Cast aside your preconceptions of Madeira – Madeira is a holiday for everyone – especially at Christmas! As I found out…
At Christmas it is particularly pretty with twinkling lights and Nativity Scenes, Christmas Concerts to enjoy as well as the food and beverage market stands to eat, drink and be merry! The festivities begin in early December and end on 06 January but 23 December is ‘Market Night’ and street party time!
With a flight of just over 3 hours and a mild climate all year round it’s ideal as a short break as well as a longer stay to discover more of the island.
The best time to visit Madeira is May/June and Sept/October when it is warm but not too hot and crowded. However, with the Carnival in February and the Flower Festival in April – Madeira is great at anytime!
The Atlantic Ocean invites you to go fishing, sailing, whale and dolphin spotting as well as water skiing, surfing, diving and swimming in moderate 18-24°C water temperatures.
If you’re a landlubber let’s see what Madeira can offer you… for the perfect day out, relax and let someone else do the driving with Madeira coach tours… take a luxury coach to the best parts of the island. See the rugged North and West, the mountainous South and East or just take half a day for the famous Nun’s Valley Tour.
For a more exciting mode of transport, why not take an off road Jeep safari to see the hidden beauty of Madeira. One of the first stops is the 3rd highest Mountain on the Island, Pico do Arieiro, which is 1818m high. The views are great, up so high, and this is also the start of the 7km path that connects to the highest mountain, Pico Ruivo. If you are faint heated you could try the Ribeiro Frio Levada walk to Balcoes which takes about 45mins and is regarded as ‘easy level’. At Santana you can view triangle shaped small houses. These small houses built of natural stone and thatched with straw have served the locals for centuries as stables and dwellings. After lunch here, we went to the most eastern tip of the island – Ponta de Sao Lourenco. A fantastic combination of rocks, sea and nature. Off road is a great way to see the Island!
Allow yourself time to enjoy the dramatic scenery of the island, a short drive from Funchal to the west side of the island is the fishing village of Camara de Lobos which is mainly known for catching scabbard fish and supplying the island with bananas.
A little further on are the second highest sea cliffs in the world (580m), Cabo Girao and you can now enjoy the breathtaking views from a glass skywalk at the lookout point – would you dare? It’s an unforgettable experience and the views over the cliff are stunning.
For more views to the North and South of the island go inland to the 1004m Encumeada Pass. You might, if you’re lucky, witness a fascinating display of clouds blown in from the North and curling their way down the southern slopes.
On the North of the island is the pretty village of Porto Moniz, best known for its natural pools. Enjoy the best of both worlds by enjoying the sea water whilst in the comfort of a pool.
There are many wine producing farms on the island and I visited a traditional one in Seixal, not far from Porto Moniz. Lovely to while away the afternoon, wine tasting and a delicious lunch!
There are two spectacular golf courses, both with lovely views and excellent conditions: the Palheiro Golf and the Santo da Serra Golf Club.
Or take off to the beach by ferry to Porto Santo, Madeira’s neighbouring island with 5 miles of golden sand.
Funchal has beautiful Portuguese architecture and is lively with shops, bars, restaurants and casinos. It is spread up the hillside so it has fantastic views out to sea. You can take the cable car up to Monte for the best views, visit the beautiful Monte Palace Tropical Garden and then take the unique 2km toboggan ride back down in the safe hands of the Carreiros.
A must in Funchal is the Market Mercado dos Lavradores, where there are fruit and flowers on sale in a lively bustling atmosphere. You can purchase ‘Bird of Paradise’ flowers and they will be perfectly packaged for you to take as hand luggage on your flight home.
Also visit Blandy’s Wine lodge and indulge yourself in more than 200 years of Madeiran Wine. Or if yours is a more sedate palate, you have to take afternoon tea at Reids Palace. This Belmond Hotel is internationally known for its luxury 5-star accommodation, lush landscaped gardens and marvellous ocean views – an iconic experience in Madeira.
So as you can see Madeira has something for everybody, beautiful scenery with walks to enjoy it, golf and shopping opportunities, fabulous food and its world famous wine! When can I book your holiday to Madeira?