Madeira is a picturesque archipelago situated off the coast of Portugal, known for its mild climate, lush greenery, and stunning natural beauty. It is the perfect destination for those who love to explore nature, indulge in delicious food, and soak in the vibrant culture. With so much to offer, it can be challenging to plan the perfect trip to Madeira. In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know to make your visit to Madeira unforgettable.
When to visit Madeira
Madeira is a year-round destination, thanks to its mild climate and warm temperatures. The island enjoys an average temperature of 22°C, making it pleasant to visit at any time of the year. However, the best time to visit Madeira depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to do.
Spring (March-May): This is a great time to visit Madeira, especially if you love flowers. The island’s famous Flower Festival takes place in April, and the streets of Funchal are adorned with colourful floral displays. The weather is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 17°C to 21°C, making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, sightseeing, and whale watching.
Summer (June-August): Madeira experiences its warmest temperatures during the summer, with average temperatures ranging from 22°C to 26°C. This is the perfect time to hit the beaches and enjoy water sports such as swimming, surfing, and sailing. The island also hosts several festivals during the summer, including the Madeira Wine Festival in August, which celebrates the island’s famous fortified wine.
Autumn (September-November): Autumn is a great time to visit Madeira, as the weather is still warm, with average temperatures ranging from 21°C to 24°C. The island is less crowded during this time, making it an ideal time to enjoy the natural beauty of the island without the crowds. Autumn is also the best time to harvest the grapes used to make the famous Madeira wine.
Winter (December-February): Madeira’s winter is mild, with temperatures ranging from 16°C to 19°C. It is a great time to explore the island’s museums and cultural attractions, such as the Madeira Story Centre and the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. The island also hosts several Christmas events, including the Funchal Christmas Lights Festival, where the streets of Funchal are adorned with Christmas lights.
Getting to Madeira
By plane: Madeira has one international airport, Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC), located in Santa Cruz, just 16 km from Funchal, the island’s capital city. The airport serves several airlines, including TAP Portugal, British Airways, and Ryanair, among others. Direct flights to Madeira are available from several European cities, including London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.
By cruise: Madeira is a popular stop on many cruise itineraries, and several cruise ships dock at the port of Funchal throughout the year. If you would like to explore the island as part of a larger itinerary, a cruise is an excellent option.
By private yacht: If you are looking for a luxurious and unique way to arrive in Madeira, you can charter a private yacht to take you to the island. The marinas in Funchal and Quinta do Lorde are equipped to accommodate yachts of all sizes.
The most convenient way to reach Madeira is by flying to Funchal International Airport, which receives direct flights from several European cities.
Getting around Madeira
The best way to explore Madeira is by renting a car. There are several car rental companies in Madeira, and you can easily book a car online or at the airport. If you prefer not to drive, there are buses that run between Funchal and other towns on the island. Taxis are also available, but they can be expensive.
Accommodation in Madeira
Madeira offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guest houses, and flats. If you prefer a luxurious stay, there are several five-star hotels in Funchal. Alternatively, you can stay in a traditional Madeiran Quinta, which is a charming country house converted into a guest house. There are also several self-catering flats available for those who prefer more privacy.
Things to do in Madeira
Visit the capital city of Funchal
Funchal is the capital city of Madeira and offers a range of attractions, including museums, historic churches, and beautiful gardens. One of the must-visit places in Funchal is the Mercado dos Lavradores, a vibrant market where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
Hike the Levada trails
Madeira is renowned for its Levada trails, which are irrigation channels that run along the mountains. These trails offer some of the most scenic hikes on the island and are a great way to explore the lush forests, waterfalls, and valleys.
Explore the Laurissilva Forest
The Laurissilva Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the last remaining laurel forests in the world. The forest covers a large part of the island and offers several hiking trails that take you through dense forests and beautiful landscapes.
Visit the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos
Câmara de Lobos is a charming fishing village located on the southern coast of Madeira. The village is well-known for its painted boats and is a great place to try some of the freshest seafood in Madeira.
Go dolphin & whale watching
Madeira is one of the best places in Europe to go whale watching. Several tour operators offer boat trips that take you out to sea, where you can spot several species of whales and dolphins.
Visit the Pico do Arieiro
Pico do Arieiro is the third-highest peak in Madeira and offers some of the most breathtaking views on the island. You can reach the peak by car or take a hike from the nearby town of Pico do Arieiro.
Visit the volcanic pools of Porto Moniz
Porto Moniz is a coastal town in Madeira famous for its natural volcanic pools. The pools are formed by volcanic rocks and are filled with crystal clear seawater. It is a great place to relax and swim while enjoying the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Try the local cuisine
Madeira is well-known for its delicious food, and there are several dishes that you must try during your visit. The traditional Madeiran dish is Espetada, which is grilled meat skewers served with garlic bread and salad. You should also try the local seafood, such as limpets and grilled octopus, and the Madeira wine, which is a fortified wine made on the island.
Visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden
The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a stunning botanical garden located in Funchal. The garden features exotic plants, waterfalls, and several sculptures, and offers some of the most beautiful views of Funchal.
Visit the Madeira Story Centre
The Madeira Story Centre is a museum located in Funchal that tells the history of Madeira. The museum features several interactive exhibits and is a great place to learn about the island’s culture and traditions.
Madeira is a beautiful destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you love hiking, exploring nature, or indulging in delicious food, Madeira has it all. With this guide, you can plan the perfect trip to Madeira and experience all that this stunning archipelago has to offer. Don’t forget to pack your camera and capture all the unforgettable moments during your trip to Madeira.