Far-flung islands in the middle of the Atlantic, closer to Africa than Europe, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal packed with so many quirky traits, striking vistas, and unique activities that it keeps visitors coming back time and time again.
Just as the misty, mountainous archipelago fascinated 15th-century Portuguese explorers, it continues to impress visitors with its breath-taking beauty to this day.
Despite being located so far from the mainland, upon landing Funchal has a distinctly Portuguese feel. As you drive away from the city, however, the island’s 150 km-long coastline is dotted with bustling towns, while inland, a wild, varied landscape awaits, rugged mountains and deep valleys occasionally giving way to plains, woodland, and vineyards.
Walking tours of the island make for a fantastic adventure, many of which take you along levadas – historic irrigation channels built to supply water to the southern part of the island. A walk along a levada might even take you to one of Madeira’s most incredible hidden gems, the Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest surviving area of laurel forest in the world.
While exploring Madeira is a thrilling and lasting experience in itself, countless additional activities and attractions make the island a destination of dreams. Famous for its fortified wine, visitors can take part in wine tastings and tours aplenty, along with boating and scuba diving excursions, swimming in Madeira’s unique volcanic lava pools, and hiking above the cloud line.
Though the climate is warm and spring-like year-round, a trip to Madeira during the summer months is highly recommended, as that is when visitors may get the chance to spot dolphins and whales, with over 20 different species of marine mammals visiting the island’s waters annually between April and October.
Incredible landscapes, plentiful attractions, and accessibility make Madeira a magnetic location, drawing visitors back for more.