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 massive rise in tourism in 2022.
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 take usually 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.
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. New year’s eve is also a popular time to visit, mostly because of the spectacular fireworks.
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.
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 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 plates 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”. 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.
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