For those dreaming of a tranquil break, look no further than flights to Madeira. With a near perfect climate and stunning scenery this is the ideal place to spend a relaxing holiday. Hidden away between sea and mountains, Madeira is a mix of old colonial charm and cosmopolitan sophistication. It's a little slice of Portugal off the coast of Morocco, and has attracted some special visitors over the years: including Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw.
Airports in Madeira
Madeira Airport (FNC) is one of the most dramatic airports in the world. The short runway is has mountains on one side and ocean on the other, making it one of Europe's most tricky but breathtaking landings. The airport has just one terminal, which is mostly underground.
Airlines that fly to Madeira
British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways all offer flights from the UK to Madeira.
Getting to your destination
If you're travelling into Funchal you can catch the Aero Express for €5* (roughly £3.65). Local buses also run between the airport and Funchal. They're cheaper at €2.85* (about £2.10) a ticket, but are a little slower. There's also a taxi rank outside the arrivals area: expect to pay around €30* (about £21.80) for the taxi into Funchal. Prices are higher from 10pm to 7am during weekdays, and all day on weekends and bank holidays. You may be charged a little extra per suitcase, or if you're travelling with an animal. Renting a car is a good way to explore the island, and makes it easier to get to your destination if you're staying somewhere rural. Compare car hire at Madeira Airport now.
*Prices subject to change
When to visit Madeira
Madeira generally has a mild climate all year round, although it does get very wet during the winter. Madeira is famous for its beautiful flowers, so spring is a popular time of year to visit, especially in May when the flower festival takes place. Madeira is also a popular destination for New Year's Eve: the award-winning fireworks show took home a Guinness World Record in 2007. June, July, August and September are the best months to visit Madeira if you're looking for warm dry weather, with maximum temperatures of 25°C and very little rainfall. April and May are also nice months to visit. It's not as hot, but the wet season is over and clear skies are more common than not.
What to see and do
Madeira is an island marked with astounding natural beauty, from the tropical flowers that grow freely and abundantly to the rugged volcanic peaks. Although Madeira is popular with older travellers, there's something to keep visitors of all ages entertained.
Sports & Outdoors: Madeira offers an exciting range of water sports including diving, windsurfing and sailing. It's also a fantastic hiking destination thanks to its levadas: a network of irrigation canals which have been transformed into walking trails. Wander along the dramatic coastline, or head uphill into lush forests. Madeira has been nicknamed the ‘floating garden’ thanks to its spectacular variety of plants, flowers and forests. No two walks are the same, and ramblers are sure to leave Madeira feeling quite impressed. Surfing, mountain biking and horse riding are also popular.
Eating and Drinking: Madeira is world famous for its wine, which is named after the island. There are vineyards dotted around Madeira, which you can visit: just make sure your designated driver doesn't sample the goods until you get back to the hotel. The cuisine of Madeira is influenced by the flavours of the Portuguese mainland, but also has its own little twists. You'll find plenty of trendy bars and restaurants in the capital, Funchal, but there are lots of great places to eat wherever you decide to stay. With plenty of local, seasonal produce on offer, gastronomes will adore dining out in Madeira.
Beach Life: Madeira isn't usually thought of as a beach holiday destination. That said, there are a few pleasant sandy strips and pools where you can while away a week or two. Calheta has a lovely sandy beach, while Ponta Gorda has a seawater lido where you can enjoy a saltwater swim.
Where to stay
Most of the accommodation in Madeira can be found in and around the capital, Funchal. With its glorious architecture, pretty seafront promenade, and good mixture of old fashioned and modern eateries, it's a fantastic base if you enjoy a bit of hustle and bustle. The city centre is small enough to enjoy on foot, and there's a good selection of designer stores and boutiques. If you love landscaped gardens you will find plenty in Funchal. Some favourites are the Jardins do Palheiro in the grounds of a British colonial manor, the Madeira Botanical Gardens with more than two thousand different plant species, and the Monte Palace Hotel gardens. The hotel might be closed, but the garden is still packed with treasures including a Chinese garden and a lake.
Madeira's only beach resort, Calheta is the perfect destination for a relaxing break. The beautiful sand might not be naturally occurring (most of it was imported from the Sahara and the Portuguese mainland) but when you're catching a tan does it really matter? If lounging on the fine golden sands isn't your style, Calheta is also a great place to get involved in some water sports. The neighbouring fishing villages, Paul do Mar and Jardim do Mar, hosted the World Surfing Championships in 2001.
Santo Antonio da Serra
If you fancy teeing off during your trip to Madeira, the inland town of Santo Antonio da Serra is the ideal place to stay. Once a British hill station, the town is now home to a fantastic golf course. There are some lovely private villas in the area, lovely for a relaxed countryside break, as well as plenty of charming walking trails near the town. Dining in the hills isn't as trendy as by the coast, but there are a few traditional snack bars and restaurants.
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Airports near Madeira
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