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Madeira Island – Portugal

Madeira Island is an archipelago of Portugal located in the Atlantic Ocean. It is considered a natural paradise for its exuberant beauty with tropical tones.

Madeira Island, Portugal’s natural paradise

The Madeira Island was discovered by the Portuguese navigators in 1419, who nicknamed it due to the abundance of this high quality raw material. A long time has passed since then and today the Madeira Island has recovered a very evident nature. Its natural beauty attracts visitors from all over the world.

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The Islands of the Madeira Archipelago

The Madeira archipelago is composed of the following islands:

  • The Madeira Island itself
  • Porto Santo Island
  • Deserted islands
  • Wild islands

The main access to the archipelago is via flights from mainland Portugal. From there there are flights to either Funchal or to Porto Santo airport. Currently, the islands of the Madeira archipelago have a total of approximately 268 thousand inhabitants.

History of Madeira

The beginning of the colonization of the islands of the Madeira archipelago took place around 1425, due to their strategic importance and potential. At the beginning of the settlement, there was an investment in the planting of sugar cane.

This sparked an increase in the local economy. In the second half of the 15th century, Funchal became an obligatory stopover for European trade routes.

The 17th and 18th centuries were marked by the emergence of Madeira wine, which also boosted the archipelago’s economy. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Madeira’s tourism sector began.

This was due to a curious factor. Due to the belief in its natural therapeutic qualities, the Madeira Island became, with recurrence, the temporary home of the European aristocracy.

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Finally, in 1976, Madeira became an Autonomous Region of the Portuguese Republic, gaining legislative power.

Learn also about the history of the Azores Islands.

Trip to Madeira: what to do?

There are many cool options for activities for those traveling to the Madeira Islands. There will be no shortage of adventure and fun options.

Among several options, we highlight the trails along the Levadas, which are irrigation channels on the island of Madeira. Another good option is to visit the Laurissilva Forest, which is considered a World Heritage Site.

The archipelago has some golf courses for the lovers of the sport. In the maritime part, there are several options for wildlife observation, such as dolphin and whale watching, and diving activities.

Speaking of diving, the options for active tourism and adventure in Madeira Island are also abundant. Added to that are many natural pools and endless beaches.

One of the things you can’t miss is to participate in the local festivities like the Festa flor (Flower Fest), the carnival parades, the Atlantic festival and watch the fireworks at the beach at the end of the year. The Madeira Island also promotes many events to get to know the local gastronomy better.

The islands of the Madeira archipelago can be visited throughout the year, without any loss. But if we have to define, the best period to travel to Madeira Island is between April and September. During this period it usually rains less, and temperatures are also usually higher.

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Madeira Gastronomy

In Madeira, many of the traditional dishes are based on meat or fish. In more recent times, these traditional dishes of Madeira’s gastronomy have also started to derive from vegetable ingredients. So no matter what your diet is, you’re sure to find something to treat your taste buds well.

The “espetada da Madeira” is certainly the most important and famous dish among typical Madeira dishes. It is easy to find and taste it in restaurants. And it’s relatively cheap (like everything related to hospitality).

Often called “Espetada in Pau-de-Louro”, the most traditional dish in Madeira’s gastronomy is a steak skewer. The particularity is that they are not wooden skewers but, as the name implies, a bay leaf. The bay leaf skewer is cooked on the grill and is a highly recommended dish.

It is worth noting that the hours of restaurants and gastronomy in Madeira in general are a little different from the traditional hours in the Iberian Peninsula. Lunch is between noon and 3 pm, and at 3 pm it is already considered late. And dinner is “early”, around 7pm. Most kitchens close between 10pm and 10:30pm.

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Hotels in Madeira Island

The cost of accommodation in Madeira Island varies. For a low cost trip to Madeira Island, there are daily rates between 25€ and 50€ in hostels. However, the value can reach up to 100 € in a “pousada”. On the other hand, hotels in the Madeira Island can have prices ranging between €40 and €120.

The best place to stay is in Funchal. The location offers the best hotel deals in Madeira Island and an excellent tourist infrastructure. It has restaurants, bars, convenience stores, tourist attractions and nightlife.

In Funchal, the Historic Center and Lido districts are good options to research. They provide a good location, with comfortable travel and a wide range of hotels.

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Why visit Madeira Island in Portugal?

Madeira’s gastronomy, the diversity of activities, the fantastic paradisiacal scenery and water sports are some of the reasons we could mention. But let’s not just stop at that.

You can add landscapes, beaches, easy access across Europe, carnival parades, parties and festivals. All this makes up a set of attractions that are very interesting to tourists. In addition, of course, to the hospitality and friendliness of the local residents of the Madeira archipelago.

Author
Bianca Pinheiro

Bianca Pinheiro

Tourismologist

Graduated in Tourism from Universidade Anhembi Morumbi in São Paulo, Bianca Pinheiro did an exchange program in Gold Coast, Australia, when she was 18 years old. Since then, she fell in love with getting to know different cultures and new countries.

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