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 mild climate
throughout the year (temperatures between 20 and 27°C) keeps the spring on Madeira never ending. The Levadas, a ingenious system to distribute the water from the rainy north to the dry south, helps flowers blooming all over the year. That's why this island is called the ''Garden in the Atlantic'' The pathways to maintain these water canals are wonderful samelevel trails for hiking in the mountains (up to 1861m) and the tremendous landscape.
Unfortunately Madeira was hit by
two catastrophes in 2010: Heavy rainfalls drowned Madeira and entailed a flood in the lower parts at the coasts with swelling rivers. While the results of this are barely to see anymore, the results of the disaster in August are still visible: heavy forest fires destroyed large parts of the forest. Up to the summit of the Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest Mountain, you can still see burnt ground and trees. While the soil is often already covered with a gentle green, the black logs of the trees still remind on the catastrophe. Nevertheless, there is still enough to see and hike on Madeira!
The following Airline companies fly regularly to Madeira International Airport: 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.
*[[Cruise ships]] port here.
*There is a weekly connection between Portimão (Algarve)
to Madeira offered by Naviera Armas [http://www.navieraarmas.com].
*There is a '''car ferry''' between Porto Santo and Madeira, two hours one way. Ferry Service Funchal-Porto Santo. [http://www.portosantoline.pt/]
Recommended to get a 7 days bus ticket, access to all Funchal City routes, 17.50 EUR (March 2007)
Beware - timetables are very confusing as they do not include clear route details.
*'''Car rental''' 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
gas stations rare. Renting via the Internet is usually cheaper than walking-in.
*'''Levadas''' An impressive system of aqueducts built between 1461 and 1966 to bring water from the mountains to
cropland. *'''Cabo Girão''' One of the world's highest ocean cliffs (590m/1,935 ft. above sea level) , you'll easily realize the island's Edenlike quality.
*'''Jardim Botânico''' Funchal Botanical garden.
*''' São Vicente Caves''', [http://www.grutasecentrodovulcanismo.com/en/default.asp].Volcanic caves 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''', [http://www.storycentre.com/uk/home.html]. 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
the cruise ship , and Pico dos Barcelos (on the side where you can see the Funchal's marina).*'''Miradouro''' means viewpoint. Splendid view of the island can be seen from different viewpoints . Recommended viewpoints include: Pico dos Barcelos, Pico do Arieiro, Pico de Facho, Curral das Freiras, Monte.
*'''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 on foot, like the Ice Plant, Everlasting, Cardoon and many more. Down the cliff is a secluded beach called Prainha, the island’s only natural black sandy beach. Very popular with the locals, it’s great for swimming. The hiking trail can be walked comfortably with a pair of good hiking boots. Hiking duration could last several hours, prepare food and drink.
*''' Santo da Serra Golf''', [http://www.santodaserragolf.com/].
*'''Surfing''' The Atlantic offers waves for moderate to experienced surfers.
* '''Coral Restaurante''', Praca da Autonomia, Câmara de Lobos, Tel: +351 291 098 284. Fresh fish and shell fish.
* '''Espada Preta''', Caminho Trincheira, 9300-159 Câmara de Lobos, Tel: +351 291 948 439. Fresh fish and shell fish, also try their specialty "bread soup" (main course).
* '''Restaurante O Tunel''', near the tunnel of Caniçal. Seafood starters and espetada as main course.
If you do the levada walk or drive around the area of Caniçal, Machico and Pico de Facho.
* '''Internet Access''' - In some of the larger towns and cities on Madeira there is
a public ''free'' wifi internet access sponsored by the Madeiran gouvernment. You'll find a 2m tall white and blue board telling you that wifi is availlable here. There is also ''free'' access on the airport gates. Above that, some bars and cafés offer internet access too.