Madeira - 30 photos that will make you want to visit right now

Local drivers are hell-bent on driving around the tiny island of Maderia in just 45 minutes, but for the average tourist - one full day will suffice.

Don’t be fooled though - this small volcanic island in the Atlantic offers the visitor an abundance of things to experience that could keep you busy for at least nine days.

An island and an archipelago

Madeira is both an island and an archipelago comprising of four islands - Madeira, Porto Santo, and the pair of desserted islands called Selvagens and Desertas.

Closer to Africa than it is to Europe, Madeira boasts seriously stunning natural scenery with two thirds of the island being classified as a nature reserve. It's the perfect place for outdoor adventurers.


Its 2000km worth of hiking trails on the island will take you through lush valleys, picturesque coastlines, and across mountainous peaks reaching as high as 1.8km.

Unlike other islands in the Atlantic, Madeira doesn’t rank high up there for its beaches. Most beaches are pebble and volcanic rock and offer a different kind of charm.

You might not be able to soak up the sun on a white sandy beach but you can do so in Porto Moniz. Here you can swim in natural pools of crystal clear sea water that has been created from volcanic lava.

Each corner of the island is distinctly different. There are 2000kms worth of 16th-Century levada canals across the island waiting for you to explore. These waterways carry water from the wet areas in the north to the more parched agricultural regions in the south.

A floating garden

Madeira is often called the floating garden and with good reason. The fertility of its volcanic soil harvests a wide variety of plants and exotic flower species from all over the world that can be found in its many delightful flower gardens.

Madeira even has its fair share of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Laurisilva, Madeira’s native forest is one of these. The origin of the forest goes back to the Tertiary period and is considered to be a centre of plant diversity.

The beautiful islands of Selvagens are recorded on the tentative UNESCO list and await further nomination.


Love a good party? Then Madeira is just the place for you! The festive season here never ends. With an abundance of festivals happening each month, you will have ample reason to celebrate life.

The world's largest firework display as recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records takes place here each year over New Year's. This is a tradition dating back to the 17th Century where huge bonfires were lit up on the last night of each year.

In May, you can enjoy the renowned orchid collection at the famous flower festival called Quinta da Boa Vista. The colourful costumed parade of Carnival, the 24 hour Dancing Folklore Festival in Santana and the PGA European Tour are a few of the many festivals that you can look forward to.

Seriously though - they love to celebrate everything! You should see the excitement of the locals waiting in anticipation for the start of the Banana Exhibit and the Onion Festival.

Explore the capital city

There aren't that many cities on the island to explore but the capital city of Funchal will keep you busy for days.

With no shortage of things to do here, it is a fantastic place to base yourself if you want to explore the whole island. Four and five-star hotels, thousands of trending cafes and restaurants catering for all taste buds adorn the narrow winding streets.

The amphitheater of green mountains surrounding the city add to its appeal with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Witness a swirl of public creativity and colour in the old town. What started as a public art project to revitalize the abandoned buildings in the city, is now a permanent art gallery that in itself attracts thousands of visitors.

Doors here are brightly coloured with paintings of imaginative scenes like mermaids swinging on a beach, gentlemen playing guitars and fishermen under the moonlight.

Cable cars and tobaggan rides

Take the 15-minute cable car journey up to Monte to enjoy panoramic views of the nearby cliffs that flank the town below.

The traditional toboggan ride dating back to 1890 is a must. Men in rubber-soled boots serving as human brakes guide a wicker sledge carrying two people down the very steep hill into Funchal.

The birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo

If not for the scenery, then visit to pay tribute to its home-grown superstar - Cristiano Ronaldo. Autographed memorabilia and a bronze sculpture can be found at The Pestana CR7 boutique hotel. The island's airport was even renamed in his honour in 2017.

The climate

Maderia's sub-tropical climate makes it an all year round destination. August is the hottest month with temperatures averaging around 23 °C while January is the coldest and wettest with an average temperature of 16°C.

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