Madeira makes an ideal destination for families, couples and single travellers, with plenty on offer to provide anyone with a fantastic holiday. Whether you prefer a relaxing beach holiday, a chance to explore a fascinating city or the thrill of adrenaline sports, you can have it all and more on holidays to Madeira.
Located in the Atlantic alongside neighbouring Porto Santo, Madeira's sub-tropical climate means that the island benefits from warm weather all year round. Your choice of activities need not be limited and you can make the most of the spectacular surroundings, such as the walking trails which follow the old irrigation channels that run across the mountains. The mountains themselves offer great vantage points for looking down on the whole island and have a number of secret coves just waiting to be explored. Madeira holidays are the perfect opportunity to discover the hidden treasures of this beautiful island.
For those who prefer something a little more relaxing, there are the botanical gardens in Funchal which offer visitors fragrant flowers, beautiful birds and plenty of picnic spots. More adventurous hikers will be rewarded by spectacular views on the route between the two highest peaks on the island, Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro.
An ideal place to visit with the family, Madeira has everything you need for keeping kids of any ages amused. You can go on outings such as riding a cable car to Monte, a town high above sea-level which overlooks banana groves and precariously constructed dwellings. The return journey is in a wicker toboggan piloted by drivers who relish the opportunity to build up a bit of speed, making it a truly unforgettable experience. There are plenty of other family-friendly activities, such as the Madeira Story Centre in Funchal which tells the story of the island's history, making it ideal for families with an interest in learning about local life.
Water-sports enthusiasts will love Madeira. From scuba diving and water skiing to surfing and sailing, you can indulge your favourite hobbies in the crystal-clear waters which are usually between 18 and 23 degrees C. If your interest lies more with the native inhabitants of the sea you can go whale-spotting and dolphin-watching and might also get to see mantas, rays and barracudas.
Beaches might not be Madeira's main draw as a large proportion of them are pebbly and the sand you might find is of the black volcanic variety. But if you want to lounge on a more traditional beach then you can hop on the ferry over to nearby Porto Santo, which boasts 9km of golden, sandy coastline. If you just want to swim, then most of the hotels in Funchal have their own pools and there are a number of other resorts which welcome tourists at Santa Cruz, Canico, Garajau, Machico and Canical. These destinations all have their own appeal, such as the National Marine Park at Garajau, the annual 'festa' in Canical which sees the water teeming with brightly coloured boats and a fun-filled water park at Santa Cruz with slides and pools for the children and a bar for the adults.
The capital of Madeira, Funchal, is not only home to Funchal Airport (FNC) but is also dotted with old hotels and bakeries where you can enjoy a delicious slice of the cake to which Madeira gives its name. By day, you can shop for hand-crafted lace tablecloths and other souvenirs. For evening entertainment, there are clubs, bars and restaurants and if you are feeling lucky then you can head to the Casino de Madeira.
The climate in Madeira is reliably warm but not too hot, with highs around 33 C and lows of 17 C in the summer months. However, the winter sees the temperatures drop by an average of just 4 degrees, so it is still pleasantly balmy.
Anyone considering taking their holidays in Madeira might want to schedule their trip around one of the local events for which the region is famous. For example, their New Year's Eve firework display is such a spectacle that it has made it into the Guinness Book of Records. The bay at Funchal is always brimming with ships which have to arrive early to ensure they have a prime spot from which to view the pyrotechnics.
The spirit of fun is not limited to the New Year, though and carnival season centres on Mardi Gras, with parades featuring singing, dancing, musicians and brightly coloured costumes. The 'trapalhao' parade welcomes all participants and people make their own outfits depicting caricatures or island life.
Spring sees the horticultural attractions of the flower festival, which incorporates more parades, floats and costumes, all featuring the fragrant flowers for which the island is famous. The festival also features concerts, competitions and dances.
Whatever you look for in a holiday, Madeira makes an ideal destination, whether it's a romantic break for two or a fun-filled family getaway.
If you are planning a trip to Madeira this year and need some help, read our fact file below and use TravelSupermarket`s search tool to find the cheapest deals.
Best of Madeira holidays for...
Relaxing: The botanical gardens in Funchal are a perfect day out for those looking for relaxation. Meander among tropical flowers and trees, and enjoy spotting exotic birds such a parakeets and parrots.
Active: The crystal-clear waters of Madeira make it ideal for watersports fans. Whether it's under or over water that's your preference, a variety of options such as scuba diving, surfing and water-skiing will be sure to keep you busy.
Grown-up families: Sail across the sky as you view hidden Madeira from a cable car. From here you will be treated to the stunning scenery and can visit Monte, a town high in the hills. For an unusual descent, a traditional toboggan ride is sure to thrill families of all ages.