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Madeira - A subtropical island paradise

Madeira, an island located off the west coast of Morocco, holds host to stunning scenery, dramatic coastlines, quaint mountain villages and exquisite gardens. The island is well known for its excellent green spaces and exotic landscapes, whilst the cosmopolitan and vibrant town of Funchal combines historic splendour and breathtaking natural beauty with a warm, modern atmosphere. Madeira is a unique destination, offering a full range of activities and watersports for all ages, while those looking for a relaxing break can enjoy the range of natural parks to explore at your own pace. With a subtropical climate, the island’s weather is pleasant all year round, with hot summers and mild winters, making a Madeira villa the perfect option for your holiday.

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Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is situated on the southern coast of the island. The town is a natural amphitheatre edged with cliffs and mountains, it’s streets are paved with black and white mosaics and lined with jacaranda trees and gardens, making it a festive city of aromatic scents and colours. The cosmopolitan and vibrant metropolitan town combine historic splendor and breathtaking natural beauty with a thoroughly modern atmosphere. The Portuguese architecture, cafés, restaurants and history that mark this spectacular capital are just a short stroll away. The bustling city is perfect for enjoying long stunning daytime walks, breathtaking scenery and al fresco evening dining.

  • 15mins fromFunchal


Calheta is a beautiful coastal resort, featuring Madeira’s only golden sandy beach. Along the beach front, you will find a choice of very nice bars and restaurants, as well as a beautiful marina ideal for an evening stroll. A Madeira villa in this lovely family friendly resort is an ideal base for those looking to explore more of the island, with easy access to levada walks, the old sugar mill which still produces brandy and sugar syrup, and the Casa das Mudas exhibition hall. Famous for having more hours of sunshine than any other resort, Calheta is a great choice for a relaxing villa holiday.

  • 45mins fromFunchal

Palheiro Golf Resort

Set on a beautiful hillside location, with stunning views of the city of Funchal and its harbour, Palheiro is a fantastic golf and spa resort on the island of Madeira. Lush green gardens surround the villas and apartments, and for those wishing to be close to the vibrant city of Funchal, Palheiro offers the perfect base to enjoy the charming streets and exotic gardens only minutes away. Within the Palheiro Resort you can enjoy the championship golf course, unwind at the Palheiro Spa, or why not take a relaxed stroll in the famous “Quinta do Palheiro” gardens. Palheiro is the perfect holiday resort for everyone!

  • 15mins fromFunchal


Garajau is a small resort situated along the southern cliffs, with spectacular ocean views. Located just on the edge of the capital, Funchal, this resort is perfect for those looking for the activities of the capital but some peace and quiet by the sea. Just a short walk and you will find shops, bars, restaurants and cafés available, whilst the resort enjoys a great location for hiking and walking enthusiasts.

  • 10mins fromFunchal

Canico de Baixo

Made up of traditional cobbled streets, and with a handful of bars and restaurants; the charming village of Canico de Baixo is the perfect destination for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Some of the most spectacular sea views on the island can be viewed from here, and the area is also particularly popular with keen walkers. The main town of Canico is easily accessible, and offers a much wider range of shops and facilities, and the cosmopolitan capital city of Funchal is within a short drive. A pebbly beach is a great spot for relaxing days in the sun, or if water sports are more your thing this area is ideal for windsurfing, waterskiing and scuba diving.

  • 15mins fromFunchal

Faja da Ovelha

Located on the sunny south-west coast of Madeira; the small, peaceful village of Faja da Ovelha is centered around a small chapel that sits on top of a rock. Set high above the coastline, the village benefits from fabulous views and is a perfect choice for keen walkers, or those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle. A few local amenities can be found in the village, and other towns are easily accessible by car. The beautiful town of Prazeres is within a ten minute drive, and well worth a visit, and just a little further is Calheta, which offers the only sandy beach on the island, as well as a charming marina, a few restaurants and a supermarket.

  • 55mins fromFunchal


Ideally located within a ten minute drive of the airport, the lush hillside village of Gaula benefits from scenic views over the local countryside and out to sea, and is a perfect location for those interested in the beautiful Levada walks. The buzzing capital Funchal is less than 15 minutes away by car and well worth a visit, and the smaller villages of Canico and Santa Cruz are also nearby.

  • 10mins fromFunchal

Ponta Do Sol

Known as the sunniest place in Madeira, the pretty town of Ponta do Sol sits around a 30 minute drive from the vibrant capital of Funchal. Home to a pebbled beachfront, overlooked by a wash of attractive multi-coloured, terracotta roofed townhouses adorned with picture perfect Juliette balconies and shutters. As well as a beach front restaurant and bar, you can find a small selection of restaurants, cafes and bars here. From Ponta do Sol, the larger town of Ribeira Brava and Calheta with its sandy man-made beach can easily be reached within a 10 minute drive.

