Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean and an autonomous region of Portugal. The archipelago is made up of two populated islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and two groups of unpopulated islands called the Desertas and Selvagens Islands. It is part of the European Union ultraperifric area.
Known worldwide as the Islands of eternal Spring, Madeira, "Ilha Jardim" ("Garden Island") or Pearl of the Atlantic, it has a mild climate throughout the entire year.
Madeira island is 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent, only 1h 30mn flight from mainland Portugal and about 3h from all the main countries in Europe.
Madeira Islands are just a short trip from Europe (more or less 4 hours from UK), to a destination where you can combine holidays by the sea, in the mountains or in the city.
Discovered early in the 15th century by the Portuguese navigators João Gonçalves Zarco, Tristão Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Perestrelo, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal.
Nowadays Madeira is a popular destination for tourists of all ages. Its constant mild climate (temperatures between 20 and 27°C) keeps the spring on Madeira all year round. The levadas, an ingenious system of stone- and concrete-lined watercourses distributing water from the rainy north to the dry south, help flowers and crops flourish all year. That's why this island is called the Garden in the Atlantic. The maintenance pathways for these water canals provide wonderful level trails for hiking in the mountains (up to 1861m) and through the tremendous landscape.
Unfortunately, Madeira was hit by several catastrophes in 2010: in February heavy rainfall inundated parts of the island and caused destructive floods in river valleys on the south coast of the island, chiefly in Funchal, Ribeira Brava and Tabua. Reconstruction work of lost bridges and roads has now been largely completed, but the legacy of major forest fires in August of that year is likely to last longer, and some upper mountain footpaths in the east of the island remain closed or interrupted. Further floods in the 'Nuns' Valley' in October 2010 caused more damage to infrastructure, but this has been repaired. Despite all this, the authorities and locals have been hard at work ensuring that Madeira's tourism infrastructure has returned largely back to normal, and there is still plenty to see and do on Madeira!
Madeira International Airport/Funchal(FNC) (IATA: FNC)(ICAO: LPMA) (formerly known as Santa Catarina Airport), about 30 minutes from Funchal,in Santa Cruz municipality. Tel: +351 291 52 07 00 . The island of Porto Santo (PXO) is in Porto Santo/Vila Baleira . This airport is just a 15 minute flight from Madeira International Airport.
There is boat/ship service between the two islands.
The following Airline companies fly regularly to Madeira International Airport: Monarch Airlines, TAP Portugal, Portugália, SATA, British Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Air France, easyJet, Finnair, First Choice Airways, Thomson, LTU, Thomas Cook, Condor, Niki, SAS, Sterling, Transavia, My Travel, Binter Canarias and Jet2.com (from May 2010).
If you go to/from the airport by (rental) car, ask for directions to the parking area you need; there are 7, and they are badly signposted. Note that some smaller rental companies operate from sites near but not at the airport, and provide transport between terminal and depot.
Buses A 7-day bus ticket is recommended, valid on all Funchal City routes, 21.85 EUR (March 2014)
Beware - timetables are very confusing as they do not include clear route details.
There are six bus companies:
Horarios de Funchal  operates lines no 20/21 Funchal - Monte, line no 29 Funchal - Camacha, no 56 Funchal - Santana (via Ribeiro Frio), no 77 Funchal - Santo Antonio da Serra (via Camacha and Sitio Quarto Estradas), no 81 Funchal - Curral de Freiras and no 103 (Funchal - Arco de Sao Jorge (via Faial, Santana and Sao Horge).
Rodoeste  operates lines no 3 Funchal - Estreito de Camara de Lobos, no 6 Funchal - Arco de Sao Jorge (via Encumeada), no 7 Funchal - Ribeira Brava, no 80 Funchal - Porto Montiz (via Calheta and Prazeres), no 96 Funchal - Jadrim da Serra (Corticeirias), no 139 Funchal - Porto Moniz, no 142 Funchal - Ponta da Pago (via Prazeres) ans no 148 Funchal - Boa Morte.
S.A.M. operates lines no 23 Funchal - Machico (Espressbus), no 53 Funchal - Faial (via Airport), no 113 Funchal - Canical (via Airport) and no 156 Funchal - Marocos (via Machico, changes bus ar Machico)
Renting a car is a great way to see the island. All European rules of the road apply in Madeira. Roads outside of Funchal can be windy and steep and petrol stations rare. Renting via the Internet is usually cheaper than walking-in.
Madeira Car Hire, ☎ +230 7762662 (email@example.com), . Agency offering a wide range of rental cars accordingly to your choice and the possibility of renting cars, at advantageous prices. edit
English is as common as in mainland Portugal, although people will always appreciate it if you try and learn a few words of Portuguese. Note that the Portuguese spoken in Madeira tends to be heavily accented.
