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See Madeira’s prettiest gardens in May, including the Jardines Palheiro and Monte Palace Tropical Garden, then enjoy the island’s fabulous flower parade in Funchal

Where better to celebrate the start of summer than the island of Madeira? Blessed with fertile volcanic soil, Madeira is a plant-lover's delight, with a huge range of species - from imported purple-blossomed jacaranda trees, orchids and bird of paradise plants to its UNESCO-listed native laurel forest.

On this eight-day tour, you'll visit in time for the return of the island's colourful Flower Festival, when the pretty streets of Funchal are filled with floral floats and parades. And there is certainly no one better to join you at this unique event than the garden designer and Gardener's World presenter, Adam Frost.

As well as the festival, you'll explore two of Madeira's best gardens with Adam; the oriental Monte Palace Tropical Garden, set on a hilltop overlooking Funchal Bay, and the botanical gardens of Quinta Jardins do Lago, which showcase some 500 species of flora from as far afield as Australia, Brazil and Madagascar. Adam will give an exclusive evening talk at your hotel about his life and career presenting Gardeners' World, before hosting a question and answer session.

Your base for seven nights, with breakfast and dinner included, will be the VidaMar Madeira resort just outside of Funchal, also known as 'Little Lisbon'. Nestled in a great natural amphitheatre, facing the blue Atlantic with a backdrop of dramatic mountains, the birthplace of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is the island's largest city.

Away from the flora, you will also get to sample the fortified wine Madeira is famous for and enjoy scenery ranging from breathtaking cliffs to lush forest, including the mysterious Curral das Freiras, the hidden mountain sanctuary for a convent of nuns, and the traditional fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, the inspiration for some of Winston Churchill's paintings.

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Your expert guide

Adam Frost
Garden designer

Adam Frost established his own garden design and landscape gardening business in 1996. Since then he has gone on to design gardens around the world and win seven gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. Adam is a presenter on the popular BBC television programme Gardeners' World, he is an an RHS Ambassador for Education and Community Gardens and is also the founder of the Adam Frost Garden School in Lincolnshire. His first book, Real Gardens, was published in 2015 and tells the story of his award-winning gardens at Chelsea and his most recent, How to Create Your Garden, is available now.

Price includes

  • Hear insights and expertise from Adam Frost during a talk and Q&A
  • Experience the Madeira Flower Festival with Adam
  • Visit some of Madeira's best gardens, including Quinta do Palheiro, the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Jardin do Largo
  • Direct flights from a selection of UK airports and transfers to your hotel
  • Seven nights' half-board accommodation at VidaMar resort just outside central Funchal
  • Tour the island's mountainous eastern coast
  • Explore picturesque Funchal with a local guide
  • Taste world-famous Madeiran wines
  • Services of an expert travel director

Personalise Your Holiday (optional excursion)
Enjoy afternoon tea with fantastic views of Madeira as you indulge in a sumptuous afternoon tea at Belmond Reid's Palace, an iconic luxury hotel. Dine on freshly baked scones, pastries and sandwiches with your choice of tea or a glass of refreshing champagne. From £37 per person.


Call now to book 02039934304
Quote ref: HEARST MADEIRA 22
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  1. Day
    Arrive in Funchal
    Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

    Fly to Funchal before transferring to VidaMar resort, located just outside of Funchal. Enjoy free time this evening to settle in, and dinner at the hotel.

    Meals - Dinner
  2. Day
    Tour Funchal
    Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

    After breakfast, a local guide will take you on a walking tour of Funchal's historic centre, known as 'little Lisbon'. You'll see its spectacular harbour, grand 18th-century buildings and the narrow streets winding through its centre, broadening out onto lively squares and tree-lined walkways.

    Notable sights include the Igreja do Colégio, a church with a stunning Baroque interior, and the 15th-century Sé cathedral, one of the few buildings dating from colonial times. This is the island's main religious building and features the original 16th-century altar, imposing arches and ornate gold-framed paintings. The ceiling, made from local wood, is one of Portugal's most beautiful.

    Devotees of modern architecture will love the Art Deco Mercado dos Lavradores or farmers' market, a hive of activity as shoppers fill their baskets with the island's sun-ripened produce. Look out for the patterned pavements, typically Portuguese and painstakingly pieced by hand, and for the colourful street art on the doors of buildings.

    You'll also have the chance to try the island's best-known export - Madeira wine. The process of heating the wine originally happened by accident when 16th-century sailors discovered that wines picked up in Madeira tasted richer after the casks had been heated and cooled during passage through the Tropics. Today, the styles of this fortified wine range from dry to lusciously sweet. In between is medium Verdelho, the variety the British traditionally serve with the crumbly sponge cake named after the wine.

    This afternoon, you will visit the Botanical Gardens, in a beautiful hilltop setting overlooking Funchal.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  3. Day
    Eastern Madeira
    Porto da Cruz, Portugal

    Today you'll explore Madeira's east. Ponta do Rosto is the island's easternmost point, on a sliver of land jutting out into the Atlantic, and offers dazzling panoramas. On clear days, you can see the island of Porto Santo shimmering in the distance. Following the coast north, you'll call at sleepy Porto da Cruz, named after a large cross displayed to identify it to passing sailors. Dominated by the sheer-sided Penha d'Aguia or Eagle Rock, this 16th-century parish is renowned for producing sugar cane spirit and a dry red wine made from the Americana grape.

