You don’t have to travel a long way to find the ideal holiday destination. There are a thousand and one reasons for visiting Madeira! In addition to its stunning scenery and luxuriant mountains, this archipelago also includes (offers) a mild climate all year round. A warm welcome, peace and safety are among its charms.
To really get to know Madeira, climb to the top of a mountain and enjoy fantastic, breathtaking views or follow the trails and paths in the Laurissilva Forest along more than 1,400 km of "levadas", in a unique encounter with the island’s soul.
Feel the energy flowing from the cosmopolitan ambiance of Funchal’s streets and buy some souvenirs, like the famous Madeira embroidery, wine or wickerwork.
Take a tour around the island, stopping off on the way to admire the landscape or to enjoy a traditional gastronomic delicacy. For more energetic visitors there is scuba-diving, surfing, windsurfing or jet-skiing.
Romantics may prefer a wonderful sailboat trip along the coast to enjoy the whales, the dolphins and the sunset.
But to make this your dream holiday, you really must spend some time on the paradisiacal island of Porto Santo 40 km from Madeira, only 15 minutes by plane or 2h30 on ferry. Known as the “golden island”, Porto Santo is blessed with a 9 km fine, unpolluted sandy beach washed by a clear, calm sea - all you need for a perfect stay. Happiness is so near!
Madeira, Porto Santo and the uninhabited Selvagens and Desertas Islands integrate the Madeira Archipelago, which was discovered by the Portuguese in 1418.
This archipelago is located in the Atlantic Ocean, 500 km from the coast of Africa and 1,000 km from Europe. It’s only a 90-minute flight from Lisbon.
Madeira has an area of 741 km2, 57 km in length and 22 km in width.
Thanks to their excellent geographical location and mountainous relief, these islands have a surprisingly balmy weather, with moderate humidity and pleasant average temperatures of 25ºC in the summer and 17ºC in the winter.
The sea temperature is also very mild, thanks to the influence of the warm currents of the Gulf Stream, averaging 22ºC in the summer and 18ºC in the winter.
Discover an enchanted island!
Although it is small, Madeira is rich in majestic scenery and rare beauty. Go off and explore the charms and delights of this floating garden!
The main places to visit in Madeira Islands are Funchal (capital of the archipelago), Caniço, the east coast (Santa Cruz and Machico), the west coast (Câmara de Lobos, Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Sol and Calheta), the north coast (Porto Moniz, São Vicente and Santana) and Porto Santo.
Going west from Funchal you will find Câmara de Lobos, a typical fishing town, and Cabo Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe and the second highest in the world (580m). Nearby is the curious village of Curral das Freiras. It is located in a deep valley and has one of the island’s most spectacular landscapes, where dizzying views (over 500 meters high, from its belvedere - Eira do Serrado) will take your breath away. Continuing westward, visit the pleasant town of Ribeira Brava, before going up to Encumeada on a road full of belvederes from which you can see the surrounding mountain peaks.
If you like, go down to the sunny coast of Ponta do Sol and Calheta, with their tempting bathing areas. Surfers will find the best waves in Europe at the picturesque beaches of Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar.
If you drive up to Paul da Serra, the largest plateau in Madeira, stop to take in the fine view of the northern and southern slopes. Then go down to Porto Moniz and refresh yourself with a swim in the natural pools formed in the lava that once flowed down to the ocean.
Our journey continues to São Vicente, on a road scattered with waterfalls, where the majestic green of the hillsides contrasts with the crystalline blue of the sea. When you get to São Vicente visit the caves.
Route or simply take a stroll through the town’s pleasant streets. From here you can also go back up to Encumeada, delighting your senses with the luxuriant vegetation of the Laurissilva or go on to Santana, discovering small belvederes on the way. In Santana you must visit the typical "A house" (framed thatched roof houses), the theme park and Queimadas, which is the starting point for excellent walks like Caldeirão Verde. The descent to Faial is a pleasant surprise thanks to the impressive beauty of the surrounding mountains.
When you get to Faial you can choose between Machico or a visit to the island’s interior, taking the road to Ribeiro Frio, Poiso and Pico do Areeiro.
Pico do Areeiro is the island’s third highest point (1,818 m) and here we can find beautiful rock formations reaching into the sky like timeless statues.
