Hotels in Madeira (Portugal)
Hotels in Madeira
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Portugal’s magical island of Madeira is not on the skids
Madeira comprises four islands and although an autonomous region of Portugal; geographically it is much nearer to the African coast than it is to mainland Europe. Madeira cascades with flora and fauna. Encouraged by year-round warm and gentle breezes and the island’s extensive irrigation system, there is always something here to delight the eye. Islanders are friendly but Madeira has resisted the temptation to head in the direction of that dubious mass-tourism appeal. Transportation options are wide-ranging. Some favoured areas, though, still the prefer cable car transport and street toboggans to fume-filled traffic jams. It’s that sort of island.
Madeira on the move
If staying at hotels in the island’s capital, Funchal; there are plenty of taxis on tap at all times. You can, if you wish, commandeer one of these for the day to take you round the island. It’s quite an expensive option for couples, but a more attractive possibility for three or four people. If contemplating driving; roads are very winding and what at first appeared to be a short journey can, in reality, take forever. The cheapest transport option is, as ever, the local bus service. Cable cars and street toboggans are novelty alternatives in some of the popular tourist areas and there is no shortage of boat excursions. From your hotel base, the boat is probably the easiest and most enjoyable way to explore Madeira. Levada walking –hiking over rough terrain – is a favourite pastime on Madeira and another great way to investigate inland regions. You need to be well prepared though; the weather in those hills can deteriorate very quickly.
Shakespeare was Madeira’s wine publicist
You won’t starve, here on Madeira. There are plenty of local dishes to enjoy and many benefit from being based on age-old peasant recipes. Being part of Portugal, it comes as no surprise to learn that seafood figures prominently. Some dishes feature in hotel menus but a visit to a friendly, local restaurant will open the door to further mouth-watering choices. Espetada, for instance, is garlic covered chunks of beef grilled over woodchips. You get lots of squid(s) to the GB pound and other currencies with potas. There are also many succulent dishes that are based on cod and tuna. Then, you’ll quickly develop affection for Pudim maracuja, passion fruit pudding and the sublime honey cake that is Bolo de Mel. Time for a drink and island-based wine favourites include Tinta Negra. You must, of course, try a glass or two of the famous Madeira Wine and raise it to William Shakespeare. His character, Falstaff, referred to it in Henry IV … and the rest is history.
Madeira’s beaches are thin on the ground
On arrival at Funchal Airport there are transport options to get you to your city-based hotel, or to hotels in resorts in other areas of Madeira. For your transfer, you might decide on one of the many taxis or car-hire choices on offer or, if you’d rather save your money for other purposes, the SAM bus service is very cheap. Once you’ve arrived and unpacked, you won’t be hitting the beach any time soon. They are very thin on the ground and those that are in evidence are man-made with sand shipped in from Morocco. The island, though, is more than generously supplied with hotel pools and those of the outdoor municipal variety. If you must have a beach as part of your Madeira holiday, there’s a small one to the west of Funchal, in Calheta. Alternatively, you can do as many others do, jump on the daily ferry and two hours later, you are on the glorious beach at Porto Santo; one of the other islands.
Prepare to become a fan of festive Funchal
The friendly atmosphere of mainland Portugal is evident across Madeira; including here in the capital, Funchal. This modern, cosmopolitan city also retains much of its fascinating architecture from centuries ago. It is now, though, interspersed with sparkling, multi-star rated hotels and apartments. This city of flowers blooms, quite literally, throughout the year and is surrounded by perfumed banana plantations and eucalyptus woodlands. There’s also a friendly street café culture which is quite irresistible. Days can be spent diving, surfing, watching the gigantic cruise ships coming and going in the harbour, or even whale-watching. Festivals are a regular annual feature and the Wine Festival is one that you may not remember much about … it’s that good. Then there’s the Carnival, the Flower Festival and in June, the Atlantic Festival International Fireworks Competition. Funchal is an unusually attractive city in many ways and whilst there’s fun to be had; everything is good-natured and there is always that air of friendliness and safety.