Madeira Holidays

A wild island in the Atlantic Ocean

Searching for a holiday in the sun that’s a little bit different? Closer to North Africa than mainland Europe, Madeira is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean comprising four beautiful islands, but you’ll most likely be spending your time on Madeira itself, where most of the action takes place.

An autonomous region of Portugal, it’s a place where that country’s culture, and sense of adventure, is very much alive. With a deliciously warm climate year-round, Madeira holidays are a no-brainer for those who want a reliable place to jump in the sea or explore outdoors. Relax on the beach on the small sister island of Porto Santo, admiring surfers from afar – or hire a board and get involved. Despite its small size – it’s just 20 kilometres wide – Madeira’s dramatic and varied volcanic terrain makes for excellent hiking and cycling.

The island is covered in mountain trails, but also has an interior network of canal pathways called ‘levadas’ which will suit families looking for gentler walks. Madeira’s subtropical climate also means that foodies will find a mouth-watering variety of exotic fruit, as well as fresh fish at its charming restaurants. For the best views of the sunset, board the cable car to Monte from Madeira’s capital Funchal. As you watch the sun slip into the ocean from the cliff tops you’ll agree that holidays to Madeira are rather wild and wonderful.

Three tips for a top trip

Ride in a cable car
Not only are Madeira’s cable car lines popular with sightseers, but they are also a fun and easy way to get across the island and scale mountains at speed.
Sip the local tipples
Madeira is typically known for its fortified wine of the same name, but the real hero of drinks here is poncha, a fruity, alcoholic punch.
Toboggan back to town
A two-kilometre downhill ride in a sledge weaved from wicker? Madeira’s famous sledges are an unforgettable and fun way to get from Monte down to Livramento.

Best attractions to see in Madeira

Funchal’s painted doors

Turn down Santa Maria Street in Madeira’s capital and stare in wonder at the 200 rainbow-bright wooden doors, each painted by a different local artist.

Incredible marine life

With around 30 species passing by the island throughout the year, Madeira is one of the best places in the world to spot dolphins and whales, so be sure to join a boat tour.

Cabo Girao Skywalk

At 589 metres high, the glass-floored Cabo Girao Skywalk is dizzying stuff. Peer out over the crashing Atlantic waves and enjoy incredible island vistas as you walk.

Your Madeira questions, answered

Madeira’s romantic scenery has made it traditionally popular with couples and honeymooners, but families and groups of adventure-seekers will love the range of activities on offer, too.

You can’t go far in Madeira without stumbling across some reference to the island’s most famous export, Cristiano Ronaldo. There’s even a statue of the legendary footballer in Funchal.

If you want a golden sandy beach with clean, safe waters, Calheta’s double-sided beach is the ideal place to spend your days bathing and relaxing. Madeira is perhaps more famous for its natural swimming pools and pebble shores. These scenic spots are perfect for relaxing and taking in the view or getting out on the water.

Madeira’s consistently warm climate makes it a great destination for holidays all year round. Sun worshippers may prefer the months of June to August when rainfall is very low.

Madeira is a great location to spend with family or friends, relaxing and exploring the landscape. But it offers an equally splendid backdrop for a romantic getaway. You could hit the hiking trails, discovering the unique, volcanic geology of the island. Or you could simply take it easy with days strolling around the gardens and landmarks of Funchal.

If you want a city break with the added bonus of mountain views, you could stay in Funchal. For traditional culture combined with fun attractions, then Santana is a good option. For golden sands and a laid-back vibe, Calheta will have everything you need. And if you want to be surrounded by picture-perfect scenery, Sao Vincente could be the place.

Temperatures usually hit their peak during August and September. However, you’re likely to see warm weather from April right through to October. With a mild climate, there are no really cold months, even in winter. So you really can visit at any time.

Flying direct takes around four hours. Times do vary a little, depending on which airport you’re flying from. With such a short flight time, you could go for a brief getaway or a longer break.

If your heart is set on exploring as much of this extraordinary island as possible, then yes. However, you may prefer to take in the scenery as you travel around. If this is the case, bus services will be a better option. Taxi hire and day trips are also a possibility. Alternatively, you could simply stay local and enjoy everything that’s located nearby. And if you like walking and cycling, there are plenty of trails for you to explore.