If you choose to go to Machico, be sure to visit Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço, the island’s easternmost point. On the old road back to Funchal, at Garajau (Caniço) make sure to stop and overview Desertas Islands and the fabulous views over São Gonçalo bay Belvedere.
Delight yourself with the countless views on this island of such outstanding natural beauty!
Funchal, the capital of the archipelago is on the south coast of Madeira in a beautiful bay washed by the mild sea waters of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by green mountains and deep valleys. Funchal was elevated to city on 21st August 1508 and is now the main centre for trade, tourism and culture in the whole archipelago.
Explore this traditional but cosmopolitan city, strolling through its charming streets lined with pretty, flower-decked houses. Walk around its old, carefully restored squares, with their traditional portuguese paving and typical madeiran architecture. Visit the many city’s museums and monuments and its art galleries with collections of works by portuguese and foreign artists.
Take a walk around Funchal´s Marina and watch the sailboats and, further on, the cruise ships that stop off at Funchal from all over the world. You can also walk round in of the city’s gardens to take a look at the exotic, carefully tended multi-coloured flowers. If you would like to see the madeiran coast from a different angle and enjoy some fresh sea air at the same time, go on a trip in a yacht or catamaran, or experience a journey back in time on a replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship. The late afternoon is ideal for walking along the seaside promenades.
If you enjoy panoramic views, don’t miss the chance of an unforgettable trip on cable car. The cable cars between Funchal and Monte and between the Botanical Garden and Babosas (Monte) are the fastest way to get there while offering some spectacular scenery. Whatever you choose make the most to see a new world where tranquillity and a warm welcome make the difference.
Dive in to the fascination of the deep blue sea which contrasts with the emerald green of the mountains! This is Madeira, an island whose beauty is a gift from Mother Nature.
One of Madeira’s greatest tourist attractions is its varied, luxuriant vegetation, with a combination of tropical and Mediterranean characteristics, resulting in a mosaic in different shades of green.
Madeira is also famous for the harmonious shapes and contrasting colours of its countless exotic plants from almost all over the world, which seem, so at home here.
Thanks to its exceptional climate, you can admire flowers such as orchids, bird of paradise, anthuriums, magnolias, azaleas and proteas, all year round.
Explore the wide variety of devotedly tended gardens and parks that fill the air with unimaginable shades and perfumes. Visit Madeira’s indigenous forest, the same one that João Gonçalves Zarco and his companions encountered when they reached the island in 1419 - the Laurissilva, Unesco heritage.
Madeira’s natural heritage has been singled out in Europe, thanks to its amazing richness, diversity and state of preservation.
On 2nd December 1999, UNESCO acknowledges this fact and nominates the Laurissilva Forest a World Natural Heritage Site, the only one of its kind in Portugal, which now belongs to all humanity. Due to its beauty and diverse landscape, this forest has recently been declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.
You must find time to admire and enjoy this forest which dates back to the Tertiary Age and has survived the last glaciations, which is confined it to Macaronesia, i.e., Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries and Cape Verde.
Madeira has the largest area of this type of forest, about 22,000 hectares. It also has the widest variety of fauna and flora with some rare specimens.
Come and discover a true living relic, a real laboratory for botanists and plant lovers!
A series of protected land and sea areas constitute the most important natural heritage of Madeira Islands turning it into an excellent destination for eco-tourism.
Madeira Natural Park was set up in 1982 to safeguard the island’s natural heritage. It has been classified as a Biogenetic Reserve where we can find unique flora and fauna.
Madeira Natural Park covers about ⅔ of the islands territory and is divided into total and partial nature reserves, protected landscapes and recreational areas.
The Desertas Islands Nature Reserve is the last Atlantic refuge of the monk seal (Monachus), which was the main reason why it was set up in 1990.
The Selvagens Islands Nature Reserve is in the far south of Portuguese territory and established in 1971, becoming the first nature reserve in Portugal. These islands are also considered to be a bird sanctuary, due to their excellent nesting conditions for seabirds.
The Garajau Partial Nature Reserve was set up in 1986 and is the country’s only exclusively marine reserve. Amongst the fauna specimens you can observe large fish such as the dusky grouper (Epinephelus guaza) and a wide variety of other coastal species.
The reserve is considered one of the world’s main amateur diving destinations and a place of great scientific, recreational and tourist interest.
The Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve in Santana, constituted in 1997 at the request of the local population, includes a coastal area which is considered a potential habitat zone for the Mediterranean monk seal, and a small island on which we can see rare plants that are endemic of natural cliff habitats of the Macaronesia region.
At the east end of Madeira is the Ponta de S. Lourenço Nature Reserve, created in 1982. It has peculiar fauna and flora, thanks to important local characteristics confined to this area. It also has an observation post for environmental education.
Prepare to discover a fantastic natural world on one of the unforgettable walks along the hillsides. From 0 to 1.862 metres high excitement is guaranteed! Cultural and environmental factors have made walking one of Madeira’s most traditional and popular open-air activities. Lots of people come to the Madeira Islands just to walk the different footpaths, discovering the pleasure of close encounter with nature.
Walk along Madeira’s footpaths and levadas to reach the heart of the island and witness breathtaking virgin scenery. The levadas are a remarkable, ingenious irrigation system. These channels are testimony to our ancestors’ gigantic efforts to bring water from the high mountain springs to the slopes and valleys.
There are around 1.400 km of levadas in Madeira set for you to explore and discover remarkable landscapes.
The rough Madeiran relief and its mountain setting lead to routes of rare beauty, although the archipelago also offers some very interesting alternatives, where you can choose exclusively mountain and seaside or combination of both. Most of the walks are accessible to all though there are different degrees of difficulty and so we suggest you to ask your travel agent or browse specialised publications and make sure you have the right gear.
If you are really interested in walking in nature, we suggest you book an organised tour organised by a local travel agency or a holiday activity company, provide services of walking tours with a mountain guide.
Never do these walks alone and always take water, provisions, a torch, a sweater and wear sensible shoes. On these magnificent walks, hikers of all ages can explore the island’s fabulous unforgettable landscapes.
Discover an atmosphere of perfect harmony between man and nature in Madeira, where the saying “a healthy mind in a healthy body” makes a lot of sense.
Madeira has long been sought out for the therapeutic qualities of its climate in curing respiratory diseases; nowadays still offers its visitors excellent conditions as a health destination.
Dive into an island of calm, clear waters and soothe your energies taking profit from treatments with seaweed and plant extracts, the scent of flowers, the pure air, and the mild climate. Discover the fertility of the land and the rich sea-life in dishes that are as healthy as they are delicious. Benefit from the direct contact with nature, far from the humdrum bustle of the big city.
Make the most of the wide range of facilities offered by most hotels, such as swimming pools, saunas, gyms, tennis courts and massages. Some are real health resorts that combine medical and beauty treatments, offering services like thalassotherapy, hydro-massage, Turkish baths, massages and beauty centres, amongst others.
For more demanding customers, Porto Santo boasts a thalassotherapy centre, where experienced staff and excellent facilities combine to provide a variety of preventive and curative health services. The island’s sand contains amazing minerals and is an excellent complement for the treatment of rheumatic diseases.
Madeira Islands has both healthy and natural elements offering ideal conditions for a relaxing and invigorating holiday at any time of year.
In Madeira Islands, you will find typical regional dishes made with the highest quality ingredients. There is also plenty of international cuisine to choose from.
Thanks to its close contact with the sea, most restaurants in Madeira offer excellent seafood and fresh fish dishes. Limpets, octopus, shrimp, tuna steaks and scabbard-fish fillets are just some of the local delicacies.
You must try traditional regional dishes like tuna steak and fried maize the delicious meat skewer on a laurel stick, sweet potatoes and "bolo do caco” with garlic butter (a kind of bread). Other traditional foods are home-made couscous, home-baked sweet potato bread and marinated pork tenderloin.
Fruit lovers will really think they are in heaven! Tropical fruits like mangoes, bananas, avocadoes, custard apples and passion fruits are abundant and their exotic flavours are the perfect end to a meal, either fresh or in a pudding, mousse or ice cream.
There is also a rich variety of sweets. The most traditional are honey cake and honey biscuits made with the richest ingredients such as spices, dry fruits and sugarcane honey. Cheesecakes are also highly appreciated.
You'll find as well a wide selection of drinks; Exotic fruit juices such as passion fruit, papaya, and guava. The celebrated “poncha” made with sugarcane rum, honey and lemon, and the famous Madeira wines, which can be served as aperitifs or savoured with a coffee, are also an excellent choice. Try some of these mouth-watering delights!
Madeira’s matchless soil and climate, the production process and the grape varieties used have made Madeira wine unique.
