From flowers to flavours, the population of Madeira and the centuries of dwellers before them, have unlocked the ideal combination - cultivating the finest flowers to crafting the perfect bottle of wine. We savour the taste of the island’s long history.
Madeira is well-known for its mild climate and awe-inspiring landscapes, as well as its charming, friendly people.
Of course to experience this first hand, a visit to one of the many vibrant gardens is in order. Exotic plants and flowers from Africa, America, Oceania and Asia took to the island’s climate so well that they now grow freely there.
Birds of paradise, begonias and magnolias are just some of the blooms you can expect to see filling parks and gardens, with splashes of colour and aromatic scents.
If it is your first visit, the Madeira Botanical Garden featuring over 2,000 plants is a great place to start, and if you’re visiting two weeks after Easter, you can enjoy the Flower Festival. You will be overwhelmed by the perfumes, the colourful dancers and floats bedecked in blooms, parading through the town.
The Great Exploration
A two-hour boat trip northeast will bring you to Porto Santo, an island off the coast of Madeira, where Christopher Columbus planned his trip to discover America.
The house where Columbus lived with his wife Filipa de Moniz, the daughter of the colonial captain of Porto Santo, and their son, is now a museum dedicated to the time when Porto Santo was his home.
Discover, like many explorers before you, its balmy turquoise waters, golden sands and earthy hues.
Columbus regularly travelled to Madeira’s capital Funchal, to deal with sugar cane business matters - from the end of the 15th century, sugar cane turned the capital into an international business hub and a major port of call on the Atlantic sailing routes.
Did you know Funchal, is named after fennel (funcho is Portuguese for fennel), as it grows naturally on the hillsides surrounding the town?
Frequented by the rich and famous, the best way to view Funchal and its surrounding landscape is by cable car. Leaving from the Old Town, the panorama will leave you feeling rather blessed and majestic too!
The Finest Flavours
Madeira wine is one of the most internationally renowned produce of the island. The fortified wine encompasses a history and culture of over five centuries, with its unique ageing process of more than 100 years.
The result is a very rich and impressive range of colours of golden and amber hues, with harmonious aromas from caramel to cinnamon. Loved by poets, explorers and adventurers alike, there is a Madeiran wine to accompany any meal, from aperitifs to complementing your end of meal coffee.
See Madeira wine in production at Blandy’s Wine Lodge, in the centre of Funchal, on a wine tour and tasting. Guides will take you through the 200-year history behind the label, its development and evolution, and there is the opportunity to taste the wines through the ages from young wines to vintage varieties.
The Premium Tour is the most comprehensive, from the making of the barrels through to tasting or alternatively discover the maturing process of the wines on the Vintage Tour and view the Blandy family’s private collection of impressive bottles and vintages.
English influence brought embroidery to the island. From delicate handkerchiefs to rich tablecloths, the handicrafts are the result of long hours of dedicated work. Invest in a beautiful, traditionally crafted item to take home as a keepsake of the talented island artisans.
Wickerwork is one of the main manufacturing industries in Madeira, and Camacha is the largest centre of production, with its products exported all over the world.
The willow trees that yield the material grow naturally beside streams or marshy land. The wicker is cut, peeled and boiled for elasticity. Once dried they are used to make decorative items and furniture.
While exploring the island, you will come across various wicker crafts by local craftsmen to admire or indeed buy.
Take a tour of the wicker factory showroom in Camacha to see how it’s made and perhaps purchase a wicker product from its wide collection.
A trip to the archipelago would not be complete without a wicker sledge ride from Monte to town.
Dating back to 1850, merchants would use them to transport their wares quickly from Monte to Funchal. Something of a thrill, two guides, or carreiros, will guide and control the sledge’s descent.
With so much history waiting to be uncovered, you will feel just like one of the early explorers discovering the island and its beauty for the first time.
If you would like to make this beautiful island your next holiday destination, click on the RCI Resort Directory below...
If you're a timeshare owner but not a member of RCI, you could be missing out on visiting some of the world's most amazing places. To join the RCI Holiday Exchange programme, click Join RCI below...