27 Dec Madeira Travel Guide
Welcome to Madeira
Welcome to the enchanting island of Madeira, Portugal – a jewel in the Atlantic Ocean that captivates travellers with its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich tapestry of history. Within the deep blue waters of Madeira, lush greenery, dramatic cliffs, and terraced vineyards cascade down hillsides. This autonomous region boasts a mild subtropical climate, making it a year-round destination for those seeking a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
Madeira’s capital, Funchal, is a charming hub where cobbled streets wind through historic neighbourhoods, and bustling markets offer a sensory delight of local flavours. From the iconic Madeira wine to the diverse culinary delights, the island promises a gastronomic journey that mirrors its cultural diversity.
Nature lovers will find paradise in the Laurissilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where endemic flora and fauna thrive in a pristine environment. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the island’s rugged terrain through a network of levadas (irrigation channels turned hiking trails), revealing breathtaking vistas and hidden waterfalls.
Whether you’re a history buff exploring centuries-old forts and churches or a thrill-seeker embarking on exhilarating activities such as paragliding or dolphin watching, Madeira caters to diverse interests. Come and experience the magic of this Portuguese gem.
How To Get There
Getting to Madeira involves primarily air travel, as the island is situated in the Atlantic Ocean. Here are the main steps to reach Madeira:
Flight to Funchal: Madeira’s main airport is Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC), located near Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
Numerous airlines offer direct flights to Madeira from major European cities. Some common departure points include Lisbon, Porto, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Madrid.
Connecting Flights: If there are no direct flights from your location, you may need to take a connecting flight through a major European hub, such as Lisbon or another city, depending on your departure point.
Ferry (optional): While air travel is the most common and convenient option, occasional ferry services connect Madeira to mainland Portugal. However, these routes are infrequent and take longer than flying.
Cruise (optional): Madeira is a popular stop for cruise ships. If you are on a cruise, you may arrive at the Funchal harbour.
Local Transportation: Upon arrival at Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport, you can easily reach your destination on the island by taxi, rental car, or public transportation.
Remember to check the latest travel regulations, flight schedules, and entry requirements, as they may change based on global circumstances, local policies, and airline operations. It’s advisable to book your flights and accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
Places Of Interest
The third-highest peak on the island, Pico do Arieiro, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the mountainous landscape. Visitors can reach the summit by car and then explore the hiking trails that lead to even higher points.
UNESCO has designated Laurissilva Forest, a primaeval laurel forest unique to Madeira, as a World Heritage Site. Hike through its enchanting trails, surrounded by ancient trees, and discover the rich biodiversity of this natural gem.
Cabo Girão provides awe-inspiring views of the Atlantic Ocean atop one of Europe’s highest sea cliffs. The glass-floored viewpoint allows visitors to experience the sheer drop beneath their feet.
Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of Funchal’s Old Town, where you’ll find historic buildings, traditional shops, and various restaurants. Don’t miss the vibrant street art in this lively district.
Câmara de Lobos is a picturesque fishing village known for its colourful boats and charming harbour. It was a favourite subject of Sir Winston Churchill, who painted its scenic landscapes during his visits.
Where To Stay
This five-star hotel, part of the PortoBay Hotels & Resorts group, offers a sophisticated and contemporary atmosphere. With its privileged location on a cliff, The Cliff Bay provides guests with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and access to top-notch facilities.
This charming mid-range option is set in a historic Madeiran manor house surrounded by botanical gardens. Quinta Jardins do Lago offers a tranquil retreat in the heart of Funchal, with spacious rooms and personalized service.
Situated in the central area of Funchal, Hotel Sirius is a cost-effective accommodation choice that provides simple yet comfortable rooms at budget-friendly rates. With essential amenities, it offers a convenient base for exploring the city’s attractions without straining your travel budget.
Where To Eat
Here are some recommendations for where to eat in Madeira:
Funchal Old Town (Zona Velha): Explore the charming cobblestone streets of Funchal’s Old Town, where you’ll find many traditional Madeiran restaurants and tascas (taverns). These establishments often serve local specialities, including espetada (grilled meat skewers) and black scabbardfish.
Mercado dos Lavradores: Visit Funchal’s farmers’ market, Mercado dos Lavradores, to savour fresh produce, regional fruits, and local snacks. The market also houses small eateries where you can try authentic Madeiran dishes.
Ritz Madeira: Enjoy panoramic views of Funchal while dining at Ritz Madeira, which is located on the top floor of a building. The restaurant offers a diverse menu, blending Madeiran and international flavours.
Taberna Ruel: Head to Taberna Ruel in Funchal for a taste of traditional Madeiran tapas. This cosy spot is known for its friendly atmosphere and menu featuring local ingredients.
Do Forte Restaurant: Situated within the historic São Tiago Fort in Funchal, Do Forte Restaurant provides a unique dining experience with its fortress surroundings. The menu includes a mix of seafood and traditional Madeiran dishes.
Armazém do Sal: Located in the Old Town, Armazém do Sal is known for its seafood dishes and historic ambience. The restaurant is housed in a former salt warehouse, adding to its charm.
O Celeiro: If you’re in the mood for a vegetarian or vegan meal, O Celeiro in Funchal offers a diverse menu with fresh and organic ingredients.
Remember that Madeira is also famous for its wine. Be sure to pair your meals with a glass of Madeira wine, whether the dry Sercial or the sweet Malvasia. Exploring local recommendations and trying a mix of traditional and contemporary dining options is always a good idea to experience the island’s culinary scene fully.
Madeira emerges as a spellbinding haven where nature’s artistry and cultural heritage converge. This island, cradled in the Atlantic, unfolds a symphony of experiences for every traveller. The emerald landscapes, adorned with terraced vineyards and cliffs, cast an enchanting spell, inviting exploration and introspection.
Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is a canvas painted with historical charm and modern vibrancy. Its cobbled streets, historic sites, and lively markets resonate with the island’s rich identity. Culinary adventures here are a sensory delight, from savouring traditional delights in Old Town taverns to relishing contemporary flavours in chic restaurants.
With its kaleidoscope of experiences, Madeira encourages immersion and promises unforgettable memories. It’s a destination that transcends the ordinary, leaving an enduring mark on those fortunate enough to explore its beauty.
Explore Trips From Madeira
Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.