Escape to the forests on your trip to sunny Madeira. Photo: Henrique Seruca

ADVERTORIAL • November 2020

Madeira: the island escape for 2021

A world of wild swims, glorious forest walks and soft, black-sand beaches, Madeira is a must-do trip for any adventurer

Closer to Morocco than to its parent country of Portugal, Madeira is a European island with a distinctly exotic character. An all-year-round Mediterranean climate presides over the mountain-clad, rainforest-strewn archipelago, so you’re all but guaranteed a sun-soaked adventure. Craving the great outdoors? Here’s how to nail your first trip to Madeira...


The exotic fragrances of the Botanical Garden
Home to more than 2,000 varieties of fancy flora, Funchal’s botanical gardens are divided into seven sections, ranging from the island’s endemic and indigenous plants to medicinal and aromatic offerings, not to mention a bird park. Enjoy the flowers’ sweet aromas before heading to the on-site bar overlooking the grounds, which is perfectly positioned to take in views of both the gardens and coastline.



The panoramic views from the peak of Pico Ruivo
On a clear day, the entirety of Madeira is visible from coast to coast but, should the weather obscure the view, there’s still plenty to see on the way up to the island’s highest point, including the red-legged partridge and the plump Madeira firecrest bird. Choose from two ascension routes: one 12km trail for the confident hiker that scales steep slopes, sharp edges and tunnels, and one that takes half the time and is easier to navigate, climbing up 300m over the 3km course.



The rich textures of Madeira’s embroidery scene
Introduced in 1784 by an English family who settled there, embroidery is a significant part of Madeira’s heritage. The island has become known for its intricate textiles, which are hand-sewn by local workers. Patterns are printed on to sheets of fabric, then sent out to homes across the island, where locals painstakingly stitch over the prints to create exquisite patterns for tablecloths, bedlinen and all manner of other textiles.



Sizzling espetadas
These beef skewers are seasoned with salt, garlic and bay leaves to create a succulent, mouth-watering culinary experience. For something more adventurous, go for the unpretty but beautifully flavoursome black scabbardfish, the island’s most prized catch. To experience the broadest range of eatery options, stroll along Funchal’s coastline. Try to get a table at Il Gallo d’Oro, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by executive chef Benoît Sinthon, and be sure to grab some bolo do caco – local bread slathered with generous amounts of garlic butter or meatier toppings.



The waves gently lapping over the soft sand of Seixal beach
In Madeira youre never too far away from access to the sea, or its abundant beaches. And in Seixal, you’ll easily find the most striking. Made up of incredibly soft, black sand and surrounded by mountains and lush green bush, it’s the perfect place to take some time out and kick back. Top off the trip with a visit to the natural pools just around the corner to enjoy bathing in this mesmerising environment without the distraction of sea currents.



Getting lost in a mythical forest
As if plucked from a fairy tale, the Laurisilva of Madeira is a forest like no other – something Unesco recognised in 1999 when it made the area a World Heritage Site. The Laurisilva covers 20 per cent of the island in every possible shade of green, and hides within it an array of botanical wonders. Pleasant trails, dazzling waterfalls, fog-slicked evergreens and endemic flora and fauna (keep an eye out for the trocaz pigeon and Madeira orchid) are all up for grabs.


British Airways flies to Madeira in just under four hours. To start planning your trip, click here

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