Madeira

Madeira

  • About Madeira

    Madeira in Portugal, known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, is a spectacular island rising sharply from the sea. Madeira benefits from superb mountain landscapes, dramatic coastline, gorges, waterfalls and pretty coastal villlages. It has become a haven over the years for walkers and eco tourists of all ages and nationalities.

    Visitors are also attracted to Madeiras all year round warm climate, its superb hotel facilities and an array of impressive gardens.

    An extremely low crime rate has also made it popular for those wishing to retire to sunnier climes. In recent years Madeira has also developed a reputation for water sports and adventure sports.

    The cheapest and easiest way to travel to Madeira is with a package holiday, especially during low season when great deals can be found.

  • Natural Heritage

    Madeiras greatest tourist attraction is its landscape. There are precipitous cliffs and valleys and wild jungle mountain scenery. The areas of lush vegetation are of huge scientific interest and have received UNESCO World Natural Heritage status. Madeira boasts the greatest concentration of lauraceous forests in the world and two thirds of the islands are National Parks. You will also discover some beautiful ornamental gardens.

  • British Influence

    Although staunchly Portuguese in nature Madeira is also known for its British influence. Britain has had a strong commercial presence on the island over the years, and has been heavily involved in Madeiras famous wine trade. You will find English is widely spoken and high teas are served in many of the cafes and restaurants. In 1894 William Reid opened the grand Reid Hotel overlooking Funchal bay and English tea on the lawn and sculpted gardens have been emblematic of Madeira ever since.

    Many great Britons have enjoyed a love affair with this island including George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. The latter came here to paint the pretty village of Câmara de Lobos.

  • Climate

    Situated 400 miles off the coast of North Africa, Madeira forms a triangle with Portugal and Morocco. The island offers pleasant weather all year round. Rain is rare in July and August and although you can expect showers many other times of the year it is rarely cold. Average summer temps are 22C and winter temperatures are 16C. Madeiras climate is localised with the south tending to be sunnier than the north and the inland mountain areas attracting mist and a greater likelihood of rain. Funchal, sheltered by high mountains, has its own climate with all year sunshine and steady breezes.

  • The Levadas

    When you look up at Madeiras huge and densely vegetated mountains much of the island seems inaccessible. However, nothing can be further from the truth. Madeiras irrigation system, stretching an impressive 2150km, and including 40km of tunnels, provides ideal access to the most remote and spectacular regions of the island. Many of these Levadas were built hundreds of years ago to carry water from mountain springs to irrigate the rest of Madeira. Now the Levadas have an added purpose of providing small winding paths through the mountains. Guide books are available which detail Levada walks for all abilities and ages. The walks also offer the best way to see the many natural and historical sights on offer.

  • Places

    Funchal

    The capital of Madeira boasts a vast harbour which is the visitor destination for the worlds biggest and best cruise ships. The citys attractions include the daily flower, fish and vegetable markets, its superb Botanical Gardens and the impressive Cathedral.

    Câmara de Lobos

    A charming fishing village which has remained unchanged for decades. It was a favourite holiday retreat of Winston Churchill.

    Monte

    Attractive hill top town above Funchal with amazing views. Its also the start of a famous toboggan ride in wicker baskets. You can also visit Monte via a spectacular cable car journey.

    São Vincente Caves

    An extraordinary complex of caves which leads directly into the hillside. Nearby São Vincente town is an added attraction in itself with its cobbled streets and beautiful church.

    Porto Santo

    A small island near Madeira just two and half hours by boat or quarter of an hour by plane from Madeira Airport. Porto Santo has a popular 8km long sandy beach.

    Cabo Girao

    The second highest sea cliff in the world. Its a sheer drop of 560 meters from the top where there is a viewing platform.

  • Key Facts

    • Name - Madeira Island
    • Country - Portugal
    • Language - Portuguese
    • Time difference - GMT
    • Religion - Roman Catholic
    • Currency - Euro