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The best places to visit in Madeira

Amanda Angus / 08 January 2015 ( 17 August 2018 )

Expert Holiday Creator Christopher Yianni tells us a little bit about Madeira, one of his favourite islands…

The skyline of Funchal, the capital city of Madeira
The skyline of Funchal, the capital city of Madeira

Madeira is the perfect destination. It’s very relaxed, very laid back, and it has an amazing charm to it. It’s stunning to look at, wherever you are, whatever time of year. 

The flowers, all the flora in fact, are just out of this world. The people you'll meet in Madeira are some of the most friendly I’ve ever met; they're just genuinely welcoming people who are so happy and proud that you’ve chosen to visit their island on your holiday.

Discover the beautiful island of Madeira. Find out more about Madeira holidays here


Panoramic view of Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Funchal is a brilliant city, with lots of old architecture, lots of history, lots of local traditions and handicrafts, but at the same time it's really cosmopolitan with all the big designer shops. 

And all you have to do to enjoy it is just sit outside, drinking the local drink, poncha (which is like the Brazilian Caipirinha), made from fresh fruit like tangerines.

Ponta Delgada

Mountain landscape with hiking trail and view of beautiful lakes, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal.

The south of Madeira is almost always bathed in beautiful sunshine, warmed by the Gulf Stream, but the north of the island is different altogether – the weather is a lot more dramatic. 

The sea can have six-foot waves, the wind might howl – but that’s just as enjoyable and exciting, in its own way. When I travel to the north of Madeira, if it’s sunny and dry and hot, I feel let down – I like to see that wild side of Madeira. 

Because when you get to the hotel, it’s warm and cosy, and safe on the cliff, but you have these big windows where you can just sit and watch the waves crash – it’s an incredible experience.

Spectacular beaches, historic cities and some of the world’s finest wines - experience it all in Portugal. Find out more about Portugal holidays here

Madeira's Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Funchal, Madeira

The reason Madeira is such a stunning floral island is because it was on the trade route, and it has a natural harbour, so ships would always stop. 

In payment for being able to dock and take on supplies, the captains of the vessels would give the island plants from their native lands.

And because of its climate, exotic plants can grow quite happily – and there’s nowhere better to see this for yourself than at Madeira's ever-popular Botanical Gardens.

Madeira's New Year’s Eve Fireworks

New Years Eve fireworks on the island of Madeira

If you choose to go on holiday to Madeira for New Year's Eve. you'll experience the most spectacular fireworks display – every year you’ll find at least eight or nine cruise ships docked in Funchal harbour to watch. 

Every possible surface has fireworks placed ready, and when the music starts playing, the fireworks start – it’s an unforgettable display.

Did you know… Madeira

• Madeira was originally a floral island – literally – as it had no indigenous animal life. Apart from the insects, any creature that lives there now has been introduced by humans.

• Madeira won the Europe’s Leading Island Destination in 2013 and 2014, and then again in 2016, 2017 and 2018 at the World Travel Awards. These are like the Oscars of travel, and voted for by people in the industry.

• The oldest producers of Madeiran wine is Blandy’s, which is a British company. They’ve been on the island for over 200 years, and the seventh generation of Blandy is running the company!

Madeira TB logo


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.