Madeira, with its UNESCO World Heritage Forest, is a subtropical Portuguese island located in the Atlantic Ocean at 600 km from the coast of Morocco. It is green, mountainous and offers breath-taking landscapes. The beauty of the island and the potential for events are just amazing. If you have never been in Madeira, you will be blown away! Why not consider Madeira for your next event?
The island is very well connected with daily flights of only 90 minutes from Lisbon and many more direct flights from major European cities. CITITRAVEL DMC team went on a trip to Madeira in November 2020, to get updated on the destination.
Curious to explore Madeira “virtually” with us?
In this travel journal you will learn all about our experiences and impressions, because one thing is for sure: Madeira is both a safe and very unique destination, offering amazing nature, delicious gastronomy, authentic culture, stunning views, and excellent hotels! Don’t forget to watch our video «From Madeira with Love» which you’ll find at the end of the article (scroll down).
Destination Management Madeira Islands: a virtual journey
Before leaving the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, our team had to take a PCR Test (to be taken within 72 hours before boarding*), which is currently mandatory if you’re going to visit Madeira. If you travel from another country, the Madeira government will only pay for the tests once the passenger arrives on the island, having to be quarantined until the test results are obtained. Good news: all CITITRAVEL team members were clear to go!
*According the health and saftey recommendations by the Portuguese Government in November 2020 (this may change over time).
Day 1 – From Lisbon to Madeira
Flight with TAP Air
Our team met at the airport of Lisbon (Portugal) at 1:00 p.m. for their departure to Madeira. At the airport we encountered fewer people than usual, but we were pleased to see that it had all the necessary procedures in place to ensure the health of travellers. Sanitizer gel could be found everywhere, all people wore a mask, and it was easy to maintain a safety distance of 2 meters between each other. We flew with the airline company TAP, which has several flights to Funchal (FNC) from various destinations. It was a very comfortable flight, with enough space for the legs. Once we were on the plane, the Cititravel team could sit together in a special row of the plane (knowing we all had taken the PCR test before, this did not form any risk). After 90 minutes in the air, we landed at Cristiano Ronaldo airport, named after the island’s natural footballer. The exit area was managed by employees of the Madeira tourism association who’s task it was to guarantee that all the people who arrived indeed could demonstrate the negative result of the COVID-19 test. By the way: Did you know that Madeira won the World Travel Award “Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2020” for the fifth time in a row (and 7th time in total)?
The Hotel Savoy Palace (Funchal)
From the airport we went to our accommodation for the coming days: Hotel Savoy Palace, a 5-star hotel with a unique atmosphere of luxury and comfort. Located in the city Centre of Funchal, this hotel has a total of 580 rooms which can be used for your event (hotel rooms & vacation apartments). Furthermore, this hotels features a Galáxia Skypool, a Solarium, a premium Lounge (including cocktail bar, a jacuzzi & infinity pool), 30 Events Spaces, 11 Meeting Rooms, 1 Ballroom, 22.839 sq. feet in total of event rooms, for up to 1.400 people.
A fantastic restaurant for events
After the visit around the premised of the hotel, we had a meeting with the Madeira promotion association team where we met Duarte and Diogo, our hosts on the island, who told us about all the charms that the island has to offer. Up next was dinner at “Do Forte” restaurant, a fantastic restaurant for events, with spectacular food and excellent service. This restaurant has 2 terraces with views over the Bay of Funchal, with a capacity for up to 100 people in cocktail setting, several interior spaces, and an outdoor tent for events.
Day 2 – Sightseeing in Funchal
Funchal: a green capital
We started the day with a buffet breakfast at the Hotel, next to its impressive pool. The weather was a bit cloudy and rainy (that happens on the Islands but thanks to this we have such an amazing nature!). Our local tour guides were a bit worried if we would not like to go sightseeing while it was raining, but “a little bit of rain never hurt anyone”! First, we visited the Municipal Garden of Funchal, where we were amazed by the great diversity of tree species that grew there. Trees from all over the world, South Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Madagascar etc. This shows the fertility of these lands and the blessed climate if the island.
Blandy’s: a winehouse with history
Our first stop was at Blandy’s, a house with more than 200 years of history from an English family that developed and commercialized Madeira wine. Undoubtedly, this is a “must see” on the island, and it’s perfectly adapted to receive groups. Even though it was still morning, we had the opportunity to taste two of the four types of wines they sell.
