Drama and beauty, hot sun and cool surfing: how Madeira stole my heart


Adam Turner

Despite its image as pensioner central, the Portuguese island now on the UK’s green list offers beach bars, tropical treks, great breakers and a buzzy capital

Madeira, voted Europe’s best island destination at the World Travel Awards in 2020, is the most sought-after place to go this summer. Flight bookings shot up by 625% last Friday, according to Skyscanner, while lastminute.com also noted a 1,131% increase in searches for this “pearl of the Atlantic” in the days following the announcement of England’s travel green list.

This is largely because the island is one of few traditional British beach holiday destinations on the list (mainland Portugal and Gibraltar being the others). It also helps that visitors can get a free PCR test on arrival or departure. However, that’s not all the rocky archipelago off the west coast of Africa has to offer, as I found out when I visited for five weeks in November last year.

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