10 Things You Don't Know About Madeira
by Emily Benton | Updated 04 March 2020 | Posted in Portugal, Inspirations
Madeira is without a doubt one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Its carpets of forests, menacing mountains and exotic wildlife is a world away from the islands of Menorca and Majorca that we all know and love, yet its dramatic, unexplored landscapes and year-round, warm climate makes it an enviable holiday destination in Portugal. So this made us think. What do we actually know about the spectacular shores of Madeira?
1. It has six different climates...
Maderia is a semi-tropical island and as a result of its mountainous terrain, this gives the island six distinct climate zones! The Laurissilva Forest is at the highest point of the island and has been labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. The gates of hell?
When explorers first came to Madeira in 1420, they believed the dark looming cliffs of the archipelago signalled the gates of hell. Nowadays, they characterise the island's natural beauty.
3. Plants grow here that cannot be found anywhere else in the world...
Madeira Botanical Gardens is world-famous for its beautiful array of unique tropical plants. The island's sub-tropical climate and rich volcanic soil makes for the perfect growing conditions for 2,500 exotic plants. These gardens are also responsible for the conservation of indigenous Madeiran plants, some of which are very rare and extinct in the wild.
4. Off the beaten tack...
The summit of Madeira's tallest mountain and highest point on the island is Pico Rivo, which can only be reached by foot. At 1,861m tall, you may want to stay overnight at the tiny hut at the top after the gruelling hike!
5. It's wine tastes like no other...
Infamous Madeira wine gets it's unique flavour from repeatedly heating it, which was historically believed to deepen the flavour. Enjoy wine tasting in the mountain villages, surorunded by ribbons of vineyards, and you will encounter sweet as well as dry flavours, plus incredible notes such as roasted nuts, toffee and caramel.
6. It's one of the best places in the world to see whales...
The waters surrounding Madeira are teeming with marine life, which gives you the chance to see birds, dolphins and 15 different species of whales up close! The whales often use this area as safe passage for breeding. Indeed, the sperm whale can be seen all year round.
7. They really know how to party...
It's in the Guinness Book of World Records that Madeira hosts the largest New Year's Eve fireworks display in the world!
8. The best beach in Europe?
The archipelago of Madeira is known said to be known as the 'Golden Islands' and having been said to have one of the best beaches in Europe, Porto Santo is perhaps the most golden of them all. There is very little rain here so therefore Madeira makes for the perfect beach holiday.
9. Nature reserve
The Desertas Islands are small, volcanic islands that are a part of the Madeira archipelago, now designated as a nature reserve. They serve as the last refuge of the rarest type of seal in the world; the Mediterranean monk seal. Another 180 miles from Madeira, the Selvagens Islands are a recognised bird sanctuary and nature reserve for some of the rarest plants on the planet. Here, the number of human visitors are limited by law.
10. The most famous export? Cristiano Ronaldo...
Perhaps Madeira's most famous, as well as the most expensive export, is world class footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who was born in the capital city of Madeira, Funchal. Need we say more?!
“The sea on one side, the mountains on the other, and between these two majestic splendours, the city smiles like a child sleeping, safe and warm, between its parents.” - Júlio Dinis
Take a look at our villas in Madeira!