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Photos show why the Madeira Islands were just named the best island destination in Europe for the 7th time in 8 years

Summary List Placement The Madeira Islands were recently named the best island destination in Europe for the seventh time in eight years by the World Travel Awards. They have also been named the best island destination in the world five times. The Madeira Islands, which are part of Portugal, are an...

Panoramic view over Camara de Lobos, Madeira island, Portugal

Summary List Placement

The Madeira Islands were recently named the best island destination in Europe for the seventh time in eight years by the World Travel Awards. They have also been named the best island destination in the world five times.

The Madeira Islands, which are part of Portugal, are an archipelago of small islands located in the Atlantic Ocean about 350 miles from Morocco. The two main inhabited islands are Madeira and Porto Santo.

With incredible natural pools carved out of lava rocks, gorgeous cliffs overlooking the ocean, and charming towns, it’s no wonder that the Madeira Islands are repeatedly considered the top European island destination.

These photos show why they’re so popular.

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Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Madeira Islands are a volcanic archipelago about 300 miles west of Morocco.

Source: CNN

The islands have gorgeous cliffs that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. The scenery is spectacular.

A glass-bottomed lookout at Cabo Girao is perched atop the highest sea cliff in Europe.

Source: Visit Madeira

The average temperature in Madeira ranges from about 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to 62 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. In other words, it always feels like a balmy spring day.

Source: Madeira Web

There are natural lava pools all over the islands. The baths at Porto Moniz, a series of gorgeous natural pools that seem to blend right into the ocean, are a popular attraction.

Source: Visit Madeira

There are also beautiful beaches, like Calheta beach.

The waters are clear and warm — perfect for swimming.

There’s also plenty of marine life to explore by swimming, snorkeling, or diving.

Windsurfing is usually popular here.

Source: Visit Madeira

As is paragliding, at least pre-pandemic.

Source: Visit Madeira

Madeira is full of levadas, a system of stone irrigation channels that criss-cross the island and transport water. These levadas also make for great hiking trails.

Source: Visit Portugal

Some of the levadas, like Levada do Caldeirão Verde, pass under waterfalls.

Source: Visit Madeira

Under normal circumstances, one of the best ways to get around the islands is by boat.

Funchal, Madeira’s largest city, is beautiful.

Funchal is home to gorgeous old churches, wide, leafy boulevards, and stunning squares.

It is also hilly and known for its clever basket-like sleds, steered by “carreiros,” or cart drivers, which you can take downhill.

Source: Carreiros do Monte

It also has tons of colorful markets, which are usually bustling with locals buying fresh produce, at least pre-pandemic.

Source: Madeira Web

And let’s not forget the incredible views.

The stunning, 753,473 square-foot Monte Tropical Gardens is a must-visit.

Source: Monte Palace

Madeira Island is also famous for its synonymous wine, Madeira, a fortified and nutty-tasting drink. There are various tours and tastings visitors can take (pre-pandemic, at least).

Source: Eater, Discover Madeira

Another draw? The Madeira Carnival, one of the biggest street parties in Europe. It takes place every year on the Friday before Lent.

Source: Visit Madeira

US travelers are currently banned from traveling to Portugal, and other travelers must present a negative COVID-19 test. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

Source: Visit Madeira, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Jill Comoletti contributed to an earlier version of this post.

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