Magical Madeira

Despite its location almost one thousand kilometres south west of Lisbon, the island of Madeira still has a distinctly Portuguese flavour. The red-roofed houses, sleepy cities and friendly locals are all reminiscent of its European fatherland.

But Madeira also has a magic all of its very own. The beautiful volcanic landscape, lush countryside and deserted white-sand beaches make for a perfect holiday paradise, while plenty of budget accommodation and flights for under £100 from the UK mean that all this splendour is available for a small price tag. You can also save even more money on your break by booking late holidays with a travel company like On The Beach.

If you’re new to Madeira, then here are some of the best places to experience the island’s magical atmosphere.

Funchal: Easy to get to and fun to explore, Madeira’s capital has become a popular destination for UK tourists in recent years. It lies on a mirror-smooth blue bay against a backdrop of imposing green mountains, and dazzles visitors with its stunning white-washed cathedral, ancient city centre and stately 18th-century mansions. Don’t miss the Quinta das Cruzes on Calcada do Pico, where the island’s discoverer Joao Goncalves Zarco, once lived. It’s also worth exploring the surrounding area, including the extensive botanical gardens on the city’s outskirts and the pretty fishing village of Camara de Lobos.

Porto Moniz: The antithesis of busy, bustling Funchal, this remote coastal village is a fantastic family holiday destination. It lies at Madeira’s north-westernmost point, and enjoys beautiful views over to the islet of Illheu Mole. Hiking and mountain biking tracks are abundant in the surrounding hills, and children will love taking a dip in the nearby network of seawater pools.

Calheta: This south-western town is most noted for its production of sugar cane, but tourists are gradually beginning to catch on to its attractive position, stunning coastline and sleepy, laid-back atmosphere. If you’re keen on sight-seeing, the town has a Moorish-style church which dates back to 1430 and is close to the 15th century chapel at nearby Loreto.

So, whether you’re into exploring or simply relaxing on a beautiful beach, Madeira has all the ingredients to provide you with the holiday of a lifetime.