Levadas An impressive system of aqueducts built between 1461 and 1966 to bring water from the mountains to farmland.
Cabo Girão One of the world's highest ocean cliffs (590m/1,935 ft. above sea level).
Jardim Botânico Funchal Botanical garden.
São Vicente Caves, . Volcanic caves (grutas) where you can visit lava tubes.
Jardim do Monte Palace Magnificent gardens of the former Monte Palace hotel.
Jardim Orquídea Orchid garden.
Madeira Story Centre, . The best way to learn about Madeira's history and culture.
Fireworks on New Year's eve The biggest fireworks in the world (Guinness world record 2007). Best places to see the fireworks include the tip of the marina of Funchal, on a cruise ship and Pico dos Barcelos (on the side where you can see the Funchal's marina).
Miradouro means viewpoint. Splendid views of the island can be seen from various viewpoints, including Pico dos Barcelos, Pico do Arieiro, Pico de Facho, Curral das Freiras, Monte.
Pictures of the islands of madeira and porto santo, .
Madeira Film Experience - Madeira Film Experience is a 30-minute audiovisual journey that covers the 600 years of the history and culture of the island known all over the world as the Pearl of the Atlantic.This is the story of an island, but not just that; it is also the story of a country and of all countries, of a civilisation and of all civilisations.
Hiking at Ponta de São Lourenço, the eastern part of Madeira is a nature reserve with wonderful panoramic views of the Atlantic and spectacular volcanic rock formations. Many unusual species of plants are found here and are best seen from the footpath, such as the Ice Plant, Everlasting, Cardoon and many more. The hiking trail, which in recent years has been upgraded with stone steps and safety railings, can be walked comfortably with a pair of good hiking boots. The full walk, including a curcuit of the reserve at the far end, will take several hours, so carry food and drink. Down the cliff from the road before reaching the trailhead is a secluded beach called Prainha, the island’s only natural black sandy beach. Very popular with the locals, it’s great for swimming.
Drive Madeira has some truly fantastic roads, and renting a car is well worth the (higher-than-EU-average) cost. The fantastic coastal roads and hilly terrain make this island a drivers dream, with brilliant views to boot. Other than a couple of motorways stretches, almost all the roads are fun to drive on - and even the motorways have great views. Be sure to rent a reasonable sized engine though, the cheapest category is probably not going to handle the steep climbs well. Besides the quality of driving, the areas away from the tourist towns are mostly authentic, and very Portuguese - stop off for a cheap (0.5 Euro) coffee in one of the small towns.
Take a journey to hidden gems around Ponta de São Lourenço: visit its enchanting bays, marine caves and breathtaking landscapes, accessible only by boat. Kayaking is a relaxing and thrilling educational experience for all, a balanced mix of exploring, snorkeling, bird watching and paddling through Madeira’s exotic environment.
Big Game Fishing
Scuba Diving has become very popular in recent years due to the crystal waters and the abundance of life that characterize Madeira. Recently explored, Ponta de Sao Lourenco can offer the best dive sites of the island. This area is reachable from the very close Marina of Quinta do Lorde, where you find Azul Diving Center.
The clear waters and marine life of Madeira, known for its numerous nature reserves and marine areas, offer countless fascinating and electrifying dive spots. The marine fauna of this region consists mainly of coastal species. Sandy and rocky bottoms host numerous species of marine creatures : groupers (Epinephelus guaza ) and other serranids, salps , sea bream , mullet, scorpion fish (Scorpaena scrofa), moray eels, octopus, cuttlefish, barracuda, damsels are just some of the species that divers may commonly spot. Among the invertebrates, besides various species of anemones and starfish, we emphasize the presence of numerous bearded fireworms (Hermodice carunculata), known for their considerable size (up to 30cm) and for their painfully stinging bristles. Common are also several species of crabs; the most curious of them is definitely the arrow crab (Stenorhynchus seticornis).Large, typically pelagic organisms can also be occasionally encountered: tuna, cetaceans (i.e. the spotted dolphin and Risso’s dolphin),sea turtles, manta rays and mobulas, and the famous but very rare monk seal (Monachus monachus).
Surfing The Atlantic offers waves for moderate to experienced surfers. Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar are the most popular surfing places.
Canyoning, Madeira island, . Madeira Adventure Kingdom offer several canyoning tours on Madeira Island 60. edit
Madeira is presently one the best locations in the E.U. for companies with operations in the single market and worldwide. With reduced direct and indirect taxation, adequate infrastructures, competitive operational costs, safety and quality of life, Madeira is positioned to provide the investor with a unique package of benefits, offering a wide range of solutions to enhance the efficiency and performance of various forms of investment.
