Madeira – more than you ever imagined!

Visit Madeira Named the Best Island Destination in the World at the World Travel Awards™ for six years running, there’s no wonder that Madeira is a favourite with Silver Travellers, and these days there’s ever more to enjoy here. Situated in the Atlantic, just a short flight from the UK, its mild and subtropical climate (average air and seawater temperatures are between 18°C and 24°C) makes it attractive year- round, which much to discover and partake in. 

Activities in nature

©Green Devil Safari You’d like to be active on holiday? Look no further – for walking, hiking, trail running, golf and mountain biking. With dramatic mountains, this is a volcanic island after all, so high you can get above the clouds and an interesting coastline, with ideal temperatures for outdoor activities, there’s every reason to get active. Walk the levadas (irrigation channels) on the mountainside, run the trails that take you deep into nature, and why not try canyoning in the many streams? And if less adrenalin is your choice, birdwatching or golf will keep you on the move. Jeep tours are an option too, if you’d like to take in or photograph the rugged scenery whilst being driven – sometimes properly off-road.

Activities at sea

©Rota Cetáceos The ocean around the island is not only good for swimming, surfing, sailing and stand-up-paddle boarding (easier than it looks), but also for snorkelling and diving especially around the artificial reef of the Madeirense boat sunk at 30 meters deep, off Porto Santo, which attracts the best divers in the world. Imagine having the opportunity to explore clear waters, with visibility to 20 metres deep, where dolphins and whales are found, along with barracudas, morays, amberjacks, cutlassfish, giant anemones, rays and giant groupers. There are several beaches from which to dive too. If you’d rather be on the water, whale watching trips are popular, and you can expect to see dolphins too. 

Funchal toboggans

©Hugo Reis For a real blast of fun and speed, but no snow, take a ride in one of Funchal’s carros de cesto or toboggans. Covering 2 kilometres on the road in about 10 minutes, you’ll sit in a large wicker basket controlled by two experts, Carreiros do Monte, who have distinctive straw boaters and a white uniform. Their thick soled rubber shoes are used as brakes. There are just 100 toboggans with 150 ‘drivers’ who pass their knowledge to apprentices as they retire. Originally a method of transport for quint owners, nowadays, it’s an essential element of your Madeiran holiday.  Head to Monte in Funchal to begin.    

Gastronomy in Madeira

©Andre Carvalho The local food is truly a treat!  With abundant fish in the sea and shellfish too, you’ll be able to sample the fresh tuna, black scabbard fish and limpets from local waters. Try beef or pork espetadas, the Madeiran kebab, flavoured with bay leaves, grilled over open flames. Your barbeque skewers at home will never taste the same! Restaurants range from those in the Michelin Guide with 2 stars to more simple establishments for fish of the day, chips and salad. Do try bolo de caco, it’s a round loaf of bread and sweet potatoes which is cooked on a hot stone then spread with garlic butter. The passion fruit mousse is a local delicacy, the fruit grows everywhere and is easily available. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never leave an island restaurant hungry.    

Wonderful wine 

©Andre Carvalho Cultivated on terraces, the grapes in Madeira enjoy the benefits of a mild climate, and winemaking has evolved to take advantage of the heat, creating a fortified wine, which is 17 to 22 per cent alcohol. This is a wine to gently savour, appreciating its age. Using a historic process from the 16th century, estufagem, where distilled sugar cane (now brandy) is added to the wine, originally created to keep it good on long sea voyages, the wine is generally drunk as apéritifs and digestifs. You can visit the vineyards and enjoy a tasting. Enjoy the Wine Festival in late August/early September, which combines with traditional Madeiran culture and folklore.

Gardens and parks

Madeira Botanical Garden - ©Francisco Correia The British are described as a nation of gardeners and the horticultural delights of Madeira will offer a visual feast.  As you would imagine, the sub-tropical climate encourages an astonishing variety of plants to grow across the diverse terrain. Strelicias, magnolias, anthuriums, orchids and any number of trees just love the climate here. From the UNESCO Laurissilva Forest, over 20 million years old, to the Jardim Botânico da Madeira with its formal planting and the cliff side Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve preserving the unique habitat, parks and gardens across the island are filled with interest year-round.   

For more information go to Visit Madeira  

For holidays to Madeira, take a look at Silver Travel Advisor’s partner companies who travel there.

Reviews from our Silver Travellers

123 people found this helpful

Share Article:

Silver Travel Advisor

Leave a comment


Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Ambassador offers unique ways to focus on health and wellness while enjoying the beauty of the sea….
Who can resist an invitation to a birthday party in Paris? Gillian Thornton celebrates 40 years of Riviera Travel, the…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.