You may have come across the name of Madeira last time you searched online for ideas for your next holiday destination. Located just under 4 hours away by plane from the UK, Madeira is a true jewel in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, mass tourism has not yet arrived to this Portuguese island, so there are plenty of opportunities to discover this natural paradise at your own pace.
Madeira is unique in many ways. Its volcanic origin has given rise to some of the most dramatic natural landscapes that you can find in this part of the world. And despite the fact that the island is only 35 miles long and 13 miles wide, there is a wide range of activities and sights available, certainly more than enough to keep you busy during your stay. Whether you enjoy colonial architecture, adventure sports, hiking, or simply relaxing and enjoying the local food and wine, you will definitely find something to suit your interests in Madeira. In this post you can find a sample itinerary that you can follow on your discovery tour of this island.
Flights from the UK arrive in Funchal airport. The airport is located some 8 miles away from the city, and although there are buses and taxis available, it is recommended that you rent a car at the airport to maximise your time in the island. There are many well-established companies like National car rental just as you leave arrivals.
The airport is located in the southeast of the island. The coastal road towards Funchal offers glimpses of the spectacular landscapes of Madeira. Take note of the golf courses in the area too if you are interested in practicing this sport while on the island. Once in the city, take a walk around the central market and sample some exotic fruits. There are several cafes in the area where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and soak in the lively atmosphere. The old city is dotted with charming convents, palaces, and colonial houses, as well as beautiful gardens that are a pleasure to stroll around.
Madeira is known for its exquisite wines, so make the most of your time here and drive to Blandy’s Wine Lodge to learn more about Madeira wines. Another point of interest is the road that goes north from Funchal. This is a scenic drive that will take you past two natural parks and several viewpoints.
The western side of the island is sparsely populated and therefore an oasis of peace. You will go past small fishing villages like Sao Vicente, Seixal, and Porto Moniz, where you can relax in the volcanic pools formed where the mountains meet the ocean.
While you are in the northeast of Madeira, take some time to visit the Sao Vicente caves, which were formed 400,000 years ago and are a must-see in the island. On the way back to Funchal, you can stop at the Botanical Gardens, where you will enjoy sweeping views of the city and the sea. There is also a cable car that takes you to the charming village of Monte, perched on the lush hills of Madeira.