A local delicacy: Scabbard fish
After a short walk we made our second stop at a local bar, where we could taste a local specialty: a tapa of Scabbard fish. This is the typical fish of the island. It has a black color and look quite monstruous. The actual color in the sea (where it swims at least 600 meters deep) is white, but due to the fact that they raise it to the surface at great speed (pressure change) is changes color.
Chocolate shop experience
Our third stop was at UAU CACAU, a local chocolate shop, where we were able to taste 2 exquisite chocolates. And if that wasn’t enough, we also made a fourth stop at the Fabrica de Sto Antonio, a local biscuit factory where you can enjoy local biscuits with jam from the island, as well as cane honey pastry accompanied by a fresh passion fruit juice. This was just the energy boost we needed!
Colourful Fruit Market
Then we visited the fruit market, a beautiful and colourful place full of tropical fruits from all over the world, a place that you cannot miss on your visit to Madeira!
Views over Funchal
In the afternoon, we took the cable car to go up to the mountains and enjoy amazing views over Funchal! We also visited the church of Nossa Senhora do Monte.
Carros de Cesto from “Monte”
To get back down, we used a very particular transport, probably one of the biggest tourist attractions in Madeira: Carros de Cesto! These are sledges of wicker, handmade by skilful craftsmen and master carpenters, who use a technique and artisan method from the mid 1800’s. The sledges are controlled by two “Carreiros” (the drivers), who are dressed in white and wear a straw hat. They are able to control the carts on roads with an inclination of up to 20%! A very fun experience and contrary to what it may seem, very safe, since they have never had an accident. Our team surely enjoyed the ride down the mountain! At the end of the descent by the “cestos”, a Jeep was waiting for us to take us back to the hotel.
“Espetadas” & traditional dance
Evening dinner was arranged at the restaurant “O Lagar”, a great place to taste more of the local dishes, such as the espetadas (pieces of beef seasoned in salt and garlic, then skewered on a laurel stick), accompanied by a show of the traditional “bailinho” (a dance) of the island.
Day 3: Discover the nature of Madeira
Pico de Arieiro
“The early bird catches the worm”, so today we got up early to do a Jeep Tour. We drove up the mountains to reach the Pico de Arieiro, at approximately 1860 meters of altitude. Here you can really see the different microclimates of the island, as we went from a comfortable 20 degrees in Funchal to putting our jackets on when we reached the top. During the tour, we enjoyed the beautiful views over the island!
Then we headed north, making a quick stop at Quinta do Furão, a beautiful 4-star property, ideal for those who love nature and trekking. We also had the opportunity of planting a native tree here, as an act of reforestation and protection for the local tree species in Madeira.
Engenho do Norte – rum tasting
After lunch, we went to “Engenho do Norte” for a rum tasting. We tried at least 5 or 6 different varieties of Madeira rum, of different ages and even one that aged underwater in the sea! Apart from the two months per year when the production of rum takes place, the rest of the year this venue can be used for private events!
Fresh fish restaurant
After this intense day, we went to the hotel to take a shower and get ready to go to Maktub, a restaurant in the west of the island (around 50 minutes drive from our hotel in Funchal), but this is very worth the ride knowing you can witness one of the best sunsets in Madeira here! It is an informal and cozy restaurant, perhaps it seems more like the type of place you would only stop to have a mojito, but you’ll be surprised! We were captured from the first moment by the warm welcome of the staff and we can probably say this place has some of the freshest fish on the island!
Day 4: Our last day in Funchal
This being our last day, we took advantage of the morning to go back for a walk around the city center have a look at the different restaurants and bars here. One of our favorites was Beer Garden, a restaurant located on the seafront with views over the port. We enjoyed delicious seafood and shellfish, as well as the relaxed atmosphere in Funchal Harbour.
Then after lunch, we said goodbye to our own colleague Duarte, a great expert of the island, who was going to stay here for a few more days. He is originally from Madeira, meaning you cannot ask for a better MICE expert with local expertise here!
Video “From Madeira with Love”
We invite you to watch our video “From Madeira with love”, and please don’t hesitate to contact us in case you’re interested in organizing your event in Madeira, or any other destination in Portugal.
Greetings from us all and hope to see you soon in Madeira!
Christian, Pascale, Paco, Duarte, and Alena