Formed by a set of four islands, from which only two of them are inhabited, Madeira is a Portuguese paradise located amid the immensity of the Atlantic Ocean. Just a 1.5-hour flight from Lisbon, Madeira’s privileged location provides pleasant temperatures year round, as well as impressive sceneries of mountains, valleys and volcanic cliffs covered by the exuberant Laurissilva vegetation, classified as Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Madeira is also rich in cultural traditions and delectable gastronomy, with a myriad of island chic accommodations that range from 5-star hotels to cliff top villas and historic Quintas.
Flower Festival (Oct. 1-24): Typically taking place during the spring, Madeira’s Flower Festival is scheduled for October in 2021, giving you a great reason to plan a trip to Madeira this fall. Funchal (Madeira’s capital city) is the host of the annual spectacle, which celebrates the exuberance of the flowers that bloom on the islands due to Madeira’s subtropical climate. The festivities will begin on Saturday, Oct. 2 with the “Wall of Hope,” when thousands of children dressed in colorful costumes flock to the Praça do Município to build a beautiful flower mural. The next afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 3rd the magical Flower Parade will fill the streets of downtown Funchal with music, color and the scent of the thousands of flowers that adorn the colorful floats. Taking place since 1979, the Flower parade is the highlight of dozens of celebrations that take place throughout the month.
More Madeira Must-do's:
Discover Madeira’s Gastronomy: Thanks to the subtropical climate and volcanic soils, Madeira’s cuisine is based on fresh and varied local ingredients. Traditional dishes include tuna steak with fried corn, beef skewers seasoned with salt, garlic and bay leaf (espetada), grilled limpets, “bolo do caco” or typical Madeira bread usually served hot in rectangles with garlic butter, and passion fruit pudding is one of the most popular desserts.
Join a food and wine walking tour: As mentioned above, gastronomy and wines are a huge part of Maderia’s culture. The Food & Wine Walking Tour invites travelers to discover the flavors of the city of Funchal like a local. Stopping at 9 different locations, participants will taste traditional wine and bites at a Madeiran chocolate factory, at the Mercado dos Lavradores (Funchal’s Farmers Market), at a typical Madeiran grocery store and others.
Stop by Blandy’s Wine Lodge: A visit to Madeira wouldn’t be complete without a taste of its flavorful wines. Located in a 200-year-old convent, the Blandy’s Wine Lodge offers a unique way to experience Madeira wine history. Travelers can join a guided tour of the cellars, wineries and museum, and finish the visit with a tasting.
Take a thrilling basket car ride: A toboggan ride aboard a traditional wicker sledge or Monte basket car is a can’t miss experience while in Madeira. This is a century-old form of transportation used by wealthy owners of some Quintas (local Manor Houses) in the 19th century to reach Funchal’s city center quickly. Travelers can take the Funchal Cable Car to reach the top of Monte, and hop on a basket car to get back down after a visit to the grounds of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. The experience costs € 25 for 1 person, € 30 for 2 people, or € 45 for 3 people. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Go on a “levada” hike or walk: To reach the most amazing and dramatic landscapes of Madeira, there is nothing better than going on foot along the walking trails next to the canals known as “levadas.” “Levadas” are irrigation canals that were built in the past to bring water from the north slopes, where it existed in abundance, to the south side of the island. Nowadays, these channels continue to work with this function and are also widely used for walking, where nature-lovers can be in full contact with the unique and lush vegetation of Madeira.
Visit Porto Santo: Porto Santo is the smallest inhabited island of the Madeira archipelago. This little paradise is located just 31 miles away from the main island of Madeira and it is easily reached via a 2-hour ferry ride, or 25-minute flight. The island provides a calm atmosphere and a long, gorgeous golden beach that covers nearly the entire southern coast. Porto Santo is synonymous with tranquility, but travelers looking to stay active may take a walking tour to the mountains, climb Pico Branco or Pico Castelo, join a jeep or bicycle tour, or practice a variety of water sports such as surfing, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding SUP.