Moreover, Madeira's preferential tax regime has not only been approved by Portugal, but also by the European Union as a valid form of State Aid for regional development, providing Madeira's IBC with credibility and transparency. To find out more about Madeira's special status in the E.U., please consult State Aid nº 222-A-02; State Aid nº 222-B-02 and the Commission's Decision 2003/294/CE.
For more information visit the official website of the International Business Centre of Madeira.
Madeira wine, of course. Available in many varieties in all supermarkets and specialist shops.
Bolo de Mel. This Madeiran sugar cane honey cake is both delicious and amazingly filling! You can buy it in almost every shop but the bakery's are recommended. Bakeries of Porto Moniz town produce some of the best.
Madeiran Poncha. Probably the most popular local drink, recommendation goes for buying it at the local pubs rather than the low quality supermarket product.
Aguardente de cana. This Madeiran rhum of finest quality packs a punch with its 40% to 50%+ alcohol. It is used in a variety of local cocktails, it is a historical product of Madeiran industry.
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Il Basilico, Rua de Leichlingen, 7 , Pormenade, ☎ +351 291 708700, . Italian Restaurant belonging to the Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts • À la carte lunch and dinner • served inside and on the terrace • special children's menu • reservation recommended Open every day from 12.30 to 15.00 and 19.30 to 22.00 edit
Il Gallo D'oro, The Cliff Bay Hotel Estrada Monumental, 147, ☎ +351 291 707 700, . First Michelin Star Restaurant on the island of Madeira • Mediterranean gourmet cuisine • a jacket and tie required for gentlemen • reservation recommended Opening times: Everyday, from 08.00 to 10.30 and 19.00 to 22.00edit
A Bica, Rua do Hospital Velho (On the street above the farmer's market), ☎ 291 221 346. 9 - 23h. One of the best price/quality restaurants in Funchal city. The underground aspect adds to the charm of the place. Great variety of local meat/fish dishes, a recomendation for the traditional "espada com banana".8.5€. edit
Madeira Wine is a fortified wine prized equally for drinking and cooking. There are four major types of Madeira: Malvasia (also known as Malmsey or Malvazia), Bual (or Boal), Verdelho, and Sercial, the latter two being drier.
"Aguardente" or Madeiran rhum is also another product of excelence. Try it on any local bar or restaurant, often proposed as a digestive.
"Poncha". This cocktail is probably the most consumed drink amongst locals who sip it around the island's bars in the evenings. It exists in a variety of flavours, the most common are "Regional", "Pescador" and "Maracujá" (passion fruit).
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Parque de Campismo de Porto Moniz, Praca de Lyra, Porto Moniz, Portugal (near ribeira la janela, on the sea side between tunel dos casais and tunel do ribeira la janela), ☎ +351 291 853 656, . Cheap and clean site, around 2km/20min walking from center. After the camping in porto santo is closed, this is the last official camp site.5.80 € for 1 person with tent. edit
Travel to Madeira, ☎ +351916001177, . Self-catering apartments and country houses on the archipelago.edit
Madeira Island Direct, ☎ +351 910881693, . Offers a wide range of self-catering accommodation across the island.edit
Sunny House East & Sunny House West, Paul do Mar, Vereda do Lombinho, Ribeira das Galinhas, Paul do Mar, Calheta region (from Funchal / airport, drive west to the region of Calheta. After the Calheta Marina roundabout go straight on to Jardim do Mar then Paul do Mar.), ☎ +351291872036, . Two private holiday rental houses.Both houses sleep 5 and are 50 metres from the Ocean front between banana fields. 10 minutes drive from the town of Calheta & its marina which has white sand beaches next to it.(32° 43' 08,83,016° 48' 49,33)edit
Quinta das Colmeias, Caminho do Poiso, Casais Proximos, Santo Antonio da Serra (from Funchal / airport, drive past the golf course. Just before the round about, there is a turining to your left. Is the fourth gate on your right), ☎ +351291741515, . Two Holiday homes. The Main house sleeps 8 and the Cottage sleeps 6. Both share a common swimming pool. A few minutes drive from Santo da Serra Golf Course and Horse Ridding Centre.(32° 43' 08,83,016° 48' 49,33)edit
Casas Valleparaizo, Estrada Regional 102, n.161, 9135-060 Camacha, Santa Cruz (from highway ER101 take exit 15 towards Cancela. At the roundabout, enter the tunnel. At the next roundabout go left. At the T-junction (SA supermarket), go left. Entrace is after the long pink wall at the busstop.), ☎ +351291922174, . Nine mountain cottages and a main house scattered around a beautiful large sloping garden. Quiet surroundings, yet only a 20 minute drive from Funchal.edit
Atrio - Madeira: The Atrio is a small family run hotel located on the south side of Madeira island. Each room is individually styled. Address: Lombo dos Moinhos Acima, 9370-912 Estreito da Calheta - Madeira (+351) 291 820 400, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (+351) 291 820 419.
