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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)



Madeira Holidays

Marooned off the coast of Morocco, this Portuguese island is referred to as the Floating Garden because of its stunning floral displays. Madeira holidays allow you to witness the natural beauty as well as the charismatic culture and relaxing surroundings of this laidback island.

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Small but mighty

An island with a stunning volcanic landscape, to witness the views is a joy but many choose to explore and adventure across the varied terrain too. Within this small island you'll find mountains, forests and vineyards, while the beaches on the coast are as gorgeous as you'd expect them to be.

Funchal is the star of the show on tourists' holidays to Madeira while smaller resorts like Santo de Serra surround the capital on the southern half of the island.

You can recommend a holiday to this Portuguese island to all manner of people with culture and shopping, restaurants and nightlife, beaches and nature all found in this spectacular destination.

Where to stay in Madeira

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Portuguese
  • Approx 250,000
  • GMT - None

Dramatic landscapes

There are four terrific beaches called Praia Formosa to sprawl out on at Funchal. The coastal space is lined with black volcanic sands and pebbles but the beach is just as comfortable as any other from your reclined position on a sunlounger.

Inland there is a dramatic variation of terrain with tall volcanic mountains leading out towards the gorgeous greens of forests, national parks and golf courses. Santo de Serra is a favourite resort of golfers as the courses combine the fun of the game with vibrant nature.

Madeira Day

At the heart of Funchal is a 15th century cathedral which has been there almost as long as the Portuguese have inhabited the island. Though the island is owned by Portugal, Madeira gained political autonomy in the last century which is now celebrated every year on Madeira Day, July 1.

Climb mountains and glide through the air

The mountainous landscape of Madeira allows for plenty of opportunities to explore and adventure. There are dozens of tour companies that let you independently, or with a guide, hike, abseil, drive or glide through and over the island. Many tour operators offer boat trips allowing you to see breath-taking sights of Madeira from a different perspective.

The best way to see Funchal, its buildings and the many beautiful gardens by the city, is by taking the cable car up to Monte, a small area of the larger city. After you've explored the colonial buildings and greenery of this area, you can be led back down to Funchal via a toboggan ride on the roads.

Quiet nights and loud parties

At night Madeira can certainly provide the holiday bliss you've been in search of. There are hundreds of restaurants or tavernas where you're welcome to sample some famous Madeira wine by candlelight or by the waterfront.

Funchal also offers a surprisingly pulsating nightlife within the city too. Especially on weekends, locals and tourists gather at the bars and nightclubs to enjoy live music or talented DJs until the very early hours. Often the party won't even start until 2am so, if you choose to, you can expect to stay up very late.

Madeiran cuisine

Like the coastal regions of Portugal, Madeira has a thriving fishing industry which means there are many Portuguese seafood dishes featured on the restaurants' menus. Each dish tastes as exotic as they sound with skipjack tuna, blue and white marlins, and wahoo fish served locally.

Away from the seafood there are other treats to sample with Madeiran flair. Espetada's are a popular option where large chunks of beef are rubbed in garlic, salt and bay leaf before being marinated for hours in Madeira wine. For desert why not indulge in a breakable Madeira Cake which is made from sugar and honey.

Plenty of shops

Funchal is Madeira's best source of shopping opportunities with a couple of large shopping centres as well as a couple of markets too.

The malls of Funchal hide hundreds of shops between them and you'll no doubt find something to take home with you. The markets are mostly put on for locals with the Worker's Market selling home-grown produce but you'll also stumble across handmade goods too.

Getting there

Madeira Airport is located on the east of the island just 20km from the capital Funchal. The transfer to this city will take around 20 minutes and so will the journey from the airport to Santo de Serra.

If you're happy to stay within your resort then you can reach most areas by foot pretty seamlessly. However taxis are available and busses run regularly across the island.

Those who stay at Santo de Serra should have a regular eye on ways to get into Funchal and back.