Wine and Dine
The wines in Madeira have a reputation that far precedes them, and several even stand among the worlds most renowned and highly sought after; so you’d be remiss if you didn’t sample the wares. Fine dining is something taken very seriously here but the island hasn’t reached its full potential as a holiday hotspot just yet, so you’ll have the added bonus of incredible value for money when you book into any of its superb and diverse eateries. The freshest fish, fantastic service and the best dining scenery you could ask for all await you in magnificent Madeira. The wineries here take extra special care to imbue their wines with unique flavours and characters, and aren’t afraid to experiment with various grape styles. Sercial, Bual, Verdelho and Malmsey are some of the top wines to be sampled here and sellers will be more than happy to tell you a bit about what went into each and recommend the best food to accompany them. If whiskey is more your thing, you’ll note the crucial role Madeiran wine casks play in maturing some of the top Scotch and Irish whiskeys in the world.
Escape those dreary winter mornings by treating your little ones to a trip they’ll never forget to Madeira; with guaranteed year-round sunshine! The island has a fascinating volcanic past and towers over the vast Atlantic Ocean, so there’s plenty of things for you and the kids to discover within its rugged volcanic landscapes, with breathtaking views available all over. Madeira has no shortage of dramatic scenery, enjoyable levada walking trails, gorgeous gardens and parks, as well s diverse flora and fauna. All these things coupled with its enviable climate makes ambling around the island a complete treat, whether it’s a sun holiday or Winter break you decide to take them on. We’re sure they’ll also appreciate the fact that it’s never too hot or too cold! However, a winter trip offers additional delights for young minds as every street on the island is dressed up in lights and decorations, with loads of folk shows, concerts and firework displays on offer in Funchal in the run up to Christmas!
Action and Adventure
While it’s true that Madeira is popular with the older generation that favour cool climates and relaxed lifestyle, if you veer off the tourist-walked path and head for the coast, there’s plenty of adventure to be had on this idyllic island. While artificial beaches are the mainstay, it’s still possible to throw on a wetsuit and catch some waves if you ask the right people. It also has the added bonus of surfing in the most wildly dramatic setting possible, with jagged cliffs and epic mountains that reach the clouds surrounding you on all sides! Head for the rocky terrain of Paul Do Mar on the southern coast to brush shoulders with the local surfers and you may even catch sight of an intrigued pro who wants to find out if the islands reputation for perfect waves holds through.
Life's a Beach
The vivacious volcanic island of Madeira has an unbeatable warm climate the whole year round and oodles of local Portuguese flavour, but with such a rugged landscape, unfortunately it contains no natural sandy beaches! Despite comparisons to the Canaries, the island doesn’t contain a sandy coast and the few beaches peppered throughout the mountainous terrain are lined with black basalt stones and pebbles. Fear not! The tourist industry has quickly adapted and the island now boasts a number of stunning artificial beaches made from imported sand; so you’re in luck if you’d been hoping to top up your tan in the depths of winter. However, for a taste of the real deal, you could always get the two-hour ferry north to Porto Santo, which offers the best beaches in the entire archipelago, if not all of Portugal. A sheltered dramatic coastline, sand that feels incredibly soft between your toes and crystal-clear waters all await you here; making Porto Santo a must-visit for day trippers craving their dose of sun, sea and sand.
Sometimes unfairly dismissed as a retreat for the older generation that prefers life at a more staid pace, Madeira has adapted to its new role as a holiday destination and offers a plethora of night time entertainment. The bustling capital of Funchal holds most of the nightly pleasures on the island for both the young and young at heart. One of the most popular clubs in Funchal, Vespas takes after the scooter it’s named for and offers a fun night for younger crowds in the mood to party all night. However, the older generation shouldn’t be afraid to make a visit, as there’s another more relaxed section serving up cocktails. Don’t bother showing up here until 1am as the locals don’t get started until then; often dancing and drinking until 8am and strolling home at sunrise! Located in the classy dock surroundings, Vespas is an old abandoned warehouse transformed into a sophisticated club; so it may just remind you of your rave days.
Apparently, Madeira was discovered by a shipwrecked eloping couple who found shelter on its shores, so it’s no surprise that the island practically screams ‘romance’, making it the ideal destination for you and your partner, no matter the time of year! Dramatic landscapes, exotic flowers and wildlife and locals imbued with Madeira’s volcanic energy all await you here, making it the perfect location for a well deserved break. For the most impressive views the island has to offer, treat your other half to a cable car ride over Funchal and get some stunning panoramic views of this fairytale location; before ending up in the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens for more relaxed pursuits. Here you’ll find shady hidden paths and walkways, lakes of brightly coloured Koi fish, serene waterfalls, with exotic foliage and Love Flowers peppered throughout this hideaway. It’s the perfect place for a tranquil romantic stroll with your beau.
Culture vultures will want to head straight for the vibrant capital city of Funchal; the cultural heritage centre of the archipelago of Madeira. Start your quest for culture at the bustling market Mercado dos Lavradores; brish shoulders with local merchants and haggle for the best local crafts and exotic flowers, fruit and seafood. Close by is a plethora of exciting museums, monuments, galleries, gardens and parks, so you’re really spoilt for choice. Built between 1485 and 1514, the Se Cathedral is one of the Old Towns top landmarks and one of the last remaining Manueline constructions still standing. Take a stroll out to the promenade and bask in the historic Funchal amphitheatre as you take in glorious views of the surrounding mountains and sip on a delicious traditional ‘chinesa’ coffee.