15 Oct Madeira: a short introduction
If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful place, surely you must be curious about the island. So here’s a speed date with Madeira, offering information about the main attractions, excursions, nature, walks, climate and weather.
Madeira is located in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1000 km from the Portuguese main land. The island is part of the Madeira Islands group, consisting of Madeira, Porto Santo and Desertas Islands. Of these three, Madeira, with a surface of 740 km2 is the largest. Madeira has around 277.000 inhabitants. They speak Portuguese.
A SURPRISING LANDSCAPE
Madeira is known for its beautiful and diverse nature. Travelling the island, you’ll encounter so many different areas: the fickle mountains in the middle of the island, volcanic cliffs at Ponta de São Lourenço, the wide plateau and amazing views of Paul da Serra and nature comprised of both rain forest and laurel forest. The Laurisilva laurel forest is so unique, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.
MADEIRA ‘FLOWER ISLAND’
The island is often referred to as ‘Flower Island’, because of the many different flowers growing on Madeira. The best time of year to enjoy this abundance of flowers is April to June. Apart from the many wild flowers, Madeira has many botanical gardens exhibiting both native and exotic flower species. Besides the many gardens, Madeira also has the famous annual Festa da Flor (Flower Festival), in which the island celebrates the flower season.
COMFORTABLE SUBTROPICAL CLIMATE
Madeira has a very comfortable subtropical climate with pleasant temperatures all year round. The average temperature during summer is 25˚ Celsius. The best time to travel to Madeira is May to September. These are the warmest months, with the lowest amount of rain. Although Madeira has such a pleasant climate, the weather can be fickle at times. One day might bring you rain, sun, mist and heavy clouds. Chances of encountering some rain are slightly higher on the north side of the island.
HIKING ON MADEIRA
Madeira is also famous for its walking possibilities. The levadas, narrow irrigation canals covering the entire island, form a unique and amazing maze of walking paths through Madeira’s nature. For non-hikers, there is still a lot to enjoy and discover on Madeira. The friendly inhabitants, the islands’ culture, climate, culinary specialties and the numerous possibilities to practice some kind of outdoor activity (like canyoning, canoeing, spotting cetaceans, diving, horseback riding, paragliding, mountain climbing, bird watching etc): Madeira really is an island to love and keep coming back to (like we have been doing for several years now).
On Madeira, you’ll dine on fish fresh out of the ocean. A very popular fish course is ‘espada’. Another famous Madeiran specialty is the special Madeira wine. The most popular drink for Madeirans is poncha: a traditional alcoholic drink made of ‘aguardente de cana’ (an alcoholic drink made of sugarcane), honey, sugar, lemon and various juices. My personal culinary favorites: bolo do caco, bolo de mel, espetada, prego especial and espada.