Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, is located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 1,000 km (620 mi) southwest of mainland Portugal. The archipelago includes the main island of Madeira, the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, as well as two uninhabited groups: the Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Islands) and the Ilhas Selvagens (Savage Islands).
Madeira Island is known for its natural beauty, rugged coastline, volcanic peaks, and vibrant flora. It’s home to the Laurisilva of Madeira, a 20-million-year-old subtropical rainforest, where you can hike along levadas (irrigation channels) and enjoy breathtaking viewpoints. While Madeira's beaches are composed of pebbles or rocky shores, nearby Porto Santo boasts golden sandy beaches.
The best time to visit Madeira is from March to June (spring/early summer) and September to November (autumn). The weather is mild during these seasons, and the island is less crowded. The temperatures range from around 17°C to 22°C (63°F to 72°F), making it pleasant for outdoor activities.
The New Year's celebrations in Funchal offer a vibrant atmosphere, featuring a spectacular fireworks display, lively street parties, rooftop gatherings, boat cruises, and festive dinners. Families from across Portugal and beyond flock to Funchal, immersing themselves in the festivities. The mesmerising fireworks, music, and joyful atmosphere create an unforgettable way to welcome the new year.
To get around Madeira Island, you can use buses, taxis, rental cars, and guided tours. The most common way to travel from Madeira Island to Porto Santo Island is to take a ferry, which takes approximately 2.5 hours. Another option is to take a domestic flight between Madeira and Porto Santo, which takes 15-20 minutes.
Typical dishes from Madeira include Espetada (skewered meat grilled over an open fire), Bolo do Caco (bread made with sweet potato), Espada com Banana (scabbard fish with banana), Lapas (limpets), and Sopa de Tomate e Cebola (tomato and onion soup). Madeira is also renowned for its fortified Madeira wine, often enjoyed as an aperitif or dessert wine.
The Madeira Islands are served by Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC) near Funchal, the capital city of Madeira, and Porto Santo Airport on the island of Porto Santo. FNC offers domestic and international flights, while Porto Santo Airport primarily provides flights to and from FNC.
Madeira enjoys a mild subtropical climate throughout the year. The weather is characterised by mild winters and warm summers. The average temperatures range from around 13°C (55°F) in winter to 24°C (75°F) in summer. Madeira is known for its moderate humidity and pleasant sea temperatures. Madeira experiences average rainfall throughout the year, with a wetter season from October to April.