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6 Reasons Why This Beautiful European Island Is Breaking All-Time Tourism Records

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Sometimes, the best travel destinations are hidden in plain sight.

While Portugal may attract many thousands of visitors to its mainland to visit beautiful cities such as Lisbon and Porto and the sensational beaches of the Algarve, it has one lesser-known island destination that’s pulling in the visitors like never before.

That place is Madeira, an Atlantic island that is part of an archipelago of the same name, and it’s really having a moment in 2023.

solo female traveler looks out at amazing view in madeira

Most recently, Madeira experienced a huge uptick in the number of visitors – October alone was 62% up in terms of number of visitors compared to the same month in 2019.

So, just why is this island paradise becoming one of the trendiest places to visit for travelers right now?

A Great Winter Sun Option

While it is an autonomous region of Portugal, Madeira is located further south than the mainland, out in the Atlantic Ocean on a similar latitude to Marrakesh in Morocco.

The island enjoys warm and pleasant weather pretty much all year round, with the average temperature hitting about 78F in July and about 66F in January.

A microclimate means it stays mild in winter while cooling winds in the summer help temperatures remain bearable.

Aerial view from the highest Cabo Girao, Madeira island, Portugal

Madeira and the other islands within this small archipelago feature pristine beaches, dramatic mountains, and lush forested interiors that provide the perfect balance of scenery for any trip.

It’s Got The Travel Industry Talking

Madeira certainly seems to be a hot topic in travel at the moment, which was proven when it was recently named World’s Leading Island Destination for 2023 at the World Travel Awards.

aerial view of camara de lobos on madeira

Madeira beat off competition from popular destinations such as Bali, Jamaica, Barbados, and Sardinia to claim this prize, which is no mean feat.

Digital Nomads Are Loving It

Madeira is fast becoming a favorite hangout for digital nomads – at the time of writing, Nomadlist ranks it as the 21st best destination in the world for this lifestyle.

It boasts a relatively decent cost of living, great internet connection, excellent safety for travelers, and plenty of fun things to do in your downtime.

As if to prove its credentials on this front, Madeira is hosting the ultimate digital nomad festival from 7-13 December in 2023.

A young female tourist on Ponta do Sol Beach in eastern Madeira in summer copy

This event is designed to help digital nomads network and invest in themselves for personal and professional growth – and you can even get money off a ticket with Travel Off Path.

Still Relatively Affordable

Portugal is generally a cheap country to visit, and Madeira largely follows along with this trend.

Latest figures from Lonely Planet reckon that you can enjoy takeaway lunch for as little as $5, a dinner for two for about $40, and public transport should only cost you a few dollars a time.

Accommodation is where things can become a little more expensive, with a night in a hostel averaging about $60 a night, while a hotel or Airbnb can be more like $120 a night.

mountain village on madeira island portugal

However, it is possible to rent long-term accommodation (if you’re staying for longer as a digital nomad, for example) at more favorable rates.

Festivals For Every Season

Where Madeira really comes into its own is its packed schedule of festivals and celebrations.

In March, you can enjoy the annual Grand Carnival and parade, and then later in Spring, the city of Funchal explodes into color for the annual Flower Festival.

The Atlantic Festival is the main event of June, which usually features a dazzling fireworks display and plenty of live music.

Then, later in the summer, you can enjoy one of Madeira’s most famous products at the annual Wine Festival.

flower festival in funchal madeira

There are also huge celebrations for Christmas and New Year here, making it a true all-year-round destination.

Getting There Is Easier Than You Think

Despite Madeira being quite remote and being somewhat of a hidden gem among Portugal’s iconic destinations, it is relatively easy to reach for American travelers.

plane landing at funchal airport in madeira

There are direct flights to this sun-soaked beauty spot from major cities such as New York, and the flight time is only about 7 hours.

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