Madeira

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View on Funchal

Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean and is 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. Geographically in Africa, it is an ultra-peripheral region of the European Union.

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 500 km from the African coast and 1,000 km from the European continent, only 1.5 hr flight from mainland Portugal and about 3 hr from all the main countries in Europe.

Cities[edit]

Other destinations[edit]

Understand[edit]

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!

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The neighbouring island is Porto Santo. PXO is just a 15 minute flight from Madeira.

There is boat/ship 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, 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.

By boat[edit]

Get around[edit]

  • Buses A 7-day bus ticket is recommended, valid on all Funchal City routes, €17.50 (Mar 2007)

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)
  • Taxis
  • 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 petrol stations rare. Renting via the Internet is usually cheaper than walking-in.

Talk[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.

See[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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.

Do[edit]

  • 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.
  • Fishing
  • Sailing.
  • Snorkelling.
  • Scuba diving
    Atlantic Triggerfish in Azul Housereef
  • Surfing The Atlantic offers waves for moderate to experienced surfers. Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar are the most popular surfing places.
  • Birdwatching
  • Canyoning in Madeira is great for beginners and pro's alike. Abseiling down high watersfalls and jumping into crystal clear pools of fresh water is something you shouldn't miss.
  • Horse riding.

Work[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 Center of Madeira.

Buy[edit]

  • Madeira wine, of course. Available in many varieties in all supermarkets and specialist shops.

Eat[edit]

  • Adega da Quinta (Quinta do Estreito, Estreito de Câmara de Lobos),  +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),  +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.

Drink[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.

Sleep[edit]

See individual city articles for listings. Those below are mostly outside towns.

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

  • Estalagem do Mar (Just outside São Vicente on the north coast). Rooms with private bathroom and tub and view to the Atlantic. Indoor and outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and a sauna, lots of parking space. Low-season €50.
  • Quinta da Quebrada (Arco de São Jorge, on the north coast). 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 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.
  • Vila Galé Santa CruzRua de São Fernando 9100-157 (Santa Cruz),  +35 1 291 529 000. 5 minutes away from Funchal International Airport, top-quality hotel where you only have the sea for a vista. Only a few kilometers away from the tourism centre of Funchal.

Splurge[edit]

  • Casas ValleparaizoEstrada 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. Entrance is after the long pink wall at the bus stop),  +35 129 192 2174. Nine mountain cottages and a main house scattered around a beautiful large sloping garden. Quiet surroundings, yet only a 20 minute drive from Funchal.
  • Quinta das ColmeiasCaminho do Poiso, Casais Proximos, Santo Antonio da Serra (From Funchal/airport, drive past the golf course. Just before the round about, there is a turning to your left. It's the fourth gate on your right),  +35 129 174 1515. 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 Riding Centre. 32° 43' 08,83, 016° 48' 49,33

Stay safe[edit]

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.

Connect[edit]

  • Internet - In some of the larger towns and cities on Madeira there is public free Wi-Fi Internet access sponsored by the Madeiran government. You'll find a 2m tall white and blue board telling you that Wi-Fi is available. There is also free access in the airport terminal. In addition, some bars and cafés offer Internet access too.
This region travel guide to Madeira has the status usable. 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 feel free to improve it by editing the page
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