Madeira Islands Map and Travel Guide
Is a Vacation in the Madeira Islands Right for You?
Madeira is a group of Portuguese islands west of the coast of Africa (just north of the Canary Islands) in the Atlantic Ocean "discovered" by Portuguese sailors between 1418 and 1420. Madeira is famous for its fortified Madeira wine, which was a hugely popular import of the early colonies in America.
Madeira Islands Facts
The main island you see on the map is Madeira Island, the largest of the island group with a length of 57kms and 150 kilometers of coastline. Madeira island is about 520 kilometers from the west African coast and 1000 kilometers from Portugal (550 miles from Lisbon, as you can see on the map). Funchal is the largest town and is capital of Madeira Autonomous Region.
Madeira and Porto Santo Islands are the only populated islands in the group. Unlike the green Madeira, Porto Santo, called the "Golden Island" has little vegetation but its 9km long beach and moderate climate makes it a major tourist draw for folks looking for tranquility if not desolation at the edge of Europe.
Europeans have been visiting Madeira for quite a while, especially in the spring months of March and April, when the average high temperatures near 70 degrees F or around 20 degrees C. For detailed Madeira weather information in Funchal, see Madeira Weather and Climate
What to do in Madeira - Madeira Highlights
Madeira Carnival is a big attraction in Funchal, considered one of the best in Europe. The adventurous might try Monte Toboggan Rides. The wicker sled ride and other ways to get around Madeira are the subject of my video: Madeira: Unusual Transportation.
There are many golf courses on the Madeira Islands, especially on Porto Santo, not to mention the usual water sports: Scuba diving, surfing and boating.
The Madeira Story Center in Funchal is an interactive museum that tells the history of the Archpelago.
According to UNESCO, who have awarded it World Heritage Status, "The Laurisilva of Madeira is an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type." You can see the unique Modeiran long-toed pigeon if you look hard enough there. Easily reached from almost anywhere on Madeira island, the Laurisilva is a popular attraction for tourists.
Mercado dos Lavradores, or "worker's market" is a popular Friday indoor market in Funchal where you can see and buy exotic fruits, flowers, fish and legumes. See a few select Pictures of the Funchal Market
Lavada Walks are popular. What's a Lavada Walk? Well, since water was scarce on the islands, in the 16th century folks started carving canals to distribute water from the wet areas in the north of Madeira Island to the more parched areas of the south. Since the canals pass through the forest they tend to be quite scenic.
Where to Stay in Madeira
Pousadas like the Pousada Dos Vinhaticos offer traditional cuisine in rural settings, in this case near the Laurissilva forests.
The luxurious Quinta do Monte is in the heart of Monte in the hills of Funchal.