Madeira – what to see and do all year round

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Madeira325 miles from the African coast and 250 miles north of Tenerife lies the beautiful island of Madeira part of the Madeira Archipelago.  Discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1419 this autonomous region has now transformed into a year round holiday resort boasting a 1,000,000 visitors annually. The climate is Mediterranean, but unlike the Mediterranean there is little variation in temperature year round. Highs of 19c in the winter rising to the mid 20’s in summer. Rain is something that is never far away, albeit in small amounts, resulting in rich and colourful landscapes. Most people relate Madeira to its famous wine and flowers but there is much more to this beautiful island.

FunchalThe capital, Funchal, situated in the south east of the island is a popular port for ships on their Atlantic island cruises. Surrounded by hills it is well protected from the elements and a mix of colours from the numerous plants and flowers that adorn its many gardens, squares and public places.  Well-tended they have that ‘the gardener has just finished’ look making them the envy of the world. Step into the back streets that lead to the old town where the pavements are in tiled in mosaic design and discover Funchal Cathedral.  A late Gothic style building started in 1500 and consecrated in 1508. The nearby Igreja do Colégio Jesuit church with its black wood, white walls and wondrous interior.

Near to the cable car station a narrow cobbled ally locally named ‘Artist Street’ due to the beautiful painted designs on the front doors of the galleries is worthy of a visit. Not only pictures for sale but enter one of the many small desirable restaurants and feast on local dishes and hospitality.

Monte Palace Tropical GardenIf you have a head for heights, the cable cars offer magnificent views of Funchal. Boarding at Almirante Reis in the old town, the journey will take approximately 15 minutes, giving breath taking views that can only be gained this way, as your car climbs the 1,837 ft. to the Monte station near the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, at Caminho das Babosas. The adventurous can return to Funchal on one of the famous toboggans that at times can reach 30mph on its downhill slide.

There are several Ho- Ho buses (Hop on/Hop off) operating from Funchal giving visitors a choice of areas to visit. The ‘Yellow Bus’ operates two separate routes. Tickets cost 12 euro and last for 48 hours. See the small towns and villages, the beauty of the countryside, hidden coves and beaches. Spend time in the seaside village of Camara de Lobos where Sir Winston Churchill was inspired to paint the area.

Madeira CarnivalMadeira is an island of ‘shows and festivals’. February/March sees the arrival of Carnival, Madeira’s version of Mardi Gras in Funchal. The ‘Flower Festival’ in May with a parade and decorated floats along the street.  Jazz Festival in July, Wine Festival August/September and the spectacular of the year, the New Year’s firework display.  Cruise ships moored outside the harbour especially for this event which in 2006 was entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest firework display on earth. A beautiful island that should be on everyone’s ‘To Do ‘list.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • yorkshirecat
    over 5 years ago
    Hi, I noticed your comment about lacework on the Island and thought you might be interested in reading this page of my Madeira blog which covers my recent visit to the fascinating embroidery museum in Funchal:
  • SA-Takkies
    almost 6 years ago
    I was fascinated reading about what else could be seen and done in Madeira, and thanks for the review! However, did I miss a comment about the magnificent lacework produced on the island? I have not been to Madeira but I remember pieces of beautiful lacework brought home by my mother many, many years ago and wondered if this art is still ongoing. This tour is definitely on my list of "places to visit".