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Madeira Islands, Portugal Travel Guide

Situated in the Atlantic ocean, about 350 miles west of Morocco, Africa, the archipelago of the Madeira Islands is a popular year-round resort. Discovered in the 15th Century, the islands are known worldwide for Madeira wine, temperate climate, rugged scenery and beautiful flowers. NEW!  Madeira Photo Gallery
Madeira views
Madeira views
The Tourist Islands of Madeira
Year Round Sun in Madeira and Porto Santo
Simple Sophistication Called Funchal
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Hotels, B&Bs & Manor Houses:

Caniço - Funchal - Porto Santo Island - Seixal

Self-Catering Villas & Cottages:

Calheta - Caniço - Funchal
Search other areas of Madeira

Self-Catering Apartments:

Calheta - Caniço - Funchal - Porto Santo
Search other areas of Madeira

Pre-book exciting private & group tours for your Madeira holiday or vacation!
Eastern Madeira Sightseeing Tour - Enjoy a Full day guided tour of Eastern Madeira... What a glorious day out this is, with so many delights to see. Pico do Arieiro... more Western Madeira Sightseeing Tour - Enjoy a Full day tour of Western Madeira... A truly delightful day out on this, probably the most popular tour of the island... more Romantic Madeira Island Holidays ~ Perfect for HoneymoonersRomantic Holiday on the Beautiful Madeira Islands - Enjoy a Romantic getaway to the Beautiful Madeira Island - open sands, crystal clear waters, and year-round sunshine  ... more
Nunn's Valley and Monte Village Tour, Madeira - Enjoy a half day tour of Nunn´s Valley and Monte village... winding its way up the mountain to the view point of Eira do Serrado with a superb view over the village of Curral das Freiras... more Honeymoon on Madeira Island and Portugal Mainland - A honeymoon vacation is on Madeira, blessed with a spectacular volcanic landscape and subtropical climate, the island boasts more repeat visitors than any other part of Portugal... more Funchal City and Botanical Gardens Tour, Madeira - Enjoy a half day private tour of Funchal city centre, Cathedral, Botanical Gardens, and more. This tours starts in Santa Catarina one of the famous parks Funchal, with beautiful views... more Caldeirao Verde Nature Walking Trails - Very special walk through one of the Madeira´s oldest Levadas where you can fell the nature surrounded by the Laurissilva vegetation and admire beautiful landscapes of valleys, small craters, waterfalls... more

Year Round Sun in Madeira and Porto Santo   by Mark Bartley

Porto Santo Hotels

The island of Madeira lies a little further north and west of Spain's Canary Islands, making flight times slightly shorter from the UK, but it benefits from the same warm winter weather while offering differences in culture, geography, architecture and tradition.

Madeira and its neighbour Porto Santo first began to realise their holiday destination potential quite a few years ago and they are probably some of the oldest holiday destinations in Europe. Tourism contributes to around a fifth of the island's commercial activity, peaking during March and April when the islands come into their own as winter sun destinations. During those months the average daytime temperatures reach a pleasant 20 degrees Celsius.

The main feature of Porto Santo as far as tourists are concerned is the fantastic nine kilometre long beach that runs from Porto Santo town down the east coast of the island. In fact the island is all about this one beach. This must surely rank as one of the best beaches in the world, not only for its size, but also for the quality of the sand and the amount of space available for everyone to enjoy. There are some facilities along the beach, with a few retail outlets, cafes and restaurants, but they don't amount to much or interfere with the peacefulness. This beach really is a place to relax; just lie in the sun, listen to the waves arriving from the crystal clear waters and do nothing. With the small number of hotels on the island, the beach is never busy and makes a great location for family holiday with safe bathing on offer, especially in the areas that are monitored by life guards.

Another feature of the Porto Santo beach is its claimed benefits for health. These may or not be true, but many claim that the sands can help those with rheumatism and other ailments. Don't be surprised to see people burying themselves up to their heads to get maximum coverage! Until a thorough scientific test has been done to prove the effects, it may just remain an interesting traditional claim whose real effect belongs to the relaxing days that people are able to enjoy there.

Facilities for tourists on Porto Santo are slowly improving. The airport has recently been expanded and modernised, with most of the inbound flights coming from Madeira or Lisbon. There are also a growing number of small luxury hotels being opened and the new international-class golf course is sure to attract many {winter golfers to the island. The course, which was originally made up of two circuits of nine holes, is now a full 18 hole course. It was designed by former professional Severiano Ballesteros and almost stretches right across the width of the island at a point where it is just less than 2 miles wide. There are water features and spectacular modern clubhouse.

Back on Madeira there are an additional two golf courses. The Palheiro golf course is set in rolling hills and woodland close to the capital Funchal and offers some spectacular scenery. This course is over fifteen years old now and blends well into the Madeiran landscape. The older Santo da Serra Golf Club was first built in 1937 although the course in its present form was constructed during 1991. Again spectacular views and challenging holes are a feature and the 27 hole course plays host to the PGA European Tour Madeira Open, which took place earlier in the season this year.

