|Stepping the World: Travel Channel documentary on the island of Madeira, filmed in two-parts.|
|The Annual Carnival in Funchal Madeira: February 2016.|
The paradise island of Madeira, known as the “Pearl of the Atlantic,” is just 35 miles long by 13 miles wide and approximately 300 miles off the North-West coast of Africa.
Discovered by the Portuguese in 1418 this volcanic island, with its rich soil and truly luxurious fauna, is one of Europe’s oldest tourist destinations and, washed by warm waters of the Gulf Stream, Madeira is blessed with warm comfortable summers and mild winters, making it an ideal holiday destination all year round.
The British discovered Madeira as a holiday island more than 100 years ago and it became a favourite retreat for Winston Churchill, where he wrote one of his short stories – inspired by the Island “Mr Keegan’s Elopement.”
The capital, Funchal, is said to have been so named because of the abundance of fennel (funcho) found growing there. Located in a geographically unique area, Funchal rises from its natural harbour to a height of almost 1200m providing the natural shelter that once attracted the first settlers.
Travel: Madeira International Airport, about 22km from Funchal, was subject to a major redevelopment in September 2000 and, with new capacity for 3.5 million passengers per year, all types of passenger aircraft are now able to land and take off from this airport. Year-round flights are available from most UK airports, including: Glasgow; Birmingham; Manchester; Cardiff; Luton, and London Gatwick.
Road transport on the island is largely trouble-free and a good road and transport network now serves practically all points of the island.
Communication: Madeira is well developed in terms of IT networks and telephone communications. The international access code is +351, and the regional area code is 291.
Visitors arriving from the European Union (members of the Schengen Treaty), are granted unrestricted entry. Visitors from member states that are not signatories to this treaty require an identification document. International visitors should have a valid passport, and in some cases, a visa to visit Portugal might be requested. There is no need for any kind of vaccination.
Customs Formalities: Products leaving the island are not subject to any limitation. However, if a quantity is considered excessive, the customs officers might require a document proving that the articles are for personal use.
Currency: € EURO
Shops are open from 9:00 to 13:00hrs and from 15:00 to 19:00hrs, Monday to Friday. On Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00hrs. Some shopping centres are open from 10:00 to 22:00hrs every day. Major Credit cards accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops.
Banks are open from 8:30 to 15:00hrs, Monday to Friday. Foreign Exchange offices work from 9:00 to 13:00hrs and from 14:00 to 19:00hrs, every day, except on Saturdays when they open from 9:00 to 19:00hrs. Outside these periods, the hotels can make currency exchange.
Post: The main post office, or “Correios de Portugal”, is at the centre of Funchal, at the Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian. There are daily collections at 11:00 and 15:00 from the post boxes placed all over the island.
Chemists: Chemists are open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 13:00 and from 15:00 to 19:00, on Saturdays from 9:00 to 13:00. In addition, at the door of every pharmacy you will find advisory notes about the pharmacies currently open.
Medical Centres: There are 67 health centres situated around the Madeira island, and there are two hospitals in Funchal.
Police: The police presence is very discreet. If you need help, dial 112. There is a Lost Property section in Funchal, at Rua da Infância, 28, Tel.: 291 208200
Tips: In hotels and restaurants the bill normally includes service. The normal rate for good service is 10%.
Electricity: The electric current is 220 volts.
Water: There is plenty of water in Madeira and it is of an excellent drinking standard