Set in a bright blue sea, some 400 miles off the coast of Africa, lies the lush, volcanic Portuguese island of Madeira. Just 36 miles long and 14 miles wide, it is an island of outstanding natural beauty. Its delightful warm climate makes Madeira a sub-tropical paradise where the vegetation is verdant and rich.
It is not surprising that Madeira has long been popular with the British. Its climate of warm summers and winters is just right and over the years it has become an ideal holiday destination for those seeking peace and relaxation and, as you would expect with a benevolent sub-tropical climate, the island has a remarkable variety of vegetation, fruit and flowers. Every inch of Madeira’s workable land is terraced and cultivated, some fields are so steep you would think they were planted by steeplejacks, rather than farmers. Much of the island is assigned as a conservation area where rare flowers cover the island like a green mantle. Orchids, bougainvillaea, lilies, hydrangeas, magnolias, jacarandas and azaleas bloom effortlessly throughout the year, and delight the eye at every turn. At Monte, a fashionable hill town above Funchal, we visit the Monte Palace Gardens, glorious gardens that surround the château-like Monte Palace. Getting there is an experience in itself, as the cable car ride from Funchal to Monte offers stunning views over the harbour and bay.
We also offer an optional full day excursion around the island - visiting a series of lovely villages, including Camara de Lobos, where Sir Winston Churchill painted the sea cliffs at Cabo Girao in 1950.
• Tour of the Botanical Gardens, an introduction to the flora of Madeira
• Cable-car ride to Monte
• Full day tour of the island (optional)
• Afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace Hotel
Monday 9 October 2017
Assemble at Bristol Airport in time to check in for our direct morning flight to Funchal, Madeira. On arrival we will be met by our local guide and our coach. We will then take the 10-minute cable car ride from the centre of Funchal to the fashionable hill town of Monte, which offers splendid views over the harbour and the bay. We will visit the glorious Monte Palace Gardens which surround the chateau-like Palace.
Following our visit we will transfer to our accommodation at the 5-star Pestana Casino Park Hotel, Funchal. A welcome buffet is included in the hotel this evening.
Tuesday 10 October 2017
Breakfast at the hotel. We depart this morning on a visit to the Quinta do Palheiro (formally known as Blandy Gardens). Established over several generations, the gardens are most famous for their camellias, though there is something for everyone with green fingers, including a wonderful spread of agapanthus and arum and belladonna lilies in season. We also visit the Botanical Gardens, which are set on the steep hillsides north east of Funchal. This will be a wonderful introduction to the flowers of Madeira as we will see almost every plant that grows here.
In the afternoon, we will visit the famous Reid’s Palace Hotel. Since it opened in 1891, this luxurious hotel has welcomed the rich and famous, from the Empress of Austria to Sir Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw. After a look around the lush gardens that surround the hotel, we will enjoy a delicious afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, home-made pastries, jam, butter and cream and your choice of tea.
Evening is at leisure
Wednesday 11 October 2017
After breakfast the day is free to explore Funchal at leisure. Alternatively, join our optional full day tour of the island. We will visit the picturesque villages of Camara de Lobos, which was made famous by Sir Winston Churchill in 1950 when he painted the sea cliffs at Cabo Girao; Ribiera Brava, (wild river), which was one of the earliest settlements in Madeira; Encumeada, a 1000m high mountain pass where fascinating cloud displays can often be seen; the coastal town of Sao Vicente, popular with surfers and sunbathers, and Porto Moniz, which has long been famous for its natural bathing pools and wonderful scenery, where lunch will be served. In the afternoon we continue via Santana, a pretty village characterised by its thatched houses; the forests and high plateau of Paul da Serra and finally Ponta do Sol, which as the name implies is the sunniest part of the island.
A farewell buffet will be served in the hotel in the evening.
Thursday 12 October 2017
After breakfast we must check out of the hotel – please ensure any extras are paid and take your luggage to the coach. The coach will transfer us to Funchal airport in time to check in for our morning flight back to Bristol, where on arrival the group will disperse.
- 3 nights’ bed and breakfast at the 5-star Pestana Casino Park Hotel in Funchal. All rooms have private facilities
- Welcome and farewell buffet dinners at the hotel
- Return flights from Bristol to Funchal (flights are also available from other airports on request at a reasonable supplement)
- Afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace Hotel
- Visits to the Botanical, Palheiro and Monte Palace gardens; cable car ride and visit to Monte
- All coach transfers in Madeira
- Services of local Madeira expert Joao Camacho as tour manager
- Single room supplement £135.00
- Insurance £39.00 (under 65); £78.00 (65-74); £117.00 (75-90)
- Optional full-day island excursion On request