Madeira Islands Travel Holiday Guide
Portugal is a beautiful travel destination, one that is often not considered by mainstream travelers and can, thus, lead to a relatively more relaxed vacation for you. In general, Portugal rests between the popular destinations that are usually overcrowded and the less popular or well-known destinations where one would not find enough resources or facilities to enjoy a quality vacation.
One of the most intriguing and enjoyable places to visit in Portugal is the Madeira archipelago. This is a group of islands that have tremendous natural beauty as well as some fascinating places that you can visit. Read the Madeira Islands travel guide provided below to learn more about it.
Funchal is the biggest city on the Madeira Islands, and there are a lot of things you can do here. Getting into the city is a pretty simple process, as flights come into the airport regularly from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. One interesting fact about the Funchal Madeira Airport is that the runway used is on the edge of a cliff, providing a rather thrilling experience for the more adventurous, although the faint of heart tend to feel a little unsettled by this. If you are of the latter variety, worry not! The airport has been changed to a much more feasible location and now, you have acceptable runways as well that do not take you near any dangerous locations at all.
Getting around Funchal is quite easy. It is recommended that you pick up a Madeira Islands travel guide first and in this guide, you would be able to see that there are a number of taxi services you can use. There aren’t all that many high-tech services to avail in Funchal, but as soon as you step out of the airport, you would see that there are actually a great many taxis parked right outside. It is highly recommended that you settle the fare before you get into the cab, as failing to do so could result in the cab driver grossly overcharging you and leaving you with no option but to pay up.
However, instead of using a taxi, it is recommended that you use the extremely efficient orange bus system. Choosing the bus over taxi is recommended by this Madeira Islands travel guide. Using the bus is quite affordable, as there is a standard charge for your trip no matter how long it is. Paying cash directly to the bus driver would cost you about 1.90 euros per trip. However, it is highly recommended that you get a Giro card. This is a travel pass that you can purchase for 2.20 euros from the main travel office in the city center. You get two rides for free when you purchase the card, and you can top up your card for later use. When you use the Giro card, the cost of each ride would be further reduced to just 1.50 euros!
As far as getting to the city center from the airport is concerned, you can do so with ease by using the Aerobus. This bus can take you all the way to the city center in just five euros, so using a taxi is really unnecessary unless you are with someone too old to use a bus or you or someone with you has a disability that would prevent you from using public transport.
Things to Do in Madeira Funchal
Funchal is the regional capital of and largest city in the Madeira Islands, so there is obviously going to be a lot to do here. This Madeira Islands travel guide recommends that you check out as many places as possible, as there is some pretty impressive variety to be found!
To start off with, there is a manor near the outskirts of the city, a remnant of past colonization. This manor has a beautiful garden that is open to the public with some impressive topiary on display. If you are into gardens, you should also check out the Madeira Botanical Gardens. You can see thousands of different kinds of plants here as well as a variety of birds such as parakeet and parrots. What’s more is that this garden is at a high altitude, so you can get an amazing view of the city of Funchal.
If you are interested more in the fauna of Madeira rather than its flora, you should keep in mind that most of the animals that Madeira has to offer are aquatic. You can take a look at most of them in the incredible Madeira Aquarium. There are a number of helpful tour guides here who would be more than happy to give you information regarding all of the animals that are being shown to you, and the impressive glass walls can give you a pretty in-depth glimpse into how these animals live. You can also get a lot of information about them from the informative signs that are shown underneath each exhibit.
The thing about Madeira is that it offers you a combination of amazing natural beauty and a highly contemporary experience. There is some amazing nightlife to enjoy here with a number of bars offering music and dancing. Plus, the various clubs that you would go to are all set within the lush backdrop of the vast natural beauty that these islands have to offer.
What’s There to Eat in Madeira?
Most of the food that you are going to get here is seafood with some exceptions and is, without a doubt, some of the best seafood you will ever have. The interesting thing about the food available here is that it’s all completely fresh. Fish are caught every day and are cooked within hours, so you never get that gross freezer-burned taste that a lot of fish served in restaurants tend to have. This also helps bring a lot of the natural flavor that many fish tend to lack, thereby allowing you to have a much more delicious experience.
This Madeira Islands travel guide is here to tell you that one of the most popular dishes that you should certainly try is called espada con banana. This interesting dish consists of a roasted scabbard fish served with baked, fried, or raw bananas. The interesting combination of sweet and salty, along with the surprisingly complementary textures of the two foods, makes for an incredibly interesting experience that you are certainly going to enjoy.
However, if you are the type of person who does not really enjoy fish, you have no reason to fret. There are a number of restaurants in Funchal as well as across the Madeira Islands that serve a variety of different foods. Particularly interesting are the steaks that you would get here, as they have been cooked in a Portuguese style. Portuguese steaks are barbecued in a slightly different way and are usually a lot spicier than steaks normally are. This gives them an interesting flavor, one that you are certainly going to enjoy a great deal.
