With year-round sunshine, the tranquil Portuguese island of Madeira is nicknamed the Floating Garden, as it’s a haven for flora, fauna and lush plantations. Holidays in Madeira are about relaxing and also getting out to explore the small undiscovered villages, churches and museums around the sprawling capital of Funchal. To the east of the island, enjoy stunning views from the peak of Pico de Arieiro and the village of Santana, famous for its traditional thatched roofed houses. Discover the vineyards at Quinta do Furao and the small fishing village of Machico. To the west of the island, there's the picturesque village of Camara del Lobos, the highest sea cliff in Europe at Cabo Girao and the rock pools at Porto Maniz. Madeira is surrounded by almost vertical cliffs, so there are no beaches as such, but the Lido at Funchal makes a fun day out. Mix in the island’s four main festivals - Carnival, the Flower Festival, the Wine Festival and the lively New Year’s Eve celebrations - add in beautiful weather, fine hotels and designer stores and a holiday in Madeira certainly ticks lots of holiday boxes.
Holidays in Madeira centre around relaxing pursuits, with days spent around the pool, exploring the island or strolling around the wide range of shops. For the more active, hiking on Madeira is incredible. Diving, surfing, sea kayaking and big game fishing are also available in the waters around the island. Head to the Lido in Funchal for swimming. Take a ferry to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, a beachlovers paradise. Visit the Botanical Gardens in Funchal or the Tropical Gardens in Monte to see the islands exotic flowers. Ride the cable car from Funchal up to Monte, where its twin towered church and gardens are worth a visit. Don't miss a return back down to the city in a traditional toboggan.
Nightlife during the week is pretty laid back with many of the larger hotels having regular live entertainment, including music, cabaret and folklore shows. The towns coming alive at weekends. There are several music bars and discos in Funchal. For a more relaxed evening, seek out one of the panoramic seafront bars or head to the old towns network of streets and alleys where youll find authentic and traditional venues.
Due to its island location, fish and seafood features heavily in the Madeiran cuisine, with tuna, swordfish, clams, mussels and oysters all specialities. Madeira cake is renowned throughout the world and is best enjoyed in its home. In Funchal, there's a wide choice of cosmopolitanstyle eateries, from burger bars to Chinese restaurants. Madeirans also have their own version of fast food, called 'prego'; a thin slice of grilled steak served in a bun. The local Madeira sherrylike wine is a classic and the good dry white local wines and Atlantis rose have to be tried.