Food & Drink
Madeira has a huge choice of fresh fish in the restaurants, as you'd expect from an island. Espada is a fish you have to try when you're here, mostly served with a fried banana or sometimes a passion fruit sauce. Or the beef skewers, Espetada, flavoured with garlic and salt and cooked over charcoal. Bolo do Caco is served everywhere... the local garlic bread. Say "yes" when you're asked if you want it with a meal! Try the grilled limpets sizzling in their shells, called Lapas... or ask for the limpet rice. While you're here you have to try a glass of the local drink, Poncha... sugar cane rum, honey and lemon juice. Bolo de Mel is the traditional honey cake, try it with a glass of Madeira.
Festivals & Celebrations
New Year's Eve starts with the huge firework display across the bay of Funchal. In February, it's Carnival, with processions through the streets. In Spring, the Flower Festival with parades, floats and dancers of all ages as well as floral displays along the main streets. In June, the Atlantic Festival every Saturday night with more firework displays by the marina. Christmas turns Funchal into a magical wonderland as thousands of lights fill the trees and streets. Car rallies, vintage car displays, the Film Festival and many gastronomic events throughout the year across the island, alongside all the religious festivals, means that there is rarely a month when something isn't celebrated here.
Flowers and forests
Madeira's sub-tropical climate and rich volcanic soil help to provide perfect growing conditions for a wide variety of plants and flowers. There are many gardens worth visiting, including the Botanical Garden, Monte Palace Tropical Gardens and The Palheiro Garden (also known as Blandy's) among the most well-known. In addition, there are specialist rose and orchid gardens and many others, some free to enter, that you might not often see in the guide books. Madeira's temperate climate means that there is always something in flower throughout the year. Don't miss the beautiful and ancient Laurissilva Forest, covering a huge area of Madeira. It's recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.