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DK Eyewitness Top 10 Madeira

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Madeira
by DK Eyewitness
  An unbeatable, pocket-sized guide to Madeira, packed with insider tips and ideas, colour maps, top 10 lists and a laminated pull-out map, all designed to help you see the very best of MadeiraMore information and prices from: - British pounds - US dollars - Canadian dollars - Euros - Euros

Madeira Cliffs

Madeira Cliffs

A visit to Madeira is like a nice weekend or a day in the country. It is both familiar and a delightful change from routine life for northern Europeans.

Semi-tropical and located in the Atlantic Ocean, 600km off Morocco, Madeira is an autonomous part of Portugal and is therefore within the Euro-zone. The island has been transformed by European Union funding over the past decade. A new airport with a remarkable runway carried on stilts over sea and cliffs allows easier access from mainland Portugal and other parts of Europe. Access to many coastal and inland villages is being improved with extensive tunnelling through the mountainous terrain.

The climate is pleasantly mild. Air temperatures range between 16C and 19C in winter and 21C to 25C in summer with an annual average of 20C. Sea temperatures range from 18C to 23C. The north is generally wetter than the south with rain on an average of 80 days a year. Sunshine over the last 30 years has averaged 166 hours of sunlight in January and 255 hours in September. Northern Europeans tend to visit over the Winter and Spring, while Portuguese and Spanish visitors come in the Summer months.

New coastal road, Madeira

A new road crosses a ravine from one tunnel to another

The Rough Guide summarizes Madeira as an 'extraordinarily dramatic island of wild mountain scenery and fantastic walking terrain. Combining precipitous valleys and sheer cliffs - including the second-highest sea cliffs in the world at Cabo Girão - the island boasts an astonishingly diverse array of colourful semitropical vegetation and gently cultivated terraces.'

Wedding veil waterfall, Madeira

Wedding veil waterfall near Seixal, Madeira

The lack of beaches means that Madeira must focus on a more specialised tourism sector than the beach-loving visitors catered for by the Spanish Canary islands such as Tenerife. Despite the growth in the number of hotels, Madeira provides a more gentile and upmarket experience than its neighbours to the south. English is widely spoken and the numerous banks have multilingual ATMs (cash machines) that accept most common debit and credit cards.

Fishing is not as predominant as it was and the great whaling tradition is no more but coastal villages still have their fishing communities. Leslie Thomas describes the fishermen of Cãmara de Lobos going out to sea with lines two miles long, barbed with a hundred or more hooks.

'They catch the espada, the scabbard fish, which dwells in such deep places no man has ever seen one alive. By the time they are brought to the surface they are always dead. They are all the same size, 3 feet long with a sinister black coat, no small fish or large fish have ever been caught: no one knows why not.'

The Espada is actually a tasty fish and is easily available in Madeira restaurants. The fish market in Funchal is a fascinating place to visit to view the fresh catches

Fishing boats, Madeira

Fishing boats at Cãmara de Lobos, Madeira

The neighbouring island of Porto Santos is also inhabited. This was discovered by the Portuguese in 1418 - a year before Madeira. It is quite different to Madeira, being much smaller and flatter with a fine 9km beach. There are two other groups of (uninhabited) islands in the Madeira archipelago: the Desertas group of islands, consisting of Deserta Grande, Bugio, Ilhu Chão and Prego do Mar; and the Selvagens Islands, consisting of Selvagem Grande, Selvagem Pequena and Ilhu de Fora.

More about Madeira:

Madeira's history and attractions

Funchal, Madeira

Hotels in Funchal, Madeira

Reid's Hotel, Madeira

Madeira: Car Tours and Walks (Landscapes)

Madeira: Car Tours and Walks (Landscapes)
by John Underwood, Pat Underwood
  THE book that made walking on Madeira so popular. In print since 1981, with over half a million copies sold. Pocket-sized and in full colour, the guide describes six car tours (with fold-out touring map), highlighting places where you can stop for a walk or just a stroll to a lovely picnic setting. But the major part of the book is devoted to 100 different long and short walk routes, illustrated with large-scale topographical maps (1:40,000). More information and prices from: - British pounds - US dollars - Canadian dollars - Euros - Euros makes minimal use of cookies, including some placed to facilitate features such as Google Search. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies. Learn more here

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