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Madeira

Madeira holidays

Think outdoorsy experiences with a few cosmopolitan twists and you’ll be right on the money with Madeira. 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.21 – 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 21 in TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Destinations in Europe.

Language

Portuguese

Currency

Euro

Time difference

GMT

Cost of a beer

from €1 a bottle

3 course meal

from €16 upwards

Flight times

3.5-4.5 hrs

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.

Experience the magic of winter in Madeira
Famed the world over, you can’t beat the epic, end-of-year celebrations in Madeira. From the run up to Christmas right through to the New Year, this lush little island puts on a huge showstopper of a party…
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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.

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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.

Canical

An urban port combining choppy seas with majestic mountain scenery, Caniçal is a true postcard setting.

Machico

Get a taste of the real Madeira in this sleepy shorefront town – the very location where explorers first settled on the island in 1420.

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!

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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, despite being one of few sandy beaches on the island. There’s a café overlooking the beach...

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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Avenida do Mar

Avenida do Mar

Funchal, Madeira

Funchal's palm-lined main avenue runs along the seafront from the old town to the marina and is the perfect place to stroll, shop, grab a bite to eat or people-watch. Grab a seat in one of the many restaurants...
Bica da Cana

Bica da Cana

Madeira

Bica de Cana is a fairly easy hiking route, known as 'the flower hike', thanks to colourful blooms you'll see. The route is carpeted with purple foxgloves, powder-pink orchids and plenty more besides. There's a...

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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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.

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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...
Black scabbardfish

Black scabbardfish

Madeira

This deepwater fish is a popular catch at the fish market of Funchal. It may look scary, but it tastes surprisingly tasty and is actually considered a delicacy in Madeira. If you fancy something different, try...

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, or 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.

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