Flung some 500 miles southwest of the Portuguese mainland, Madeira is a quintessential island escape, complete with year-round sun, world-class wines and truly spectacular natural beauty. Our Portugal specialists have travelled extensively in Madeira and are on hand to help you create your ideal tailor-made itinerary.
Portugal's Garden Island
‘The Garden Island’, ‘The Pearl of the Atlantic’, ‘The Island of Eternal Spring’, however you term it, Madeira’s good looks are undisputed. Essentially the peak of a giant volcano that rises nearly four miles from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, its cragged cliffs guard a mountainous interior almost entirely carpeted in old growth forests.
And, when you factor in its Mediterranean climate, it’s no surprise that its rich soils sustain idyllic vineyards that terrace pretty green hills. It’s all best taken in on walks that trace the island’s 1,350-mile network of levada aqueducts. First built in the 1500s, they trace sweeping contours, carve into mountainsides and take hikers to hidden waterfalls. They also link pretty towns and villages where the roofs are made from thatch or terracotta, the hotels are cloaked in botanic gardens and delicious, just-caught seafood is served up from homely kitchens.
Madeira's spectacular coast
Madeira is well known for the beauty and drama of its countryside and coast. But, if you’re missing civilisation, Madeira’s capital – Funchal – is a delightful proposition. As the first territorial seize of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, 600 years of colonial history live on in harbour-front merchant houses, 15th-century convents and Gothic cathedrals whose wooden ceilings are gilded into spectacular frescoes.
However, if you’re after beaches, make like a local and jump on a ferry to neighbouring Porto Santo’s golden curves. Or, on Madeira itself, there’s no shortage of bathing platforms that jut right onto the Atlantic. From here, you can snorkel in subtropical waters, kayak the rugged coastline or simply relax with a sunset cruise. There’s even the chance to spot migrating dolphins and whales. And, let's not forget the island's superb accommodation - there's everything from charming boutique gems to indulgent coastal icons.
Belmond Reid's Palace