Madeira Portugal: Places To Visit, Things To Do, Best Beaches

I. History of Madeira

Madeira's storied past is as rich and vibrant as its landscapes, tracing back to its discovery and beyond.

A. Discovery and Early Settlement

Madeira was officially discovered by Portuguese explorers João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira in 1419, becoming a crucial part of the Portuguese Empire's expansion.

B. Sugarcane and Wine

The island quickly became known for its sugarcane production, attracting settlers and wealth. Later, Madeira wine became its most famous export, celebrated worldwide.

C. Strategic Importance

Over the centuries, Madeira's strategic location made it a significant stopover for European trade routes to the East and for transatlantic exploration.

D. Modern Era

Today, Madeira is known for its unique landscapes, cultural richness, and as a premier tourist destination, offering a blend of adventure, history, and relaxation.

II. Best Places to Visit in Madeira

A. Funchal

The capital city, known for its harbor, gardens, and the lively Mercado dos Lavradores. The city's blend of historical and modern amenities makes it a must-visit.

B. Monte

Accessible by cable car from Funchal, Monte is famous for its church, tropical gardens, and the traditional toboggan rides down to Funchal.

C. Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo

Offer some of the most breathtaking views on the island. Hiking trails connect these peaks, providing a challenging yet rewarding adventure.

D. Porto Moniz

Known for its natural lava pools, offering a unique swimming experience surrounded by volcanic rock formations.

E. Santana

Famous for its traditional thatched-roof houses, providing a glimpse into Madeira's rural past.

F. Levadas Walks

Madeira's network of levadas (irrigation channels) offers countless walking paths through stunning landscapes and is a highlight for nature lovers.

III. Best Madeira Beaches to Visit

Madeira is more renowned for its rugged coastline and natural swimming pools than traditional sandy beaches, but there are a few notable exceptions:

A. Praia de Machico

The largest sandy beach on the island, artificially enhanced with sand brought in from Morocco.

B. Calheta Beach

A man-made beach with golden sand, popular for its calm waters and family-friendly facilities.

C. Porto Santo

A short ferry ride away, Porto Santo Island boasts a 9km long golden sandy beach, renowned for its therapeutic properties.

IV. Best Time To Visit Madeira

A. Spring (March to May)

The island is alive with color from blooming flowers, including the famous Madeira Flower Festival in April. Mild weather makes it perfect for exploring.

B. Summer (June to August)

Warm, dry weather is ideal for beach visits and enjoying outdoor festivals, including the Atlantic Festival in June.

C. Autumn (September to November)

Still warm but less crowded, it's a great time for hiking and enjoying the wine harvest.

D. Winter (December to February)

Mild temperatures and the festive season, especially the renowned Madeira New Year's fireworks, make it a popular winter getaway.

V. Madeira Weather by Month

  • January to February: Mild, with some rain; temperatures between 16°C to 19°C.
  • March to May: Warming up, with temperatures ranging from 16°C to 22°C, and beautiful spring blooms.
  • June to August: Dry and warm, ideal for summer activities; temperatures hover between 21°C to 25°C.
  • September to November: Pleasantly warm and less rainy; temperatures range from 20°C to 25°C.
  • December: Cooler, festive, with temperatures around 16°C to 20°C.

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