The beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira has everything you could ever wish for in a holiday. Pleasant beaches, natural beauty and picturesque views to top it off. You couldn’t ask for a more relaxing holiday if you tried. What’s more, Madeira enjoys a subtropical climate and has an array of landscapes to further boast its versatility. Sample locally produced wine as you admire the island’s surrounding cliffs and volcanic land. If Madeira is starting to sound like your next holiday, but you want to know a bit more about it as a holiday destination, then not to worry! Follow our essential guide to Madeira to find out even more.
The average flight time to Madeira from the UK is 4 hours.
Where is it?
Madeira is one of Portugal’s autonomous regions, an archipelago encompassing four islands situated off of Africa’s north western coast. However, it is Madeira island which is the largest of these four islands and the most visited.
What do you need
Your list of essentials will include your passport, euros, travel insurance and your EHIC. Once you’ve got the important documents sorted, next you’ll want to make sure you have all your toiletries, electronics and clothes in order. Depending on the time of year you wish to travel to the island, you should pack clothes accordingly.
When to go
The island of Madeira experiences a subtropical climate, meaning the weather can vary throughout the year. Generally, the weather is warm and sunny, whilst the summers can see it turn quite dry and the winters experience rainfall. If you want to enjoy the absolute warmest weather Madeira has to offer, head over to the island during the summer. If you’d prefer to visit when the temperatures are a bit milder, the spring and autumn are best. During the winter months, rainfall increases, so it is best to avoid this time if you don’t want to get soaked!
Monthly weather averages (°C):
- January: 18° / 14°
- February: 18° / 14°
- March: 19° / 14°
- April: 19° / 14°
- May: 21° / 16°
- June: 23° / 18°
- July: 24° / 19°
- August: 25° / 20°
- September: 25° / 20°
- October: 23° / 19°
- November: 21° / 17°
- December: 20° / 15°
Madeira is full of various hotels and resorts to suit the most luxurious of travellers. If you love amazing views right outside of your window, Madeira is certainly one of the best places that can provide them. Moreover, it’s not rare for accommodation on the island to host a variety of facilities and amenities.
The capital of Funchal is often a popular choice due to its stunning horizon filled with hills and lush nature, as well as its wonderful harbour and wine cellars (wine lovers rejoice!). Or head to the north of the island, where Ponta Delgada invites you to its lovely beaches and entices you with an authentic feel. Heading further west of the island, you’ll come across the resort of Calheta where you can make the most of 5-star hotels flaunting luxury and views above all else. Don’t forget that booking ahead and paying in monthly instalments can make your accommodation a lot more affordable. Check out our recommendations:
- Pestana Carlton Madeira – Funchal
- Monte Mar Palace – Ponta Delgada
- Savoy Saccharum Hotel – Calheta
- Quinta Das Vistas – Funchal
- Allegro Madeira (Adults only) – Funchal
Quinta Das Vistas in Funchal
Where to go
Madeira is home to a collection of great cities and towns which will no doubt make your stay worthwhile. With exceptional sights and surroundings to discover, Madeira has plenty of options when it comes to exploring the island.
- Porto Santo Island – Great for beaches and diving as well as the Christopher Columbus House Museum.
- Porto Moniz – Tourists flock here for its natural lava pools.
- Ponta do Sol – Home to rocky beaches and great views.
- Machico – Perfect for those looking for adventurous hiking trails.
- Ribeiro Frio – Beautiful village which provides great territory for bird working as well as levada walks.
What to do
Due to Madeira’s varied landscapes, there really is so much to do on the island. Whether you’re looking for relaxing activities or something a little more active, the island doesn’t disappoint its visitors. Madeira’s coastline is brimming with dramatic cliffs which is always great for a postcard-worthy picture, but it also means that the island isn’t particularly known for its beaches. Regardless, Madeira continues to offer its visitors plenty of great things to do:
- Hike the island’s levadas – Levadas are Madeira’s characteristic irrigation channels, directing water from the mountains. Hiking along them provides great scenery and a look into Madeira’s natural side.
- Take a dip in natural pools – Porto Moniz is home to natural lava pools on the island. Situated in the north west of the island, these pools allow you to have a refreshing dip during your holiday.
- Whale and dolphin watching – Madeira is perhaps one of the best places in the world to spot some whales and dolphins. With an abundance of species there is a very high chance of seeing the marine life throughout the year.
- Admire the views from the Cabo Girão Skywalk – This is in fact the highest cliff skywalk in Europe and the second highest in the world. If you’re not scared of heights, make your way up to the glass-floored platform and look down and around you to soak up the Madeiran views.
- Visit Funchal – You might be staying in Funchal, but even if you aren’t, it is still worth visiting for the day. As Madeira’s capital, there is a range of authentic architecture to witness and traditional restaurants to try. Not forgetting to mention, the wicker toboggans! With two seats available in each toboggan, you and a friend can have an adrenaline filled journey through the streets of Monte in Funchal. Steered by Carreiros, two men who use their boots as brakes, it definitely puts the fun in Funchal!
Food and drink
Being an island, you can imagine that Madeira’s cuisine is made up of a variety of seafood. No doubt, it is! But you will find an abundance of meat dishes too. In particular, grilled meat like chicken, beef and pork chops. Much of the meat and fish is left to be marinated in flavoursome spices and herbs like salt, garlic, olive oil and oregano. A lot of the time fish is fried on the island. Try from favourites like bacalhau (codfish) and picado which consists of pieces of beef fried with garlic. Don’t forget to accompany your dishes with Madeira’s own wine. Locally produced from a variety of grapes, there’s no better way to get a taste of the island. When it comes to dining options, these are our recommendations:
- Zarcos – Funchal
- O Tasco – Funchal
- O Portao – Funchal
- Restaurante Real Canoa – Funchal
- Il Gallo d’Oro – Funchal
Photo credit: madeira-web.com
Getting to Madeira is simple. There are plenty of direct flights that you can catch as well as some which require a stop over. Make sure you check out our cheap deals on flights and accommodation in Madeira. Once you’re on the island, there is a range of choices. If you’re looking to get to more remote places, hiring a car would be your best option. On the other hand, Madeira does have a reliable public transport system, so you could always take the bus. Taxis are another convenient way to get around and the drivers may even be able to recommend places to go!