I - Madeira Island

 

Madeira, island of contrasts and rarities, is a pearl of nature, a land of sun, mist and mountains, forests, cliffs and valleys. Flower of the Atlantic, paradise of the World. A treasure cradled by an ever present spring. It is in its landscape and exuberant vegetation that lay the main attractions of the island that gave the archipelago its name.
Funchal is a garden capital growing in a natural amphitheatre. Pink colored bougainvilleas, purple jacarandas, and red fire trees line the streets. Camellias, bird of paradise flowers and orchids. Florists that could well be perfumers sell fragrances captured by the air.
Madeira has so much to tell, to share and visit. Come and taste the hospitality of a folk as sweet as the Madeira Wine, as kind as its embroideries, and as genuine as its local nature.
Our visitors count on, among other local key factors, a temperate all year round climate, fabulous flora, an island virtually untouched by progress and civilization and, above all, the kindness and hospitality of its inhabitants.

 

II - Location

The Madeira Island is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, Southwest of mainland Portugal and almost 1,000 kms from Lisbon (flight 90 min). Covering an area of 797 km2, it includes the islands of Madeira (728 km2, 57 km x 22 km) and Porto Santo (50 km2), together with the groups of the Desertas and Selvagens, small and uninhabited islands.

 

III - Climate


These islands, because of their privileged geographical position and mountainous relief, have a surprisingly mild climate.
Very mild average temperatures, 22ºC in the summer and 16ºC in the winter, and a moderate level of humidity, confer upon these islands exceptional subtropical features.
The seawater temperature is also very mild, because of the influence of the warm Gulf current, presenting averages of 22ºC in the summer and 18º in the winter.

 

IV - Events & Attractions
 

Innumerous events are held throughout the year, but some have gained worldwide exposure and recognition. New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly the most popular one, due to the magnificent firework display in Funchal amphitheatre. This holiday season offers you a unique opportunity to visit the Island. These are unique days and, by far, the Family Festive per excellence. The Island is adorned and lid up – a quarter of a million lights will illuminate trees, line roads, as well as many decorations spread throughout Funchal city. Nevertheless, there are other excellent festivities that you should not miss, like those occurring during 2010:
 

 

1 - MADEIRA WALKING FESTIVAL, 12th to 16th January - is an organised group walking programme, in levadas (waterways built by man during the colonisation of the archipelago) or in trails, with specialised guide, during 5 consecutive days.

2 - CARNIVAL FESTIVITIES, from 5th to 16th February. 13th February - Great Allegoric Parade; 16th February - Fun Parade.

3 - MADEIRA ISLAND GOLF OPEN, 7th to 11th April, The 2010 edition of the Madeira Island Golf Open, which is part of the main PGA European Tour, will be held at Porto Santo Island.

4 - EASTER, 2th April.

5 - FLOWER FESTIVAL, 17th to 18th April - Madeira’s flower festival fills the main streets of Funchal. It is a breathtaking festival with a street parade and floats, through the streets of Funchal, exhibiting and perfuming the air with a multiplicity of floral species of the island.

6 - "FESTAS" DA SÉ - FESTIVAL, 25th May to 2th June, In late May and early June, the centre of Funchal is the most fun-filled part of the island. A typical Madeiran folk festival is reproduced here and all the streets and alleys between Praça do Município and Carmo are decorated and full of pavement cafés.

7 - ATLANTIC FESTIVAL, 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th June - The Festival of the Atlantic is an important event that combines entertainment and culture. It has three components: the Madeira Music Festival, the International Fireworks Competition and performances by philharmonic bands in the city centre.

8 - ST. JOHN´s ALTAR IN FUNCHAL, 13th to 24th June, in additional to the traditional celebrations paying tribute to St. Anthony, St. John and St. Peter, in June we can also see the St John’s altars in Rua da Figueira Preta, Travessa dos Reis and Largo do Carmo in Funchal.

9 - WORLD RALLY OF CLASSIC CARS, 23th to 25th June.

10 - FUNCHAL JAZZ FESTIVAL, July.

11 - MADEIRA WINE RALLY (European Rally Championship), 5th to 7th August.

12 - MONTE FESTIVAL, 14 to 15 August, this is considered the main religious folk festival in the region and it is also commemorated wherever in the world Madeiran immigrants are to be found.

13 - MADEIRA WINE FESTIVAL, 5 to 7 September - In Câmara de Lobos the festival begins with the live grape harvest. The picking of the grapes, the pickers’ parade, treading the grapes and the whole ritual of a typical Madeira folk celebration are enjoyed by all. In the centre of Funchal there are light, sound and folk shows connected to traditional wine-making.

14 - CHRISTMAS & END OF THE YEAR FESTIVITIES, 23th November to 6th January 2011.

Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in the Madeirans’ habits and are combined with the New Year celebrations in a varied programme of cultural, folk and artistic events, beginning in November, when the lights are switched on in the centre of Funchal, lasting all through December and only ending on Twelfth Night.

The streets are decorated with lights of all colours and sizes, with designs allusive to the island and the festive season.

Funchal’s amphitheatre is transformed into a magnificent crib illuminated by more than 250,000 coloured lights, while the hillsides are dotted with white lights, setting the scene for an unforgettable display.
 