Chosen to celebrate the independence of the United States on 4th July 1776, praised by Shakespeare in his plays and admired by monarchs, princes, generals and explorers, Madeira wine is certainly a treasure.
It is appreciated all over the world and has more than five centuries of history. This ‘nectar of the gods’ is one of Madeira’s finest achievements.
Just think about the Madeirans’ constructive spirit over the centuries, visible in the hand-tilled vineyards on small terraces called "poios", sometimes clinging to the mountain sides. There are more than 30 Madeira wine grape varieties, though the best are Sercial, Boal, Verdelho and Malvasia.
The most well-known dry wine is made from Sercial grapes. This pale, strongly perfumed wine makes an ideal aperitif. Verdelho leads the medium dry wines. It is golden, delicate and quite perfumed and is the best one for drinking with meals. Boal is medium sweet, smooth, velvety, noble and dark gold in colour and goes well with roast meat or dessert. Between meals or with dessert, few can resist a Malvasia, a sweet, red, full-bodied, intensely perfumed wine.
Connaisseurs of this ‘art’ should come to Madeira in September to see and participate in the Madeira grape harvest and its festival, a tribute to this age-old product that is recognised worldwide. Savour a glass and toast to life with Madeira wine…
Get to know a vast cultural heritage dating back to the time of the discoveries at museums, churches, palaces and mansions and in the customs, folklore and art of the Madeiran people.
Funchal is particularly rich in historical heritage sites of interest to tourists, like churches, chapels and forts, many of which are classified as national monuments or listed buildings whose beauty leaves no-one indifferent.
For those who enjoy rich, diversified cultural activities, Madeira is definitely the place to go! Pieces of the archipelago’s culture and history can be found in its different museums. Among the sights particularly worth a visit are São Lourenço Palace, Pico do Forte, Sé (Cathedral), Colégio or Jesuits’ Church, Santa Clara Convent, Forte de São Tiago and the Municipal Market.
As you tour the island, you will come across monuments that are part of the archipelago’s history and statues, paying tribute to historical figures like one of the discoverer’s of Madeira, João Gonçalves Zarco.
In addition to the natural attractions and year-round spring weather, there is always plenty to do in Madeira Islands.
Throughout the year, there are cultural, entertainment and sports events all over the island and they not only attract the local population but also make holidays unforgettable.
Madeira has an annual festival calendar, of which the most famous events are Carnival, the Flower Festival, the Atlantic Festival, the Wine Festival, Columbus Festival, the Madeira Nature Festival and the New Year Celebrations, the greatest fireworks display in the world, recognized in 2006 by the Guinness World Records.
As you wander Funchal’s main streets, you will find a wide variety of shops selling everything from regional goods as souvenirs, to Portuguese and international designer articles. If you’re feeling tired, stop and drink a local fruit juice sitting comfortably at one of the centre’s pavement cafes.
We suggest buying Madeira embroidery, which is a treasure that lasts several generations and is internationally recognised. Madeira embroidery is used in a wide variety of articles from handkerchiefs to beautiful tradition tablecloths, which are real works of art.
Other regional handicrafts are wicker baskets, bags, trays, or even furniture.
Wickerwork is available all over the island, but the heart of its production is in Camacha, where you can find a wide variety of sizes and shapes.
You’re sure to take at least one bottle of delicious Madeira wine home after tasting it at one of the Madeira wine cellars and shops in the city.
Madeiran flowers like orchids, birds of paradise, king proteas, anthuriums, etc. are many visitors’ choice of souvenir. You can buy these flowers anywhere in Funchal, in the municipal market, flower stalls or florists.
The municipal market, known as the Farmers’ Market, is another must. It is a true shopping centre for regional products such as exotic fruits, vegetables, fish and flowers, wickerwork, and the famous Madeiran boots.
Discover the impressive and diverse island vegetation over a walk along one of the local canals known as “levadas” or one of the many trails at the heart of the Laurissilva forest, declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Nature Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.
Climb up to the clouds among mountains and levadas and enjoy the pure, rarefied air or discover treasures as you explore the depths of the Atlantic. Whatever your choice is, you will feel nature all around you!
The mild climate of Madeira and Porto Santo Islands is ideal for the practice of all kinds of sports, leisure and outdoors activities, at any time of the year.
