Most people have visited the Iberian Peninsula of Portugal, enjoyed the custard tarts, seafood and beach resorts in the Algarve or taken a tram ride and visited a castle in Lisbon. Few people know about the two hidden gems, off the coast in the Mid Atlantic Ocean: Madeira and the Azores.
Both under four hours flight time away from the UK and both hidden paradises, they are fast approaching our Must go list for this year and here’s why.
Madeira is the perfect destination for adults only, with forests, mountains and beaches. Similarly, the Azores has countless natural beauty spots on offer. You’ll be able to take in breath-taking volcanic landscapes, go whale-watching, visit the crater lakes and fishing villages and explore a near-untouched paradise that feels worlds away but is so conveniently close to home.
MADEIRA: Floating Garden Island
Portugal’s Garden Island is famous for its beautiful gardens and terraces, as well as its winding Levada walks and jagged mountains. Go on a tour to the botanical gardens and public parks and be sure to swim in lava pools, sample the wine and of course, the delicious local cuisine.
Departs March to October 2018. From £1,205 pp including flights www.artisantravel.co.uk
THE AZORES: Atlantic’s ‘Middle Earth’
There are nine volcanic islands resembling ‘Middle Earth’ from Lord of the Rings, scattered in the North Atlantic, looking like something you’d find on Jurassic Park. The Azores is an eclectic mix of Costa Rica, England, Hawaii and colonial Portugal all at once. You can go whale-watching, swimming with dolphins and take a dip into the hot springs. Definitely the spot for a couples’ action-packed adventure with cycling, lava tunnels, waterfalls and much more.
Departs April to October 2018. From £1,295 pp, including flights www.artisantravel.co.uk
MADEIRA: Wildlife and Nature Escape
Madeira’s sub-tropical climate means wildlife thrives; especially dolphins and whales. Go on a boat trip adventure to Desertas Islands, or hop on a West Island jeep tour. Explore the Levada do Rei, passing waterfalls and laurel forest on the way.
Departs March to October 2018. From £1,215 pp including flights www.artisantravel.co.uk
THE AZORES: Island Hopping
If you thought island hopping was something you only did in Greece, think again! Enjoy the quaint archipelago tour around São Jorge and Pico. A Three Island Tour includes a visit to the volcanic crater of Caldeira on Faial, lush forest walks on São Jorge and wine tasting at an UNESCO World Heritage site on Pico.
Departs May to October 2018. From £1,035 pp excluding flights www.artisantravel.co.ukrt