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Located off the coast of Morocco and yet belonging to Portugal, the island of Madeira is an ideal, year-round destination. For a small island it packs a lot in; from stunning coastline and unique nature to mouth-watering food and all-year mild climate. Direct flights here take just under 4 hours and depart from a number of UK airports.
Although it may look small on a map, this perky island packs a punch with oodles to see and do - maybe that’s why it has been named 'Best Island Destination in the World' at the World Travel Awards™ 8 years in a row? So whether it’s a long weekend or a week-long adventure you're after, why not consider Madeira as your next must-see travel destination?
Currently, there are no longer any Covid-19 requirements for entry to Madeira; this includes not needing any proof of vaccination, a passenger locator form or a negative test. There is also no quarantine period upon your return to the UK. Keep up to date with the latest entry requirements; if you are arriving into Madeira via another country, please check those countries' entry requirements.
Madeira boasts a mild, sub-tropical climate 365 days of the year. Summer temperatures can be expected to be in the mid-20°Cs and, for those looking for some winter sun, you’ll be treated to the mercury hitting the high-teens. That sounds a whole lot better than a chilly winter in the UK!
Madeira has something for everyone. Nature lovers can don their walking boots and head out on the hiking trails that are scattered around the island. The national park occupies around 2/3 of the land mass with a bountiful mix of native plants and animals. Rising over 1,800 metres above sea level is Madeira’s astonishing mountain ranges. For those who fancy something with a little less altitude, water sports are a popular way to while away the hours on the island.
Because of the mild climate, the Atlantic Ocean remains a comfortable cool temperature - perfect for windsurfing, kayaking and surfing. You can always put on your diving gear and discover the plethora of marine life that calls Madeira's coastline home.
Thanks to strong influences from both Portugal and the Mediterranean, the flavours of Madeira are a fresh mix of local fish and meat seasoned with native herbs and bursts of citrus. These dishes are ideally paired with a glass or two of the local wine.
A famous local dish is called picado and can be found all over the island. It is traditionally prepared with beef cut into small cubes, fried and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. Or there’s always the showstopper dish of the local kebab called espetada. Fish lovers are also well served with popular dishes like tuna steak or black scabbard fillets with banana. Fancy something sweet? Passion fruit-based puddings are popular all over the island.
Of course, no visit is complete until you've tasted Madeira wine. Thanks to the unique landscape and minerals in the soil, this wine boasts a taste that has made it world famous. Dotted across the island are a number of vineyards and tasting experiences that are a must visit during your holiday.
Madeira offers a holiday environment that suits all kinds of travellers. Families can make the most of the island's wealth of kid-friendly resorts with pools, waterslides and kids' activities on site. For couples, there are more romantic, boutique accommodation options - many of which are situated on the dramatic coastline, offering jaw-dropping ocean views. For solo travellers, Madeira's budget-friendly hotels, homesteads and hostels offer a range of single rooms or affordable double stays.
Madeira has a colourful events calendar spanning the entire year. Our highlights are:
Carnival: 9th - 17th February - A colourful burst of life, Madeira's Carnival is an eccentric mix of energy and rhythm. The streets come alive with performers and dance acts that will blow you away.
Flower Festival: 2 - 26th May - Symbolising growth and hope, Madeira’s Flower Festival celebrates all things spring. The highlight of the celebration is the Flower Allegorical Parade, a colourful array of floats and eye-catching blooms. Take in the atmosphere and the smells of this particularly unique celebration during your visit to the island and you will be left feeling awe-struck.
Atlantic Festival: 31st May - 23rd June - Ignite your imagination with fireworks displays and fire dancers that set Madeira alight during the annual Atlantic Festival.
Wine Festival: 25th August - 15th September - Cheers to that, everyone! Raise your glasses in celebration of the grape harvesting season with a 2-week schedule packed full of events celebrating Madeira’s wine industry.
The capital of the island offers a hearty mix of history, culture and views. Tread the streets of the city and visit its many wine cellars or take in the views of passing cruise ships from a quirky oceanfront cafe.
Among the sites of interest, you can discover a number of its palaces, the fort of Sao Lourenço and churches. The historic districts are filled with charming small streets and cobblestone squares with local markets. Not to be missed is the cable car, where you can admire panoramic views of the city from the top.
For those after some more photographic opportunities, the quaint town of Porto Moniz is mostly famous for the lava pools or naturally formed swimming pools that are right next to the coastline. Filled with water at high tide, these pools are ideal for paddling.
Another aspect of Madeiran life that makes it so famous are the Madeiran toboggan rides. Costing around €30 for two people, the basket sledges are recognisable all over the world and are essential for any visit to Madeira. Dating back to the 19th century, they used to be a popular mode of transportation from Monte to Funchal centre.
Made of wood and wicker, the baskets are driven by 'Carreiros do Monte' with the help of ropes and traditional boots. The ride is all mostly downhill for 2km, through steep and picturesque streets, and lasts about 10 mins.
Located on the south coast of the island, Cabo Girão is a popular starting point for hikers and, at 580 metres above sea level, offers beautiful views. If you’re not too scared of heights, head to the Sky Walk where you can amble over a see-through walkway with the cliff edge and sea below your feet!
This UNESCO Natural Heritage Site has been protected under the name since the 90s and boasts a diverse range of greenery and waterfalls dating back millions of years!
Named as one of the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Beaches, Porto Santo is a 9km stretch of unspoilt sands caressed by turquoise waters.
You’ll either take in the panoramic views of the island once at the top, or on cloudier days, there's the possibility to look down at the low-hanging clouds!