Madeira is somewhere that's becoming increasingly popular with tourists post-pandemic – and it's easy to see why.
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It's one of Europe's most beautiful travel destinations with year-round sun, lava pools, friendly locals and breathtaking mountains, meaning you can relax or seek adventure depending on your mood.
The island has also been highly praised for its handling of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Safety measures include free Covid tests at Funchal airport and hand sanitizer stations around the island.
Whether you are planning on going to Madeira for a weekend trip or a long getaway, we've rounded up nine of the stand-out things to do and places to stay to make it that little bit easier for you.
Madeira has something for everyone
All the nature
Madeira is on the same latitude as Casablanca and offers everything from striking landscapes to sandy beaches and forests. Whether taking a nature walk is your thing, or simply spending the day on the beach, being outside has never been more fun.
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Stand-out places to visit include the enchanting Fanal Forest – part of the Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Weather dependent, it's an ideal spot for a walk and a picnic, but in the fog it's at its most magical.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden is well worth a visit
Monte Palace Tropical Garden is another mesmorising place to go and spend the day. With over 100,000 different plant species and oriental gardens, along with its very own museum featuring an exhibition of Zimbabwean sculptures and a unique collection of minerals from around the world.
Walking along Madeira's famous levadas is a unique way to discover the island on foot. Originally designed to bring water from the mountains to the crop fields, today they are used as hiking trails – and one of the most popular attractions on the island. There are levels for all walking abilities and there are currently over 200 levadas to choose from.
Madeira's natural swimming pools make for a unique experience and Porto Moniz offers some of the best ones. The saltwater swimming pools are formed by volcanic lava, naturally filled with seawater. The pools are located next door to Sea View Restaurant – popular with tourists and locals alike – which serves up a vast menu of fresh fish dishes, as well as a generous vegetarian selection too.
Brave the Seixal pools for the ultimate swimming experience
If you have a bit more time, then slightly further out are the Seixal pools, a collection of volcanic rock tidal pools filled with seawater. What's more, it's completely free of charge to visit.
Dinner with a difference
There are many exciting dining venues across the island, but for a dinner with a difference, The Wanderer is the current talk of the town. Hidden in the centre of Funchal, this restaurant is set out like a home – complete with a living room and dining area and is the brain child of self-taught chef Selim Latrous. There's one five-course seasonal menu that's changed every month – with each meal being paired with a different drink. Food is artistically presented and combines seasonal ingredients that you might not expect, which is part of the fun.
The Wanderer serves up art in food form
Another spot to check out for dinner is Socalco Nature Calheta – a family-run restaurant and boutique hotel. With sea views overlooking Calheta beach, you will be served up a four-course meal created with fresh ingredients picked from the restaurant's garden, while wine is from the family's own vineyard. You can also take part in cooking workshops - making it a fun place to go for a special occasion.
Off-roading in the mountains
Adventure Madeira offer a range of different activities, including daily jeep tours which are an excellent and fun way to see the island in all its glory. The drivers are friendly and can cater your journey to suit you, and off-roading is highly recommended for a memorable experience driving in the mountains. Jeep tours are also an excellent way to fully encounter the contrasting microclimates that make Madeira so unique.
The poncha is the island's local drink that is sold in most bars around Madeira. It's made up of lemon juice, honey and 40 percent rum, and comes in a variety of flavours – from orange to passionfruit. If you want to go where the locals do, visit Poncha De Sao Vicente – a tucked away tavern with abundance of atmosphere.
Tucked away poncha bars are a must-visit
Seaside town Camara de Lobas
Another popular spot for ponchas is Camara de Lobas, located on the south of the island. You will find plenty of bars around the cove - busy both in the day and evening. The seaside town is where Winston Churchill briefly stayed, and was the inspiration behind many of his oil paintings. While there, be sure to visit Cabo Girão, the highest cliff skywalk in Europe – 580 metres above the shore.
The Laurea Spa is inspired by the Laurissilva Forest
Europe's biggest nature-inspired spa
Laurea Spa, located at The Savoy Palace is inspired by the Laurissilva Forest. It has a pool compete with lagoons waterfalls to mirror the island's landscape, as well as sensory showers, Turkish baths, a Himalayan salt room, sauna, Jacuzzi, and for the ultimate treat, a champagne and nails bar. As a hotel Guest it costs 35 euros per person/per day to access the spa facilities, if you do a treatment of 60 minutes or more you have free acess to the facilities. As a external Guest it costs 50 euros per person/per day to access the spa facilities, if you do a treatment of 70 minutes or more you have free access to the facilities.
You can spend hours unwinding at the Laurea Spa
There are many options in Madeira when it comes to looking at where to stay, but the island's boutique hotels are pretty special. 1905 Zino's Palace overlooks the Ponta do Sol and is a restored bright pink manor house that was completely renovated in 2019. The three-storey city hotel has ten luxury rooms along with an outdoor pool and bar area. There is also a buffet breakfast served each morning from 7-10am complete with hot and cold food.
1905 Zino's Palace is a pink paradise
For somewhere slightly closer to the centre, Hotel Caju is a stylish design hotel located right in middle of Funchal town. Rooms overlook the city and offer beautiful views at night, while a full breakfast is included in the price.
Check out more information about Madeira and the current events on the island.