• Plan Your Madeira Vacation

    Photo: Anilah / Shutterstock

Plan Your Madeira Vacation

Floral scents fill Madeira's sea-washed air. Bird-of-paradise flowers grow wild; pink and purple fuchsia weave lacy patterns up pastel walls; and jacaranda trees create purple canopies over roads and avenues. The natural beauty of this island is like no other, from the cliffs that plummet seaward to mountain summits cloaked in silent fog. The magic has captivated travelers for centuries.

Wine connoisseurs have always savored Madeira's eponymous export, but a sip of this heady elixir provides only a taste of the island's many delights. Made up of a series of dramatic volcanic peaks rising from the sea around 600 km (373 miles) off the west coast of Morocco, the island has an alluring, balmy year-round temperature, ensured by warm Atlantic currents. Other draws include the promise of clear skies, the carpets of flowers, the waterfalls that cascade down green canyons, and the great hiking along the island's famous network of levadas. These irrigation canals have been adapted into superb walking trails, many of them passing along the dramatic coast or through an Alpine-like interior of lush woodlands.

Thanks to its position on shipping routes between Europe, Africa, and the Americas, Madeira grew up as an important trading post. The British have had strong ties to the island thanks to a 16th-century royal marriage. Today they still flock to Madeira, mainly over winter, as do other northern Europeans, especially Germans and Scandinavians. In summer, the island is also popular with visitors from mainland Portugal, when an adventurous crowd puts Madeira's magnificent blend of sun and seascapes to good use. The island also has some excellent museums, tranquil gardens, and a range of good restaurants.

Restaurants

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Sights

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Shopping

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Nightlife

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Performing Arts

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Experiencing the old and the new Madeira retains a traditional Portuguese feel but has one foot firmly in the 21st century, with cutting-edge museums, an excellent road system, and some fine modern bars and restaurants.
  2. Experiencing the levadas There are around 2,000 km (1,240 miles) of levadas, or drainage canals, that allow easy walking access to the island’s jagged mountain peaks and dramatic coastline.
  3. Celebrating at festivals With one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Day fireworks displays, a spectacular Carnival, and countless local festivities, there is always reason to celebrate somewhere on the island.
  4. Enjoying the flora Madeira’s semitropical climate and rich volcanic soil promote an astonishingly verdant array of flowers, plants, and trees, both in the wild and in some beautifully cultivated gardens.
  5. Taking to the Atlantic If you aren't tempted to swim in the Gulf Stream–warmed Atlantic waters, head off on a boat for the chance to spot dolphins or whales or for some of the best game fishing anywhere.

When To Go

When to Go

The island's lower elevations are blessed by constant soft, warm breezes, and subtropical vegetation that perfumes the air year-round. Every...

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