An Introduction to Madeira for new parents to the island

Madeira (meaning 'wood' in Portuguese) is the largest island in a small archipelago of the same name in the Atlantic Ocean. This Portuguese possession is situated on the parallel 33ºN - which puts it on roughly the same latitude as Casablanca and Bermuda - and is 796 km west of the coast of north Africa. The island is 57 km long (east - west) and, at its broadest, 23 km wide (north -south), with a total area of 736.8 km². This makes it comparable in size to Rhodes or Minorca. The island is a one and a half hours flight to Lisbon.

The archipelago, discovered by the Portuguese in 1418, is made up of the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo and the uninhabited islands of the Selvagens and the Desertas.

Despite the island's separation from mainland Europe it has a superb digital communications system, an excellent road and tunnel infrastructure, a modern airport and world class business and leisure services. Connections to the island of Porto Santo can be made by air or ferryboat.

A beautiful view over the city of Funchal


Because of its privileged geographical position and mountainous relief the islands have a remarkably mild climate. Average temperatures of 22ºC in the summer and 16ºC in the winter, and a moderate level of humidity, confer upon these islands an exceptional subtropical climate. The sea water temperature is also very mild - influenced by the warm Gulf current: attributing averages of 22ºC in the summer and 18ºC in the winter.

Travelling to Madeira

Parents and visitors arriving from countries that are part of the European Union and which are also members of the Shengen Treaty are granted unrestricted entry. Visitors from member states that are not signatories to this treaty need an identification document. International visitors should have a valid passport and, in some cases, a visa to visit or a residence permit to reside or work in Madeira. There is no need for any kind of vaccination.

Special Times in Madeira

Very special times to visit Madeira are Christmas - filled with music and lights, New Years' Eve which offers the fabulous fireworks and the spectacular Carnival before Easter. The most visited festival in Madeira is the Flower Festival in early spring.

National Holidays

1st JanuaryNew Years’ Day
25th AprilCommemoration of the "April 25th" revolution
1st MayLabour Day
10th June Day of Camões and Portugal
15th AugustThe Assumption of Our Lady
5th OctoberRepublic Day
1st NovemberAll Saints Day
1st DecemberRestoration of Independence Day
25 DecemberChristmas Day

On the 1st of July Madeira celebrates its own public holiday commemorating its autonomy. Religious festivities, with variable dates, are also celebrated on the islands.