The island of Madeira is an outdoor playground of fun, thrills and adventure; activities range from orienteering and paragliding, to go-karting and geocaching. There are amazing rock formations for climbers, off-road trails for mountain bikers, waterfalls and ravines for canyoning, and mile upon mile of waymarked ‘levadas’ for exploring the island’s landscapes on foot - breath-taking views are guaranteed! Lovers of the sea will be spoilt for choice, too, with the likes of big game fishing, paddle boarding, surfing, diving and sightseeing boat trips. Seasonal wildlife watching excursions offer the chance to spot Pilot, Humpback and Beaked whales, as well as Atlantic Spotted, Bottlenose and Striped dolphins.
A striking volcanic island, Madeira swaps golden beaches for a unique series of bathing platforms and black pebble-stone coves. Though beautiful, if you really love the sand, there are a couple of man-made beaches you can visit, thanks to imported sands: Calheta and Machico beaches are approximately 30km and 25km, respectively, from Funchal. Alternatively, plan a daytrip to the nearby island of Porto Santo, easily reached by flight or ferry and famed for its nine-kilometre scoop of blonde-streaked sands. This idyllic and impressive beachfront location is a favourite for swimming, surfing and strolling, with stunning cliffs and natural rock pools.
In the south of Madeira, the capital of Funchal is a modern, sophisticated city, filled with five-star hotels and top-class restaurants, some flaunting Michelin stars. The city also has an historic flavour, while the nightlife is bustling and lively. Setting-wise, the backdrop is spectacular – a magical blend of mountains, sea and botanical gardens filled with lush plant-life.
Madeira’s beautiful climate and staggering scenic backdrops make it a perfect setting for playing golf. Top-class courses include Santo da Serra, a cracking 27-hole course redesigned by Robert Trent Jones Senior, offering broad fairways, tight greens and a selection of tee positions. Similarly, Palheiro Golf is an 18-hole gem known for its fast greens and testing fairways, while Porto Santo Golf Course is also recommended, a welcome newcomer to the line-up. This par-72, 18-hole beauty sweeps across the island and was created by Spanish champion, Severiano Ballesteros. There is also a 9-hole ‘pitch and putt’ course here.
Expect fantastic family entertainment on your luxury trip to Madeira. Highlights include Santa Cruz Aqua Park, boasting water slides, swimming pools and a lazy river, and Madeira Theme Park, featuring outdoor sports and attractions that mix entertainment with education and culture. Madeira also has a great mini-zoo called Quinta das Palmeiras, full of exotic birds. Meanwhile, museums include the colourful São Tiago Fort and Contemporary Art Museum of Funchal, the City Museum, and the Library Museum, showcasing an excellent Christopher Columbus collection. The Madeira Story Centre is also worth a visit, offering interactive features to retell the island’s history.
This small village is situated in the hills overlooking Funchal and is famous for its thrilling toboggan rides, on which you can slide down narrow, winding streets on two-seater wicker sledges. These rides are only for the brave, as speeds of up to 48km/ph can be reached! For a more serene experience, Monte Village provides glorious views of Funchal and the coast – simply head up by cable-car and get set to gape.
Madeira is renowned for its wine and the island has a long winemaking history. This fine wine comes in a variety of styles, from dry tastes to sweeter variations – the latter is a perfect accompaniment to dessert course options. Naturally, wine tours are plentiful on the island, allowing visitors to explore the beautiful vineyards and sample the luscious, lip-smacking vintages.
Volcanism Centre and Caves of São Vicente
Set in the charming village of São Vicente, the Volcanism Centre charts the birth of Madeira as an island. Audio-visual entertainment displays volcanic history and eruptions in an educational and cultural fashion. Visitors can also enjoy the famous volcanic caves, taking in complex tunnels that feature lava accumulations and volcanic stalactites.
British Airways and Easyjet fly from London Gatwick to Madeira. Regional UK departures and charter flights are also available.
From London Gatwick to Madeira: 4 hours.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance.
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.