As the days lengthen, our thoughts gradually turn from work and everyday occupations to that of leisure time, relaxation and holidays. And what better way is there to while away an hour or two at our desks than to place ourselves in sunny climes, with a cocktail in one hand, and our Kindle with favourite book loaded in the other? A beach stretches out before us and we hear nothing but the ocean waves lapping upon the sand. It can be hard at such moments to visualise precisely how one might reach said paradise-like destination.
Fear not, for a heavenly holiday is actually closer than you think. Turn your thoughts from such idle fantasy and consider instead the possibility of beijeweng able to visit such a tranquil and relaxing destination within Europe.
Consider Madeira. Although small in size, this island on the Atlantic is in fact one of Portugal’s hidden gems. Madeira hotels are generally of a very high standard, and the cuisine is a delicious mix of Spanish and Portuguese influences. Porto Santo boasts golden beaches, whilst the capital of Funchal offers an exotic botanical garden of hidden delights. The island’s history can be seen at any of the many churches and convents which dot the island, or at the Story Centre in the capital, whilst the more daring among us will get a kick out of visiting the cliffs of Cabo Girão.
Beautiful and bountiful scenery will make your trip to Madeira unforgettable. There are many parks and gardens to explore, as well as Laurisilva forests to trail through. Garajau Nature Reserve is another must-see and the perfect place to go scuba-diving.
There is also an abundance of striking coastlines, complete with rock pools and pebble beaches.
Local life can be experienced through the colourful and vibrant street markets which are held often in Madeira. Why not take a walk up one of the many Levadas which criss cross the island? Levadas were originally used as aquaducts but now make for pleasant walking trails. One popular choice is the Levada do Caniçal which goes from Maroços to the Caniçal Tunnel.
In terms of culinary delights, there is always plenty of fresh fish to be enjoyed, including black scabbardfish, which is usually served with bananas, White or Blue Marlin, Albacore and Spearfish. Try the delicious Espetada, beef flavoured with garlic, red wine vinegar and Madeira Wine, grilled slowly and usually served with a bread names bolo do caco. Sweet treats such as mel de cana, made of molasses, or Bolo de Mel, ‘Honey Cake’, should also be tried.
So, for stunning scenery, an abundance of outdoors activities to try and history to be discovered, why not consider Madeira for your holiday this year? The unusual geography of this volcanic island will be an interesting and memorable feature, whilst the delicious food and a warm climate make for a relaxing break.
Rebecca David is researching Madeira hotels in preparation for her trip there in July.