Portugal’s very own Garden of Eden and an idyllic paradise in the North Atlantic Ocean, Madeira should be top of your to-travel list. The charming island resembles something out of a fairy-tale, with its rich natural scenery easily confused with enchanted woods and its coastline with a mermaid’s lair. Just like Madeira wine, it’s finest export, the island’s unique character grows on you with time.
Here you won’t find the party scene of Ibiza or the beautiful beaches of Crete. You will find rugged clifftops perfect for paragliding and canyoning, lush green levadas ideal for hiking and a wealth of local produce to tantalise your taste buds however. The capital and birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, Funchal, is surrounded by the Atlantic on one side and dramatic mountains on the other.
Its harbour is one of the prettiest in the world, and the cobbled street lined Zona Velha – Old Town – invites history-lovers and culture vultures to lose themselves. Just a stone’s throw from Funchal is sophisticated resort Canico de Baixo, where you can enjoy unmatched views of the Atlantic. Madeira’s only sandy beach lives in the peaceful resort of Ponta do Sol – perfect for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The North of the island, though much less warm, is also a must for nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. Even the drive itself boasts breath-taking vistas.
Seasoned travellers, nature lovers and couples will especially enjoy this picturesque island – though families looking for a unique getaway will also find plenty to fall in love with.
Madeira’s capital city is a vibrant spot surrounded by scenic landscape. The Atlantic stretches on one side while Funchal and Monte mountains loom on the other. With such rich natural surroundings, it’s hard to believe this is Madeira’s cosmopolitan hub. However, the winding cobbled streets of the Old Town and colourful harbour tell a different story. Nightlife is not wild, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little partying – especially if you visit when the astonishing Madeira Carnival is on, forty days before Easter.
Canico de Baixo
This coastal resort just a stone’s throw from Funchal is perfect for discerning holidaymakers looking for a sophisticated spot to kick back and relax. Its pebbly beach surrounded by rugged cliffs is perfect for soaking up the sun, while the promenade comes alive with locals and tourists in the evenings. Upper Canico, the resort’s vibrant Old Town is home to a stunning eighteenth century church and a striking main square – perfect for watching life go by at one of the nearby cafes. The famous levadas are not far.
Ponta do Sol
This pretty beach resort nestled in Madeira’s south west coast is home to the only sandy beach in the island. Its name translate to Sun Point, which give you a pretty good idea of what you can expect: warm days spent soaking up the sun, with cool evenings sampling delicious food at the local restaurants. This charming town caters for families and couples looking for a romantic escape.
Soak up the sun
While Madeira doesn’t have the wealth of beaches that make its Canarian neighbours so famous, there’s plenty of places to land your beach towel. Most of its coastline is composed by rugged cliffs, pebbly coves and volcanic landscape. Canico de Baixo and Ponta do Sol are close to the capital and offer great places to soak up the sun – Ponta do Sol’s sandy beach is the only one in the island. In the north west, the natural sea water pools are a beautiful spot to take a refreshing dip.
Extreme sport fun
Free diving, paragliding and canyoning are just some of the extreme sport on offer in Madeira. Thrill-seekers will be more than catered for, with plenty of striking locations to be explored – in adventurous ways. The Parque Ecologico do Funchal natural park is the perfect sport for canyoners looking for a fast-flowing mountain stream to soar. Paragliding, on the other hand, is best practiced in Madalena do Mar in the south.
Hike along the levada
A levada is an irrigation channel – or mini-canal – typical of Madeira’s lush green countryside. Follow the winding routes and enjoy striking scenery, rich wildlife and breath taking vistas. The hike will take you through Madeira’s Laurisilva forest – the biggest laurel forest in the world and a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site – all the way up to the pretty mountain top.
Enjoy the views from Cabo Girao Skywalk
Cabo Girao Skywalk holds the title of highest cliff skywalk in Europe, and only comes after the Grand Canyon in the world ranking. At 589 metres, it’s definitely not one for vertigo sufferers. A recently built glass-floored platform offers the chance to step onto the sky – you’ll want to bring your camera for this one, but be careful not to drop it!
Madeiran cuisine is one of rich aromas, fresh produce and – of course – good wine. Traditional cooking methods are still very much preferred in most households and restaurants, giving the already delicious food extra flavour. We recommend starting a meal with a hot bolo do cacao with garlic butter, followed by meaty a espetada and topped off with a quijada for dessert.
Madeira has plenty of restaurants to not only satisfy your taste buds, but take them on a journey of discovery. We recommend the street food market Mercado Los Lavradores in Funchal for a taste of traditional fare.
Visit Madeira and fall in love with this Portuguese jewel in the north Atlantic. An oasis filled with natural delights, it will definitely be a holiday to remember.
Booking your holiday to Madeira with easyJet holidays is a sure way to get to this beautiful island hassle free. Best of all, you can save on your holiday when you book your flight and hotel with easyJet holidays.
If Madeira isn’t for you, have a look at more Portugal destinations for something that suits you.