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 ultra-peripheral 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.
Mountainous landscape at Vereda dos Balcões. (November, 2016)
- Cristiano Ronaldo 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 ferry service between the two islands.
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, 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.
- Cruise ships from most major cruise lines port here.
- A Passenger and car ferry connects Funchal (Madeira) to Portimão (Portugal) and Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) during the Summer months from 2 of July to 20 of September until at least 2020.
- A Passenger and car ferry connects Funchal (Madeira) to its neighbour island of (Porto Santo) it operates all year except January. A return ticket cost 58.10€ from April to September and 47.50€ all other months.
- 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)
Madeira's vibrant yellow taxis.
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.
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 locally 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.
- Big Game Fishing, ☎ +351 910 131 038 ([email protected]), . Try to catch your biggest fish!
- Birdwatching, . Madeira islands offer good conditions to the birdwatchers.
- Canyoning, . Madeira has more than 150 canyons and is an excellent destination for canyoning.
- Drive by car. 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 coffee in one of the small towns.
- Explora Madeira Diving Center, Hotel Penha de França Mar, Rua Carvalho Araujo 1, Funchal, ☎ +351 962 672 251, . You can dive directly in the house reef to meet the seahorses, or go out by boat to visit the natural park of Garajau and the protected area of Cabo Girão.
- Golf. Some courses include Santo da Serra Golf , Palheiro Golf , and Porto Santo Golf .
- 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 circuit 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.
- Horse riding, . It is a perfect way to spend a day at horse riding in Madeira Island.
- Jeep Safari Tours, . There's a Madeira seen from the paved roads and another, the untouched, seen from unpaved tracks, there's a lot of companies to chose from.
Kayaking at Ponta de São Lourenço
- Kayaking at Ponta de São Lourenço, . 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.
- 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 civilization and of all civilizations.
- Mountain Biking, . Madeira is getting more and more known for biking; it can be quite challenging on this steep island!
- Paragliding, . It's another wonderful way to see what best Madeira has to offer. In Calheta you can have awesome views.
- Sailing, . Madeira Island has the best conditions for a memorable sailing experience.
- Scuba diving, . Scuba Diving has become very popular in recent years due to the crystal waters and the abundance of life that characterize Madeira. The whole area around Funchal, from Cabo Girao to the natural park of Garajau and the 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. 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). The best areas to dive in the island are Ponta de Sao Lourenco and the bay of Funchal.
- Snorkeling, . Snorkeling in Madeira Island is becoming a popular diving attraction.
- Trail Running, . Madeira island has hundreds kilometers of trekking trails, which make it popular destination for trail runners. Nowadays you can book a guide to run with you trough the most beautiful paths.
- Atlantic Festival, . June. It usually is hold at the beginning of the summer and is assisted by the dance of fires.
- Carnival, . February. Traditionally there are two Carnival parades in Madeira, which are very different from each other. First one is an allegoric parade and second one is called ‘trapalhão.
- Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, . December-January. Christmas emotions run high in Madeira and Porto Santo!
- Colombo’s Festival, . middle of September. It is a reconstruction of the 16th century history atmosphere, when Christopher Columbus lived on the island for a while. The program of this festivity includes various concerts, dances, games, street entertainment, exhibitions.
- Flower Festival (Festa da Flor), (fax: ""url="). Along with flower floats and carpets everybody can be involved in the culture, dance and nice music of this region.
- Nature Festival, . October. This Festival features tourists and visitors having the entertainment related to the nature: exercising, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, walking or bird watching.
- Wine Festival, . The Wine Festival relives the time-honored traditions of the Madeira population, which invites to raise a glass of this nectar of the gods and make a toast to the mystery of our life.
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 at almost every shop but bakeries 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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- Adega da Quinta, Quinta do Estreito, Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, Tel: +351 291 910 530. Traditional restaurant where you can eat "espetada" in an old winery uphill from Câmara de Lobos
- 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. Convenient if you do the levada walk or drive around the area of Caniçal, Machico and Pico de Facho.
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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: [email protected], fax: (+351) 291 820 419.
- Villa Koala, ([email protected]), . The Koala is a small hotel located on the south side of Madeira island.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
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