In the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Canary Islands and southwest of Portugal lies the surreal island of Madeira. This Portuguese archipelago comprised of four islands with green, cliff-filled landscapes, mountains, and beaches was originally discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Madeira gets its name from the Portuguese word for wood due to its endless forests.

With a warm and moderate climate yearround, Madeira welcomes travelers throughout each season. Landing in the capital city of Funchal, take in Madeira’s culture, art, and food scene before heading up the mountain by cable car to witness the botanical gardens and views. You can also take a traditional guide-led toboggan down, fun and safe for all ages. With its abundance of natural landscapes, the Laurisilva Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site highlighting the island’s ancient laurel trees. Go for a levada walk in a historical irrigation channel or visit the highest sea cliff in Europe. Madeira is full of scenic viewpoints, unique birdwatching opportunities, and historically significant gardens.

While Madeira offers beautiful black sand beaches, Valesa recommends travelers take a ferry to the island of Porto Santo where you can find the best white sand beaches in Madeira.. Porto Santo’s beaches have been known for their healing and restorative powers and many flock to this island as a mental or physical retreat. Beyond its pristine beach, Porto Santo’s capital of Vila Baleira includes tours to learn about Christopher Columbus’ time spent on the island, including the sites with one of the multiple historical forts and defense towers on the island. End your day in Porto Santo with a sunset dinner or drinks at a seaside terrace.

Throughout Madeira, the gastronomy features local favorites like seafood and Madeiran wines while also blending Portuguese traditional cuisine. Meat lovers will want to try espetadas, or beef skewers made using laurel branches for cooking. From the sea, the black scabbard fish is the most prominent and resembles swordfish. Meanwhile there are many options for coastal dining to enjoy your meal with a view. When thinking of Madeiran wines, wine aficionados will want to visit the islands unique wineries to learn about the history of viticulture on the island or to sample the diverse array of local wine varietals.

Reach out to your Valesa Customer Service Manager today to get more information about creating your personalized Madeira itinerary.