Voted #6 in the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards 2015 ‘top ten islands of the world’, Madeira has always been a really special destination for us at Travel Department and we’re delighted to see its popularity soaring.
Despite its small size, the island has so much to keep visitors busy. If you would prefer to relax and enjoy the sunshine, however, then the climate is almost always on your side.
Here are my un-missables to see and do on magical Madeira.
1. Nature & the Botanic Gardens
Due to its location in the North Atlantic 400km north of Tenerife, Madeira has a sub-tropical climate. Year round, the temperature is warm and the occasional rain showers mean that the island is lush and green. If you’re a garden enthusiast then a trip to the Botanic Gardens is a must. There are over 2,500 species of plants here and you can also see lots of exotic birds including parrots and hummingbirds.
The great climate means that they can grow a very important crop on the island – wine grapes! Madeira produces its own fortified wine from indigenous varieties using an unusual process of heating the wine and allowing it to oxidise slightly during production. This process is known as ‘estufagem’ and mimics the aging process that wines would have gone through when travelling on long voyages on sailing ships through the tropical climate.
Madeira is a hilly island and although Funchal is fairly flat for getting around on foot, the rest of the island can be a bit more challenging. The aqueducts that were built around the island have beautiful walking trails running beside them, known as the ‘Levada Walks’. There are various levels depending on your experience and your local guide will advise the best choice for your ability. If you’re really ambitious you can climb to the top of Madeira’s highest peak Pico de Arieiro for the best views of the island.
4. Unique Culture & Lifestyle
The island’s population is tiny (under 270,000 people) but it receives over 1 million visitors each year. It’s fascinating that Madeirans have managed to retain their unique traditions, lifestyle and festivities. There are lots of little quirky snippets of colour and beauty dotted around the island, like the beautiful hand-painted doors in Funchal or the decorative floats during the flower festival, or my favourite – the traditional thatched houses that look like they belong in a story book. Make sure you experience a traditional evening of Madeiran food and dancing during your stay.
I love to shop so I usually spend the last couple of days on a holiday picking up souvenirs to bring home for friends, family (and me). There are lots of hand-crafted items to choose from including wicker, wood and hand embroidered linens. The local sweets, sticky cake and wine are also lovely to bring home and they help to ease the post-holiday blues upon your return.
My name is Irene, if you have any questions or would like to book a Holiday to Madeira, please call me on (01) 637 1600
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