Madeira – The Best All Round Climate In Europe?
When searching for a European destination for a short break or holiday, surely Madeira Island offers the best climate of anywhere? So many people couldn’t even point to it on a map, and there is a common misconception that it sits in mainland Spain, often being confused with the City of Madrid.
With a summer maximum of 29 centigrade (OK, occasionally there have been exceptions), and a winter low of around 17 centigrade, where else can you find such bearable temperatures. Even the sea only wavers a degree or two above and below the 20 centigrade mark all year around. But, I have to be honest here and say that climate is not necessarily the case for the whole island, as clearly the higher you go, and also the more northerly you travel there is a greater chance of rain, and there has on occasions been snow on the mountain tops.
However, if you stick to the southerly coast and go west from Funchal (the capital city), as far as Calheta or maybe a little beyond, the weather is pretty unbeatable. The island is like that, its full of microclimates, and even the types of trees and plants vary visibly across the island.Rain is a pretty rare event along this stretch, with the odd few long and heavy showers during the year, but over the last 4 years, rain worthy of mention has probably fallen less than once a month on average, mostly in the winter.
Now, should you go to one of the many weather forecasting websites to see if this article carries any fact, you may well see predictions of cloud and rain, and that forecast will be based on Atlantic weather systems, which may or may not stray over Madeira in part or in full. In reality the weather phenomenon is generated by Madeira’s own mountainous terrain, forcing hot air to cool rapidly and precipitate over the higher ground. For those of you who have been to Tenerife Island, you will see a very similar weather variation between the north and the south.
What is amazing however, is despite this very dry climate along the coast, rain in the mountains is plentiful, and due to the volcanic nature of the rock and a system of over 2,000 kilometres of very old surface level water channels – Madeira Levada – the island stays wonderfully green all year around and is famed for its wild and natural flower displays – Madeira FlowersOK, so I hear the Canary Islands are warmer, but firstly do they really count as European, just because they use the € currency. They do have strong historical links and dependencies on mainland Spain, but they are outside of EU control for administrative matters, and for example, they don’t have the tax or customs duty regime for items purchased by tourists to take back home, such as on spirits and cigarettes.
Secondly, even if you do consider the Canary Islands to be part of mainstream Europe, the climate may on average be slightly warmer all year around, but who wants to be in 40ºc sweltering heat for weeks on end during the height of summer? 29ºc is quite warm enough for the vast majority of us, and it doesn’t often hit that on Madeira.
Anyway, the rest of mainland Europe falls well outside of the discussion, and even the Mediterranean islands don’t enjoy winters as nearly as mild as the Madeirans do. The weather of Madeira is something of a well guarded secret, as is the Madeiran archipelago in many respects. The average age of the visiting tourist is 55, and there is a good reason for that, and that is because older people feel the cold more and know where to go to avoid it.
With around 1.5 million foreign visitors each year, the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo save these people millions of euros in heating bills back home, and allow them the freedom to spend most of the winter outdoors. Winter is a peak season for Madeira, especially so over the new year period.
Whilst for certain many people will have differing views on the best European climates, those who don’t try a winter or summer break on Madeira at sometime in their lives, they have not only missed out a practical guarantee of good weather, they have also missed out on one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.
As the final testimony in the case for Madeira weather, it is a fact that practically nobody has either heating systems or air conditioning, either in their home, or their place of work.