Madeira Destination Guide

Dubbed “The Hawaii of Europe,” Madeira beguiles all who visit: verdant slopes, balmy temperatures, arboreal stretches, and craggy coastlines help cultivate the island’s nickname. Despite being part of Portugal, Madeira is more proximate to Africa than Europe, a further-south privilege that sees the isle accumulate more sunshine than the European continent. The island is on the come up — read on below for our official Madeira starter pack.

Where to Stay:

Savoy Palace

A five-star cosmopolitan boutique resort, the Savoy Palace — a member of Leading Hotels of the World — is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Madeira’s capital Funchal. Hyper-luxe service, lounge-chair-lined pools, plus several restaurants & bars are just a fraction of what you can expect at this paradisal haven. When it comes to imitable bar spaces, Galaxia takes the crown — it’s designed to resemble outer-space via its dark lighting and constellation-copy ceilings dotted with oodles of faux shining stars. 

Reid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel

This historical hotel has welcomed a wealth of notable figures throughout its more-than-a-century-old existence, including former British prime minister Winston Churchill, who found the island to be the perfect respite. Premises hallmarks include its herbaceous garden, saltwater pool fringing the sea, plus suites & rooms’ knockout views of Funchal’s coastline.  

Where to Eat:


Nikkei is a Pan-Asian restaurant atop Savoy Palace. Japanese dishes with a twist, hand-crafted culinary techniques, and an omakase or á la carte option are what you can expect here.

Espaço Funchal

Those who love trying the traditional food of the places they visit should elect to dine at Espaço Funchal, right in the buzz of the city. Fellow carnivores, heed our advice when we tell you to order the beef skewer. 

Where to Drink: 

Musa Lounge Bar

This modern lounge & bar is one of Funchal’s trendiest spots to grab a drink come nighttime, with its stylish décor and menu packing different creative cocktails. The setting emblazons checkered floors, a blue backdrop behind the bar embossed with three symmetrical mirrors atop rows of spirits, plus swarthy wooden tables stocked with mustard yellow chairs.

What to Do:

Sunrise Above the Clouds

As a travel journalist, I’m lucky to have been around the world, which makes the following a bold statement: Seeing the sunrise above the clouds in Madeira was one of the most mesmerizing experiences of my life. You can do it with any of the hotels mentioned above (in addition to local tour operators). When arranged through Savoy Palace, they set up a full-on breakfast spread for us to watch the sunrise from a towering peak 45 minutes away from the hotel. 

Monte Palace Madeira

An erstwhile estate with gardened grounds and elevated views of Funchal, this lush botanic wonderland makes for a zen-filled amble. Mosey around for an hour here, checking out all the flora. Easy as pie, you can get here by taking a cable car from downtown Funchal up to Monte Palace. 

Piscinas Naturais Velhas

These natural swimming pools sit on the north side of the island. An abundance of exposed lava rock here creates curvaceous coves that help curb the ferocity of the inflow and outflow of the fringing Atlantic, spawning the perfect environment for saltwater bathing sans waves.


When in Funchal, stroll down the oh-so-adorable Rua da Santa Maria. The lively street is flush with cute restaurants, bars, and a handful of stores. Pop into the Madeira Duck Store — a shop packed with shelved rubber duckies sporting all different colors. Right off the street is Restaurante de Fado Casa Portuguesa, which hosts dinner and a fado show, Portugal’s most famous music style.  

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