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Madeira: Get to know Portugal’s Atlantic Pearl

Portugal’s Madeira is a beautiful archipelago, known mostly for its biggest island, also named Madeira – “the Atlantic Pearl” -, and the smaller Porto Santo. Although different, both of them are extremely delightful, with nice temperatures and mostly sunny skies all year round.

These islands are the perfect region for anyone looking for a smaller community, wonderful scenery, nature and sandy beaches. This is proven by the sole amount of visitors Madeira has been acquiring over the years, reporting a rise in popularity among expats in 2023. 

Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl, CEO
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Is Madeira worth visiting?

Even if your trip is to mainland Portugal, you can easily schedule a de-tour to Madeira, since there are many flights every day connecting the major cities to the beautiful island. These flights usually take two hours. We definitely recommend taking your time visiting the island. However, it is quite small so, if necessary, it can fit in a 2-day itinerary. 

What can I do in the Madeira island in Portugal?

Since Madeira is blessed with spring-like weather all year round, outdoor activities are preferred. If you’re a nature enthusiast, this is particularly perfect for you. ‘Parque Natural da Madeira’ encapsulates 2/3 of the island and offers many options of hiking and walking paths. For the more courageous, the trails to Pico do Areeiro and Ruivo take you above the clouds, with the island at your feet – where you’ll find the most amazing beaches.

If water is more of your thing, boat trips are also very popular. The best way to admire the island is to approach it by ship – you’ll get to cherish the spectacle of the dense flora all the way up the mountains and down the valleys right to the seaside, adorned by foggy clouds and the classic white houses with orange roof tiles. Whale and dolphin watching is very popular, also. 

If you’re just planning to visit, it could be interesting to plan your trip around the annual “Festa da Flor” (Flower Festival), where the central streets get fully decorated with flowers, as a celebration of Spring. This year, 2024, it will take place between May 2nd and May 26th!

New year’s Eve is also a very popular (and very touristic) time to visit, mostly because of the spectacular fireworks show! 

typical madeira house portugal
Traditional houses in Santana, Madeira, Portugal

Funchal

Of course, there’s also a cosmopolitan side to the island. The capital, Funchal, combines urban modernization and nature perfectly. Here you’ll find a wide range of restaurants, monuments, museums, gardens, dazzling viewpoints, and a lively cultural calendar and nightlife. Funchal is a very exciting, fun, and, most importantly, safe city, meaning you can enjoy yourself any hour of the day. 

Porto Santo

The smaller island of the Madeira archipelago is mostly known for its golden 9 km-long beach. This little paradise in the middle of the Atlantic is perfect for relaxing and outdoor activities, making it perfect to spend your retirement in, for example. Hiking, golf, diving, stand-up paddling, windsurfing, and horse riding are just some of the ventures you can get up to in Porto Santo. 

Madeira Island Gastronomy

Madeira food is a perfect portrait of its people and history – simple but generous. The island’s location in the middle of the Atlantic obviously warrants amazing fish and seafood. Some traditional dishes in this realm are “Filetes de peixe-espada preto” (black swordfish filet) and “Bifes de atum” (tuna steaks). These are usually eaten with “milho frito” (fried corn). 

Due to its exceptional climate, Madeira is also home to very interesting agriculture, like the well-known “banana da Madeira” and “cana-de-açúcar” (sugar cane). It’s from these ingredients that the traditional dessert “bolo de mel” and drink “poncha” are made, so you’re definitely in for an experience you’ve never had before. 

madeira portugal
Madeira

Who lives in Madeira?

Due to its growing popularity, Madeira’s population has been growing consistently, reaching 253 259 habitants in 2022, of which the majority are locals. But Madeira has, for many years, been witnessing a rise in foreign population. As of December 31, 2022, immigrants in the region totaled 11,793 people, representing an increase of 13.3% compared to 2021. “Nationals from Venezuela (19.7%), the United Kingdom (11.8%), Germany (9.4%) and Brazil (9.2%) continue to represent the main foreign communities living in the region”, says the DREM (Madeira Statistics Department). 

Cost of Living in Madeira island, Portugal

Although the vast majority of the Madeira population is Portuguese people, the island’s fuel is tourism, so things can be a bit expensive in some areas – like around Funchal. This is, more or less, the cost of living per month in Madeira for a couple:

ItemCost in EUR
Rent for two-bedroom furnished apartment €1100
Utilities (Electricity and water) €110
Public transport (Funchal monthly pass)€30
Internet/2 Phone plan €50
Gym (per person)€30
Groceries €350
Transportation: Tank of gas €100
Dining out 5x/month €180
Total€1950
madeira portugal
Natural volcanic swimming lagoon pools at Porto Moniz, Madeira

Buying a house in Madeira

If you’re sure that Madeira is for you, then buying a house here is your best option! And even if you can’t or don’t want to move to the island yet, you can rent it out or even put it up for Alojamento Local (short-term tourism renting). But how do you go about it? That’s what Pearls of Portugal is here for! 

Through our Buyer’s Agent Service, we take care of every step of your journey – from getting a NIF, to a Visa, choosing a place, finding a house, visiting the properties, taking care of the contract and helping you with all after-sales enquiries, like setting up utilities. Come work with us!

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