Many options are available, including water, land and aerial sports, ranging from relaxing activities to traditional and extreme sports.
Sea lovers will benefit from the warm sea currents, with temperatures ranging between 19º and 24ºC, ideal for snorkelling, diving, sailing, surfing, windsurfing and sport fishing, all year round.
You will also be able to catch the best waves in Europe, at the Jardim do Mar, Fajã da Areia (São Vicente) and Porto da Cruz beaches.
A quiet boat trip is also a must. Sailing along the coast, you will be able to watch dolphins, whales and monk seals that grace Madeira seas with their presence.
Visitors looking for stronger sensations will certainly be able to find them. Paragliding, canyoning to discover the heart of the mountains, climbing the highest peaks, embarking on an all-terrain adventure, feeling the adrenaline rush while riding a jet-ski, or simply enjoying the sheer freedom of kitesurfing, are some of the sporting experiences available to visitors.
Golf and hiking are excellent alternatives for those preferring calmer activities, allowing a closer look at the natural features of these lusciously green islands.
The natural tones of green and blue make Madeira the ideal scenario for a round of golf. Two distinct islands, three magnificent golf courses, a choice of accommodation, leisure and wellbeing that meet and surpass the expectations of all golfers, are but a few of its attributes. The climate is mild throughout the year and nature offers pure air and unforgettable landscapes. In addition, each of the three Golf Courses offers unique challenges at every hole.
The Santo da Serra Golf Club (http://www.santodaserragolf.com/), with 27 holes, and the Palheiro Golf (www.madeira-golf.com/ ) with 18 holes.
On the island of Porto Santo, 40km from Madeira, try the Porto Santo Golf course (www.portosantogolfe.com), with 27 holes, designed by the famous golf player Severiano Ballesteros. After a "birdie" or a "triple bogey", there will certainly be time to discover the delicious regional gastronomy and ancient handicraft, visit one or more museums or simply relax at an esplanade with a sea view.
Madeira’s busy golfing calendar includes the Madeira Island Golf Open, part of the European PGA, and the most important golf tournament in the archipelago, played every spring.
There are more than sufficient reasons to visit Madeira…come discover them!
Porto Santo Island
A golden isle, washed by turquoise seas and where peace and quiet reign, is all you need for a truly relaxing holiday.
The safety, the warm welcome from the local people, the pleasures of nature hidden on the beautiful sandy beach and its tranquil waters make Porto Santo first among equals. This Atlantic island boasts 9 km fine golden sands ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Health and wellness go hand in hand on this magnificent beach as, in addition to its crystalline waters, its sands have rare therapeutic properties. The sand is soft, fine and smooth and consists mainly of calcium carbonate in the form of calcite, which has special thermal qualities.
Vila Baleira can tell stories and legends of the distant and recent past, like the Museum House where Christopher Columbus once lived.
The primitive beauty of the landscape enchants everyone that walks along the footpaths or rides a bike through the island’s trails.
Wellness in Porto Santo
Surrounded by natural scenery ranging from kilometres of quiet beach to green peaks and a deep blue sea, this small island is ideal for escaping the stress of the daily life.
Enjoy the scientifically proven therapeutic benefits of Porto Santo’s sea and sand. They are rich in iodine, calcium and magnesium and can restore the lack of mineral salts in the body caused by stress and fatigue.
Be pampered in one of the many natural treatments at the archipelago’s only thalassotherapy centre. There are beauty treatments like facials and peeling, treatments for the prevention and relief of rheumatism, arthritis, muscle problems and innovative techniques for combating the so-called diseases of modern life, like stress, fatigue, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, smoking, circulatory problems, joint problems, digestive disorders, postnatal recovery, etc..
No one can remain indifferent to the archipelago’s second largest island, so different from neighbouring Madeira, but just as attractive.
Come to paradise: it’s so close!
By air, you can fly to Madeira and Porto Santo and there are daily flights between Lisbon and Funchal taking 1 hour and 25 minutes. Flights between the islands take about 15 minutes. There are two airports, Madeira International Airport and Porto Santo Airport.
By sea, Funchal and Porto Santo are frequent ports of call for cruise ships. They are one of the main entrances to the islands and departure points for other destinations. The trip between the islands takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes by ferry, which can also carry cars.
to go around the islands is very easy thanks to the modern road network built in recent years. Practically all places of interest are easily accessible by road.