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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


Camara de Lobos, Madeira Island, Portugal Shutterstock

Portugal’s Madeira Islands, which sit between Morocco and Portugal, were 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 have stunning beaches, natural lava pools, and unique hiking trails along stone irrigation channels.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”

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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.

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

Colorful fishing boats on sea water in Camara de Lobos port with agave plants in foreground, Madeira islandColorful fishing boats on sea water in Camara de Lobos port with agave plants in foreground, Madeira islandCamara de Lobos port. Shutterstock

Source: CNN

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

Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira,Portugal.Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Madeira,Portugal.Ponta de Sao Lourenco. Shutterstock

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

people in Cabo Girao viewpoint Madeira, Portugal, Europe people in Cabo Girao viewpoint Madeira, Portugal, Europe.people in Cabo Girao viewpoint Madeira, Portugal, Europe people in Cabo Girao viewpoint Madeira, Portugal, Europe.People taking in the views from the Cabo Girao lookout. VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.

shutterstock_151896848shutterstock_151896848Madeira, Portugal. Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

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.

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Madeira lava poolsMadeira lava poolsThe Porto Moniz natural pools, which are formed by volcanic rocks. Shutterstock

Source: Visit Madeira

There are also beautiful beaches, like Calheta beach.

shutterstock_36837697shutterstock_36837697Calheta beach. Francisco Caravana/Shutterstock

The waters are clear and warm — perfect for swimming.

natural swimming pools of volcanic lava in Porto Moniz, Madeira island, Portugalnatural swimming pools of volcanic lava in Porto Moniz, Madeira island, PortugalNatural swimming pools of volcanic lava in Porto Moniz. Shutterstock

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

Madeira marina life fish underwater divingMadeira marina life fish underwater divingMarine life off the coast of Madeira. Sjo/Getty Images

Windsurfing is usually popular here.

Funchal with a ship, yachts, boats and windsurfer in the harbor of Madeira Island, Portugal.ck_1067650190Funchal with a ship, yachts, boats and windsurfer in the harbor of Madeira Island, Portugal.ck_1067650190Boats and a windsurfer in front of Funchal. Shutterstock

Source: Visit Madeira

As is paragliding, at least pre-pandemic.

Arco da Calheta, Madeira, Portugal - Sep 16, 2019: Tandem paragliders landing on a grass on the cliffs above the Atlantic ocean. Madeiran landscape in background. Paragliding, active vacation.Arco da Calheta, Madeira, Portugal - Sep 16, 2019: Tandem paragliders landing on a grass on the cliffs above the Atlantic ocean. Madeiran landscape in background. Paragliding, active vacation.Tandem paragliders landing on Arco da Calheta. Shutterstock

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.

Risco; Madeira; Portugal - february 24 2018 : the 25 fountains levada walkRisco; Madeira; Portugal - february 24 2018 : the 25 fountains levada walkA levada in Risco. Shutterstock

Source: Visit Portugal

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

Levada do Caldeirão Verde MadeiraLevada do Caldeirão Verde MadeiraLevada do Caldeirão Verde. Shutterstock

Source: Visit Madeira

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

shutterstock_132973859shutterstock_132973859A boat in Funchal. pedrosala/Shutterstock

Funchal, Madeira’s largest city, is beautiful.

Funchal MadeiraFunchal MadeiraFunchal. Shutterstock

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

Funchal MadeiraFunchal MadeiraFunchal. Shutterstock

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

Madeira, Funchal Carreiros do Monte. Basket sledge in Madeira with a view. Cable car with ocean view.Madeira, Funchal Carreiros do Monte. Basket sledge in Madeira with a view. Cable car with ocean view.Carreiros in Funchal. Shutterstock

Source: Carreiros do Monte

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

Market in funchal madeiraMarket in funchal madeiraA market in Funchal. Shutterstock

Source: Madeira Web

And let’s not forget the incredible views.

Madeira island, botanical garden Monte, Funchal, Balcony with plants landscape view, PortugalMadeira island, botanical garden Monte, Funchal, Balcony with plants landscape view, PortugalMonte Tropical Gardens. Shutterstock

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

Monte Tropical Gardens with view of palace on lake, Funchal, Madeira island, PortugalMonte Tropical Gardens with view of palace on lake, Funchal, Madeira island, PortugalMonte Tropical Gardens. Shutterstock

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).

Vineyard MadeiraVineyard MadeiraA vineyard above Seixal, Madeira. Shutterstock

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.

Madeira island carnival parade 2016.Madeira island carnival parade 2016.The 2020 carnival took place from February 19, 2020, to March 1, 2020. Shutterstock

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.”

Aerial view of Funchal with traditional cable car above the city, in Madeira island, PortugalAerial view of Funchal with traditional cable car above the city, in Madeira island, PortugalAn aerial view of Funchal with one of its traditional cable cars. Shutterstock

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

Jill Comoletti contributed to an earlier version of this post.

Read the original article on Insider

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