  • 40mins fromFunchal


The small village of Prazeres sits in a rural southwest region of Madeira, one of the most picturesque villages, surrounded by mountains, green valleys and nature trails. Here you can really embrace local life, with a few traditional restaurants for you to sample, a bakery and a supermarket. For those who wish to explore further afield, the coastal town of Calheta can be found within a 10 minute drive, where you will find a golden sandy beach, and further amenities.

  • 55mins fromFunchal

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a charming resort set on the east coast of Madeira, only a few kilometres from the airport and a 15 minute drive into the capital; Funchal, which is well worth a visit. This area is pretty and unspoilt, and ideally positioned right by the ocean. For fun-filled days out, there is a water park nearby, and wonderful flora and fauna to explore on the many Levada walks.

  • 10mins fromFunchal

Your Madeira Villa holiday

Outdoor pursuits in Madeira Image

Outdoor pursuits in Madeira

Madeira has an immense range of activities and facilities available for a packed holiday itinerary, the most popular being a number of watersports on offer. Some of these include scuba diving, surfing, sailing, water skiing, whale and dolphin spotting and many more. The island is great for trekking and walking enthusiasts – the levadas (water irrigation channels) make up a 500 mile network of spectacular routes to amble, which you can explore on a guided walk. Other popular activities include mountain biking, golf, fishing, plus a theme park and aqua park, which are open to visitors in the summer months.

Local cuisine in Madeira Image

Local cuisine in Madeira

Madeira has a wide range of restaurants abundantly spread all over the capital city and the rest of the island. There are a huge variety of restaurants offering local and international cuisine, and as with most island nations, fish is one of the most popular dishes, along with espetada - succulent pieces of beef on a skewer cooked over coals. Madeira cake is renowned all over the world, so it is no surprise that the island and its locals love their cakes and pastries. Nearly every café and restaurant has a selection of pastries and cakes to suit everyone. Why not also try the island’s Madeira wine…

Retail therapy in Madeira Image

Retail therapy in Madeira

Madeira is a shopper’s heaven with a great choice of outlets, ranging from shopping malls to miniature boutiques and local markets (fish & fruit/vegetable/flowers). The capital of the island, Funchal, is home to the largest shopping mall, Madeira Shopping, whilst in the tourist area of the town centre you will find several other malls including Dolce Vita and Maderia Forum. Most villages and towns have regular weekly markets where traditional Madeiran goods and handcrafts can be purchased. Leather goods, including shoes, rugs, Madeiran embroidery and Madeira wine can also be found all over the island.

Hints of history in Madeira Image

Hints of history in Madeira

With amazing views, outstanding landscapes and historic buildings and monuments, Madeira bursts with unique history and culture. Whether you are on the lookout or not, you will come across some amazing historic parts of the island. Visit the capital resort and wander down its white-washed streets and through beautiful gardens, and see the fifteenth and sixteenth century buildings that still stand today. Madeira has a range of museums situated in a number of resorts, detailing every inch of the islands history and culture.

Weather Guide

For the Madeira holiday season.

Average monthly temperature and rainfall for the Madeira holiday season


Not to be missed...

  • Visit the Volcanic Centre & Caves of Sao Vicente
  • Explore one of the many Natural Reserves on the island, from the seashore to the highest mountain peaks
  • Jump aboard one of the daily cruises along Madeira’s beautiful south coast or try one of the catamarans and enjoy whale & dolphin watching
  • Take a helicopter flight and experience a spectacular bird’s eye view of the island.
  • Experience a ride on one of the island’s cable cars and elevators to find remote areas and exceptionally beautiful views
  • Take a day out and visit the Madeira theme park, offering many activities, covering an area of 17 acres
  • From Funchal, take a day trip to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, in just two hours by ferry
  • Visit some of the beautiful gardens, in particular the Botanical Gardens, Palheiro Gardens and Monte Palace Gardens
  • Visit the natural rock pools on the north of the island in Porto Moniz

Villas by the Beach

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Villas Great for Privacy and Seclusion

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Villas for Large Groups

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Villas with Infinity Pools

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Villas in the Heart of the Action

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Madeira reviews verified by reevooReevoo

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Scores 8.9 out of 10 based on 131 reviews
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Views and opinions in these reviews are solely of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of James Villa Holidays (JVH). JVH provides no assurances regarding the accuracy of the information and cannot accept liability for complaints, loss or damage resulting from the article. It does not form part of the contract made when a holiday is booked with JVH and the information provided is not intended to be a rider or replacement to the booking conditions. Reference to the service or product of a third party, is not an endorsement or recommendation and JVH accepts no liability as a result of complaints, loss or damage arising from their use.
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