Vila Galé Santa Cruz, Rua de São Fernando 9100-157 SANTA CRUZ - MADEIRA, ☎ (+351) 291 529 000, . Since its launch in 2006, the Vila Galé Santa Cruz Hotel is your hotel of choice for a holiday in Madeira. Only 5 minutes away from Funchal International Airport, the Santa Cruz Hotel is a top-quality 4-star hotel where you only have the sea for a vista. Located only a few kilometers away from the tourism centre of Funchaledit
Residencial Zarco, Rua da Alfândega 113, Largo dos Varadouros, 9000-059 Funchal, ☎ +351 291 223 716, . Very nice cheap little hotel with family feeling and excellent location.Prices from 24€ single room and 30€ double/twin room. edit
Estalagem do Mar, just outside within walking distance from São Vicente on the north coast. Rooms with private bathroom and tub and view to the Atlantic Ocean. Indoor and outdoor pool, jacuzzi and a sauna, lots of parking space. Double low-season at €50.
Quinta da Quebrada, . Quinta da Quebrada is on the North Coast of Madeira, more precisely in Arco de São Jorge. The place has pleasant weather, with sun all year round. Very warm and dry in summer, gentle temperature and very few rainy days in winter. The unit has 7 Bungalows all with a very beautiful view over the Atlantic Ocean, TV and Telephone. Each one is made up of a double room, a private bath-room, and a kitchenette/living-room.
Quinta Da Casa Branca, An old Quinta converted into a boutique design hotel, set in the heart of Funchal, among colourful gardens.
The Cliff Bay The Cliff Bay Estrada Monumental, 147 +351 291 707 700 . Luxurious 5 star hotel owned by Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts, it is the most awarded 5 star hotel in Madeira with prizes like the Neckermann PRIMO 2008; Trip Advisor 2009 Winners: Top 100 World Luxury Hotels; Style Holidays Gold Award 2005, etc.
Porto Santa Maria, Avenida do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirenses, 50, ☎ +351 291 206700, . Porto Santo Maria, owned by Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts, lies at the water's edge in the very heart of Funchal's old centre.. A lovely 4 star hotel offering 146 rooms, restaurant, bars with terrace, direct access to the promenade, outdoor pool, indoor pool, SPA, gym, parking... all in the heart of the city.edit
Hotel Porto Mare, Rua Simplício Passos Gouveia, 21, ☎ +351 291 703700, . The 4 star Porto Mare hotel, owned by Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts, occupies the central wing of the Vila Porto Mare resort and benefits from the use of all its facilities. There are many different corners and atmospheres here ... something new to discover everyday.edit
Suite Hotel Eden Mar, Rua do Gorgulho, 2, ☎ +351 291 709700, . The 4 star Suite Hotel Eden Mar, owned by Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts, is the place to put yourself in tune with nature and enjoy your time in the exuberance of the surroundings. Feel yourself merging with the Atlantic Ocean and experience the lusciousness of the tropical gardens.edit
The Residence, Rua de Leichlingen, 7, ☎ +351 291 708700, . The 4 star The Residence, owned by Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts, is occupying the west wing of the Vila Porto Mare resort, The Residence enjoys the use of all its facilities and a real sense of community. Four restaurants, five bars, five pools, SPA,sports and children's facilities...edit
Reid's Palace, Estrada Monumental, 139, ☎ +351291717171, . Has been a standard bearer for luxury hotel excellence on Madeira island for over a century. Offering superb views of the Madeira and the ocean, a luxury hotel spa and exclusive gourmet restaurants, is the perfect hotel at which to relax. Famous for its Afternoon Tea. Including a Kids and Teens Club to welcome all family vacations. Lovely five-star Hotel where Winston Churchill used to stay! Belongs to Orient-Express.(32.640626,-16.923773)edit
Savoy & Royal Savoy -  Reid's rival hotel complex. Boasting a breathtaking beachfront location, this luxurious resort is set in the Bay of Funchal and combines quality facilities with a central setting. Surrounded by tropical gardens, the Royal Savoy features 174 elegant suites, each with private balcony.
Emergency Service telephone number is 112
Some police in Funchal have red armbands, this signifies that they speak another language other than Portuguese, mainly English and German. Crime figures for Madeira are very low.
Internet Access - In some of the larger towns and cities on Madeira there is free public wifi internet access sponsored by the Madeiran government. You'll find a 2m tall white and blue board telling you that wifi is available. There is also free access in the airport terminal. In addition, some bars and cafés offer internet access too.
This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!