With breath-taking scenery, an abundance of flora and fauna, and amiable weather throughout the year, it is easy to see why the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira has enchanted travellers for centuries. In addition to natural wonders, Madeira has a wealth of cultural attractions and historical landmarks to visit.
The two top destinations in Madeira are Funchal and Caniço de Baixo. Funchal is the archipelago’s capital where you will find the bulk of Madeira’s attractions and some of the best restaurants and cafes on the island. If you are looking for a laid-back holiday which is big on outdoor pursuits, Caniço de Baixo is the perfect destination as it has plenty of winding paths for walking and crystal clear waters.
Madeira’s principal gateway is Madeira Airport (FNC) which is conveniently situated just 15 minutes away from Funchal, the island’s capital. Once landing in Madeira there are taxis and shuttlebuses stationed outside of the airport which can take you to your accommodation. On average, a direct flight from London to Madeira will take around three and a half hours. For most of the year, a return flight to Madeira will cost £100 or less. However, during the peak summer months of July and August, prices soar to £130 or more.
What to Do in Madeira
Home to miles of Atlantic beaches, Madeira is the perfect destination for a beach holiday. The most popular beaches on the island are not too far away from the capital and are very developed. However, if you are looking for something quieter away from the crowds, there are a number of untouched beaches in more secluded locations. It is also worth mentioning that Madeira has a number of coastal swimming pools which are filled with salt water straight from the Atlantic.
There are a number of wonderful museums and galleries to visit while on holiday in Madeira. One museum of note is the Museum of the Madeira Wine Institute which explores how the island’s world-famous wine is produced today and how it was made during the past. The Museum of Sacred Art of Funchal is a fascinating museum housed in a former court and showcases a range of sacred art from both native and international artists.
One of the island’s most fascinating natural attractions is the Sao Vincente Caves which were created by volcanic activity more than 400,000 years ago. You can take a half an hour tour of the caves from an expert who will highlight some of the geological formations in the caves such as lava cakes and stalactites.
While in Madeira be sure to sample some of the local dishes. Madeiran cuisine has its roots in peasant cooking which means that many of the national dishes are hearty. Espetada is a dish not to be missed. It consists of grilled beef marinated in garlic and bay leaves. As the island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is another specialty in Madeira and is freshly caught fish, lobster and oysters are readily available in the island’s seafront restaurants.