    Leaving the village behind, you'll head to Santana, known for its A-frame thatched houses. Made from stone, wood and anything else to hand, they have brightly painted doors and windows and each sits on its own plot of land used to grow food. As you enjoy a stroll around these well-preserved 16th-century dwellings, you get a sense of what it was like to live here when the villagers were completely self-sufficient.

    Next you'll explore the mountainous interior and one of the highlights of the tour - the UNESCO-listed Ribeiro Frio National Park. Around 90 per cent of the park is covered by ancient Laurisilva or laurel trees, and the area features many endemic flora and fauna, such as ferns and the trocaz pigeon. The region also plays a vital role in Madeira's ecosystem, as moisture captured by the trees feeds into a 1,355-mile network of channels that distribute water across the island for drinking, agriculture and hydroelectric power. Ascending slopes cloaked in fragrant eucalyptus and swirling mists, you'll emerge at Pico do Arieiro, Madeira's third-highest mountain at 5,930 feet. Here, above the treeline and sometimes even higher than the clouds, the vistas are some of the most memorable you'll ever see. You may even spot the Valley of the Nuns way below. On clear days almost all of Madeira is visible, including its highest summit - the 6,100-foot Pico Ruivo.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  4. Day
    Valley of the Nuns & Câmara de Lobos
    Eira do Cerrado, Portugal

    This morning begins with a short drive north to Madeira's dramatic interior and the Curral das Freiras or Valley of the Nuns. To appreciate the solitude of this place, you'll drive to Eira do Serrado, over 3,500 feet above sea level, part of a natural cauldron of jagged peaks and chasms, with time to soak up the glorious views down to the village of Curral das Freiras itself.

    Descending to the village, you can see why in 1566 the nuns of Funchal's Santa Clara convent relocated to this almost inaccessible valley to flee a pirate attack. Today it is also known for the sweet chestnuts cultivated on its terraced hillsides - which you'll get to sample.

    After lunch, you'll head to Câmara de Lobos, a fishing village built around a bay with Europe's highest cliffs forming a breathtaking backdrop. Inspired by its location, the colourful boats and whitewashed buildings with distinctive terracotta roofs, Winston Churchill stayed here to paint the harbour during his visit to Madeira in 1950. Câmara de Lobos is still a working port, with boats pulled up onto the beach after night fishing for the local black scabbard fish known as espada. It's a charming village to wander around, exploring the cobbled streets and visiting the simple Saint Anthony's Chapel, where fishermen's wives traditionally said prayers for the safe return of their menfolk. Or you can relax in a harbour café with a glass of poncha, an elixir of sugar cane spirit, honey and lemon juice enjoyed by the fishermen returning to land their catch in the morning - and said to cure the common cold!

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  5. Day
    Palheiro Gardens
    Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

    Today you visit the Palheiro Gardens, world-famous for its variety of flora and beautiful setting in the hills overlooking Funchal. Palheiro was laid out in the early 19th century by a French landscape architect for the Count of Carvalhal before being acquired in the early 20th century by the Blandy family, famous wine producers. Over the next decades, the gardens were populated with thousands of plants from around the world, from North American sequoia trees to South African Proteas, all flourishing in Madeira's rich soils and clement weather. This is a blissful place to explore at your leisure, taking in all the colours and fragrances, with a chance to linger when a particular specimen catches your eye.

    This afternoon is at leisure. You could treat yourself to a delicious afternoon tea at Reid's (supplement of £37pp).

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  6. Day
    Monte Palace Gardens, Quinta do Largo and evening talk with Adam
    Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

    This morning you'll visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden with Adam Frost. These oriental gardens are exquisite, complete with Asian-style bridges, arches and a pond filled with koi carp; they also house a historic tile collection gathered from Portuguese palaces, churches and private residences. Later on you'll return to Funchal by coach, or you may wish to take the cable car for a dramatic 15-minute descent to the capital. If you're feeling really adventurous, you could take the famous Monte toboggan ride. This involves descending the narrow streets in a cushioned wicker basket mounted on wooden runners, steered from the rear by skilled drivers - Ernest Hemingway described the experience as exhilarating. This afternoon you'll visit Jardin do Largo, a luxurious, privately owned botanical garden. Accompanied by Adam, you will be able to take in the lush gardens and more than 500 different species of plants which are unique in variety and natural beauty.

    This evening, before dinner, there will be a talk led by Adam. After this talk, there will be the opportunity to ask questions.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  7. Day
    Madeira Flower Festival
    Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

    After a leisurely morning you will join Adam to discover the island's glorious native spring flowers on an excursion to the Madeira Flower Festival, one of the most popular events in the island's calendar. Enjoy Adam's insights and savour the sights, scents and colours of this remarkable event in Funchal.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  8. Day
    Depart Madeira
    Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.

    Meals - Breakfast


VidaMar Madeira

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Resort hotel just outside the centre of Funchal

VidaMar resort hotel Madiera is a short walk from central Funchal, with its shops, iconic market, shopping centre and museums. It boasts different restaurants, three saltwater infinity pools (for adults, plus an additional one for children), a dynamic fitness centre, the modern and oceanfront Thalasso Sea Spa, a piano bar and a snooker lounge. Bedrooms are immensely spacious, the gorgeous spa overlooks the ocean and dinner and breakfast are included, with a magnificently wide range of dishes to choose from.

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Call now to book 02039934304
Quote ref: HEARST MADEIRA 22