5 Things to do in Madeira
Georgina Willcox | 03 April 2023
Our holidays to Madeira are now available to book for 2023. Discovered in the 15th century by explorers in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator, the beautiful island of Madeira is situated in the Atlantic Ocean and this Portuguese territory is lapped by the waters of the Gulf Stream. In 2022 Madeira won the award for World’s Leading Island Destination, granted by The World Travel Awards. Throughout the summer you can avail of two weekly direct flights from Dublin to Funchal with Ryanair. With a pleasant climate, dramatic scenery, beautiful flowers and gardens, mountain trails and a unique island culture, Madeira is a holiday destination with something for everyone. Check out our top five highlights of Madeira.
1. Wine and food – Islands of unforgettable flavours
Thanks to the subtropical climate and volcanic soils, Madeira’s cuisine is based on fresh and varied local ingredients. Traditional dishes include “tuna steak with fried corn”, “swordfish steak”, “skewers (espetada)”, “passion fruit pudding”, “limpets” and tropical fruits amongst others. Madeira’s wine has received several awards throughout time thanks to the types of grape, climate and volcanic soils in the region. The best known grape varieties of Madeira’s wines are Sercial, Boal, Verdelho and Malvasia, but there are many other grape varieties, with wines of different degrees of sweetness: dry, half dry, sweet and half sweet. There are several wineries and restaurants offering tastings, traditionally accompanied by Madeira honey cake.
2. Gardens of Madeira - Natural and exuberant scenery
Madeira offers incredible natural landscapes and really demonstrates how inspiring our Earth can be, making it one of our top sun destinations. Madeira is also known for the variety of its gardens, carefully cared and appreciated by locals as well as visitors. The subtropical climate allows the survival of a wide variety of flowers, plants and trees from all over the world, whose aromas and colours give the island a natural charm. Strelicias, magnolias, anthuriums, orchids… there are always flowers blooming, in any season.
3. Wicker Sledges - A Unique activity
Fun can be found on literally every turn! These cars are produced with wicker and wood and have two to three seats. They are led and controlled by two drivers, dressed in white and with a straw hat on their heads. The drivers, with great skill and expertise, use thick rubber soles on their boots as brakes during an exhilarating trip of pure adrenaline and emotion.
4. Sunrise & Sunset – Unforgettable moments
For an incredible sunrise in Madeira, go to the mountain of Pico do Areeiro, one of the highest peaks of the island at 5965 feet. Arrive just as the sun is about to rise above the horizon and as the sky begins to change to a paler shade of starlight. Make sure to take photos in this magnificent landscape at this sublime moment so that you will treasure this memory forever. If you’re not an early morning riser, you can also admire the sunset in one on the spots by the sea: Praia Formosa, Madalena do Mar or Paul do mar. Sit in one of the bars close to the sea from where you can see the sun setting into the ocean. It's really amazing!
5. Fajã dos Padres – A memorable experience
This fajã is not one of the most popular places in Madeira, but that helps making it even more special. The access is quite particular and different from what we are used to. One way is to go down the cable car from the top of the slope (where you can leave your car) all the way to the Fajã area, by the sea. The other way is by sea, via boat. Here the sea is so clear that it is possible to see the ocean floor when we are out of the water. There is a small pier, which gives you direct access to the sea and from where you can dive. The water temperature can reach about 24.5 °C in summer, can you imagine? You won’t even feel like getting out of the water.
Discover Madeira’s intriguing history and incomparable scenery with us. We’ll embark on a city tour of Funchal, experience a typical Madeiran evening of food and entertainment, explore the east of the island and much more. There will also, of course, be plenty of free time to explore Madeira at your own pace. Our holidays to Madeira include return flights, the expertise of a local tour guide, accommodation, all transfers and our specially selected excursions and tours.