This Portuguese island is incredible, even during the winter. In fact, locals love Christmas and New Years, and celebrate accordingly. If you visit in January, expect an unconventional, winter wonderland. With temperatures at about 20C, you’ll be warm enough to explore everything Madeira has to offer. So, what should you do? Here are 5 great things to do in Madeira in January.
Go Dolphin and Whale Watching
This can be done all year, but in January, some very special species make an appearance. The sightings may be fewer than other times of year, but it’s worth it to see these rare animals. Visitors may get a glimpse of the Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Short-beaked Common Dolphin, and the Short-finned Pilot Whale. Since the water is relatively warm all year, you can add some scuba diving to your ocean adventures too.
Watch New Year’s Eve Fireworks From The Sea
The Madeira fireworks display on New Year’s Eve is absolutely epic. In fact, they broke a Guinness World Record back in 2007! Funchal Bay is usually a great spot to view them, especially if you charter a boat. Some of the ships are so luxurious that they have bars and restaurants, so you can ring in the new year right with a glass of bubbly.
The hikes in Madeira are where you’ll find the most beautiful scenery. In January, the weather isn’t too hot, which makes it perfect for some mountain climbing. There are plenty of trails to choose from, but popular treks include: Ponta de São Lourenço, a coastal hike lined with volcanic rock and stunning lookouts, and Pico Ruivo, home of the island’s highest peak. If you’d prefer more of a walk, try the Levadas. These walking paths were carved out in the 1500s to make the land more accessible. Levada dos 25 Fontes is recommended as it takes you past a 100-metre waterfall.
While summer may seem like the time to surf, winter in Madeira actually has better waves. Plus, January is the low season for tourists, so you won’t have to battle the crowds. The coastline is usually full of novice surfers, some hopping on their board for the first time. In January, you’ll have killer waves, plenty of space, and less newbies to worry about. Some of the best surf beaches include: Faja de Areia, Ponta Delgada, Porto da Cruz, and Ponta Pequena. Here is our guide to the best surfing spots in the rest of Portugal.
What better way to ring in the new year than with some Portuguese wine? Fortified wine is Madeira’s speciality, and you’ll want to taste as many as possible. Visit Blandy’s Wine Lodge to start your trip off right and learn all about the local drink. You can do a tour, a tasting, and buy a few bottles to send home as souvenirs. Funchal Bay is a great area to explore if you want to dive into the wine scene, so spend plenty of time here.