Holidays to Madeira put the 'great' in the great outdoors. The island comes loaded with everything from tropical gardens to hiking trails worth lacing your boots up for.

Up-and-coming Madeira

Families and arty types aside, Madeira’s rapidly becoming the destination of choice for the trendy twenty-something crowd. For one thing, the island is forging a reputation as one of Europe’s top spa destinations, so it’s girlie getaways a go-go. And, while it won’t wipe Ibiza off the nightlife map any time soon, there’s an up-and-coming club scene to boot.

Picture-perfect island

Wine and football aside, there’s no question what brings people to this good-looking Portuguese isle. Its gardens. The whole island is so packed with plants and tropical flowers that it’s been dubbed the Floating Garden. For the best, try Funchal on the south coast. It’s home to the Madeira Botanical Gardens – an 80,000-square-metre patch showcasing something green from every continent. And if you're just interested in pretty views from above, head to the lookout point at Cabo Girao – it's Europe's highest cliff and comes complete with a glass-bottomed balcony.

Câmara de Lobos and Santa Cruz

Holidays to Madeira aren’t just for towel-in-hand types. The pretty landscape of Câmara de Lobos, a fishing village that's 10 minutes’ drive west of Funchal, prompted Winston Churchill to put paintbrush to canvas. And Santa Cruz, in the east, is a big hit with families, thanks to its pebbled beach and bustling pavement cafés.

Famous exports

It’s a tough call to name Madeira’s most famous export. On the one hand, you've got their sweet dessert wine. It goes down a treat – especially when it’s splashed into a trifle. On the other, there’s the fancy footwork of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. The headline-grabbing striker was born in the island's capital, Funchal.

At a Glance

  • Ride a cable car over Funchal
  • Tuck into fresh seafood
  • Visit the Ronaldo museum

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