Holidays to Madeira offer Portuguese luxury at its finest
With flights from the UK to Madeira clocking in at under four hours, you’ll be sipping glasses of Madeiran wine in no time.
As the birthplace of a global wine phenomenon, Madeira is privy to some show-stopping luxury. Nicknamed the ‘Floating Garden,’ it’s a tiny Portuguese island in the Atlantic known for its rainbow-coloured vistas speckled with flowers, forests and terracotta roofs. With man-made beaches featuring imported sand, fresh seafood-touting restaurants and more wine than you’ll know what to do with, Madeira dishes up holidays that are heavy on style.
Funchal is the island’s capital and one of the cleanest capital cities in Europe, acting as a picturesque backdrop for a holiday in the sun. The gorgeous architecture sets it apart, so peeling yourself away from your hotel’s spa is a must here. Another Madeira destination, Calheta, offers a rugged skyline and a little beach shipped from Morocco, while Canical and its beautiful marina are home to a luxurious hotel complex styled after a traditional Madeiran hamlet.
Living the high life in Madeira
If you’re going to live large in Madeira, you’d be wise to add tasting Madeiran wine to the top of your list. This particular brand of vino originated in the Madeira islands, ranging in flavour from dry to sweet, and is available to drink at the vast majority of restaurants here. Wineries and vineyards can also give you the full Madeira wine experience. Once you’ve secured yourself a glass, simply sit back and bask in the Portuguese sunshine.
Being the capital, Funchal comes with the widest range of luxurious style. It hosts upscale hotels, a wide array of botanical gardens – including one high in the hills that you’ll need to reach via a scenic cable car – and the biggest selection of top notch restaurants. Both Calheta and Canical keep things on a lower key, with Calheta offering a Blue Flag beach and its very own arts centre, and Canical impressing with its sweet little marina steeped in old world charm.
Other popular holidays in Portugal
If you love the look of Portugal but aren’t sure where to go, never fear. There are loads of other Portuguese resorts where luxury holidays come in bulk. Have a look at the Algarve and Porto Santo for two sumptuous options. But if your heart is set on Madeira, take a peek at our Madeira travel guide for more information on this sunny island. In the meantime, here are our top luxury hotels in the area.
Awash in cool colours and pretty prints, this pint-sized hotel is located within a historic 18th-century building in the middle of old town Funchal. From the rooftop terrace you're awarded sweeping views of the city out to sea, plus a rooftop pool. There's a spa on offer for luxurious days plus a restaurant and cocktail bars for indulgent nights. What's more, the hotel is surrounded by Funchal's shops and restaurants, so exploring the city is a piece of cake.
Carved right into a cliffside and overlooking the sea, this 4* hotel is wonderfully secluded, providing a fantastic foundation for a relaxing holiday. Staying here will get you four pools – one of which is an infinity pool on the 8th floor – a buffet, barbecue and a la carte restaurant, plus an incredible five bars. Also on offer is a trendy spa with a sauna, whirlpool and Turkish bath, not to mention a range of massage treatments.
Trendy doesn't even begin to describe the fabulously quirky Vine Hotel, located in the middle of Funchal. With an interior specially designed by Nini Andrade, the hotel itself is 5* while the restaurant carries a total of three Michelin stars. Up on the top floor are a bar and swimming pool with panoramic views, while downstairs is the Vinotherapy Spa. There, you'll find treatments like facials, aromatherapy and wonderfully weird red wine bath treatments.
The Quinta Da Casa Branca exudes old school romance with dark wood accents and a fantastic location next to a botanical garden. Two restaurants are available here, both of which use organic produce grown on site and offer indoor or al fresco dining experiences. You'd be wise to make use of the spa, sauna and Turkish baths, plus nearby golf and tennis grounds. When you're ready to branch out, the waterfront is just a five-minute walk away while downtown Funchal is a little more than 20 minutes off.