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Why visit Madeira in 2021

11th January, 2021

Discover Madeira

Combining four islands off the coast of Africa, Madeira is an archipelago with plenty to offer. Its pleasant subtropical climate gives visitors the freedom to explore the beautiful outdoors in the warmth of the sunshine, whether you want to go swimming in volcanic pools or hiking along magical levada trails.

2020 saw the Madeira Islands win the World's Leading Island Destination for the sixth consecutive year at the World Travel Awards, and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Whether you’re looking for a spot of winter sun after a cold English winter, or simply want something wonderful to look forward to, a visit to Madeira is the perfect antidote.

Find out more about why Madeira is such a special place to visit, and what you can experience while you’re there.

Experience the magic of nature

A levada trail in Laurel Forest, otherwise known as Laurisilva, in Madeira

If you love to get outdoors and explore on your holidays then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Madeira. From hiking and canyoning to bird watching and climbing, there are plenty of different outdoor activities to enjoy all across the archipelago. In fact, with several areas classified as Biogenetic Reserve and World Natural Heritage sites, you may be surprised by the sheer volume of areas to explore, along with all of the beautiful plant and animal life that you’re able to witness.

Head to the famous Laurisilva of Madeira, within Madeira National Park, a rare forest landscape towards the north west of the island thought to be about 20 million years old. Laced with beautiful hiking trails and levada walks, you’ll spot breathtaking lakes, valleys and rivers as you explore on foot. It’s the perfect way to lose yourself for a day - or more!

For a different take on Madeira’s natural wonders, head to its quieter sister island, Porto Santo. Here you’ll find desert-like landscapes on one side and immense sandy beaches on the other, offering a truly unique experience - even though it’s only 12 kilometres long by six kilometres across! At a little over two hours ferry ride from Madeira, it’s well worth planning a trip to Porto Santo for your visit.

Enjoy amazing food

Traditional Espetada, or meat skewer

With its prime location off the African coast, Madeira is blessed with a climate that makes for excellent fresh produce - as well as some truly exquisite seafood, thanks to the area’s fishing heritage. In the summer enjoy marinated tuna, limpets and Black Scabbard, with fried corn and fresh salads laced with tomatoes and onions.

In the cooler months, dig into tomato and onion soups, often accompanied by a poached egg, with the addition of traditional bolo do caco bread - a favourite in Madeira. Meat eaters will find delicious skewered beef Espetada to be enjoyed with friends and family. Don’t forget to leave room for delicious passion fruit pudding; the ultimate sunshine dessert.

Join the party

Igreja de Sao Bento Church in Madeira, decorated for the flower festival

There’s always something going on in Madeira - and always a party or celebration to join in with. And on the islands, everyone is invited. Whatever you’re interested in, it’s well worth taking a look at through some of the incredible events that span the year, and consider planning your visit so that you’re able to attend. From February’s incredible Carnival, which gives Rio a run for its money, to the Flower Festival in late spring, August’s Wine Festival and October’s Nature Festival, there’s something for everyone to enjoy when it comes to Madeira’s packed social schedule.

If you’re looking for a destination to enjoy some winter sun, then there’s no better place to ring in a New Year than Madeira. The archipelago’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations are well renowned - including Christmas traditions like the Missas do Parto masses, consisting of nine masses that take place early in the morning during the nine days before Christmas. Each mass represents one month of the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy. We also recommend staying for the infamous New Year’s Eve fireworks show. In fact, it’s so infamous that it’s registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest show in the world!

Visiting Madeira

For those who are fortunate enough to have visited the islands before, you’ll understand that from the moment you arrive, you feel welcomed and at home. With its rich cultural heritage, beautiful accommodation and endlessly warm and welcoming people, a trip to Madeira is the perfect tonic after a year that’s sure to have taken its toll.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.