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6 Reasons To Escape To Madeira

The Atlantic Ocean is blessed with a group of islands – Madeira – whose main draw is their natural beauty, with a stark contrast between the leafy green vegetation and the deep blue of the Atlantic waters. Not for nothing has it acted as a place of refuge, rest and inspiration over the last few centuries, seeing the passage of such figures as Napoleon Bonaparte, the Empress Sissi, Emperor Charles I of Austria, the writer George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill, among others. You could be the next traveller to become captivated by these isles. Here are the main reasons it is worth flying to Madeira:

1. Good Climate All Year Around

The geographical location of these islands and their mountain relief have endowed them with a tropical oceanic climate, featuring pleasant temperatures all year around, ranging from 17°C in winter to 25°C in summer. This means that any time of year is suitable for visiting and enjoying the archipelago.

2. Funchal, the Capital

The capital and one of the largest cities in Madeira is Funchal, which lies in the south of the archipelago. Standout landmarks in the city’s priceless historic centre include the 16th-century Sé Cathedral – noteworthy for its Mudéjar-style, wood-panelled ceiling – and the Igreja do Colégio collegiate church, its interior studded with gold panelling and tiles.

One of the inevitable rituals for sightseers when they come to the city – assuming they are bold enough and don’t suffer from vertigo – is to go up in the cable-car that leads to the lofty suburb of Monte. The hill affords spectacular views of the bay and it is worth visiting the local Monte Palace Tropical Garden and Leite Monteiro Park. The return trip down the hillside can be negotiated on an unusual form of transport – a kind of wicker toboggan driven by two men dressed in white called carreiros who steer the cart down the slope.

3. Unique Fauna and Flora

One of the highlights of the island is the presence of indigenous animal and plant species. A must-see is the World Heritage Laurisilva Forest. Another must-visit are the Desertas Islands, a marine nature reserve which boasts indigenous shellfish and sea birds like Cory's shearwater and the  Madeiran storm-petrel. Animal species also include the monk seal, indigenous to the archipelago.

4. Porto Santo Beach

Curiously, the island terrain limits the number of natural beaches to the island of Porto Santo, which has 9 kilometres of fine, golden sand and crystal-clear water. The beach has rightly been considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.

5. Cuisine

Of the typical Madeiran dishes, we can recommend the swordfish, preferably combined with banana, in addition to caldeirada (a fish soup), bife de atum e milho frito (tuna fish with fried corn) and espetada (charcoal-roasted beef on a bay leaf skewer). For dessert, we can heartily recommend a typical sweet known as bolo de mel (a honey cake with Madeira honey).

6. Madeira Wine

Ever since the sugar cane plantations went into decline in the 17th century, having been overtaken by the sugar farming in Brazil, grape-growing and viniculture came into their own and still play an important part in Madeira’s economy. Notable local grape varieties are the Bual – which is similar to Port – Verdelho, Sercial and Malmsey, the most popular of all.

Ready to discover this lost paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? Check out your Vueling here.

 

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by David Stanley, Greg_Men, penjelly, Krzysztof Belczynski, Hannes Grobe

 

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