Madeira Holidays: An Overview

A volcanic outcrop in the Atlantic Ocean, 500 miles southwest of its parent country Portugal, Madeira is an outstandingly beautiful island with a wonderful sub-tropical climate. The year-round warmth provided by Madeira's special micro-climate makes it an ideal holiday destination, with a wide array of activities on offer, from windsurfing to mountain-biking, paragliding and big-game fishing. Madeira is also a renowned destination for walking or hiking. All in all, what was once known as 'God's waiting room' (thanks to the number of visitors of an elderly persuasion) has become somewhere that waits for no man.

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Image of Harriet Harford

Harriet and Kate are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • The hundreds of miles of levadas or canal paths that criss-cross the island are perfect for walkers, although some may not be so good for vertigo sufferers

Luxury Holidays to Madeira: The Detail

Madeira's mountain slopes are irrigated by a network of small canals known as 'levadas', which criss-cross the island. There are over 1,000 miles of these in total, and they double as superb walkways, taking you through dramatic landscapes and past small villages with their vineyards and terraced fields.

Funchal is the small, largely pedestrianised, capital city. Its unspoiled cobbled streets host hundreds of bars, cafés, and restaurants, plus excellent shopping and plenty of cultural attractions. Its hotel scene has improved dramatically in recent years too; with unashamed luxury on hand, as well as more fashion-conscious design options and peaceful rural quintas available in the countryside around the city too. In short, Madeira offers the full package for those seeking short-haul luxury holidays.


Original Highlight

Image of Flora Thompson-Ashby

The Monte Toboggan ride! Slide down to Funchal on a two-seater wicker sledge at high speed on narrow, winding streets. You’ll be pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. The ride down lasts about 10 minutes, and you will at times reach speeds over 30mph - great fun!

Flora, Original Traveller

A note on price

A weekend getaway to central Lisbon will start from £400 per person including return flights and transfers. On the other end of the spectrum, a two week long luxury family holiday for four staying in a top hotel in Sagres in a two bedroom suite with private pool will cost around £9,000. Learn more about our pricing

Weather in January January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Average Temp. — 11°C / 51°F
  • Rainfall — 10cm / 4.1 inches
  • Water Temp. — 15°C / 59°F
Flight from London

3:45 hrs

Time Difference


Top picks for Madeira

Quinta Jardins do Lago

Quinta Jardins do Lago


This beautiful quinta is situated on a hilltop just outside the historic city of Funchal. Built in the 18th century, during the Napoleonic wars, General Beresford, the commander of the British forces on the island, chose it as his residence.

Where to stay

 Casa Velha do Palheiro

Casa Velha do Palheiro


Originally a hunting lodge built for an infamous Madeiran count who blew his fortune, Casa Velha was subsequently bought and turned into a boutique hotel that’s now part of the Relais & Chateaux portfolio.

Where to stay

Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting


Madeira wine might not be everyone’s particular cup of grog, but the history surrounding its evolution is fascinating.

What to do

Quinta da Bela Vista

Quinta da Bela Vista


This stunning Madeiran Quinta near the town of Funchal dates back from 1844 and, as the name suggests, has lovely views over the surrounding mountains and Funchal Bay.

Where to stay

Quinta Casa Branca

Quinta Casa Branca


Just around the corner from Reid’s Palace sits Quinta Casa Branca, built around a beautiful private botanical garden.

Where to stay

Belmond Reid's Palace

Belmond Reid's Palace


The hotel is also renowned for its ten acres of lush semi-tropical gardens, which are beautifully maintained and contain plants from around the world.

Where to stay

We were particularly impressed by the level of contact from you. We have fairly intense jobs and the fact that you were so communicative and helpful made organisation so easy.


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