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With its sub-tropical climate Madeira is fast gaining recognition as an ideal destination for outdoor activities.  During the summer the average temperature is between 25-28 degrees Celsius, but being just 500km off the coast of Africa means that even in winter, with an average temperature of 17-18 degrees Celsius, an active holiday is possible.  

Funchal is a beautiful city which is well connected to the rest of the island and highlights include its old town, located by the Mercado dos Lavradores – the local lively farmers market which is filled with tropical fruits, flowers, spices, vegetables and fish; beautiful gardens which are ideal for walkers who wish to explore at a more relaxed pace – Sunvil recommends taking the cable car up to Monte to have a wander through the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.  For an adrenaline rush, head back down towards the city in a wicker basket sled – one of Funchal’s most famous attractions.

Tropical fruits and vegetables, Funchal, Madeira Tropical fruits and vegetables, Funchal, Madeira

Belonging to an archipelago of just four islands, two of which are nature reserves and both uninhabited, Madeira offers a variety of activities to suit all levels of fitness.  The main activity of the island is walking along its well-known ‘levadas’ (water channels).  There are over 2000km of these water channels, mainly on the north coast, some which are easy and others moderate whilst some are more difficult.  Levadas are generally mostly flat but “Veredas”, which can also be walked, tend to have a cumulative elevation gain, along trails which can be either mountain, forest or coastline terrain.

Walking along Levadas, Madeira Walking along Levadas, Madeira

For those looking for radical activities, seeking the adrenaline rush, then you have found the right island and will be spoilt for choice – mountain biking, paragliding, canyoning, diving, surfing and trail running are all on offer.  

Madeira Ocean Trails (www.madeiraoceantrails.com) is a campaign which was launched in 2017 with the aim of promoting active tourism.  Its website provides information on the various outdoor activities and the possible activity trails available – whether it be for canyoning, walking, mountain biking, climbing and coasteering, birdwatching, geocaching and orienteering or trail running.  In all around 60 routes are featured, each with information regarding the distance and duration, level of difficulty, google maps location, altimetry, images and videos.  These trails take you along stunning and dramatic scenery, above beautiful and unique coastlines and into the exotic Laurissilva forest which is around 20 million years old and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  These trails truly do stand out for not only the challenges they offer but the beauty they provide.

Mountain biking and trail running have really taken off in recent years – the island has excellent roads and paths which are just yearning to be explored.  Trail running is for the more active and involves pushing one’s limits on mountain and nature trails.  Mountain biking takes you along fast long tracks or on amazing descents towards the coastline.  Canyoning, which does require some physical strength, takes you deep into the island to discover its beauty, pristine nature and perhaps a hidden waterfall.  Climbing allows you the opportunity to climb the islands’ basaltic rock and to feel victorious when you reach the top of the cliff or mountain that you are conquering.  Coasteering combines rappelling, climbing and jumping into the sea – like a three in one challenge. 

Mountain scenery, Madeira Mountain scenery, Madeira

There are of course other activities that can be arranged on Madeira such as whale and dolphin watching – cetaceans can be seen all year round along the south coast; jeep tours, some of which will take you into magical places that are inaccessible by foot; golf – there are three golf courses (one is on Madeira’s sister island, Porto Santo) and birdwatching – there are several areas classified as Biogenetic Reserves and Natural World Heritage in the archipelago and one of the rarest sea birds in the world (Zino’s Petrel) nests in a restricted area of the island. 

Birdwatching, Madeira Birdwatching, Madeira

For beaches, Porto Santo steals the limelight with its 9km sandy beach – well known not only for its crystal-clear warm waters and sand dunes but for the therapeutic properties of its golden sand.  The beaches on Madeira consist mainly of pebbles and volcanic rocks but it is the lava pools – natural swimming pools created by nature and erosion, which are favoured by many.

Madeira pebble beach Madeira pebble beach

If Madeira sounds like the ideal destination for you, contact our specialist team on 020 8758 4722 for more information.

Rosanna Melaragni

By Rosanna Melaragni

20th January 2021



Talk to our Elvas expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

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