Let us take you on a journey to the real Madeira – the Atlantic island of outstanding natural beauty.
It’s an island of dramatic scenery: breathtaking valleys, wild coastlines and rugged mountain ranges. It’s hot in the summer, mild in the winter and it’s a great destination if you like to mix busy days with some relaxation by the pool. Small is beautiful and we hand-pick the best accommodation – the off-the-beaten track Quintas, Casas and Estalagems that we love to stay at ourselves.
Getting to Madeira
There are daily direct flights to Madeira from the UK throughout the year: two flights per day from Gatwick and two flights per week from Bristol, Stansted, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Glasgow. The flight time is just under four hours. From mainland Portugal, there are daily flights from Lisbon and Porto, and from the USA and Canada you can fly either via Lisbon or via the Azores island of Sao Miguel - we can include a few nights in one of these exciting destinations as part of your Madeira Holiday.
Getting around Madeira
The modern engineering of Madeira’s road network makes it easy to explore the island by car, and we often feel the island’s impressive tunnels and bridges should be a tourist attraction in themselves ! On paper, Madeira looks like a relatively small island –however, the undulating mountainous terrain and wiggly coast roads mean it often takes a little longer than you expect to get from A to B. When we’re helping you to plan your holiday, we find it helps to divide the island into quarters: four geographical regions…North-east, North-west, South-east and South-west (plus Funchal), making getting around a bit more manageable. Public transport is more geared towards school-runs and commuting, and we find it’s not really practical to take bus from one region of the island to another. However, if you’d prefer not to drive you can still explore the whole of Madeira with our resident drivers and guides.
Taxis are an excellent way of getting around and all of our drivers speak excellent English. We can include private full and half-day taxi tours of the island, and return taxi transfers to the best levada walk on Madeira.
If you prefer the flexibility to explore at your leisure, we can include a hire car in your holiday package. Vehicles are generally fairly new and range from smart cars to people carriers. Petrol is a little lower in price than the UK - Madeirans drive on the right and the roads are well sign-posted; we can also include GPS for a small additional fee.
Inter-island flights & ferries
It's a short, fifteen-minute flight between the main island of Madeira and it's small neighbour Porto Santo, and there are normally three flights per day. There's also a daily ferry service which takes around two hours to make the crossing: if you're splitting your stay between the islands, it's quite nice to travel to Porto Santo by ferry, returning to Madeira by air.
English is widely spoken on the island, but learning a few Portuguese phrases is always appreciated.
Madeira is on GMT.
Visas are not required by UK or EU passport holders. Check your passport is valid until after your planned return date and we recommend travelling with a copy of your travel insurance policy in case of an emergency.
ATMs are common in most larger towns, and credit and debit cards are accepted in most restaurants and shops. You'll need a supply of Euros to spend in the small villages and cafe bars.
As you’d expect on a small Atlantic island, Madeiran restaurants serve excellent fresh fish. The restaurants in Funchal have a good mix of Portuguese more European-style menus, and there’s usually a nice selection of vegetarian options available. In the smaller towns and villages, you’ll tend to find more traditional-Portuguese menus. If you have any food allergies, just let us know.
Madeira’s seasons follow a similar pattern to our own: it’s mild in Spring and Autumn and hot from around May through to November. The winter can be a bit showery but the temperature’s usually up in the high teens.