The island of Maui, where I currently live, is home to a sizable Portuguese population whose ancestors originally hailed from the Atlantic island of Madeira. Given my love for islands, the warm-weather Portuguese island has always held a bit of allure for me, and even though it’s been almost ten years since I visited Portugal, during that time I unfortunately never got the chance to visit any of the islands. That’s why, when approached with this content from one of my partners, it got me thinking again about paying a visit to this corner of the world…
Looking for holiday offers for short haul destinations that offer good weather, great scenery, lots of activities, fabulous dining, and a relaxing atmosphere can be a challenging task. When traveling from the European mainland, however, there are islands that offer all this and are easily accessible, and the Portuguese island of Madeira is one such place.
Balmy Atlantic Island
Madeira is in the Atlantic Ocean, and even though it lies northwest of the Canary Islands, it’s still close enough to Africa to be influenced by its weather. The Atlantic breezes make sure that the temperature never gets too hot (around 33 degrees is the hottest when the winds blow from the Sahara at the height of summer), and the winters are warm and comfortable at around 17 degrees. The lush and beautiful vegetation shows there is rain, although by no means is it a constantly rainy destination. The warm Gulf Stream waters create sea temperatures which are warmer than the European mainland, and in short, it’s the ideal holiday island.
Your holiday will almost certainly take in a visit to the capital if not based there. Located on the south of the island in the shelter of its green mountainous backdrop, Funchal has a rich historical center with fine palaces, gracious squares, and many important buildings such as the 15th century Se Cathedral and a number of other museums.
Funchal is also a modern town with fine dining and a surprising amount of nightlife. Locals often go home to rest on weekend nights after dinner before heading to all night entertainment in clubs which stay open until 7 am. Funchal has changed in recent years, and although it’s not a party town in the style of the Canaries, it does offer stylish entertainment for those that want it.
The Lido area which was once the main promenade of the city is now a collection of fabulous leisure complexes with 3 main swimming pools, separate children’s pools, access to the sea, and restaurants and snack bars to please everyone on a day by the sea.
Madeira is, of course, world renowned for its fortified wine, which has been made on the island for many centuries. The fortification process was discovered after spirits were added to the wine to make it last on long voyages. Visitors can explore the complex of the Madeira Wine Company with its tasting room, cellar and museum to allow a full appreciation of the islands most famous export, challenged only in recent years by the islands famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Tiny but perfect
Madeira isn’t a huge place, but its size will fool you as it’s packed with great places to see and things to do. Once visited, the island is hard to forget, and many visitors return on holiday time after time.
[Image Credit: Mal B on Flickr]