The islands of Madeira and Porto Santo are recognized nationally and internationally as a very special place to spend a memorable vacation. Its tourist potential and qualities are reinforced by renowned awards attributed to Madeira over the years.
Thanks to their excellent geographical location and mountainous relief, these islands have surprisingly balmy weather, with moderate humidity and pleasant average temperatures of 25ºC in the summer and 17ºC in the winter.
The sea temperature is also very mild, thanks to the influence of the warm Gulf Stream, averaging 22ºC in the summer and 18ºC in the winter.
Below we listing 10 reasons to visit Madeira
1.LAURISSILVA FOREST – HERITAGE OF HUMANITY
Laurissilva is the name given to a type of humid subtropical forest made up mainly of trees from the lauraceae family of trees and widespread in the Macaronesia – a region which includes the archipelagos of Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries and Cape Verde.
Its greatest expression is in the highlands of Madeira where its greatest and best preserved swathe is found, having been considered in 1999 by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage, covering an area of around 15,000 hectares.
“Macaronésia” is an ancient geographic region in which Madeira Islands are included, and whose unique characteristic is that it preserves the remains of a great forest dating back to the Tertiary Era before the great ice ages. This forest once covered huge extensions of the European Continent. But glaciations led to the massive destruction of the vegetation that once covered Europe. But thanks to the beneficial influence of an ocean climate, these same species were able to survive in the Atlantic Islands.
One of the best ways to discover this fantastic environmental heritage is to stroll along the paths and waterways known as “levadas” that cross this green area and allowing direct contact with flora and fauna species that are endemic to Madeira.
2.A UNIQUE STORY
The Portuguese navigators Tristão Vaz Teixeira, Bartolomeu Perestrelo and João Gonçalves Zarco officially discovered the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo in 1419.
In reality, these navigators first discovered the island of Porto Santo (1418) following a storm at sea during which the vessel was deviated from its route along the coast of Africa due to bad weather; after many days adrift at sea, they sighted a small island which they called “Porto Seguro” (safe port), i.e. Porto Santo, as it saved Zarco’s crew from a fateful destiny. One year after the discovery of Porto Santo, they arrived at the island of Madeira, in 1419.
The latter navigator is thought to have named it when nicknaming it the island of “Madeira” (wood) due to its abundance of this raw material.
The general conditions of location and the development of routes for the great cruise ships, together with the benefices of its climate, turned Funchal into a major European tourist destination in the mid-twentieth century. In the second half of the century, the huge development of air transport led to the construction of an airport, and the overall refurbishment of the port of Funchal.
3.BEACH OF PORTO SANTO – ONE OF THE 7 WONDER BEACHES OF PORTUGAL
The 9 kilometre beach, with an extensive and continuous shoreline of fine golden sands, has given the island the popular name of “Golden Island”, becoming its trademark and main icon, together with its uniquely crystal-clear, turquoise-blue warm waters, make it a unique legacy in our country and one that is rare all over the world.
It was voted the best “sand dune beach” in the competition “7 Maravilhas – Praias de Portugal” (“7 Wonders – Beaches of Portugal”).
Discover an oasis of rest and relaxation in Porto Santo, surrounded by well-being and health, by enjoying a perfect beach for the perfect holidays, allowing yourself be lulled by the sound of the waves and caressed by a sand that fights all the ailments of modern living.
4.LEVADAS: A WALK OF SENSATIONS
Levadas are small irrigation canals that can be found on Madeira Island and on the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands. This term is also applied to canals, usually smaller ones that direct the water to watermills.
On Madeira Island, the use of levadas resulted from the need to bring large amounts of water from the north-facing springs where it is abundant, to the south side of the island.
The levadas began to be built in the sixteenth century and the most recent ones date back to the 1940s, supplying water to hydroelectric power plants and also used for irrigation purposes. Their total extension is approximately 3.000 km and you can stroll through them on foot; allowing you to reach the heart of the island where you will encounter breathtaking landscapes. From 0 to 1,862 meters the excitement is guaranteed!
The Madeira “Levadas” are among a number of protected areas including, most importantly, the Madeira Natural Park and the Funchal Ecological Park.
5.THE HOTEL INDUSTRY OF MADEIRA – RECOGNISED QUALITY
The range of accommodation in Madeira is vast and top quality, from the refined charm of traditional hospitality to the modern five-star hotels, the warm welcome of rural tourism establishments and traditional Madeirean manor houses (“Quintas da Madeira”).
The history of Madeira’s hotel industry is led by Hotel Reid’s Palace with its countless fabulous views and which has been in existence now as a hotel for more than 120 years.
To this is added the Hotel The Vine, voted as the best Boutique Hotel in the World 2013 by the World Travel Awards – one of the most important awards on the planet in Tourism,- outranking the quality of the region’s hotels.
From amongst its range of hotels, the archipelago of Madeira has picked up the most diverse of awards in the widest of areas, whose accommodation units proudly show off and maintain this level of quality and hospitality that strikes all who visit the islands.
Madeira is proud to present a wide range of diverse, regional, Portuguese and international events that are staged throughout the year.
