The Pearl of the Atlantic
Discovered between 1418 and 1420 by Portuguese sailors, Madeira’s lush green hills and rocky peaks rise from the Atlantic Ocean, tempting visitors to sample its delicious wine, beautiful flora, and year-round good climate. Lying in a natural amphitheatre that provides shelter from the Atlantic winds, Madeira’s capital Funchal, starts at the harbour and gently slopes to around 1200 metres. The harbour is an important maritime point, with cruise ships and commercial liners stopping en route from or to the Caribbean. Despite the nautical traffic, the port area is an attractive place with decorative paved streets and seafood restaurants offering the catch of the day. Funchal’s historic buildings, 15th century cathedral and shops are easily explored on foot and while sun-bathing can revolve around the hotels’ pools, there is a pebbly beach in the city at Praia Formose. The nightlife is relaxed and low key, but there are a few clubs to satisfy those seeking something more lively than the cafes and bars.
Known as the Pearl of the Atlantic or the Floating Garden visitors to Funchal will enjoy the warm weather, beautiful scenery, laid-back atmosphere, delicious Madeira wine and fabulous, fresh seafood. Join in on the fantastic seasonal festivals which run throughout the year.
When to Go?
Rain falls on average 48 days of the year in Madeira, ten of these tend to be in November, with the rest fairly evenly spread across the winter the remaining months. July and August are the driest. The coldest months are October to May but even then the temperature does not tend to fall below 13°C and the summers are pleasantly hot.
How to get there?
Madeira Airport (FNC), or Funchal Airport as it is sometimes known, is located 16km from Funchal. Direct charter or scheduled flights are available from Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Christchurch, Exeter, Glasgow, London, Manchester and Newcastle. Flights from the UK can take around 3.5 hours. Transfers into the city are available by taxi or bus. The airport bus costs about 4 Euros each way while a taxi costs around 30 Euros.
Take the cable car up to Monte for stunning views over Funchal. Monte Palace Tropical Gardens with its carp ponds, aviary and waterfall is a peaceful place to spend an afternoon. For an exhilarating experience take the Wicker Toboggan Sled Ride from Monte. In the evening take a tour of Blandy’s Wine Lodge located in the centre of city and sip a glass of Madeira wine.