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Enjoying an excellent year-round climate, stunning scenery and superb quality hotels, Madeira is the perfect destination for those wanting to escape the stresses of everyday life. The people are friendly and there are few places where you would enjoy better or more courteous service. With only 250,000 people living on the island, the town centre never feels crowded, and the atmosphere feels very relaxed. There is so much to see and do on this incredible island, so take a look here at my top tips!

  1. Pack Sunscreen!

Madeira is a year-round sunny destination. Located 400 miles west from Morocco, the island is a lush, tropical paradise, and in the winter, you will be very comfortable in a t-shirt with temperatures in the late teens and a strong sun.

  1. Do as the locals do.

One of the things I loved about Madeira was how authentic it is. The capital of Funchal has those typical Portuguese influences and is covered in art work from locals, quirky restaurants and great shops. There are a small number of streets that cater more for the tourist market as with any city, however if you walk a little further away from the main tourist hub you can truly immerse yourself into the vibrant and friendly culture that’s so prevalent in the city.

  1. Do as the locals used to do!

Long before cable cars and motor vehicles made their way to the island, the rich of Madeira lived higher up the hillside and the poorer residents lived closer to sea level. However, those living higher up still needed to commute down every day. How, you ask? By toboggan of course! While this mode of transportation is no longer a part of every day life, those visiting the island can still jump in a wicker basket and ride the 2km stretch of smooth road. It takes 10 minutes and is fun for all the family. I laughed the whole way down!

  1. Visit Porto Santo Island for the day.

Madeira is the home of dramatic cliff lines and the one thing it lacks in, is beaches. Don’t get me wrong, there certainly are beaches dotted here and there on the island, but if you are craving an expanse of golden sands, the island of Porto Santo is just a ferry ride away and is the perfect beach destination to spend a day at to work on that tan!

  1. Eat out

Funchal is the ideal bed and breakfast destination. Eating out is so inexpensive and atmospheric. It’s only a small city and so easily walkable, so get dressed up and head out on the town! For a special evening, book in advance to go to Cipriani, the most incredible Italian eatery belonging to Belmond Reid’s Palace just west of the city centre. They do the most AMAZING seafood linguine that I would highly recommend to anyone.

  1. Afternoon Tea

Speaking of Reid’s Palace, arguably the most iconic hotel on the island, you can’t visit Madeira without going for afternoon tea! Reid’s is historic and is the very same hotel that Churchill visited in 1950 that helped spark tourism to this incredible island. It’s an absolutely beautiful, timeless property that I would highly recommend staying at. However, if you aren’t staying at Reid’s, you can still sit on the iconic terrace overlooking Funchal for afternoon tea. It’s surprisingly inexpensive at just €37 per person.

  1. New Year Fireworks

For such a small island, you probably wouldn’t think that Madeira is home to one of the largest fireworks displays in the world at New Years. If you want to celebrate somewhere unique and have a proper party, this is where you need to be!

  1. Levada walking and Laurel Forest

Madeira is home to a unique irrigation system, where water runs through channels called ‘levadas’. These levadas bring fresh water from the mountains to communities across Madeira, running through beautiful landscapes and Madeira’s famous laurel forest. This subtropical forest is, in fact, a UNESCO World Heritage Site too. The levadas and forest attract everyone from experienced hikers to casual walkers, who follow the winding routes of the levadas while taking in some of nature’s best scenery.

  1. Flower Festival!

If you are a flower lover, Madeira is your paradise. I’ve personally never visited somewhere so vibrant and green. Because of the unique climate, Madeira and its gardens are home to an incredible array of local and international flora. All year round you can visit and spend hours at the most beautiful gardens, but in May you can experience the world-renowned flower festival. Be dazzled by floats, flower walls and carpets, flower costumes, and more!

  1. Ocean wildlife

Madeira really is the gift that keeps on giving… for any snorkeling or diving enthusiasts, the Garajau Marine Reserve is home to coral reefs and ocean wildlife galore!

Catamaran cruising sail from the harbour daily and take you along the coast to see the tallest cliff face in Europe! And without meaning to save the best to last, Madeira has become well known as a hotspot for catching a glimpse of a variety of magnificent sea creatures including spotted, striped and bottlenose dolphins, and sperm and beaked whales. A number of boat companies offer dolphin and whale-watching excursions, and give travellers the added bonus of being able to take in the magnificent views of the islands from the sea too.