- a wonderful destination that has a warm year-round climate, dramatic volcanic landscapes, world-class wines, incredible hiking, a wide mix of lodging and so much more.
Now closer than ever to the United States – it is the prefect warm weather winter/spring destination.
All the wonders of Europe, the landscapes of a semi-tropical volcanic island, and as close as the Caribbean.
Madeira is a semi-tropical island rising from sea level to over 6,000 feet. Its steep pitch gives the island six distinct climate zones.
The ancient Laurissilva cloud forest at the highest elevations is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, 2/3rds of Madeira is conservation land.
It has mountain plains, valleys, high peaks, streams, rocky coastlines, and tidal pools. The island has a unique landscape accessed by a modern roadway system of new tunnels, and the older mountain roads they replaced that wind along the hillsides.
- Some 30 miles from Madeira is the smaller island of Porto Santo, famed for its long sandy beach, dunes, and vineyards. Porto Santo was where Portuguese ships first landed in 1419.
Today, it earns the nickname the “Golden Island” from its undeveloped beaches and features a handful of hotels.
Porto Santo’s beach is said to be one of the best in Europe, and its golden magnetized sands are famous for healing sore aches and pains. A new set of spas has recently opened to feature the sands, joined by a new golf course.
Dry and sunny Porto Santo gets very little rain, perfect for a relaxing beach getaway any time of the year.
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic on the 32nd parallel north. It lies southwest of Lisbon, and several hundred miles west of the coast of Morocco. It is made up of the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, as well as the Desertas and the Selvagem Islands.
Madeira has never been easier to get to. TAP Portugal offers easy connections from Lisbon – and with non-stop service to Portugal from 9 US cities on five airlines, getting a connection is easy. It is a 1.5-hour flight from Lisbon, Porto or the Azores and it takes about 15 minutes to fly between the two islands in the group—Madeira and Porto Santo. Madeira’s Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport and the Porto Santo Airport serve the archipelago. The airport on Madeira is about a 30-minute drive to Funchal, the archipelago’s capital. Madeira has also become a major stop for cruise ships.
From the United States, direct (1-stop) flights are available out of cities including Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco.
Azores Airlines and TAP are the main Portuguese operators flying directly and at the best rates. United, American, Delta, Norwegian or British Airways also fly to the island via connections.
Traveling from the mainland, Porto, Lisbon and Ponta Delgada airports all have non-stop flights to Funchal. And, the low-cost airlines Easyjet and Transavia also offer good deals and service.
Funchal is a bustling city that rises from the Atlantic like an amphitheatre. It boasts forts, an historic old town, well-preserved churches, inviting museums, and regionally crafted wines. It is a walkable city with a pleasant harbor and a medieval cathedral more than 500 years old. Funchal is also perpetually sunny, but when the sun goes down, it’s easy to find entertainment, fine cuisine and music in its nightclubs, restaurants, and a casino.
The black cliffs surrounding Funchal are dotted with world-class hotels. There is an art museum, wicker toboggan rides, wineries, an open market, seaside parks… and so much more. The Lavradores Market features the colors, aromas, flowers, fruit and fish of Madeira. On the Rua de Santa Maria, a Painted Door Project has highlighted the oldest part of the city and its historic streets. Santiago Fort is the home to the Museum of Contemporary Art. And the Madeira Story Centre offers an interactive look at the archipelago.
According to Condé Nast Traveler, the Monte Palace high above the city, is one the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. Alongside the flowers inspired by them, the island is known for its embroidery. Unique, handmade pieces come form a team effort that includes designers, perforators and skilled embroiderers.
ACTIVITIES IN NATURE...
Throughout the island, there are so many exciting things to do and experience that you are tempted to come back again and again. In this magnificent and diverse island you can choose to do something relaxing or to get your adrenalin flowing, with extreme sports.
From walks and strolls along the levadas, to rock climbing, to surf, swimming with dolphins, diving or even mountain biking. Whatever the state of mind, there is always so much to enjoy.
A list of tasty delicacies that will make your head spin. Madeira Archipelago’s cuisine reflects the soul of an honest, hardworking and hospitable people.
NEED TO SAY MORE?
A wheat flour/sweet potato bread with garlic butter and parsley.
Pulled pork cooked after marinating in wine and garlic.
A cake, though the name indicates honey it is actually made with molasses.
Fresh tuna marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt and oregano, then fried and served with milho frito.
A dish made with white fish and local bananas.
Grilled limpets, with garlic and a slice of lemon.
Tomato and onion soup, crowned with a poached egg.
Chunks of regional beef rubbed in garlic and salt, skewered and grilled.
Deep-fried cubes of polenta (corn meal).
To taste Madeira is to try Madeira wine, honey cakes, black scabbardfish, limpets, “bolo do caco” bread, bananas with syrup, tuna steak, fried cornmeal, meat kebabs on laurel spits, homemade couscous, wheat soup…
Madeira is famous for the wine that bears its name and, today, is produced in a number of varieties. Funchal is the center of wine production. Madeira can be a dry table wine, a sweeter dessert wine, or a classic after-dinner drink. Its production is part of the social and economic life of the island. Each September, festivals celebrate the grape harvest. Along the warm south coast, grapes are grown on tiered terraces.
From its earliest days as a producer of wine, the island built a system of water channels, called Levadas that brought water to the vineyards. Today, they also serve as a vast network of hiking paths that run passed waterfalls and spectacular views.
Did you know that the American Declaration of Independence was toasted with Madeira Wine?
February; Like Brazil, Madeira is known for its big parades and elaborate decorations. The costumes and the allegoric floats take a lot of time and creativity to build and the streets of Funchal come alive with decorations.
May; The island is known as “the flower island” for the incredible amount of flowers everywhere. Every year this is celebrated in the Festival with costumes, parades and performances dedicated to Spring.
September; Come aboard Colombo’s Festival and discover the richness of an amazing story. You’ll go back in time and live as in the medieval period, an era that went down in history due to the adventurous arrival of Cristóvão Colombo on the Island.
September; This is the grape harvest season and one of the most famous festivities around. Traditional harvests take place all over and people can press the grapes in the old style way: with their feet.
December; This is a time where people from all over the world gather in the island to close out the year watching one of the world’s biggest and best firework shows when the entire bay is lit up with fireworks.
Land Mass: Madeira has a surface are of 460 square miles, and is set 300 miles off the coast of North Africa, and 620 miles southwest of mainland Portugal. Porto Santo is 17 square miles.
Population Density: 90 per square mile
Main Cities: Funchal, Machico, Calheta. Câmara de Lobos, Machico, Ponta do Sol, Porto Moniz, Ribeira Brava, Santa Cruz.
FACTS TO KNOW FOR WHEN YOU GO…
Time: Five hours later than Eastern Standard Time in the United States
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Currency: The Euro
- TAPhas 1-stop service to Madeira from seven US cities
- Azores Airlines has 1-stop service from 2 cities
- Other airline with one-stop: Iberia, Lufthansa, American, Swiss, United and British Airways
(Boston, New York JFK, Newark, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami)
- Both islands offer bus and taxi transportation.
- Rental car services are available on Madeira and Porto Santo.