The Island of Eternal Spring enchants year round, but you’ll find some wonderfully unique experiences at the beginning of the year. Here are five reasons you should spend your winter in Madeira.
Warming, hearty treats are on the island’s menus in the cooler months. Keep an eye out for garlic and wine pork, delicious chicken broths and dark, spicy honey cakes. Don’t miss the Cozido à Portuguesa. This stew is one of Portugal’s most famous, featuring meats, sausages and vegetables slow cooked to perfection. Chef Luis Pestana’s take on the classic can be enjoyed at Michelin-starred William Restaurant, combining smoky meat flavours with the exquisite taste of crawfish.
The Green Walks
If you love the great outdoors, winter can be the perfect time to explore Madeira’s levadas and hiking trails. The wetter conditions make the trails greener than ever. As we continue towards spring, the island’s famous flowers begin to emerge. Take a four-hour hike from Ribeiro Frio to Portela, or journey through the dense eucalyptus and acacia in the Ecological Park of Funchal.
The Rare Wildlife
The waters around Madeira are teeming with life all year, but between November and February some especially rare cetacean species can be spotted. Short-beaked common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and short-finned pilot whales can be found breaking through the waves. The mild ocean temperatures also make diving a popular sport at any time of year.
The Sense Of Place
Madeira is a beautiful place to explore, and during the winter months it’s easier to navigate at your own pace. Tourist attractions are more accessible with less crowds to contend with, or simply take the opportunity to relax and unwind at leisure. The Spa at Belmond Reid’s Palace is an ideal retreat. Revitalise with sublime treatments that use soothing local ingredients such as aloe vera balsam and grapeseed oil.
This small island loves to celebrate, and you can find colourful festivals throughout the year. Carnival arrives at the end of February, accompanied by streets full of colour, music and dazzling parade floats. Or look ahead to December, which is particularly magical in Funchal. The festive celebrations come to a close with one of the greatest firework displays in the Mediterranean.
Where to stay
Belmond Reid’s Palace, perched between subtropical gardens and the endless blue of the Atlantic Ocean.