Madeira, the little Portuguese Archipelago off the coast of Africa, often flies under people’s radar as they prefer to visit the nearby Canary Islands instead. These people are missing out on something truly special.
Madeira is made up of four islands, one of which is uninhabited (and I don’t blame people for not wanting to live there with the Wolf Spiders!). The main island – where I spent Christmas 2017 – is Madeira island, but Porto Santo is also apparently well worth a boat trip over as it’s just as stunning.
It’s always summer in Madeira, and it hardly ever rains, making it the perfect destination for those of us who want to escape to the sun all year round. I spent just over a week there over the festive period and it rained once (on Christmas day *eye roll*) but it wasn’t heavy enough to ruin our fun! Every morning we would have our morning coffee on the balcony whilst watching the sun shimmer on the waves of the Atlantic. I even came home with a little bit of a tan. A natural tan in December!
The island itself is stunningly beautiful. It is volcanic in nature so there are plenty of breathtaking viewpoints on top of steep hills – and there’s only one small town which can’t be seen from the sea so the ocean is pretty much always in view. Madeira is known for it’s beauty, which is how it got the nickname ‘Paradise Island’, and it’s known for its Levada walks and mountain hikes, making it a popular choice for nature lovers. Being an island, Madeira is a popular choice for people who like to be on the water, surfing, canoeing or whale watching. I would love to re-visit in the summer time to really make the most of everything this gorgeous island has to offer.
That being said, it’s a magical place to spend Christmas. The capital city, Funchal, is small but their Christmas decorations are enough to rival the larger capital cities across Europe. There wasn’t a street or tree not decked out in lights, you couldn’t walk too far without stumbling upon a nativity scene or a model festive village, and music or choirs played as we ambled along the streets. There was even a fairground on the seafront and their Christmas market, although not the biggest, was by far one of the best (especially as around half the stalls were selling Ponchas – Madeira’s very strong, traditional rum cocktail).
Madeira has a bit of a reputation for being more of an older people place and, whilst many older people do seem to enjoy visiting, there are plenty of younger people boycotting Tenerife in search of something a bit more relaxing. Young people definitely should not avoid Madeira thinking it won’t suit their lifestyle because it really is an island for everyone!
Here are some photos of my eight days on Paradise Island:
You may also like: Feeling Festive in Funchal
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens:
These gardens were voted one of the 14 most beautiful tropical gardens in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and it’s easy to see why!
Ponta Do Sol:
Literally translated this means ‘Sun Point’. It is the warmest and sunniest place in Madeira as it’s sheltered by mountains and the sun reflects off of the rock.
Camara Do Lobos:
This little fishing town near Funchal was Winston Churchill’s favourite spot on the island. He used to stay in Reid’s Palace and he got a lot of inspiration for his paintings from here.
Has anyone been to Madeira? What did you think? Is Madeira on your list of places you want to visit? Let me know in the comments!
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