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The great escape


Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

Voted Europe’s best island destination at the World Travel Awards last year, the Portuguese archipelago off the west coast of Africa is on the UK’s green list. With “beach bars, tropical treks, great breakers and a buzzy capital”, it’s the most sought-after destination for Brits this summer, says The Guardian. Check the latest travel advice here.

Places of note Arco da Calheta, on Madeira’s south coast, feels “more like Costa Rica”, with an abundance of mango and avocado trees. There’s a sandy beach and an art museum perched on a cliff above it. Most of the island’s beaches are pebbly, but Seixal, in the north, is known for its black sand. Just a few miles away from Seixal are the lava pools of Porto Moniz. Surfers should head to laid-back Porto da Cruz or Paul do Mar for serious waves. The levadas are former irrigation channels turned into hiking trails: the 11-mile Caminho do Pinaculo e Folhadal is a favourite, with mountains, waterfalls and exceptional views.

Famous faces Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira’s capital, Funchal, and recently bought a £7m house there. And Christopher Columbus lived with his wife on Porto Santo, an island with glorious golden sands, reached by plane or ferry.

Weather Madeira has a mild subtropical climate, but the mountainous terrain means you may see snow on the peaks while enjoying warm, sunny weather at sea level.

To eat In Funchal, check out the Mercado dos Lavradores, a food and flower market in a modernist building, and head to Barreirinha for sundowners and burgers overlooking the water. Bar Corujeira is a local favourite in Calheta, with a €5.50 dish of the day – usually rice, salad, avocado and fish. A Pipa in Porto da Cruz does great fresh tuna. You can watch the sunset from Maktub, a surfer bar in Paul do Mar.

1 To stay

A mile from the centre of Funchal, Estalagem Quinta da Casa Branca is set in stunning botanical gardens with banana trees and colourful bougainvillea. There are five luxury suites in the manor house and 40 more in a modern glass and steel extension. The hotel has a pool, a health centre and two restaurants. Doubles from £160, B&B.

2 To rent

On a clifftop six miles east of Funchal, Villa Albatroz sleeps eight and has a pool, a garden, a balcony and a barbecue. It’s a 10-minute walk to the beach and guests can use the facilities at the Albatroz Beach and Yacht Club, a seven-minute drive away – including the freshwater pool, consistently voted one of the world’s most beautiful. Contact the villa for pricing.

3 To Airbnb

Glampers will love this cliff-edge tepee for two in a banana forest near Ponta do Sol. Fall asleep to the sound of a waterfall and lapping waves in the king-size bed – then freshen up in the hut next door, which has a private bathroom and a kitchenette. There’s a freshwater pool, a terrace and a barbecue. From £403 for three nights.

4 To buy

This glass-fronted villa in a secluded spot near Camara de Lobos, on the island’s south coast, has three bedrooms, a cinema room, a games room and panoramic sea views – shown off to spectacular effect by the infinity pool. €3.75m.