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Nicknamed “The Pearl of the Atlantic”, this island of 740 km² surprises with its many plantations, tropical botanical gardens and the abundance of its flowers. How can you not fall in love with these exceptional landscapes or cliffs, forests and white sandy beaches?
Anxious to respect these natural wonders, Madeira has classified two thirds of its islands’ surface as a nature reserve. It has a very rugged terrain and the highest point is Pico Puivo (1862 m); it is the 3rd highest point in Portugal. In the northern region, you can enjoy the spectacular sight of the high cliffs and to the west you will find a plateau area, the Paul da Serra, with altitudes between 1300 and 1500 m.
The hospitality and friendliness of the people, the pleasant climate throughout the year, the richness and variety of the natural, historical and cultural resources are just some of the many reasons to come and discover this corner of paradise.
Surface area: 741 km2
Temperature: 25ºc in the summer, 15-17ºc in the winter (average temperatures)
Tourism: a million of visitors per year
Population density: 267,785 inhabitants /Km²
STROLL IN THE CITY OF FUNCHAL
This is a place which is very pleasant to stroll in, between the sea and mountains. The centre is characterised by beautiful avenues, a cathedral built by the Knights of the Order of Christ in the late 15th century and also many museums, including that of Decorative Arts (Quinta das Cruzes) where you can appreciate charming furniture.
In the evening it is pleasant to walk in the beautiful gardens of the west of the city. Succumb to the charm of the authentic and tasty gastronomy of one of the many restaurants of Funchal, and to the pleasure of a glass of poncha, whilst admiring the ocean.
WALKING THOUGH THE LEVADAS
Levadas are small irrigation canals that can be found on the island of Madeira and on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. On the island of Madeira, Levadas are used to carry large quantities of water from the north to the south of the island and were built between the 16th and the end of the first half of the 20th century. Extending around 3,000 km they can be walked on foot, allowing you to reach the heart of the island where you will encounter breathtaking landscapes. The “Levadas” of Madeira are part of the protected natural sites as are the Natural Park of Madeira and the Ecological Park of Funchal.
VISIT FREDERICO DE FREITAS HOUSE MUSEUM
This building located in the heart of the historic district of the city is one of the symbols of the city of Funchal. Commonly called “Casa da Calçada”, this building with pink facades was the residence of the Counts of Calçada, and its ancestors since the early seventeenth century.
Today, this museum gathers valuable collections of sculptures, paintings, prints, furniture, ceramics, crystals and copper objects dating back from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.
ENJOY POPULAR FEASTS
The Flower Festival
The Madeira Flower Festival is a must-attend event on the island. Every year between April and May, thousands of people gather to celebrate. This event is highly appreciated by tourists who come to discover the many exhibitions, flower carpets and shows. The highlight of this colourful show is the grand parade of “The Cortejo Alegorico”.
Period: Early May
The Atlantic Festival
This important festival marks the beginning of the summer festivities on this island. There is a lot of entertainment in central Funchal with an international fireworks show, classical music shows and street performances.
End-of-year fireworks display
In Madeira, they do not joke about the end of year holidays. Indeed, every year many events are organized to commemorate the past year and start the new one in the best possible way. A rich and diverse program of cultural and artistic events awaits you. In order to mark the transition to the New Year, the sky of Funchal lights up with a gigantic ten minute display of fireworks. This event is a breath-taking major tourist attraction, so visitors can enjoy a unique and magical moment.
DISCOVER THE ISLAND OF PORTO SANTO
Discovered in 1418 by Portuguese sailors, the Madeira archipelago includes the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo but also two uninhabited island, Selvagens and Desertas.
Porto Santo is the smallest of the inhabited islands of the Madeira archipelago, located 500 km from the African coast. The island of Porto Santo, bathed by turquoise waters, is characterized by a long beach of fine and golden sand which extends over 9 km. In addition to the beach, the city of Vila Baleira is full of stories and landmarks, such as the house where Christopher Columbus lived. The security, the quality of welcome from the inhabitants, the abundant nature, the splendid beach of fine sand and the calm waters of the ocean make of the island of Porto Santo a privileged destination which enchants all the travellers who cross the paths of the island on foot or by bike.
By plane to Porto Santo Airport (15min)
There are several daily connections between Madeira and Porto Santo with TAP and SATA airlines. These are supplemented by unscheduled air connections, especially in the summer months.
By boat (2hrs 30min) from the Island of Madeira
The “Lobo Marinho” car ferry offers daily crossings (except on Tuesdays from October to June) between Madeira and Porto Santo.
TRY MADEIRA’S TOBOGGAN RIDE
If there is a fun and original activity to try at all costs in Madeira, this is what it is.
The principle of this atypical sledge invented in the 19th century is simple: it is to slip inside a wicker basket mounted on wooden carts. It is possible to cover the 2 km descent from Monte to Funchal in 10 minutes.
Passengers are in the safe hands of tobogganing drivers, who push and pull from behind, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. The toboggans run daily from the stairs leading to Nossa Senhora do Monte Church.
SAVOUR MADEIRA’S LOCAL SPECIALITIES
Thanks to its geographical location in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, the islands of Madeira enjoy a great maritime richness and are rich in flora and fauna too. Fish and seafood are a must in Madeiran gastronomy. They are tasty cuisines with traditional recipes like the famous tuna steak. Thanks to an exceptional climate all year round, Madeira enjoys a wide variety of crops, including sugar cane, bananas and pineapples.
The wine of Madeira is known worldwide for its unique taste. Take the time to enjoy a good glass of wine with its various flavours. Whether dry or soft, blended or dated you cannot miss this wonder especially if it is accompanied by the traditional “mel bolo” (a traditional gingerbread made from sugar cane).
During your stay in Madeira, do not forget to taste the “queijadas” (fresh cheesecakes), best enjoyed hot.
Flights to the island can vary between 3 hrs 45mins for a direct flight (airlines include Easyjet, BA and TAP) and around 6 hours connecting via Lisbon. Once in Madeira, you have several easy options to get to your hotel, and the Pestana Hotels are all around 25 minutes from the airport by car.
There is a taxi rank at Arrivals. Regardless of your destination, on weekdays, the prices of trips from the airport begin at €4.00, with a 20% increase for trips made between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., as well as all day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. When travelling with baggage or animals, an additional €1.50 fee will apply.
Taxi from the airport to Funchal city : Time: around 20-30 minutes – Average Price: 30€
You can also catch on of the Aerobus shuttle from the Arrivals area towards the Formosa beach, with stops near several hotels for your convenience. (You can take a connection to the centre of Funchal, which lasts about 20 minutes).
Shuttle from the airport to Funchal : Time: around 40-50 minutes – Average Price: 5€
Adults: Funchal / Airport – Airport / Funchal: 5.00 €
Children’s ticket: Funchal / Airport – Airport / Funchal: 2.50 €
Return ticket: 8.00 €
Or you can rent a car to enjoy more freedom to explore the island as you please.