Many call it the pearl of the Atlantic or the Garden of the Atlantic; others call it the Hawaii of Europe. I call it home: this is Madeira.
Madeira is an island where we have four seasons in one day, where we can drive above the clouds, where you can surf at 9 in the morning, and just half an hour later take a walk in the immense Laurus forest dating back to the Miocene and Pliocene periods of the Tertiary period, 20 million years ago. It’s a geological and biological paradise.
The entire island is considered a geosite for anyone visiting; here, you can find the second largest cape world (Cabo Girao). Numerous evidences of volcanism that created the Island are spread all around, it’s a place where you can walk inside lava tunnels, see lava needles, and also numerous magmatic intrusions. Just like Hawaii, it’s a true outdoor classroom.
But the island is not just Biology and Geology – it’s very touristic also. Just last week it was considered the 3rd most luxurious island in Europe by the most important specialist of luxury tourism Britannic company, it has an excellent hotel capacity, with excellent levels of quality even in the city center the island’s capital. You can enjoy luxurious 5 star hotels where every single one of your wishes will be granted, or, if you prefer, go for more sustainable ecotourism: stay in a local house, enjoy home bread, fresh orange juice, bananas taken right from the trees and traditional foods.
In Funchal, the island’s capital and biggest city, you can find numerous museums and gardens that share the entire history of the Island, since its discovery to the present day, all of this without having to spend too much money. Despite being an island in the middle of the Atlantic, the tourism market is highly developed and prices are very nice. For example we can have tea and eat a piece pastries for only 2 € (3$), or have a fancy lunch in the city center for about 12 € ($16).
Some places not to miss are the market of Funchal where you can find local fruits, Pico Arieiro ( the 2nd highest of the island 1,818 m/5965 feet), the botanical gardens, the gardens of the Monte (build by an Austrian imperador) and the many hikings that the island has to offer on the typical Levadas (irrigation channels specific only to Madeira), as well as all the food that is very tasteful. Also dont forget to try a Poncha a alcoolic drink – this traditional drink is made from lemon, honey and aguardente, a type of sugarcane alcohol, but nowadays, you can usually find it made with passion fruit.
Having things like history, geology, nature, beaches, amazing food, sun 10 months a year just 90 minutes from Lisbon or 3 hours from London -it’s very accessible and easy to visit Madeira, and I tell you that it’s well worth spending a vacation here.
Oh, and do not think only 1 or 2 weeks will be enough for this small Island with less than 750 square km, because it has much to offer, so much that it will always surprise you! Some really say it becomes addicting.
This is a guest post by our friend, Cláudio Jardim. Find out more about him on his blogspot (Natureza0) and facebook page: