Madeira pebble beach, with breaking waves against Madeira's volcanic hillside

Discovery, Walking

Sea and Sun on Madeira, the Flower Island

1 Sep , 2017  

The island of Madeira is a tropical paradise within easy reach from Europe. Holidays in Madeira are popular all year round thanks to stable, warm weather, an abundance of flowers and fantastic walking. What more could you wish for? Actually, Madeira even offers another great holiday benefit – the sea. Let’s not forget about ocean views, sea breezes and that unique feeling of calm you only get on an island! Flying into Madeira is quite a unique experience. The sea stretches out all around you, and all of a sudden the green, lush volcanic island appears in the ocean. Tall mountains covered in green vegetation rising steeply from pebble beaches – it looks stunning. On Madeira you are always close to the sea, even when you’re hiking high in the mountains, and the whole island offers sunny, relaxed walking holidays in beautiful surroundings. Madeira is perfect for a winter sun holiday or a summer vacation when the ‘Flower Island’ is in full bloom. With a coastline that offers picture-perfect views wherever you turn, heading to Madeira is a must for island enthusiasts and sea lovers!

Walking trail signs in Madeira, signposting to 25 Springs and Calheta, two of Madeira's famous walks

Follow the signs to walk on Madeira’s excellent, way-marked hikes

 

Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is a port city with amazing views over the vast ocean. This charming city has cobbled streets and open squares where people gather on warm afternoons. There are artisanal back alleys with cute cafes, craft shops and friendly neighbourhood bars is lined by ocean on one side and a mountain on the other – typical of the Madeira geography. On this volcanic island the hills rise steeply up from the beaches, and most of the coastal cities and villages are built on strips of land between the water and the hills. Funchal itself has become a modern capital with neighbourhoods stretching along the coast and up the hillside – including the home town of Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably one of the world’s most famous footballers. You can even visit the Ronaldo museum near the Funchal marina! But even if the city has everything you’d expect from a small, modern capital city, it still retains the charm of a small town, with friendly locals and stunning views over the sea. In the bustling marina you’ll find sailships and fishing boats, delightful dining with juicy seafood and refreshing drinks. Eating freshly caught fish in one of the many restaurants with chairs and tables right on the marina, with the sun on your face and a mild breeze from the ocean – it is heaven. And looking out from the harbour makes you realise how Madeira is perched in the middle of the sea. There’s no land in sight, and the nearest civilisation is 400 kms away on the islands of Tenerife and it is nearly 950 kilometers to the African mainland. No wonder Madeira is on our list of top islands to visit in Europe.

Madeira's capital Funchal, seen from Monte, a great place to see Madeira's flowers in the Funchal Botanical Garden

Views from Monte, up the funicular from Funchal

Madeira is a great destination for a relaxing holiday in the sun, but it also offers stunning walks and great active holidays. Macs Adventure offers trips both to Madeira’s sunny south west and a flower-themed walking tour that visits some of the best parts of the island, and there are great walking opportunities all over Madeira.

Madeira beach view, with vegetation and steep cliffs plunging into the clear blue sea

The cliffs rise up sharply from the beach all around the island of Madeira

 

Walking on Madeira is relaxed and easy going, thanks to the unique system of levadas that are built up all around the islands. The Madeira levadas make up an intricate system of water channeled from high lakes and mountain springs, providing irrigation to steep hills and fields which would otherwise be arid and dry. Thanks to these ingenious levadas and the stable warm climate, Madeira is known as the Flower Island, and there are hundreds of local plants that thrive in the unique eco-system.

 

Madeira has several botanical gardens, so flower enthusiasts can explore the plants in Funchal, the hillside town of Monte, or along the paths across the island. You’ll definitely see the beautiful bird of paradise blooms, and the bright red aloe and flames of the forest plants all over Madeira. And while Madeira may be an island, it is possible to forget that when walking through the fragrant eucalyptus forests in the centre of the mountainous island ,where you find stunning national parks whith tall cacti, wild forests and incredible waterfalls. A walking holiday with Macs Adventure gives you a taste of all the different aspects of Madeira, from soothing sea views to refreshing forest walks – all while walking comfortably alongside levadas on flat, well-trodden paths.

Walking in Madeira on levadas crossing the Flower Island

Levada walking on the Flower Island – lush green landscapes and the ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see

 

While you are always close to the sea, Madeira’s beaches are not the white sandy beaches many associate with tropical islands. Madeira instead has some stunning pebble beaches, and the sounds of the waves through the rolling rocks is a very calm and soothing sound. There are also many adrenaline enthusiasts who appreciate the beaches of Madeira – it especially the south and west coast offer some excellent surfing opportunities. The rest of us might prefer an enjoyable soak in a luxurious hotel pool, where you can stretch out in temperate water while enjoying views over the sea. The best of both worlds!

Poncha, Madeira's national drink, enjoyed on a beach restaurant on the south coast of Madeira

Enjoy the local specialty “Poncha”, a citrus-based alcoholic drink which is very refreshing after a day of walking

If you want to experience an incredible holiday on this fascinating island, we can strongly recommend a walking holiday on Madeira with Macs Adventure. Explore the sunny south west on this week-long trip, or get close to the unique Madeira flora on our Flower Island trip. Speak to one of our team of tour experts to plan your adventure today!

 

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I have been a member of the Macs Adventure team since March 2013, and since joining my travel wish-list has developed ten-fold! Glasgow is my home, and a wonderful city to live in, however I love nothing more than enjoying the access to the Scottish countryside on my doorstep.