Putting the Mad in Madeira

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Putting the Mad in Madeira

Known for its temperate climate, beautiful flower gardens, and gentle walkways, Madeira is certainly a sedate location. But Madeira’s appeal doesn’t end with relaxing strolls and afternoon tea. Much like the Portuguese mainland, the island also has its share of vibrant nightlife, modern architecture and sophisticated café culture.

Eating and drinking

Madeira is well known for excellent cuisine, which is an appetising fusion of Portuguese and African. The island benefits from the delicious specialities of its Mediterranean big sister, with sopa de tomate e cebola (tomato and onion soup), caldeirada (fish soup) frequently served dishes, along with fresh young white wines.

But Madeira also benefits from its geographical location, which is nearer to Morocco than Europe. Dishes with more of an African flavour make use of spicy seasoning with sides like fried maize and plantain. A popular quick dish for those eager to sample the local cuisine is prego or steak marinated in garlic and peri peri served in a sandwich. You’ll be hard pushed to find a bad one on Madeira, and almost everywhere seems to sell them.

Top Five Activities in Madeira

Take a Toboggan Ride

Despite clement all-round temperatures you can still take an adrenalin fuelled trip downhill on Funchal’s cobbled streets. Although it’s something of a tourist activity, visitors should allow them selves to be raced downhill by locals at least once.

Going Underground in Pe de Passo

As a volcanic island, Madeira also has some incredibly tunnels to explore. The area of Pe de Passo by the Sao Vicente river crossing has a complex of volcanic tunnels stretching over 1000 metres in length – the longest on the island.

Beach Bumming at Porto Santo

Madeira has little in the way of beach life, but if you’re desperate from some sandy shores then the Porto Santo sands offer a heavenly slice of golden sands and clear blue waters.

Go To Market

The famous Mercados dos Lavrodores in Funchal is a great example of a traditional Portuguese market, with a few local specialities thrown in for good measure. It includes an excellent array of flower sellers, fresh fish (including rather frightening scabbard fish) and basket weavers plying their wares.

Watch the Birdy at the Campo de Golfe Santo da Serra

With its mountain scenery, Madeira offers one of the most breathtaking golf courses in Europe, with sweeping views across the ocean.

Festival Fun

Madeira comes alive in the spring and summer months with all sorts of carnivals and festivities. Here’s a pick of our seasonal favourites.

Flower Festival, Funchal, 3rd and 4th of May

Madeira is known for its exotic flowers, and May sees the annual flower festival celebrate the floral abundance of the island in beatific style. This is the season when the flowers are at their best, and the locals of Funchal celebrate with a plethora of creative floats and floral tributes. Visitors on the island for the spectacular flower parade through the city streets will be astounded by the sheer variety of blooms on display.

Atlantic Festival. Every Sunday in June

Whilst some countries choose to set-off fireworks for New Years celebrations, Madeira devotes the entire month of June to celebrating pyrotechnics to a back-drop of classical music. There’s plenty of time for recovery from the festivities, as major events take place on the weekend around the island. But the Atlantic festival is certainly one of Madeira’s biggest parties.

Madeira Wine Rally, 1st Weekend of August

Not to be confused with the International Wine Festival in September, the Wine Rally is more about motor cars than it is about fine wine. But this being Madeira, food and drink play an integral part of the festivities, and stalls line the streets to feed the hungry spectators of the rally. Two days of rally racing around the island make it the largest event of its kind in the area.

For information on the latest travel packages to the Algarve

please visit  www.bookingalgarve.co.uk

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