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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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Madeira

Our verdict:

Madeira is not just winter sun and blue rinses. This lush mountainous sub-tropical island marooned in the Atlantic Ocean enjoys a perfect year-round climate and boasts fine hotels, superb restaurants and picturesque paths - levadas - that hug the fertile valley walls.

Recommended tour operator: Inspired Luxury Escapes

Inspired Luxury Escapes says

There are few destinations that offer year-round sunshine and are less than four hours flying time from the UK. Madeira has most definitely moved on from its former reputation as a winter retreat for the more mature traveller.

  • Easy flights
  • Natural wonders
  • Year-round sun

There’s a huge range of things to do year-round from whale- and dolphin-watching to horse-riding and golf. Head out from your hotel in the evenings for a superb dinner in one of the many restaurants – the fish and seafood in Madeira are exceptional and very reasonably priced.

We’ve hand-picked the best of Madeira’s luxury hotels in the capital, Funchal, and further afield. Many offer superb spas and all deliver outstanding service – some of the best in Europe.

For contemporary luxury on the seafront, Vidamar is a stylish choice, with a top-notch spa and direct access to the sea. Or check out The Vine, which has funky interiors and some rooms with a Jacuzzi. It ranks as one of Europe’s leading design hotels.

The Royal Savoy is ideally located close to Funchal’s centre, ideal if you want to explore the local area when you’re not luxuriating poolside or in the spa.

For a more traditional feel, oozing character and atmosphere, there’s Quintinha Sao Joao in the heart of Funchal and Quinta da Bela Vista, on the city’s outskirts.

Splash out for the ultimate in pampering at the Belmond Reids Palace, one of Madeira’s most celebrated hotels – ideal for your own celebratory holiday.

We work closely with a local provider to offer some exceptional and authentic tours and excursions to help you make the most out of your trip. Levada walking is extremely popular  – explore the mountains on foot along levadas (irrigation channels) and footpaths through stunning countryside on our guided levada tours and take the chance to visit the Unesco-listed Laurisilva forest.

Madeira is also a hot spot for water activities. You can explore the rich ocean landscape with a canoe, kayak or stand up paddle boarding as well as parasailing, banana boat trips and jet ski tours.

Our tours include the chance to visit some of Madeira’s quaint villages including Porto Moniz, famed for its volcanic rock swimming pools, and Santana, well-known for its A-framed cottages. We can tailor-make a private tour just for you – with no coach load of fellow holidaymakers to wait for.

Find out more about our luxury holidays in Madeira and our latest special offers. Also see the best time to visit Madeira.

Note: All the travel companies featured on this site are personally recommended by our editors. Companies pay us a flat annual fee; we don’t get any additional payments if you click on their sites or make a booking. Those fees pay for the upkeep of our site, so we can keep it current and reliable. See more about how we work.