. 23th November - Switching on of the Christmas Illuminations;

. from 7 December to 6 January - During the Christmas season, Funchal is the stage for a wide variety of cultural, ethnographic and artistic events. There are tableaux vivants and street performances all over the centre of Funchal;

. 23 December - is Christmas shopping day at the market. It is also the day at the market when we can feel a really traditional festive spirit before Christmas. The market and the bars around it stay open all night making it one of the longest and most fun-filled nights of the year in Funchal;

. 31 December - New Year’s Eve in Funchal has been considered one of the most spectacular in the world for a long time now. The city’s semicircular bay is the ideal place for watching this unforgettable display.

§ 6th January 2011 - Night Festival and End of the Festivities.
 

 
V - Exploring the Island


Touring the island is highly recommended. Only 57 km long and 22 km wide this incredibly surprising sub-tropical island rises to almost 1.861 m (Pico Ruivo) at its highest point. Madeira has an enormous variety of exotic sub-tropical vegetation with a mass of flowers in every garden, spectacular mountains and deep valley scenery, pine forests, waterfalls and craggy cliffs and a network of vines, like spiders’ webs covering the hillsides and providing grapes for the famous Madeira Wine. We reinforce: while visiting Madeira do not miss the opportunity to discover all these wonders.

 

“Levada” walks - Nature walks follow the winding course of the “Levadas” – irrigation canals built by natives in the early days of Madeira Island colonization. All major levadas have maintenance paths running alongside them, making them ideal hiking trails. Most guidebooks now include maps and directions for levada walks, including some that follow canals laid out in the 16th century. Walking is the ideal away to discover and enjoy Madeira Island’s beautiful scenery. Nearly all of these footpaths are within the “Laurissilva” forest.

 

Laurissilva Forest - Madeira native forest can be quoted as a relic, a live fossil originated in the Tertiary, which once covered large areas of the Mediterranean basin and in our days only exists on the Atlantic Islands, forming the so called Biographical Region of Macaronesia – Madeira, Azores and Canaries Islands. Nevertheless, Madeira is the most representative area of this region – due to the dimension and its global conservation, as well as for the diversity and exuberance of its species. Recognizing that – in December 1999 – Madeira “Laurissilva” forest was classified by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage, being currently the only asset in Portugal of this kind.

 
Explore the town, the historic Churches and Museums – just a hint: stop first at the small Museum of Sacred Art, where you will find an outstanding collection of early Flemish altarpieces; Madeira Wine Museum; Quinta das Cruzes Museum; Sugar Museum; Contemporary Art Museum, Madeira Story Centre etc – the Botanical Garden, Visit a Madeira Wine Cellar – the grapes for Madeira’s wine are grown in thousands of tiny plots, no larger than a tennis court, but wine is blended and stored in wooden casks, in the heart of Funchal, where it acquires the nuances of age and oak – head to Monte by cable car and visit Monte Palace tropical gardens, dedicated to the flora of Madeira. As you can see, the range of pastimes is astounding.
 
VI - Sports

Golf - For lovers and speculative followers of this sport, Madeira annually holds the Madeira Island Open and boasts two golf courses, the Palheiro Golf (18 holes) and the Golf Club of Santo da Serra (27 holes) respectively, for your pleasure.

 

Nautical Sports - Choose this island in the middle of the Atlantic, and a world of nautical options open up to you, such as canoeing, diving, game fishing, sailing, surf and windsurf. There is so much choice that there is a different one for you to try-out every day of the week!
Motorized Sport - Rent a car or motorbike, and get to know the amazing tracks and byways. You may also have the opportunity of joining one of the jeep safaris to discover the interior of the island.

Horse Riding - At the Horse Riding Centre of Santo da Serra, one may make the most of learning to ride and relishing in some of the wonderful treks through the interior of Madeira.


 
VII - Shopping


Madeira’s Wine - Produced for over 400 years, Madeira’s wine is an ambassador of Portugal to the world. Its multiple tastes suit the different moments of the meal: dry wines are served chilled, as appetizers, the sweeter ones join the dessert, and the most mild and flavored is an excellent digestive.


Madeira’s Embroideries - Made of linen, natural silk, organza or cotton, Madeira’s embroideries are unique masterpieces that embroider a wisdom learned across the centuries.

 
VIII - Night-time Entertainment

Begin the night in our restaurant or at one of the numerous others that the island has to offer. Take your pick from all kinds of cuisine, but we strongly suggest that you try the regional gastronomy – the “espetada” (grilled beef on a skewer with laurel) being just one of the delicious typical dishes.
After dinner, why not visit some of the many regional bars. Given the small dimensions of Madeira, in a flash one can leave Funchal to other areas of night time interest, such as the small town of Câmara de Lobos - a must-see thanks to its enchanting bay and famous “poncha”. It is immaterial whether you are looking for live music or calmer climes; either way, your enjoyment is guaranteed until sunrise.
There are also other bars and clubs with a pleasant, cosmopolitan atmosphere and the latest and best music waiting for you. You will also have the chance to try your luck at the Madeira Casino, which, in addition to its gaming rooms, has a disco and live show.