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Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Portugal: Sophisticated and Classy

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We are currently in Israel. Next stop is Turkey, then Italy, France, Spain. I was just telling my husband we need to make time for Portugal and Molly has given me a great back up article to prove it!

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Portugal is one of those go-to destinations that never shows any signs of slowing in terms of popularity. It’s no surprise really, when you consider the number of fantastic resorts, great weather and opportunities to lie-back and relax. Madeira is an island just off the Portuguese coast which is often not thought of when it comes to run of the mill holidays – which is probably because it’s anything but run of the mill, and everything about it is dramatically beautiful.

Funchal is the island’s capital, and is a fantastic choice for a long summer break, or a few days away when visiting the mainland. Many cheap flights head over to Funchal with some bargain air fares to be had, making this beautiful island very accessible. You’ll find if you pre-book parking at the airport as part of your travel plans, you’ll save even more, and money in your pocket is never a bad thing! If departing from Edinburgh Airport you can get parking from Airparks, which will save on those expensive airport taxis and public transport. Most large airports in the UK offer the service and I used one at Birmingham Airport just last week. The deal I found saved me plenty to fund my duty free habit!

When you arrive in Funchal, you’ll find it very easy to get around, which is a bonus as the island as a whole begs to be explored. There is a good public transport network, but I’d really recommend hiring a car. The scenery both on the coast and inland is dramatic and jaw-dropping in parts, swinging from green to volcanic within short distances. There are many gardens around the island, and Monte has some beautiful gardens, which are reached by a cable car for fantastic views.

Madeira as a whole is great for walkers, with many trails, taking you through different landscapes. Remember that camera! Be warned that due to the landscape, the island is generally quite hilly, so not the best if you’re not fantastic on your feet, and in that case, why not head to the beach?!

Funchal’s beaches are not amazing, but they’re certainly picturesque and a day’s lazing on the beach is never a bad thing. The promenade will lead to you to the shore, and I find this is generally a great spot for people watching, which is one of my guilty pleasures in life.

If you’re a keen golfer, Portugal as a whole is certainly for you, but Madeira has two fantastic courses. A day on the green with a stunning backdrop is a must do if you’re into your sport.

When the sun goes down, Funchal’s night-life is varied, but never crowded and raucous. Instead, the pace of evening life is more about a delicious meal, some fantastic wine and chat with friends and loved ones. If you do want to party, there are some bars down near the marina area that are quite lively, but you won’t find all night clubs and foam parties here.

Funchal, and Madeira as a whole, is a classy affair, and a sophisticated holiday deserves a rested start. If you are leaving from Luton Airport you'll find great parking deals which can ensure your holiday begins in the right way, not stressed out before you even leave the house.

Written by Molly Austin, creative content creator, travel lover, book worm. 

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