Combine delightful warm weather with amazing scenery, good fresh food and some of the tastiest local wines...
You certainly have a destination that appeals to everyone when you holiday in Madeira.
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 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.
Discover the best places to stay with our useful guide to Madeira hotels...
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.
Find out what to do and see on this Portuguese island in the Atlantic...
Most hotels and attractions are in and around Funchal, so you don't have to travel far to see the highlights.
Top five attractions
Madeira is a small island and known for great walking holidays. The scenery changes constantly as you tackle the routes, which vary in length and difficulty. The best time of year to jet away on a walking holiday in Madeira is late spring and early summer, for dry, warm days and an island in glorious bloom.
Pico do Arieiro
You can drive or hike to the island's third highest peak. However you get there, on a clear day you'll be rewarded with sublime views; on a cloudy day, you'll rest above the clouds and look down in wonder.
Monte (literally 'mountain' in English) is an elevated area of Funchal served by a gondola lift in one direction and wicker toboggans in the other. This shriek-inducing method of transport involves tourists sitting in the basket which is controlled by hardy drivers who run behind (with very hard-wearing shoes on their feet). You could also just take the lift back down the hill.
Journey to Porto Moniz as the tide fills these coastal pools with water in which you can then bathe. It's a popular beauty spot and there is a host of amenities on hand as well as lifeguards supervising the pools.
Garajau Sea Reserve
Any divers will want to head under the waves at this protected spot, which teems with an array of marine life.
The annual events calendar in Madeira is filled with pleasurable ways to experience and celebrate the island...
Observe the beauty of Madeira alongside the locals at these tempting annual festivals.
Madeira Flower Festival; May: The island of Madeira is known as the “floating garden of the Atlantic”, so it's no surprise that the blooms are celebrated every spring via parades and shows.
Atlantic Festival; June: Comprising a music festival and a fireworks competition, crowds gather for an auditory and visual extravaganza.
Madeira Wine Festival; August-September: Held during the main grape harvest, this event celebrates the famed local product. Festivities begin with grape picking and crushing before the party moves into Funchal where wine and traditional food is dished up.