Welcome 2021 in style with an incredible itinerary of sightseeing in Madeira, a 6-course gala dinner with live music and an unforgettable fireworks display. Along with like-minded solo travellers, see in the new year with an impressive fireworks display that for many years held the Guinness world record title of “Greatest Fireworks Show in the World”.
Explore ‘the Pearl of the Atlantic’ this New Year, with its inspirational gardens to the famous Monte toboggan ride and soaring peaks to the hidden Valley of the Nuns. It may be tiny, but this subtropical paradise offers impressive year-round gardens, spectacular coastlines and jagged peaks, while picturesque Funchal boasts an architectural charm and rich maritime heritage to match the island’s natural splendour. With fertile volcanic soil, Madeira is a plant-lover’s dream with an enormous diversity of species, from imported purple-blossomed jacaranda trees, orchids and bird of paradise plants to its native Laurisilva forest. So much flourishes here in its mild climate all year round, making it a superb destination even in December.
Our base for this special time of year is the VidaMar Resort Hotel, with fantastic views of the bay of Funchal. Be charmed by the beauty of Madeira in all its glimmering glory at this special time of year. With an eclectic backdrop of exotic flowers and fairy lights, the festive cheer is in full swing – ready for you to experience a New Year to remember.
Treat your senses to the superb celebrations; with the sounds of Christmas folklore songs continuing through into January, sights of some of the world’s most impressive fireworks, scent of tropical flowers, and of course a taste of Madeira wine.
Arrive at the airport for your flight to Funchal, where you will be welcomed by your tour manager or a member of the Riviera Travel team.
On arrival, you’ll be transferred to the four-star VidaMar Resort Hotel, surrounded by tropical gardens with panoramic views of Funchal bay. This evening there will be a drinks reception hosted by your tour manager so that you can get to know your travelling companions before moving on to dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast, a local guide takes us on a walking tour of the historic centre of Funchal, often called ‘little Lisbon’ as it overlooks a spectacular harbour and boasts grand 18th-century buildings. Narrow streets wind through its centre, broadening out onto lively squares and tree-lined walkways. Inspiring sights include the Igreja do Colégio, a church with a plain exterior that belies its sumptuous Baroque interior, and the 15th-century Sé cathedral, one of the few buildings dating from colonial times. It is the island’s main religious building and features the original 16th-century altar, imposing arches and ornate gold-framed paintings; its 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.
A treat is in store as we pause for a tasting of the island’s best-known export – Madeira wine. The styles of this fortified wine range from dry to lusciously sweet. In between is medium Verdelho, the variety the English traditionally serve with the crumbly sponge cake named after the wine. The afternoon is free for you to explore Funchal at your leisure, in all its shimmering splendour.
Today we explore the eastern seaboard, passing diverse landscapes from craggy coastlines to ancient forests. Ponta do Rosto is Madeira’s easternmost point, on a sliver of land jutting out into the Atlantic, and offers dazzling panoramas. Following the northern coast, we call at sleepy Porto da Cruz, named after a large cross displayed to identify it to passing sailors.
We leave the village and track the coastline towards 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.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast with free time this morning to enjoy your beautiful surroundings. This afternoon, we visit the Palheiro Gardens, world famous for its variety of flora and its 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.
In the evening, dress up for a night of revelry with your fellow travellers. We start with cocktails before moving on to a 6-course gala dinner with live music. The party then moves outside to the hotel terrace where magnificent magentas, glowing greens and bursts of blue cascade across a jet black canvas as some of the most impressive pyrotechnics your eyes have ever seen pop, fizz, bang and sparkle into the night’s sky as you witness Funchal’s world-famous New Year’s fireworks display that for many years held the Guinness world record title of “Greatest Fireworks Show in the World”. Sip on your favourite cocktail amongst your fellow travellers as you enjoy the spectacular display, not forgetting the age-old tradition of crossing arms with new-found friends to sing Auld Lang Syne – now bathed in the glow of the fireworks.
But the night is still young! A DJ then helps us usher in the New Year with a night of music and dancing until the early hours of 2021.
It’s New Year’s Day, a day for relaxing, recovering from last night’s exertions, and perhaps taking a bracing constitutional walk to welcome in 2021. Luckily with year round warm weather such a walk will be far more pleasant than in the UK. If you’d rather relax and recharge in the comfort of the hotel, perhaps unwind in the pool or Thalasso spa, with views of the tranquil sea This evening we’ll have dinner together in one of the hotel’s three restaurants.
Near Funchal is the idyllic hilltop town of Monte, which we visit this morning. The town’s landmark is its 18th-century church, the most important pilgrimage site in Madeira, with its black and white facade and twin towers.
We then visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, where you can either join our guided tour or wander at leisure. 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 we return Funchal, either by coach, cable car for a dramatic 15-minute descent to the capital, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could take the famous Monte toboggan ride.
Next, a real treat awaits, as we head to enjoy afternoon tea at the iconic Belmond Reid’s Palace, no doubt decked out in sumptuous festive splendour. Set in subtropical gardens that overlook the Atlantic, relax and take a stroll before indulging in sumptuous freshly baked scones, pastries and dainty sandwiches with your choice of tea from the hotel’s selection of 24 varieties with good company and lovely views across Funchal’s rocky coastline.
Today we drive north to Madeira’s dramatic interior and the Curral das Freiras or Valley of the Nuns. To appreciate the solitude of this place, we 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. Today it is also known for the sweet chestnuts cultivated on its terraced hillsides. Enjoy sampling these tasty treats – the very essence of Christmas!
We head to Câmara de Lobos, a fishing village built around a bay with some of Europe’s highest cliffs forming a breathtaking backdrop. In the evening we will sit down together for a farewell dinner and look back on a magical New Year’s experience in Madeira, sharing stories with new-found friends about what the next year might bring
Transfer to the airport for our flight home.
The price is per person and based on one person in a twin or double room for sole occupancy. The price includes:
UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter Portugal however must have a valid passport. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Airport||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Funchal Airport||Funchal||30 mins|
Lin & Laurie
This was a fantastic tour made even better by our brilliant Tour Manager Bridget. The content was wonderful, the sights unbelievable and the commentary by Bridget and Paco immensely informative, useful and valuable. This was ou...
As previous ocean cruisers this was our first river cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have nothing but praise for the ship itself, the delightful crew and wonderful captain who guided the boat through dangerously lo...