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If you're looking for perfect weather, sandy beaches, mountain ranges and more, then Madeira, a tiny archipelago of Portugal, could be your very own idea of paradise. The 'Island of Eternal Spring' is an easy four hour flight away from the UK and you'll soon be transported into a tropical haven of rainforests, colourful wildlife and impressive natural amphitheaters carved out by ancient volcanic activity.
Thanks to its perfect year-round temperatures of 20º-27ºC, Madeira is famed for its lush gardens and UNESCO Heritage listed forests, home to unique flora, butterflies and birds. With an overload of outdoor activities to suit every holiday body, getting out and about is the best way to see this spectacular island in all its glory. Madeira really is a once in a lifetime destination that needs to be seen to be believed; just don't forget your camera!
The island's capital, Funchal, was built around the natural geological amphitheater, giving way to a high hills leading down to a calm, sheltered bay. Funchal has been called the most beautiful city in all of Portugal ' and you won't have any doubts once you see the panoramic views, the vivid green botanical gardens and the smattering of churches and cathedrals. It's here that you'll find most of the hotels and resorts, along with the main promenade of restaurants and shops.
Canico de Baixo
If you're looking to get away from the daily grind, then head a little a little further south to the secluded seaside village of Canico de Baixo. Grab the towel then hit the water for a day's fun swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing and waterskiing. Avid scuba divers should definitely stop by Canico de Baixo to explore the maze of underwater caves and grottos.
Hike at Ponta de Sao Lourenco
For the best views on the island, head east for unspoilt scenery over the Atlantic Ocean. In this nature reserve, you'll also find impressive volcanic rock formations, local plant species unique to the island, and an extensive hiking trail which leads to a remote natural black sand beach.
Try the treats at the market
Funchal's Mercado Dos Lavradores is a two story fresh food and produce market situated in a historic old building. Start at the bottom and take in the sights of the freshly caught fish and seafood, before making your way upstairs to marvel at the local fruit like Madeiran mangos, guava and passion fruit. Tastings are encouraged and there are also small cafes nearby if you're looking to put your feet up. The market is open from Monday to Saturday with the best time to go early in the morning.
Ride the cable car
For a bird's eye view of Funchal and the surrounding villages, ride a gondola up to Monte, where you can also walk around the Monte Palace Gardens and Church. Once a grand hotel, it's now open to the public and is a pretty detour with a lake and Chinese Garden. Take the cable car back down to the Botanical Gardens to wander through the 2000-strong plants and local flocks of parrots and parakeets.
Hotel Port Mahon
For a stylish stay, Hotel Port Mahon really has it all. An old colonial-style hotel, you'll find no detail has been forgotten; there is a terrace with a harbour view, sea-view a la carte and buffet restaurant, fully serviced bar, summer entertainment and children's facilities.
Barcelo Pueblo Menorca
Back in the beachside town of Punta Prima is this 4-star resort, extremely popular with families thanks to its kid-friendly water playground, mini-golf course, games room and bicycle hire. Mums and dads can relax in the day spa, poolside, or just 350m away on the white sand beach.
A getaway to Mahon is the perfect way to see both the ships and the sands. Book now with Direct Holidays for great flight and hotel deals that will make your Mahon trip an unforgettable experience.