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

Adam Turner spent 5 weeks in Madeira last November escaping the constant game shows on TV he watched with his Nan.

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.

Despite being warned off by various thirtysomething friends, who claimed Madeira was for “old people”, I instantly fell for the island. The fact that I’d been living at home in Middlesbrough since the pandemic started, spending long days drinking tea and watching gameshows I wish never existed with my nan, probably helped. But I was surprised and enchanted by the island’s drama and beauty – steep valleys covered in luscious green punctuated by pink houses that clung tightly to hillsides.

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