Comprising four islands off the north-west coast of Africa, Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago known for its rugged terrain and subtropical climate. The main island of Madeira is home to the capital city of Funchal and a spectacular coastline punctuated by high cliffs. Madeira is renowned for the unique process used in making its fortified wines.
Things to do in Madeira
From magnificent natural landscapes to ancient architectural landmarks, Madeira has earned its reputation as the “Pearl of the Atlantic”.
Visit Funchal. Funchal is the first port of call for most visitors to Madeira and centres around the Gothic-style Funchal Cathedral that dates back to 1514. Browse the contemporary Portuguese artwork on display in the 17th-century São Tiago Fortress, then ride the Funchal Cable Car for elevated views across the city’s terraced mountains. From the top, you can ride a basket toboggan back down to the centre of Funchal.
Explore Ponta de São Lourenço. At the easternmost point of Madeira is Ponta de São Lourenço, a dramatic peninsula dominated by red-hued volcanic rocks that is protected as a nature reserve. Follow the hiking trail leading to Pico do Furado to enjoy spectacular views across the Atlantic Ocean while keeping your eyes peeled for herbaceous plants endemic to the island. Ponta de São Lourenço has also been designated as an Important Bird Area and is home to a large colony of Caspian gulls.
Brave the Cabo Girão Skywalk. For a vertigo-inducing experience, head to the 580-metre-high cliff of Cabo Girão, which rises dramatically above the south coast of Madeira. Overhanging its edge is a glass platform offering a bird’s eye perspective of the Atlantic Ocean below, as well as photographic views towards Funchal.
Getting around Madeira
Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport is around 30 minutes’ drive from Funchal and has flights to destinations across Europe while regular ferries connect Madeira to Porto Santo, Portimão and Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. Buses travel throughout Madeira or you can rent a car to explore the island at your leisure.