Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport is the main gateway, offering direct connections to many European hubs as well as to New York. Flights from Lisbon take about 1h45, and those from London take 3 hours. You can also fly to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, and take the daily ferry to Madeira from there. If you would like to see as much of Madeira as you can, hiring a car is a good option. Just keep in mind that roads there are quite dangerous in places – think narrow roads climbing steep mountain slopes with sheer cliff drops on one side – so chauffeured transfers will probably be the most comfortable option for you. The cable car lines run from Funchal to Monte and back, making this a comfortable way to scale mountains.
Climate & seasons
Madeira is an island of eternal spring — it's never too hot or too cold. High season is from June to September, as temperatures are highest and the weather driest, but it's never a bad time to visit the island. Due to the mountainous terrain, you will encounter varied microclimates, with the most notable distinction being that between the windy and damp northeast and the more arid and sheltered south.
Where to go
Funchal is the capital and largest city on the island. It's also home to the best hotels, so many people use it as their base. Funchal has several historic monuments, an abundance of colourful and exotic flora in the parks and gardens, amazing viewpoints, and its nearby beaches and swimming pools. Ponta Delgada is also a pleasant town to visit, and so is the tiny neighbouring island of Porto Santo, which is an ideal beach destination even though it lacks proper five-star hotels.
What to do
Go for a full-day yacht cruise to explore the coastline and see whales, dolphins and turtles. If you are a football enthusiast, visit Cristiano Ronaldo's Museum in Funchal. Go for a private jeep tour across the island, exploring the wonderful nature and views. If you like physically active exploration, hike to Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo, or simply hike along the levadas — man-made irrigation channels that run for hundreds of miles. Play golf, for instance at Santo da Serra Golf Club, which has a truly beautiful course. Madeira is also fascinating for wine lovers — madeira is one of the wines that hasn't changed since it became popular over 300 years ago. Madeira’s unique taste comes from repeatedly heating the wine, which creates flavors of roasted nuts, stewed fruit, caramel, and toffee. Taste the best bottles on a private wine tour.