Madeira

Madeira holidays

Think outdoorsy experiences with a few cosmopolitan twists and you’ll be right on the money with a Madeira holiday. This lush island is known for its spectacular gardens, while the mountain scenery makes it ideal for walking the levadas and exciting emerald-green trails. And for chic bars and boutiques, there’s the capital, Funchal. 
No.18 – TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Destinations
It’s official – the lush levadas of Madeira have gone down a treat with holidaymakers, so it’s made number 18 in TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Destinations in Europe.

Language

Portuguese

Currency

Euro

Time difference

Same as UK

Cost of a beer

£1.80

3 course meal

£22.20

Flight times

4.5hrs

Pools and sea

Madeira is famous for its lidos, or outdoor pools – you’ll find them at Funchal and Caniço. Calheta, meanwhile, offers two man-made golden-sand beaches with stunning mountain views to rival them all. And Machico has a new beach made from glorious grains imported all the way from the western Sahara.

Resorts with flavour

Calheta, on the south-west coast, has a beautiful marina and a clifftop arts centre, plus plenty of old churches to explore. Caniço has a traditional village square, and a modern area dotted with fancy villas and hotels. And if it’s malls, markets and restaurants you’re after, the capital, Funchal, really delivers.

Get active

The waters around the island are great for surfing, scuba diving and big-game fishing. If you’re searching for something majestic, take a boat out to watch the whales and dolphins – there are about 20 species swimming in these waters! On dry land, it’s all about mountain walks or even canyoning.

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Funchal

Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is a historic town best known for its gorgeous gardens and pretty cobbled streets.

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Canico

This quaint east coast village is a haven for walking and water sports, so if you’re feeling adventurous, this is the resort for you.

Ponta Do Sol

A colourful old town meets dreamy lagoons, a palm-lined beach and banana plantations in this coastal hideaway with a totally tropical twist.

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Calheta

With tailor-made sandy beaches, this irresistibly laid-back resort has ‘blissful escape’ written all over it.

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Faja da Ovelha

On the west coast of Madeira, just 6km from Prazeres, lies a little village called Faja da Ovelha. High in the hills and boasting stunning scenes across countryside and shoreline, this is a perfectly peaceful plot for a sunshine getaway. If laidback’s your thing, this is your resort.

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Prazeres

With a name that translates as ‘pleasures’, this gorgeous green paradise has truly earned its title.

Beaches

Madeira is dotted with small, secluded beaches made from natural volcanic sand, so they’re all pretty unique. There’s a peaceful spot 25 minutes’ drive from Funchal and, over in Machico, the island’s second-biggest town, you’ll discover a manmade golden-sand beach that’s great for kids. Just pick a place! See all beaches (11)
Calheta Beach

Calheta Beach

Calheta, Madeira

The sweep of golden sand here has all the facilities a family needs, including showers and changing rooms. It's backed by a line-up of bars and restaurants, too, so you have drinks and snacks on hand. When...
Canical Beach

Canical Beach

Canical, Madeira

Tucked away in a peaceful cove near the fishing village of Canical, this beach is quieter than other tourist spots and is one of the pretty pebble beaches on the island. There’s a café overlooking...

Sights

The island’s famous for its flowers. You’ll find out why at the Botanical Gardens in Funchal. These sit right on a hillside, so you’ll also get some unbeatable views of the city. But if you want pure and simple culture, there are many museums, galleries and monasteries to explore.

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Botanical Gardens Madeira

Botanical Gardens Madeira

Funchal, Madeira

Wander among fantastic flowers, trees and plants found only on the Atlantic islands at the Botanical Gardens Madeira in Funchal. Like tropical fruit? The mango and papaya trees will leave you feeling hungry -...
Lugar de Baixo Palace

Lugar de Baixo Palace

Ponta Do Sol, Madeira

This Romanesque-style building looks like it’s been plucked straight from a fairytale. Set on a hillside in Lugar de Baixo, this pretty pink palace is certainly something to tick off your Madeira bucket...

Activities

The natural lava pools in Porto Moniz are a natural phenomenon you won’t find elsewhere. Take a swim and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. Madeira’s levada walks are the real hillside heroes of this archipelago, while whale and dolphin watching is every bit as jaw-dropping as you’d imagine.

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Christmas and New Year in Madeira

Christmas and New Year in Madeira

Funchal, Madeira

With its leafy landscape, balmy weather and charming culture, Madeira is a stand-out destination you can enjoy year-round. But one of the best times to visit is around Christmas and New Year when the locals go...
Levada Nova

Levada Nova

Calheta, Madeira

Madeira is lined by miles of 'levada', which are mini-canals bringing water down from the lush mountains. This walk, which is around five or six miles, follows one through hills, forests, villages and fields....

Eating and drinking

You’ll find bolo do caco – a type of bread served warm with garlic butter and parsley – on pretty much every menu. And you can’t go home without trying some of the world-famous Madeira wine, with its smooth, sweet notes. Tuck into catch of the day as you drink in stunning coastal views. See all eating and drinking (6)
Afternoon tea at Belmond Reid's Palace

Afternoon tea at Belmond Reid's Palace

Funchal, Madeira

Traditional afternoon tea served on a clifftop terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean – Belmond Reid’s Palace is a must-visit. Fresh scones, dainty sandwiches, sumptuous pastries and special blend...
The Old Town

The Old Town

Funchal, Madeira

Make like the locals with a plate of hearty, rustic food in the charming Old Town of Funchal. Think locally caught swordfish, smoky chorizo stew or marinated lamb chargrilled over hot coals. Authentic...

Shopping

Funchal has plenty of charming boutiques selling local handicrafts, but there are major malls across the resorts of Madeira. Browse your favourite high street stores, or even opt for a more hands-on shopping experience. The local markets are great for picking up a few bargains and souvenirs.

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Armazem do Mercado

Armazem do Mercado

Funchal, Madeira

In Funchal’s Old Town you'll find this warehouse, home to a variety of shops and a market where you can buy local produce. It doubles up as a space for artists, and hosts regular events and concerts. There's...
La Vie

La Vie

Funchal, Madeira

Too much sun? Take a break from the beach with a bit of retail therapy at the La Vie Funchal shopping centre. From the elegant chic of Massimo Dutti and Mango for clothes to a hypermarket for picking up...

Nightlife

Madeira’s nightlife is mainly centred on Funchal. Head down to the marina for tapas and cocktails, then go downtown and check out one of the clubs. If you’re feeling really flush, a night in the casino could see your luck change – or you could just enjoy over-ice tipples at least. See all nightlife (1)
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