Visitors to this dynamic, creative and multi-faceted destination are able to enjoy this cornucopia of cultural, sporting, recreational and popular events, from January to December. There are always opportunities to have fun and to appreciate what the islands of this archipelago have to offer.
The Regional Secretariat for Culture, Tourism and Transportation (SRT) is responsible for the events and initiatives on the Tourist Entertainment Calendar organised by the Department of Tourist Entertainment Services (DSAT), as well as for other events of interest to tourists with official support.
The main events on this calendar are the Carnival Festivities, the Flower Festival, the Festival of the Atlantic, the Wine Festival, the Columbus Festival, the Nature Festival and the New Year’s Eve parties. Every month, the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo serve as a backdrop to numerous cultural and ethnographic events and initiatives that bear witness to the wealth of traditions of the Madeiran people.
Discover all of the initiatives that are ideal for young and old alike, throughout the year!
7.PRAÇA DO MAR WELCOMES CR7 STATUE
The Portuguese international footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo, returned to Madeira to unveil a statue in his honour and he received the «Cordão Autonómico de Distinção», the highest honour awarded by the Regional Government.
The statue is located at Praça do Mar in Funchal, a work accomplished by the sculptor Ricardo Veloza from Madeira, in an initiative promoted by «Jornal da Madeira» in partnership with the CR7 Museum.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s worldwide recognition directs the destination Madeira for a potential public on a planetary scale and this statue is a fair tribute to a man from Madeira who never disowned his origins.
The mild climate of Madeira and Porto Santo allows for all kinds of outdoors sports and leisure activities, at any time of the year. There are many options to chose from, including water, land and aerial sports, ranging from relaxing activities to the more traditional and extreme sports.
Sea lovers will benefit from the warm sea currents, with temperatures ranging between 19ºC (66ºF) and 24ºC (75ºF), ideal for snorkelling, diving, sailing, surfing, windsurfing and sport fishing, all year round. Visitors can also ride the best waves in Europe at the Jardim do Mar, Fajã da Areia (São Vicente) and Porto da Cruz beaches.
Visitors should not miss a quiet boat trip along the coast where they will be able to watch dolphins, whales and monk seals crossing the Madeira seas.
Visitors looking for greater thrills, will certainly find them here. Paragliding or hang-gliding over the island, canyoning to discover the heart of the mountains, climbing the highest peaks, embarking on an all-terrain adventure, feeling the adrenaline rush while riding a jet-ski, or simply enjoying the sheer freedom of kitesurfing, are some of the sporting experiences available to visitors.
Golf, trekking and hiking are excellent alternatives for those who prefer calmer activities, allowing a closer look at the natural features of these lusciously green islands.
Discover the impressive and diverse island vegetation on a walk along one of the local canals known as levadas or one of the many trails at the heart of the Laurissilva forest, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Nature Site. Due to its beauty and diverse landscape, this forest has recently been declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.
9.A PALLETE OF FLAVOURS
The simple food enjoyed in Madeira Islands reflects the soul of a simple but generous people. Nevertheless, a great variety of local products are available, as well as multitude of local, international and gourmet dishes.
Owing to their proximity to the sea, most restaurants specialise in fish and shellfish dishes, of which grilled limpets, octopus and shrimp dishes, tuna steaks and black scabbard fish fillets are just a few examples.
Another irresistible meal is the beef kebab, on laurel wood skewers, served with fried corn and the typical “bolo-do-caco”, with garlic butter.
Homemade couscous, wheat soup, homemade bread made with sweet potato and meat marinated in garlic and wine are also very popular dishes.
Tropical fruits lend their exotic flavours to a great number of desserts. Mangoes, bananas, avocadoes, soursops and passionfruit are used in a great variety of puddings, soufflés, mousses and ice creams.
Madeira Island also boasts a rich confectionery tradition, with special emphasis on the most typical Madeira confection, the traditional “Honey Cake”, a true Christmas symbol in Madeira. Its recipe includes many rich and delicious ingredients, such as spices, nuts and sugar cane honey.
Madeira tartlets, made from fresh ricotta, are also very famous.
Natural fruit juices, such as passionfruit, papaya, guava, mango and lemon juices, constitute delicious drink options, as well as the famous “poncha”, made with white rum, bee honey and lemon.
The various sorts of Madeira Wines, are a truly historical heritage, which can be enjoyed served as aperitifs or along with your main course.
Come and enjoy Madeira typical dishes, which will undoubtedly turn your holiday into an unforgettable experience.
Add our exquisite aromas and flavours to the pleasure of socialising!
10.FIREWORKS: ONE OF THE BIGGEST FIREWORKS DISPLAYS IN THE WORLD
Fireworks are used in popular festivities or celebrations and in Madeira are no exception, loudly announcing Sylvester’s Night and the arrival of every New Year.
The New Year’s celebrations are focused in the city of Funchal, creating the illusion of being surrounded by noisy and colourful rockets that light up the night, turning it into a show packed with light and colour.
Madeira held the Guinness World Record for the “Largest Fireworks Display in the World” between 2006 and 2010.
Come and see in the New Year in a magical, intense and colourful place, making the most of all available conditions for a memorable night and a unique occasion in the entertainments calendar.