In just over two months, our global luxury travel members will have the pleasure of visiting Madeira for the Connections Luxury event in June.

Along with the French Riviera, the 19th Century saw Madeira become one of the first European tourist destinations visited by the aristocracy. An island that has long drawn politicians, artists and royalty to its shores, it comes as a somewhat surprise that Madeira remains relatively unknown to the luxury travellers of today.

From Michelin-Star restaurants to historic hotels and secluded beaches with panoramic coastal views, Madeira is the perfect luxury destination. Ahead of the event, we have compiled a list of 5 ‘must do’ experiences in Madeira for the luxury traveller:


1. Dine at the Michelin Star ‘William Restaurant’

Named after visionary founder of Reid’s Palace, Mr William Reid, William Restaurant is a destination in its own right. 

Madeiran cuisine is brimming with delicious aromas and intense flavours – the sheer array of fresh fish, vegetables and flowers that can be found on the island is endless. William Restaurant Savour Chef Luís Pestana has crafted a menu that celebrates the finest produce from the island, with ingredients sourced from a local family farm which produce a variety of edible flowers, micro-leaves and baby vegetables. Additionally, an impressive wine cellar offers for all tastes, even with great international wines. 

A unique restaurant both in terms of its classic elegance and its magnificent setting, with superb views of the coast.


2. Explore Madeira’s Sub-Tropical Gardens

Home to over 200 plant species, Madeira is a plant lovers paradise! One of the most beautiful gardens in the region, with marvellous views overlooking the city of Funchal is the Madeira Botanical Garden. The estate dates from 1881 and was created by the Reid family as their private park.

A visit to the Botanical gardens provides visitors with the names and origins of the splendid variety of exotic flowers, vegetables, herbs and other useful plants found on Madeira. 

For those wanting a more exclusive and educational experience, why not join the horticultural expert at Reid’s Palace for a private meander through the hotel’s luxuriant gardens and a lesson from a botanical specialist about tending delicate orchids, from watering and feeding to pruning and propagating.


3. Try the famous ‘Poncha’ drink

Poncha is a traditional alcoholic drink in Madeira, made fresh with citrus juice, honey and aguardente de cana (distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juice). Poncha is a strong drink and some even believe it to be a cure for the common cold!

The drink can be found at many local bars around the island. Nowadays, Poncha is also made with different fruit juices (such as passion fruit and orange) rather than just lemon juice which is known to be the traditional ingredient.

For a premier experience, head up to the 16th floor at Savoy Palace and enjoy this signature drink at the Galaxia Sky Bar whilst taking in the breathtaking view of Madeira’s skyline. What’s more, their fine dining menu also features an ‘Orange poncha flavours and peanuts’ dessert. 


4. Go whale watching on a private yacht 

Voyage Madeira’s stunning southern coastline aboard a private yacht! There are always bottlenose dolphins and at least a couple of whale species swimming in the waters around Madeira, and boats go out year-round. The best time to go, however, is between May and September, when whales and dolphins are most plentiful.

DMC Madeira provides private tours aboard their Yacht “Gavião”. On this relaxing trip, you will have the possibility to observe dolphins and whales. Additionally, the tour includes a visit to the magnificent Cabo Girão, the second highest sea cliff in the World and the highest in Europe at 580m above sea level.


5. Visit a Madeiran wine lodge

Take a premium tour of Blandy’s Wine Lodge with DMC Madeira and discover 200 years of Madeira wine at one of the oldest wine companies in Madeira. Located in the centre of Funchal, Blandy’s Wine Lodge allows visitors to Madeira an opportunity to experience first-hand Madeira Wine in the making.

This tour covers the making of barrels at the Cooperage, ageing in the Canteiro, the transformation of grapes into Madeira wine, satinwood storage vats and a tour of the museum with unique items from Madeira wine history, followed by a tasting.