It’s not called the “Pearl of the Atlantic” for nothing. The floating garden of Madeira boasts a subtropical climate, as well as striking natural scenery, making it a popular year-round resort, hiking and mountain biking destination, and cruise ship port. Madeira also enjoys worldwide fame thanks to its wine and embroidery artisans. Nothing is more opulent than a stay in a luxury hotel in Madeira, where you can get your fill of sightseeing and culture in the morning and play a round of golf on an enormous shelf above the Atlantic, or trek through laurel forests following the course of a historic aqueduct that hugs the slopes in the afternoon.
Luxury Hotels in Madeira: Top destinations at a glance
Lively ports and diving hotspots in the South-East
You will find museums, art galleries and colonial architecture, busy marketplaces, and lush botanic gardens punctuated by exotic flowers in Funchal, the capital of Madeira. A great starting point for exploring this cosmopolitan, coastal town with a rich historical heritage is the vibrant market, “Mercado dos Lavradores” where you can pick up some local crafts, flowers or exotic tropical produce like the philodendron fruit and tamarilhos. Take a walk along the seaside promenade to the harbor to enjoy the stunning coastal views and surroundings over a “chinesa,” a traditional coffee in one of many cafés by the marina. The landmark of the town, Se Cathedral, is an unmissable historical site and one of the few surviving Manueline style buildings. An unforgettable vacation in Funchal wouldn’t be complete without some souvenirs. You’ll find a wide variety of shops selling everything from regional goods to designer articles as you roam Funchal’s main streets. Further east, Caniçal is the ultimate dive hotspot with oceanfront hotels designed for scuba divers looking to explore the stunning underwater world of Madeira. You can also easily reach the stunning island of Porto Santo from Madeira on a short 15-minute flight. For those who enjoy a more leisurely pace, you can travel by sea on a two-hour ferry ride. Another great thing about a luxury hotel in Funchal is its proximity to some of the region’s other exceptional island destinations, like the Canary Islands.
Cultural and natural highlights in the North
Head to the north of the island to stay in a luxury hotel in the charming village of São Vicente, which is located at the end of the valley where the formation of the island started. Here, you can visit the Volcanism Centre, explore the walkable volcanic lava caves and visit the 17th century church downtown before heading to the pebble beach, where you can experience some of the best waves in Europe. Up north, it is wetter than in the southern regions of the island, so levadas, or aqueducts, were built here in the 16th century to transport water to the drier south. To the far north-east is Prainha, the island’s most visited beach with fine black sand. In Porta da Cruz, you will find the best surfing beach, in Santa Moniz, you can take a dip in the natural seawater filled lava pools. Santana boasts traditional, colorfully-painted, triangular farmhouses with thatched roof, the Madeira Theme Park, and beautiful cafés.
Tranquility and tradition in the South-West
In the south-west, there are small fishing villages with lively markets and tranquil, quiet hotels in the idyllic hinterland. If you are looking for rest and relaxation away from the tourist centers and want to get to know the traditional village life of Madeira, or enjoy uninterrupted surfing in an isolated spot, this is the place for you. You’ll be enticed to take a walk through wooded mountain worlds and barren plateaus, passing impressive waterfalls and the famous levadas. The new Art Centre of Casa das Mudas in Calheta offers a program of temporary expositions featuring all kinds of arts and styles by local, national and international artists, as well as frequent dance, theatre and artistic performances. The golden, sandy Praha del Calheta is a fantastic man-made beach boasting bars and restaurants, showers, toilets and changing room facilities and a range of nautical activities making it popular with families, tourists and locals alike. Ponta do Pargo is a delightful town on the west coast of Madeira. It is famous for the apple festival as well as the strategically built lighthouse and magnificent cliffs that drop right into the ocean. Luxury hotels in Madeira provide a unique and truly diverse vacation.