The majority of people may have never heard of Madeira Island. However, Cristiano Ronaldo fans, must be familiar with it. The island, which is located off the mainland of Portugal, is the home of the soccer superstar. Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Funchal, the largest city on the island of Madeira. Madeira is a lush, green island, also known as “Portugal’s flower garden. Ronaldo often posts the beauty of his homeland through his personal social media accounts.
The World Travel Awards named the Madeira Islands as the best island destination in Europe for the seventh time in the last 9 years. The islands have also been named the best island destination in the world five times. Judging from the official website of the World Travel Awards, this stunning archipelago has managed to sit back at number one in the ‘World’s Leading Island Destination’ category or also commonly called ‘Best Island in The World’. The World Travel Awards is the most prestigious event in the world of tourism. Started in 1993, the World Travel Awards provide many prizes in the tourism sector. Madeira has been award-winning since 2015.
The two main inhabited islands in the archipelago are Madeira and Porto Santo. Madeira Island has a complete landscape from white beaches, exotic cliffs, jungles to mountains. There are also various tourist activities, from water sports to trekking. Madeira itself is a tropical island with low population. Having a beautiful and fertile landscape, it is no wonder that the island has been included in a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site since December 1999. The island is inhabited by around 200 thousand people. However, tourist who visit every year is an average of one million people.
There are several reasons why the archipelago has been designated by the World Travel Awards as the best island destination in Europe. Being so remote, in the middle of the Atlantic and just 350 miles west of Morocco, the Madeira Islands is a truly magical volcanic island. It has beautiful cliffs jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, presenting spectacular views, and a must visited when traveling there. The archipelago also has the highest Seacliff in Europe and the second highest in the world: Cabo Girao. Apart from that, there are natural lava pools all over the island. The Baths at Porto Moniz, a series of gorgeous natural pools that seem to blend directly into the ocean, are a stunning charm. Another place that provides a good swim is Calheta. It is a lovely area by the sea with a nice man-made beach with clear and warm water, golden sand, bars, toilets and changing rooms, first-aid services, and a big marina. There is a lot of amazing marine life to explore by swimming, snorkelling, or diving. However, those who are more adventurous can try the popular windsurfing. Another unique characteristic of Madeira is not only that it is full of levadas (a system of stone irrigation channels that criss-cross the island and transport water), these levadas also make for great hiking trails. Outstandingly, some of the levadas, like Levada do Caldeirão Verde, pass under waterfalls.
The average temperature in Madeira ranges from about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to 62 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. In other words, the temperature here always feels like a peaceful spring. Travelling to Madeira means that you will find a subtropical weather that provides excellent conditions to make this island the most attractive in Europe. Madeira offers a quiet, green paradise that is an alternative to those wanting to escape to a peaceful, yet still exotic island. 80% of the island is forest-covered making it a lot cooler and greener than its neighbour: Canary Islands. Even so, Madeira has more to offer other than its natural charisma. The island also has a typical Portuguese colonial architecture such as fortresses, churches, and palaces. In addition, Madeira Island also offers educational tours, namely a museum dedicated to the trophies that have been won by Cristiano Ronaldo, the museum is called CR7 Museu.
Must visit places in Madeira:
Madeira Botanical Garden – Owned by the William Reid Family, the garden has been open since 1960 and has become one of the interesting destinations in Funchal. Tourists can see more than 2000 types of plants as well as a bird garden that stores more than 300 species of birds here.
Sao Vicente Caves – This volcanic cave located in the north of Madeira Island is one of the most interesting natural attractions. The cave was formed by the eruption of the volcanic mountains thousands of years ago and caused the formation of lava cavities. Tourists will also be presented with views of noticeably clear water and interesting cave shapes in it.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden – This one spot is also no less popular. The Monte Palace Tropical Garden opened in 1991, has an area of 70,000 square meters and is located on a hill. Therefore, tourists can enjoy a direct view of Funchal Beach. Now this place functions as a park and museum, while previously it was a luxury hotel in Madeira.
Cabo Girao – As mentioned previously, Cabo Girao is a cliff located on the seacoast with stunning natural views. It is incredibly special location presenting a direct view off the Atlantic Ocean. This place is also equipped with a wide skywalk made of glass, so that visitors can take pictures and see the beautiful panorama from the highest cliff in Madeira.
Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo – Various volcanic activities give Madeira a variety of stunning natural features, such as hills and mountains. One of the most popular is Pico do Arieiro, which is Madeira’s third-highest peak at 1,818-meters above sea level. Visitors can also go further to the highest peak, namely Pico Ruivo which has a view of the island facing the north and south coast.
Garganta Funda Waterfall – This waterfall is in the western part of Madeira Island, flanked by hills with exotic panoramas. In addition, its location is not far from the beach, so visitors can see the view of the waterfall and the beach at the same time. Close to the waterfall, there is a legendary lighthouse that was built in 1922 and is now used as a museum.
Serra do Fanal – This famous forest is home to the largest surviving area of laurel forest, which is protected by UNESCO world heritage and is an eerie sight to behold. This part of the island is subtropical, and the volcanic microclimates mean it is often shrouded in mist, giving visitors the feeling that they are on a film set. It is completely exhilarating and the views, 1,150 meters above sea level, are breath-taking.