Welcome to Madeira
Welcome to Madeira, the Island of Flowers and the "Pearl of the Atlantic"
Madeira is the most famous and most touristic Portuguese island. It is located in the Atlantic ocean, 966 km southwest of Lisbon, not far from Morocco, and has 300,000 inhabitants. Its capital is Funchal, which is also the largest city of the island, where almost every visitors are staying. Even if Madeira is known for its sunny and warm weather, it has no beaches with white sand, except on Porto Santo, another small island just next to Madeira that you can access by boat or even plane. Actually Madeira is known for its beautiful green mountains and its Levada walks, which are hiking trails. The island was discovered in 1419 by two Portuguese captains, who first saw Porto Santo. It was then colonised by Portugal. The famous Madeira wine began to be cultivated in 1455. Christopher Colombus travelled many times there, and his first child was born in Porto Santo. In 1964 the airport was inaugurated, which marked the beginning of mass tourism in the island. Nowadays, people are coming to hike within the forests to see the beautiful flowers and waterfalls. Excursions are also organized by boat in order to see the whole island in one day from ashore. If you are lucky, you can see dolphins, whales and even turtles!
Information and Facts
Funchal is the best place to go out at night in Madeira. You can start by having a drink at the FX bar, which has a wide choice of cocktails. The Casino is also a big attraction at night, with shows and of course different gambling games. To dance, the best spot is the cluc "CopaCabana" located in the Casino, which has a dancefloor opened every night with different themes. There are also each week typical dinners with dancers and local food offered in some restaurants.
Sightseeing and Hiking
In Funchal there are different interesting museums such as The Frederico de Freitas Museum or the Whale Museum. But the best things to see in Madeira are outside, because the island offers various incredible views! If you go to Cabo Girao, you can stay on a floor made of glass, at the top of a cliff and see the Ocen beneath you. When making a Levada walk, there are many beautiful points of view, for example on the top of the moutains you can see the all island. There are trails for every levels, and every duration, from 2 hours to a full day. There are also the Sao Vicente Caves to visit and the Cable Car to take in order to go to the botanical garden.
At the Marina in Funchal, you can choose among different boat trips offered: sailing boat to see the island coast, speed boat to see the dolphins, the Santa Maria boat, which is a replica of Christopher Colombus' boat, where you are welcomed by "pirates". You can also take the boat which goes to Porto Santo ans spend the day there at the beach.
For such a small island, there are many specialties to taste! The main drink is the Madeira wine, which tastes a little like the Porto wine. There are also many villages producing different types of puncha (with honey, nuts, almond...) For the food there is the bolo do caco with garlic butter and parsley to taste as a starter, the picado, the milho frito, bacalhau (codfish), bolo de mel ( a sort of gingerbread) and chessnut cake.
This is the main event of the island, which happens once a year in the beginning of May. In every town there is a parade, with superb flowers coloring the houses and streets, a pavement flower carpet, concerts and folklore groups dancing in the open air. Many different groups line up and dance on the streets of Funchal, dressed in their beautifully colourful Madeira embroidery costumes, ‘floats’ are decorated and filled with a wide variety of flowers from Madeira. This event celebrates the spring.
Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +1 hour
Madeira has a sub-tropical climate, with temperatures going from 18 to 24 degres on average. This is a perfect weather for tourists, who are assured not to suffer from extreme temperatures. Even if it is raining one day in a part of the island, there is always sun in another part!
As there are lots of moutains and hills, with small dangerous roads, the public transportation is not much developped: there are some public buses but expect in Funchal, they are quite rare (twice a day for example). There is a shuttle from the airport to the capital.
To arrive to Madeira, you need to take the plane (from Lisbon mostly) and arrive at the airport located 20 minutes from Funchal by bus. There are also boat cruises coming to the port but no regular service. Once arrived, it is advised to rent a car in order to go wherever you want and have time to visit the whole island.
Portuguese is the official language, but as it is a tourisitc destination, almost all citizens speak English, and most of them German and/or French.
The currency is the Euro.