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Madeira – Portuguese volcanic archipelago

The Portuguese islands of Madeira sit out far to the west of Portugal, where the Atlantic ocean crashes against the sandy beaches, reefs and the famous 2,000ft Cabo Girao cliff.

While Madeira is a short haul destination (around 3 hours from London), it feels like a far away place – the climate provides mild winters and hot summers with warm sea temperatures, ideal for water sports in the clear blue waters. The volcanic origins of the island provide dramatic landscapes that allow for great views as you explore Madeira. You’ll find tropical plants and wildlife that will make you feel like you’re a million miles from home.

Madeira is a great destination for an activity holiday or a beach holiday. Thanks to the ocean you can water ski, swim, sail and even go dolphin spotting. There is also the chance to explore Garajau’s Nature Reserve – an underwater nature reserve and diving site (info), rich in sea life.

If after the swimming and exploring the island, you find you still have energy, the best place to head is Funchal where there are bars and some clubs, however night life on the island is very quiet in the week.

Madeira is a great spot to head if you love nature, food, and history – with an impressive collection of historical monuments for such a small place. If you have a younger crowd, some great places to take the kids are Madeira Theme Park which has a boat lake, train, and attractions, and also the Santa Cruz Aqua Park.

The main language is Portuguese and the Currency is the Euro.

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