Finding Paradise In Madeira An Introduction To The Island
Madeira is Portugal’s answer to the Canary Islands, a lush archipelago situated off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s fair to say that Madeira is a little more grown-up than its Spanish neighbours, attracting travellers in search of rural beauty, glorious hiking and stylish hotels.
Heavenly landscapes of MadeiraMadeira is verdant, volcanic and vertiginous. At every turn, dramatic cliffs and mountains give way to bright carpets of flowers and lush woodland. The volcanic soil and sub-tropical climate mean that the entire island is like a giant botanical garden. Throughout Madeira you will find small manmade waterways called levadas, which run in patterns across the landscape, the banks of which are alive with lilies and other flowers. Levada walking is a very popular activity for travellers. The island has many spectacular spots to enjoy the scenery, none better than Cristo Rei viewpoint in Garajau. Here you’ll be treated to a picturesque view over the ocean, the Natural Reserve of Garajau, Caniço and Funchal Bay.
Food and wineThe majority of Madeiran cuisine is prepared with fresh, local ingredients, often in recipes that have been used for centuries. Bacalhau (codfish) is very popular on the island - as it is elsewhere in Portugal. Black swordfish is another local delicacy - sometimes paired with banana. Beef and chicken are commonly cooked on a skewer with plenty of garlic and salt - delicious!
Portuguese wine is popular all over the world, and fortified Madeira wine has a long history, so it’s no surprise that Madeira is home to lots of vineyards, and going on a wine tour is a great opportunity to witness the production process and sample the spoils.
Visit Funchal & Porto SantoFunchal, Madeira’s largest city, is laidback, green and attractive. Travellers will find pretty parks and gardens dotted throughout the city, vibrant markets, historic architecture and trendy restaurants. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city on the Madeira Cable Car, which rises to over 500 metres. On foot, you’ll find many tourist attractions in Funchal’s Old Town, close to the waterfront.
Twenty eight miles north of Madeira, travellers will find the quieter twin island of Porto Santo. As well as golden beaches and incredible hiking routes, Porto Santo Island is home to a Christopher Columbus Museum and a golf course designed by Seve Ballesteros. The ferry from Funchal takes a couple of hours, making this a super place for a daytrip.
Outdoor pursuits in MadeiraHiking is seriously popular on Madeira and there are routes for those who want to take it easy as well as those with more experience. Follow a spectacular route around the eastern coast of the island in the Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço area where birds, rare plants and great views abound. For a trickier hike, follow the levadas of Serra and Norte up to heights of 1,600m. Other popular outdoor pursuits include mountain biking, dolphin watching and golf.
When to travel
Madeira has a year-round temperature that hovers between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius, so you can consider yourself pretty unlucky if you don’t see some sunshine on your trip. April and May are often said to be good times for walking as the flowers are just coming into bloom and the temperatures won’t be too hot. With Titan you can even celebrate New Year’s Eve in Madeira - the midnight fireworks in Funchal Bay are truly spectacular!
Article published on: 12th April, 2016