Madeira Travel Guide
Situated around 350miles off the North African coast, Madeira has a well-deserved reputation as a select, refined holiday choice that combines an elegant sophisticated atmosphere with breathtaking beauty. It is not for nothing the island is nicknamed ‘the floating garden’, the richness of the flora is such that the air remains constantly perfumed and the entire island is a veritable riot vivid colour on a lush green background. The luxuriant tropical landscape is, in part sustained by the other main factor in attracting tourists – the year-long fine weather – warm sunny days and pleasant balmy nights.
Although there are no beaches on the island the resorts still enjoy a fairly traditional air and there are ample opportunities for swimming in the countless lidos and pools. Watersports enthusiasts can take advantage of the excellent marina facilities and the spectacular interior with is jagged peaks and glistening waterfalls more than makes up for the lack of golden sand. Fuchal is both the capital and the main tourist magnet, a bustling city filled with stunning architecture, lively shops, superb restaurants and friendly bars it is home to the famous Madeira flower market. The area is easily explored on foot due to the network of old irrigation channels called ‘levadas’ which make excellent paths to places inaccessible by vehicles. As you would expect from a resort of such quality the nightlife is somewhat glitzy and the dining consistently superb – especially the locally produced fruit and vegetables and amazing seafood.
Other places of interest include Garajau, a town that remains little affected by the outside world and maintains a relaxing friendly atmosphere amidst some truly wonderful countryside, its hillside setting offering stunning sea views. Machio is a pretty fishing village favoured by more mature travellers who come to enjoy the traditional resort atmosphere, excellent shopping, wonderful dining and of course the magnificent plant-life of the surrounding area. Finally, for those wanting a less commercial getaway, the lovely village of Canico (consisting of the old town and cliff top new town) is a great place to kick back and enjoy an authentic taste of this magic island.
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