Madeira

View on Funchal

Madeira is a sub-tropical archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean and is an autonomous region of Portugal. The archipelago is made up of two populated islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and two groups of unpopulated islands called the Desertas and Selvagens Islands. Geographically in Africa, it is an ultra-peripheral region of the European Union.

Known worldwide as the Islands of eternal spring, Madeira, "Ilha Jardim" {Garden Island} or "Pearl of the Atlantic", it has a mild climate throughout the entire year.

Madeira island is 500 km from the African coast and 1,000 km from the European continent, only 1.5 hr flight from mainland Portugal and about 3 hr from all the main countries in Europe.

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

Madeira Islands are just a short trip from Europe (more or less 4 hours from UK), to a destination where you can combine holidays by the sea, in the mountains or in the city.

Discovered early in the 15th century by the Portuguese navigators João Gonçalves Zarco, Tristão Vaz Teixeira and Bartolomeu Perestrelo, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal.

Nowadays Madeira is a popular destination for tourists of all ages. Its constant mild climate (temperatures between 20 and 27°C) keeps the spring on Madeira all year round. The levadas, an ingenious system of stone- and concrete-lined watercourses distributing water from the rainy north to the dry south, help flowers and crops flourish all year. That's why this island is called the Garden in the Atlantic. The maintenance pathways for these water canals provide wonderful level trails for hiking in the mountains (up to 1861m) and through the tremendous landscape.

Unfortunately, Madeira was hit by several catastrophes in 2010: in February heavy rainfall inundated parts of the island and caused destructive floods in river valleys on the south coast of the island, chiefly in Funchal, Ribeira Brava and Tabua. Reconstruction work of lost bridges and roads has now been largely completed, but the legacy of major forest fires in August of that year is likely to last longer, and some upper mountain footpaths in the east of the island remain closed or interrupted. Further floods in the 'Nuns' Valley' in October 2010 caused more damage to infrastructure, but this has been repaired. Despite all this, the authorities and locals have been hard at work ensuring that Madeira's tourism infrastructure has returned largely back to normal, and there is still plenty to see and do on Madeira!

Get in

By plane

The neighbouring island is Porto Santo. PXO is just a 15 minute flight from Madeira.

There is boat/ship service between the two islands.

The following Airline companies fly regularly to Madeira International Airport: TAP Portugal, Portugália, SATA, British Airways, Norwegian Airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Air France, easyJet, Finnair, First Choice Airways, Thomson, LTU, Thomas Cook, Condor, Niki, SAS, Sterling, Transavia, My Travel, Binter Canarias and Jet2.com (from May 2010).

If you go to/from the airport by (rental) car, ask for directions to the parking area you need; there are 7, and they are badly signposted. Note that some smaller rental companies operate from sites near but not at the airport, and provide transport between terminal and depot.

By boat

Get around

Beware - timetables are very confusing as they do not include clear route details.

There are six bus companies:

Driving in Madeira is not for the faint-hearted. A small number of main routes marked "Via Expresso" or "Via Rapida" (VE and VR on maps) are well-maintained, reasonably straight and level - thanks to a large number of tunnels, bridges and viaducts. All other roads are narrow and often steep. If a member of your group really enjoys the challenge of driving up ceaseless-seeming hairpin bends up mountains against oncoming traffic and usually with a sheer cliff face on one (or both) sides, then you may wish to consider hiring a car. Otherwise, it is best not to attempt driving on most of the island and instead to use buses and taxis. Of course a holiday based on public transport is less flexible, but for a driver with less than 100% confidence many of the roads are tiring, stressful and even dangerous. No-one should feel ashamed relying on the local bus, taxi and tour drivers (who after all are much better used to this kind of road). If you do decide to drive, then renting via the Internet is usually cheaper than walking-in.

Talk

English is as common as in mainland Portugal, although people will always appreciate it if you try and learn a few words of Portuguese. Note that the Portuguese spoken in Madeira tends to be heavily accented.

See

World heritage listed laurel forest

Do

Work

Madeira is presently one the best locations in the E.U. for companies with operations in the single market and worldwide. With reduced direct and indirect taxation, adequate infrastructures, competitive operational costs, safety and quality of life, Madeira is positioned to provide the investor with a unique package of benefits, offering a wide range of solutions to enhance the efficiency and performance of various forms of investment.

Moreover, Madeira's preferential tax regime has not only been approved by Portugal, but also by the European Union as a valid form of State Aid for regional development, providing Madeira's IBC with credibility and transparency. To find out more about Madeira's special status in the E.U., please consult State Aid nº 222-A-02; State Aid nº 222-B-02 and the Commission's Decision 2003/294/CE.

For more information visit the official website of the International Business Center of Madeira.

Buy

Eat

Drink

Madeira Wine is a fortified wine prized equally for drinking and cooking. There are four major types of Madeira: Malvasia (also known as Malmsey or Malvazia), Bual (or Boal), Verdelho, and Sercial, the latter two being drier.

Sleep

See individual city articles for listings. Those below are mostly outside towns.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Emergency Service telephone number is 112 Some police in Funchal have red armbands, this signifies that they speak another language other than Portuguese, mainly English and German. Crime figures for Madeira are very low.

Connect

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.