A visit here will have you escaping into breath-taking scenery, enjoying some delicious food and drink, and truly discovering a different pace of life...
There is no denying that Madeira is the perfect destination for those who like a great deal of activity during their breaks. Once you are out of the towns and residential areas there is so much stunning scenery to discover. As the island itself rests upon the top of a massive volcano coming up through the ocean, the mountain peaks and ridges are truly breath-taking. The hillsides are perfect for getting brilliant views out across the island and the Atlantic ocean and many hikers are drawn to the challenge of climbing the islands highest peak, the Pico Ruivo. The island is also visited for the amazing flora that grows here, thanks to the mild climate. A long time ago the island was mainly rainforest and although most of the trees have now gone there are still pockets of forest on the north of the island.
Take some time out to visit the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, which can easily be reached by ferry or by a quick flight. If you want to get about under your own steam though, take the ferry as you can take your hire car and really make the most of your time there.
Although there are few beaches, the island certainly makes the most of its coastline. Grab a car and take a tour along the coast road to discover remote caves and some of Europe's highest cliffs. Water sports are plentiful here, from surfing, snorkelling and diving to fishing and sailing; mainly thanks to the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Head to the Garajou National Marine Park where you'll find yourself in a unique underwater world and one of the only marine reservations in the area.
Of course, Madeira isn't all about heading out into the great outdoors, there is a relaxed laidback vibe to the area too. There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to try during your stay. In fact, Madeira is the perfect place to enjoy a fantastic meal and seafood is, unsurprisingly, one of the islands delicacies. And to complement your meal why not try one of the islands famous wines. Madeira wine is a fortified wine ranging from sweet to dry and is noted for its unique wine making process, which is still used today.
There are plenty of hotels and accommodation to choose from across the island, but the city of Funchal makes a great base, even if just for a few days of your break. The city is nestled right on the edge of the Atlantic ocean on the south of the island. Although it is now quite a modern city, its rich history can still be seen in many of the buildings and architecture which spans back across five centuries. The cobbled streets, picturesque churches and stunning Gothic style Cathedral tell the story of old Madeira. Funchal Harbour is still buzzing, as one of the city's most popular areas for visitors - in fact, watch long enough and you're likely to see a number of cruise liners head in to pick up passengers.
Other areas of interest include Canico, the Lido promenade, which leads down to an extensive leisure zone for tourists with a number of large sea water pools for swimming and sunbathing and of course the town of Machino. Machico has great significance as it was the place where the original discoverers of Madeira landed so many years ago. Machino offers a small beach for relaxing and fantastic areas for those who enjoy walking holidays. It is also home to one of the oldest churches, the Capela dos Milagres.
For a real sense of freedom when travelling around Madeira, consider taking advantage of a hire car and explore the island at your own pace during your stay.
Flying to Madeira is straightforward with plenty of departures from the UK year round...
Most Madeira flights generally come via nearby cities such as Lisbon or Porto, arriving into Madeira's own Funchal Airport (FNC).
However, in recent years an increasing number of airlines are flying direct from the UK and at competitive prices.
Direct flying time from the UK is on average just under 3 hours 50 minutes.
Madeira's Funchal Airport is small but well serviced for transfers...
Arriving into Funchal Airport on the island of Madeira expect a good range of transfer services, especially in the summer months when tourism is especially high.
Once here, the airport is just minutes away from the main city, which can be reached easily by taxi, bus or the Aero-bus, an express service straight to the city centre.
Madeira is such a beautiful island and depending on your tastes, it offers many contrasting, but excellent places to stay...
The main resort and city of Funchal is always a good choice for those who want great hotels, some nightlife and great restaurants. Be aware though, Madeira is not a rowdy or overly commercial destination - which makes it popular with couples, older travellers, families (seeking some peace and quiet) and, of course, walkers - who love its famous walking paths.
Better value hotels and accommodation are set back from the Lido area of Sao Martinho. If your budget allows, stay near the Lido as it is very picturesque and upmarket.
Places such as Garajau, Canico de Baixo and Santa Cruz are not far from Funchal due to the Via Rapida - a relatively new highway that has shortened the distance for travellers across the island. The temperatures remain tropical here and all of these resorts are quieter than Funchal and have good beaches and competitively priced, but smaller hotels.
Machismo in the north east offers a cooler location and the wonderful sandy beach of Sao Lourenco is not far away. Great for families, this tranquil town boasts some excellent guesthouses and restaurants and is a good starting point for a number of nice 'levada' walks.