Affordable one-way flights to Funchal
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It may have formed a reputation over the years as a tourist trap, but this Portuguese archipelago is much more than a cruise ship hotspot. These volcanic islands are found just off the northwest coast of Africa and offer everything from surfing and mountain cycling routes to resorts and nightlife. Famous for its wine and Cristiano Ronaldo, the main island of Madeira has a unique and beautiful landscape combined with a year-round climate that makes it a fantastic holiday destination.
Madeira’s capital, Funchal, is a lively seaside town with everything you need to be entertained including bars, shops, restaurants and a pretty bay. The Funchal cable car lets you see the town from above – its ochre topped houses and cliff lined coast creating a picture perfect setting for holiday snaps. On land, the town can be explored in a day or two and a trip to the Zona Velha (the Old Town) with its colourful market and great selection of bars and restaurants a must.
More about Funchal
Madeira isn’t known for its beaches, most of them are pebbly due to the volcanic nature of the island. However two good artificial beaches have been created and a beautiful 9km sandy stretch can be found on the small island of Porto Santo which can be reached by ferry. The sea conditions are fantastic for water sports however and you can find some popular spots for surfing including Porto da Cruz for beginners and the rockier Jardim do Mar for experienced surfers.
Head out of Funchal a few miles and you can enjoy the beauty of the island’s landscape – its volcanic roots a perfect environment for hosting all manner of colourful flora and fauna. More than 1,300 miles of hiking trails weave into the mountains on the island and a scattering of unspoilt peaks and ravines provide a peaceful backdrop to enjoy climbing, canyoning, mountain-biking and off-road jeep tours.
Top five things to do in Funchal, Madeira
New Year Fireworks
If you’re looking to spend an extra special new year away then Madeira is famous for its celebrations. The island hosts the largest fireworks display in the world as recognised by the Guinness World Book of Records in 2006.
Head to the top of Pico do Arieiro
If you want to blow away the cobwebs with an all-day hike then put on your walking shoes and head from Pico Arieiro to the highest peak of Madeira to Pico Ruivo. But, if you don’t fancy the walk you can take the bus and enjoy the views in a bit more comfort.
Take a wine tour
This is a great way to see the surroundings and learn about the region as well as a enjoy glass or two along the way. There are plenty of tours to choose from including walking tours through vineyards.
Go to a poncha bar
Madeira is famous for its wine but the locals love to drink poncha. This super sweet tipple is made with fermented sugar-cane juice and fruit and the island has plenty of great poncho bars to choose from.
Rent a car
Funchal makes a great base for exploring the rest of the island. Rent and car and take to the road to discover the variety of scenery on offer.
Ten facts about Madeira
Madeira was a favourite of Winston Churchill who would stay at the iconic Reid Palace Hotel.
25 miles of tunnels weave through the island.
Around 15 different species of whale can be found in the waters surrounding the islands.
The average temperature is between 19ºC in the winter months and 25ºC in the summer months.
Music in Madeira is traditionally folklore and uses local instruments such as the machete, rajao, brinquinho and cavaquinho.
Madeira is famous for its wine which it has been producing since the Age of Exploration.
Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Funchal.
The highest peak on the island is 1862 meters/6,100 feet high.
Madeira’s Laurissilva forest was added to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site list in 1999.
The speciality dish on the island is Espada fish which is traditionally served with banana.