If you've ever wondered what the Garden of Eden looked like or Paradise for that matter then look no further than Madeira.
This lush, verdant archipelago (a group of islands
● but of course you knew that) is an oasis of sub tropical beauty, a true emerald isle. Situated in the North Atlantic about 400km from the Canaries it is an autonomous region of Portugal and approximately 4 hours flying time from Dublin. Its location provides for a warm climate year round without the extreme high-summer heat of the Canary Islands. And it's this perfect climate that has allowed for the spectacular scenery synonymous with the name Madeira. Without a doubt it is an all year round destination. As Madeira is a volcanic island the majority of the beaches are pebble but there are some artificial sand beaches too. The beaches are all very well maintained and suitable for families. Watersports are available.
Although it seems as if Madeira was designed with relaxing, do-nothing holidays in mind, the truth is there's much, much more to it than that. Party animals are more than well catered for in Funchal as well as those seeking fine dining and local cuisine. You can take a cable car ride to the summit of Monte before experiencing the famous wicker toboggan down the slope under the expert guidance of the Carreiros do Monte. Yes it's as fun and crazy as it sounds
Beyond the capital there's the lava swimming pools of Port Moniz, the exquisite 18th century town of Canico de Baixo, the Cabo Girao skywalk
● a spectacular 580m high cliff walk, an invigorating climb up Pico Ruivo (Madeira's highest point), Whale and dolphin watching and for the really adventurous there's canyoning (travelling through river canyons either swimming or abseiling or rafting
● expect to get wet!). To get beyond Funchal you can easily hire a car or book a taxi. There are also tour bus companies and the public bus system.
When it comes to shopping, Funchal has a wonderful mix of European high street and local stores. Embroidery, Wicker, Wine and Flowers are the mainstays of the local artisan shops and the experience is made all the more enjoyable as you soak in the atmosphere of the colonial architecture and small town feel.
The Floating Garden that is Madeira awaits the jaded traveller with open arms.
● Stunning scenery
● Warm (but never too warm) weather all year round
● A wide array of activities available
● Plenty of shopping
● Easy to use transport system
● Lots of clean beaches
● A warm welcome