The hills and inland regions of Madeira are another of the attractions that bring tourists from far and wide to these holiday islands and provide alternatives to the busier lifestyle in the capital of Funchal. This is great walking countryside and many organised walks are available for those who prefer to have a guide. Marked routes are set out across the island and take walkers to popular locations including the peaks at Pico Ruivo, Paradise Valley or the wonderful waterfalls that are a feature of Madeira. Many of these walks use the hundreds of kilometers of aqueducts or levedas that have been built to move water around the island. In total these aqueducts make up over 1300 miles of channels.

Other unusual features of Madeira are the many tunnels that the footpaths and aqueducts use to get across the island. Some are quite short while others stretch for many hundreds of metres. One of the longest is the 2.4 kilometre Pico Ruivo tunnel that passes straight through the island's highest mountain.

So whether you are a golfer, a walker or just someone looking to spend quiet relaxing days on the beach, Madeira and Porto Santo could have the perfect mix of attractions and weather all year round.

Porto Santo Hotels

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Simple Sophistication Called Funchal   by Lyndon Barry

Funchal Hotels - Funchal Apartments and Villas - top

Not many places on earth get the opportunity to be discovered twice, but the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo have. These two islands together with Las Desertas and Las Selvagens islands make up what is called the Archipelago of Madeira. They are found 1000 kilometres southwest of Lisbon, Portugal and half that distance from the African continent. Since their discovery around 1419 and founded in 1425 by Joao Goncalves Zarco, little was known about these islands but in the last decade have quickly become the major tourist attractions in the Atlantic Ocean. Joao Goncalves, with a special permission from the Portuguese government, used prisoners from the prisons and enticed settlers from the poorest regions like El Algarve to colonize Madeira. The airport on Madeira in the town of Santa Cruz on the east side is just an hour flight from Lisbon and also serves the other island of Porto Santo with smaller planes. This archipelago is really something special to enjoy.
Funchal was named the capital of Madeira in 1425 and is located on the south side. Under the rule of Joao Goncalves, Funchal prospered into being a very important sugar cane producer and by the year 1508, it changed its position from town to city and sugar canes were carved onto the coats of arms as its main symbol. Being as ocean travel was becoming more popular, especially among the greedy and pirates, Funchal was attacked and robbed. This fact made this enticing stopover react and built its city in a semi-circular way so that all the building would be looking and watching the sea. Even today there are houses and buildings that face the waterfront 'just to keep on eye on things'. 

Animated Funchal - All year Round 

Whatever season you decide on, you will be guaranteed a warm, mild climate with temperatures between 17 to 26 degrees.

Praca Do Municipio, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
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 One would think that the busiest season for tourism would late spring to early fall, but Christmas is actually one of the hottest and most lively times on these paradisiac islands.  With visitors from the colder countries and very much into the Christmas spirit, Madeira dresses its port streets with the best lighting decorations and the most colourful fireworks on New Year's Eve. July and August are usually very muggy and with the highest humidity and temperatures, but quite welcomed after a long cold winter.

The city of Funchal is chock full of history and architecture as you visit churches going back to the 17th century as is the Church of Colegio Sao Joao Evangelist or the Se which is cathedral in Portuguese. Being as Madeira means wood in Portuguese, the inside of the cathedral is done up in marble and cedar wood. One of the most impressive buildings is called Pacos do Concelho (18th c.) with black volcanic stone counteracting with the white front facing and doorways. There are museums dedicated to religious art, the Museum of Natural History housed in the Palace of Sao Pedro where you can get a closer look at the marine life of these islands and a museum which holds many pieces left behind by all the different cultures that frequented the islands like Chinese porcelain and figures carved from the ivory tusks from the captured whales. Around this museum there are also interesting pieces of art accompanied by the aroma of fresh orchids.

Bon Appetit in Funchal

But man does not live on beauty alone and therefore must feed its physical spirit too. Tuna fish and codfish are main dishes done in so many different ways: baked, fried, stewed with home-grown green beans and potatoes. Tropical fruits are abundant such as maracuyas, mangos and bananas to mention a few. And of course, the famous Madeira wine. And in order to sleep well, there are luxurious hotels or simple rural homes on the hillsides so that everyone can feel as though they are at home, amongst a paradise of lush green vegetation in the city of Funchal on Madeira, Portugal.

Funchal Hotels - Funchal Apartments and Villas - top

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Hotels, B&Bs & Manor Houses:

Caniço - Funchal- Porto Santo Island - Seixal

Self-Catering Villas & Cottages:

Calheta - Caniço - Funchal

Self-Catering Apartments:

Calheta - Caniço - Funchal - Porto Santo


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Latest update: April 28, 2013