The chicken is also to die for. Portugal is the home of peri-peri chicken and in the heart of Madeira, you can find some truly delicious roasted chicken along with fish that has been marinated in the same sauces. The interesting thing to note here is that a lot of different types of fish go really well with this kind of sauce and often end up tasting even better than chicken!
All in all, the variety that you are going to be presented with here will allow you to have a great time. No matter what you are into, the restaurants in Funchal are going to give you exactly what you need and offer a variety of prices as well in case you are looking to save some money for other things that you could spend it on. Take a hint from this Madeira Islands travel guide and try as many different places as possible.
Where Can You Stay In Madeira Islands?
Depending on your price range, you can get anything from a nice, cozy hostel all the way to a luxurious hotel. This Madeira Islands travel guide will first talk about the more budget-friendly accommodations.
If you move a little further away from the city center, you would start to notice that accommodation is getting increasingly more affordable. In addition to this, you would be able to find that food gets cheaper out here as well, thus allowing you to get an even more affordable experience.
This Madeira Islands travel guide is here to tell you that hostels are your best bet if you want to save money. At a hostel, you can get a single room for around 20 euros and if you are willing to sleep in a dorm with other people, you can just spend ten euros and get a bed for the night. This is great for people who are trying to save money. Even if you are good for the money, you can use these hostels as a way to get a more rustic experience. You can get in touch with the real side of Funchal and Madeira that would give you some pretty entertaining stories to tell your friends when you get back home from your exciting adventure.
However, if you want to spend a little more money and get the comfort that would come along with it, there are a number of different hotels for this kind of price range as well. If you go to Madeira in the off-season, you can get a decent sized room that is clean and has hot water for around thirty euros. Going there in the on-season would drive the prices up but not by much. You would still be able to get a decent room for around fifty euros, which is really not that expensive at all.
If you are looking for the absolute epitome of luxury, your best option is the Pestana Bay. This hotel is a bit on the expensive side, but if you stay here, you will be treated like nothing less than royalty. If you are going on a nice vacation with your family, you would want to give them the best treatment possible. The high-end hotels in Funchal are designed to give you nothing short of a five-star experience.
What’s the Weather Like in Madeira?
It never gets too hot or too cold here, with the hottest temperature you would experience being no more than twenty-five degrees and the lowest temperature being fifteen degrees. This means that the climate of the Madeira Islands would always be in that sweet spot that would allow you to enjoy yourself without the weather getting in your way.
Another great thing about Madeira is that it very rarely rains here in the cities. Madeira’s population does not depend on farming to survive at all, so the lack of rain has virtually no effect on the populace. Instead, it makes it easier for you to enjoy yourself as you would have access to the beaches any time you want. In addition to this, you would be able to enjoy the lush forests of these magnificent islands in peace. However, you need to make note of the fact that Madeira has a number of microclimates. Hence, in the more forested parts of these islands, you might actually see a fair amount of rain that the trees use to help themselves grow. This allows them to become quite lush and beautiful, and the sight of rain in these areas would be really aesthetically pleasing as well.
All in all, it’s almost like the weather of these islands has been optimized to be as perfect as possible based on whatever situation you are in. It rarely rains near the cities where it could ruin your day and in the areas where rain would actually look nice, you can see quite a bit of it. You can see from the Madeira Islands travel guide you are reading right now that these islands have some of the best weather in the world for a perfect vacation to go on with the most amazing food and fun activities you can enjoy.
Things to Do Outside of Funchal in Madeira
Funchal is not the only place on the Madeira Islands where you can have fun. In this Madeira Islands travel guide, you are going to find a great number of other activities to do outside of Funchal as well.
One example of an activity you can do outside the regional capital is to visit the lava pools in Madeira. These can give you a unique experience that would allow you to witness the incredible power of nature first hand. Not only that, but you would be able to learn the history of the volcano as well along with the impact it had on the culture of Portugal as a whole as well as Madeira specifically.
You can book a trip to the lava pools from the Madeira tourist board. You can find a branch of the tourist board in practically every major city in Madeira, especially in Funchal where you would find the biggest branch of the board. If you want to look for other places to visit on the Madeira Islands, the tourist board can help you out with this as well. The board organizes regular guided tours that would show you different parts of the island that you can explore, and you can also pay a little extra to go to the places that are less well known.
One area of the island on which Funchal is located that you should definitely visit can be found in the north. You can find a lagoon here where snorkeling is a dream come true. The water is absolutely clear and sparkling in the sunlight, and the amount of fish you would see here is truly astounding. You can rent snorkeling gear for five euros per hour, and the people in this part of the world are so friendly that they often give snorkeling gear to children for free.
You can also eat different kinds of food when you leave Funchal. In the southern islands of Madeira, you would find that fish are not as common, as people in these areas tend to eat crabs and the like instead. This allows you to experience a very different kind of cuisine that is not quite as spicy as the food you would find on other parts of the island.
Snorkeling and food aside, moving outside the regional capital can help you get away from the hustle and bustle that comes in any big city. You can experience the sort of peace and quiet that very few cities can offer and simply lay back to see the starry sky with a beer in hand and your closest loved ones right beside you. Hence, getting out of Funchal can help you properly relax.