Madeira Mini Guide
Why Should I Travel to Madeira?
Madeira is an archipelago of beautiful islands hundreds of miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. They were formed by a volcano millions of years ago and so the beaches are mainly black sand and the countryside very fertile. It is the fruit and flowers that attracts many to the islands with the chance to walk through beautiful gardens or shop at vibrant markets. Elsewhere, the islands have the evidence of centuries of use as a staging post on the way to explore the new world with fortresses and ports from which famous explorers continued their journey into the unknown.
How do I get to Madeira?
Madeira Airport has daily scheduled flights with easyJet from several UK cities whilst many tour operators run charter flights to the islands. The airport is at the eastern end of the main island with quick access to Funchal
but the journey to western resorts may take up to an hour to complete. The journey will be well worth the effort with stunning scenery along the way.
What is There to See and Do in Madeira?
For those that love walking and beautiful scenery, you can walk the levadas which are irrigation channels bringing water from the wet north of the island to the drier south. The walks are on the concrete and stone maintenance paths which are kept in good order. You’ll see amazing sights such as the valley of Faial with plunging mountainsides cloaked in an emerald swathe of vegetation. If you’ve still got a head for heights visit Cabo Girao, reputedly the world’s highest sea cliffs at nearly 2,000ft from the ocean surface to the top! If you want to find out more about the history of the islands, visit the Madeira Story Centre for an easy to understand timeline of the islands’ development.
What Should I buy in Madeira?
The favourite purchase from Madeira is the indulgent dessert wine which comes in a range of styles. If you’re lucky, you can arrange a tour of one of the producers and see how the distinctive taste is achieved.
What is a Good Meal in Madeira?
Try the Madeiran version of kebabs where chunks of beef are rubbed with garlic and threaded with vegetables onto a bay tree stick before being grilled. Ask for espetada if you want to give it a try. Make some room too for the delicious local bread soup, often added to with other ingredients.
What do the Locals do for Entertainment?
Funchal is a great place to be on New Year’s Eve as the city’s celebrations are now accredited as having the biggest fireworks display in the world. The whole evening is dedicated to celebrating the New Year and the party goes on until dawn. At other times of the year, celebrations are limited to religious ones plus the odd village or town festival. Look out for details locally.
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 400km north of Tenerife and is a very popular tourist destination all year round. Probably most famous for its Madeira wine, it is also well known for its landscapes, scenery, flowers and annual New Year's fireworks show which is supposedly the largest in the world.
With so much to see and do on this island, hiring a car in Madeira is highly recommended in order to seek out some of the more remote and deserted areas that this spectacular island has to offer. Being such a popular destination we recommend booking your car hire in advance if possible as it is usually cheaper.