If your idea of a great holiday is one in which you can mix tranquil locations and relaxation with action-packed family fun, then the Portuguese island of Madeira is for you. Combine delightful warm weather with amazing scenery, good fresh food and some of the tastiest local wines and you will have a destination that appeals to everyone.
The island of Madeira can be found with its neighbour, Porto Santo, in the Atlantic Ocean just across from Portugal. Its volcanic origin has left the island with an interesting landscape, with hills, peaks and ridges to explore and a beautiful coastline boasting small, intimate coves and bays as well as lively swimming and sunbathing areas with plenty of activities to keep all the family occupied.
There is no denying that Madeira embraces the great outdoors and the island is probably best known for its walking holidays and general appeal to horticulture lovers. Thanks to the island's subtropical climate, there is plenty of flora and fauna to discover. But the Madeira's coastline is stunning too, with towering cliffs and quaint little bays. The coastal road stretches around most of the island and is extremely picturesque, letting you discover the best of Madeira from behind the wheel.
However, as Madeira is not a particularly large island, getting out and about on foot is generally the best idea. If you like your holidays to be action-packed then you're in luck as there are plenty of activities to get involved in. There are very few beaches, as such, but Madeira is great for water sports, including surfing, diving and water skiing. However, not everything has to be high-octane and you can happily spend time indulging in more tranquil pursuits such as golf or fishing.
Once you have experienced the fantastic scenery, head into the capital, Funchal. Discover great shops and stores where you can buy local souvenirs, tempt your taste buds with some Madeira wine and find a variety of accommodation options where you can rest your head. The truth is that most of the best hotels in Madeira are based in Funchal, as it makes the perfect base regardless of your chosen activities. You can choose beautiful Portuguese-style properties, usually owned and run by local families, or rather more luxurious hotels offering elegant guestrooms, restaurants, spas and other facilities.
If you prefer the idea of your own space rather than staying in Madeira hotels you could consider a self-catering cottage located off the beaten track, although these types of properties are not quite so readily available so do book as far in advance as you can to ensure you get the place you want.
Other great areas to visit include Canico and Machico, both of which can also offer a small selection of guesthouse accommodation. Canico has a range of shops and restaurants to explore and is home to the popular Garajau Sea Reserve. Machico provides a bit more entertainment and is a good option if you're travelling with younger kids, as there are places to both sunbathe and swim safely. Alternatively, take a ferry over to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo for a bike ride.
Wherever you decide to stay you won't be short of fantastic food and drink options. As you would imagine, seafood can be found in abundance here and you won't be short of great wines to wash it all down with either. The Portuguese influence means you can try gorgeous rice dishes, pastries and sweets as well as the local delicacy, Espetada, which is delicious skewered meat.
Madeira is a year-round destination which is especially popular during the New Year period thanks to the fantastic firework display and hotels tend to get booked up quite quickly.
Compare the price of hotels in Madeira using Travelsupermarket's tool and save money by booking in advance.