4:38pm Friday 30th April 2010
The Portuguese island of Madeira is actually the peak of a mountain nestled deep on the ocean bed. Despite being Portuguese, Madeira lies just above the Canary Islands off the east coast of Africa. From the depths of the azure blue sea, through blossoming vineyards and flowering orchards to the tip of the lush green mountain, the island is awash with colour. Madeira holidays boast year round sunshine and a host of wonderful picturesque villages. The best way to see just how beautiful this island is would be to take the cable car to the top of the mountain. Starting in the Parque Almirante Reis, in the islands capital Funchal, the cars run up to the beautiful little village of Monte high above the city. The best way to get back to the bottom is by the 'snowless' toboggan run, an exhilarating experience and one definitely not to be missed on all Madeira holidays.
Madeira holidays are also extremely popular with walkers who can follow trails through scenic countryside. The island has earned the nickname 'floating garden' due to its beautiful flora and fauna much of which is native to the island.
There are no beaches to speak of on Madeira holidays however the neighbouring island of Porto Santo has a glorious 5 mile stretch of soft golden sand and boat trips are fun and frequent.
Funchal is the islands capital and most popular resort with an impressive cathedral right at the very heart of the town. The winding cobbled streets offer pavement cafes and modest shopping alongside some very interesting museums. Nightlife on the island is quiet, with probably the liveliest area being Funchal with its good selection of bars and a couple of good clubs.
Accommodation on Madeira holidays is generally upmarket with mainly four star hotels providing bed and breakfast or half board options. Most of them have beautiful views over the Atlantic Ocean or picturesque island.
Madeira is also famous for its embroidery, cake and wine, and the latter two simply must be sampled whilst enjoying your Madeira holidays. The Guinness Book of Records also credits Madeira with the world's biggest New Years Eve fireworks show.
The island's motto translates as 'Of all islands, the most beautiful and free' and it's very easy to see why.
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