Holidays to Madeira: The Purple Islands

The sub-tropical islands of Madeira, made up of Madeira and Porto Santo in the Atlantic Ocean, are a convenient three hours from the European mainland.

The stunning islands are a perfect location for those seeking a destination offering relaxation, mountain trekking and the hustle and bustle of urban life.

When to go

Known as the Garden Island or the Purple Islands, Madeira has an almost perfect, eternally spring-like climate, with annual temperatures somewhere between 20 and 27°C, attracting a steady flow of tourists all year.

Madeira Beautiful landscape at the north coast of Ponta de Sao Lourenco

Madeira Beautiful landscape at the north coast of Ponta de Sao Lourenco

Where to stay

If you’re planning on visiting Madeira, the chances are that you will end up staying in Funchal, where over 80 per cent of the island’s hotels are situated.

Funchal is home to the Madeira’s main harbour and is the epicentre of tourism on the islands. It contains a vast array of idyllic restaurants where one can sample the local cuisine, including the world-famous espada – scabbard fish with banana, a Madeiran speciality.

Funchal’s popularity among tourists stems from its proximity to many of the major sights, such as the Levada walks and numerous stunning gardens.

Madeira coastline

Madeira coastline

The steep, cobbled streets act as a great base from which to explore the rest of this spectacular archipelago. A quick internet search reveals some great deals on a whole range of hotels, with the Co-operative especially having some wonderful packages.

Sightseeing

If you’re looking to explore the Purple Islands a little more fully, then there are a whole host of sights worth seeing.

From the volcanic caves of São Vicente, to Cabo Girão, one of the world’s highest ocean cliffs, Madeira is filled with natural, manmade wonders.

Head to the Madeira Story Centre to discover great insights into the rich history and culture of the Purple Islands.

Activities

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and looking to get active, rather than simply admiring the view, Madeira has something for you, too.

Located in the eastern part of Madeira, the nature reserve of Ponta de São Lourenço gives holidaymakers an opportunity to undertake a brisk hike through some tumultuous and visually stunning terrain. After several hours of walking alongside some of the world’s most stunning scenery, hikers are rewarded with the beauty and seclusion of the black sands of Prainha.

In addition to hiking, those visiting Madeira can also take advantage of a great number of other activities that are on offer. Whether its golfing in Porto Santo, big game fishing or scuba diving in the Atlantic Ocean, horse riding, mountain biking or bird watching, the Purple Islands are teeming with opportunities for the more adventurous traveller.

Your holiday,  your choice

Madeira has so much to offer as a holiday destination, it’s sometimes hard to know where to begin. A little bit of research, however, goes a long way. A holiday in Madeira is bursting with choices; the important thing is to ensure that, if you do visit Madeira this summer with Co-operative Travel, then you make the choices that are right for you.