When it comes to warm-weather winter getaways, the Madeira Islands—located 750 miles southwest of Lisbon—offering year-round mild weather and its 600th anniversary celebrations this year, is starting to pique the interest of travelers looking for a new destination to explore.
When asked what makes Madeira a unique destination, Luis Goncalves, media assistant for the Madeira Promotion Bureau, points to the island’s “perfect combination of year-round mild climate, well-preserved lush nature, ideal conditions for various activities related to active tourism, and a large number of hotels with a great quality and price, all in a small archipelago.”
The 4-island Portuguese archipelago was discovered in 1419 with the island chain’s main namesake island, Madeira, being discovered a year later. Ancient volcanic cliffs, an abundance of forests, and six climate zones—each with its own flora and fauna—welcomed explorers to Madeira in 1420, and now, these same features keep visitors coming to the island for its unique cuisine and fine wines, its old world European charm, and its opportunities for hiking, fishing, surfing, and more.
This year, Madeira will welcome three new properties. First to open will be Pestana Churchill Bay, which is set to open this May. Located in the fishing town of Camara de Lobos, Pestana Churchill Bay overlooks the bay and is named after Winston Churchill, who was a frequent visitor to the village. The property will feature 57 guestrooms, two bars and restaurants, and an outdoor swimming pool. The following month, Funchal, the capital of Madeira, will welcome two new properties: Savoy Palace Hotel and Le Suites at the Cliff Bay. The Savoy Palace—a member of the Leading Hotels of the World—will feature 580 guestrooms, three swimming pools, a full spa, two restaurants, a rooftop bar, a garden bar, and a fitness facility. Meanwhile Cliff Bay’s new five-star all-suite Le Suites at the Cliff Bay property is accepting reservations now for its complex of 23 suites, which will be located atop a promontory with ocean and garden views. The property will also offer wide balconies, a restaurant, a bar, and terraces surrounded by gardens—all overlooking the Atlantic. For those looking for an experience that combines luxury with the great outdoors, new glamping properties are also popping up. Fairly new to Madeira is Soul Glamping located in Prazeres, which offers domed tents with living rooms, full kitchens, and fireplaces, plus private balconies with jaccuzzis and sunbeds.
Why Visit Now?
In addition to its ever-growing hotel landscape and its 600th anniversary celebrations, which include special musical performances and a Discovery Races 2019 Regatta among other activities, Goncalves explains that now is the best time to visit to beat the crowds to this destination that is continuously increasing in popularity, especially for adventure enthusiasts and active travelers.
“Madeira is currently being rediscovered by Europeans as Europe’s Adventure Capital,” says Goncalves. “Despite being a destination with high notoriety, its perfect conditions for the practice of more radical sport activities is not so well-known, so it’s the right time to discover this strand before all others.”
It’s also easier than ever before to reach the archipelago with TAP Portugal offering 1-stop service to Portugal from seven U.S. cities and 1.5-hour flight connections from Lisbon. Madeira is also is also a 1.5-hour flight from Porto or the Azores, and once on the main island of Madeira, the archipelago’s other popular island, Porto Santo, is only a 15-minute flight away.