The verdant, mountainous landscape of Madeira offers a sublime backdrop for a phenomenal holiday. Located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the west coast of Africa, this magnificent Portuguese island is full of hidden charms, with an array of pretty coves, pebbly beaches and mountain trails waiting to be discovered. Offering year-round sunshine, Madeira holidays are popular for couples and families alike, with plenty of exhilarating activities to choose from on land and at sea. Indeed, the waters off Madeira are ideal for whale watching or dolphin spotting, as well as being favoured by water sports enthusiasts. Back on land, visitors can immerse themselves in the island’s incredible natural beauty or colourful culture, while also being able to indulge in delicious cuisine and enjoy complete comfort in the superb hotels Madeira has to offer.
Lying off the north east coast of Madeira is the small island of Porto Santo. Boasting a spectacular 9km stretch of soft, golden beach and just a handful of hotels and restaurants, Porto Santo is the perfect destination for a secluded escape surrounded by staggering natural beauty.
Madeira may be lacking in golden sandy expanses but it’s still a magical island escape where you can enjoy an unforgettable beach holiday experience in blissful sunshine.
Most of the beaches are pebbly on this magnificent volcanic island off the west coast of Africa - but that won’t detract from you having an amazing time, with so much to see and do.
You’ll still find plenty of sports and leisure activities going on along the beaches and promenades, as well as an abundance of water sports action in the Atlantic Ocean.
You can also take a boat trip out to sea with your partner or family for a breath-taking whale or dolphin-watching experience.
It you get the opportunity during your Madeira holiday, it’s worth taking a ferry trip over the charming little island of Porto Santo which is nearby – you’ll be impressed with its long stretch of golden sand, pleasant restaurants and incredible natural beauty.
The popular beaches in Madeira are perfect for family holidays, while couples seeking romantic moments will be drawn to the many enchanting coves and bays where they can stroll hand in hand, immersed in the magic of the surroundings.
There’s no shortage of night clubs and live entertainment venues in the capital Funchai, plus you’ll also discover plenty of shops, bars and charming restaurants serving the island’s traditional culinary delights.
The beach areas in Madeira are blessed with spellbinding views, awe-inspiring landscapes, exciting trails, captivating caves and expanses of wonderful flowers and plants.
The island’s most popular destinations for holidaymakers include Funchai, Garajau, Canico, Machico and Santa Cruz.
The largest public beach in Madeira is Praia Formosa which has many amenities including a children’s playground, sports centre, football pitch and restaurants and bars.
The island’s most photogenic beach is Camara De Lobos, while Ponto Do Sol is renowned for its romantic sunsets.
Other popular beaches in Madeira include Reis Magos Beach, Ponto Gorda, Porto Moniz and Jardin Do Mar.
There are a few sandy beaches in Madeira including the man-made Calheta and Machito which were created using imported sand. Other sandy beaches are Seixal and Prainha.
The people of Madeira organise a range of festivals and other special events throughout the year.
This is a huge celebration which evokes the spirit of the legendary Rio Carnival. It begins with a colourful parade with samba bands and dance troupes in stunning costumes. It concludes on Shrove Tuesday with the spectacular Trapalhão parade which has an electric Mardi Gras atmosphere.
This festival is held in September to commemorate the island's wine-growing tradition. It features a host of interesting displays including old-style wine making processes, plus picking and treading of the grapes.
Held in October, this event celebrates Madeira’s natural and cultural heritage. An exciting programme of activities are held for all ages and include sailing in the sea and paragliding over the mountains.
Madeira has some superb traditional dishes where fish, meat, fresh vegetables and tropical fruits figure prominently. It’s definitely worth sampling some of the popular culinary delights during your holiday to Madeira.
Espetada is beef with salt, bay leaves and garlic which is placed on a skewer and roasted on a brazier. It is served with a delicious Madeiran bread called Bolo do caco.
Another favourite in Madeira is Filete de Espada which is Black Scabbard fish fillet. This is often served with fried banana, potatoes and salad. The fillets are seasoned with garlic, salt, lemon juice and pepper. The bananas are peeled and then dipped with the fillets in egg and flour, before being fried in oil and sprinkled with parsley.
Carne Vinha D'Alhos is a traditional dish made with pork, white wine, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper which is left to marinate for a minimum of two days. It is then fried in the marinade with some lard.
A popular dessert is passion fruit pudding which is made with fresh passion fruit pulp (from the Passiflora edulis specias), jelly, condensed milk and cream.
There are many excellent restaurants in the capital of - among those of note are O Tasco, Doca do Cavacas, Atlantic Restaurante, Gavião Novo and Lá Ao Fundo.