Written by Richard Way,
14th April 2022

Getting to Madeira – and your holiday home there – has got much easier thanks to Ryanair opening a new base and launching a host of routes. The moves comes as the Portuguese island attempts to diversify its appeal to foreigners, by attracting a wider pool of nationalities as well as young digital nomads.

Madeira has become the fifth Portuguese base of Europe’s leading low-cost airline. This $200million development comes in time for summer 2022 and represents a huge shot in the arm for the sub-tropical island, located in the Atlantic Ocean 700 kilometres off North Africa.

Two aircraft will operate across ten new routes – five exclusive, connecting Madeira with mainland Portugal as well as London Stansted, Manchester, Dublin, Marseille, Brussels (Charleroi), Milan (Bergamo), Nuremberg and Paris (Beauvais). This will generate 40 flights a week, which is more than any other airline flying into the archipelago. Other operators flying direct to Madeira include British Airways, Jet2, TUI and Wizz Air.

“This $200m investment will not only boost Portugal’s economy by driving vital tourism but will also create more than 60 direct jobs in the region and over 400 on-site jobs in Madeira,” said Ryanair’s CEO Eddie Wilson. “Ryanair will operate over 160 Portuguese routes in the summer – over twice as many as TAP, to 15 countries, making Ryanair Portugal’s number one carrier for choice, fares and on time performance.”

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Remote working in Madeira

Meanwhile, a pilot project to attract digital nomads (remote workers) from the around the world has been extended by the Regional Government of Madeira. Called Digital Nomads Madeira Islands and launched in 2021, the initiative includes the island’s – and reportedly Europe’s – first Digital Nomad Village.

Located in the picturesque town of Ponta do Sol, the scheme offers free Wi-fi and work space, organised networking events and a friendly platform to engage in the local Madeiran community. Other co-working spaces aimed at remote workers from overseas are also available in the capital Funchal, as well as Santa Cruz, Machico and the smaller island of Porto Santo.

remote working madeira

Madeira is home to Europe’s first Digital Nomad Village

While 21st-Century Madeira is making special efforts to welcome tech savvy nomads, nature enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors have been enjoying the island for centuries. If you enjoy being surrounded by natural wonders, there are numerous paths that wind through the hilly green interior, notably the famous Levada trails which track ancient water channels, while the walks along the coast and clifftops have to-die-for panoramas.

Active types might prefer to experience the landscape by canyoning, horseriding or mountain-biking. For golfers the island has two 18-hole courses and a couple of nine-hole ones. Less active ways to enjoy the lifestyle include whiling away afternoons in the tropical parks and gardens – in bloom all year, enjoying a lazy coffee on the seafront or taking a ride in one of the many cable cars that zig zag across valleys.

Buying spots

The south coast is generally more popular than the north, not least because it is sunnier. Many British and other foreign buyers are drawn to Funchal and its suburbs, thanks to the amenities, culture and year-round activity, including the island’s famous festivals. Favourite areas include Lido, Ajuda and Forum Madeira, with the Old Town becoming increasingly popular.

remote working madeira

The picturesque coastal town of Ribeira Brava

More peaceful, suburban districts that are still by the sea and just five minutes from the centre include São Gonçalo, Canico, Santa Luzia and São Martinho. Less urban and more leisure oriented, Palheiro Village is an old hunting estate in the hills above Funchal that has been converted into a self-contained resort with excellent on-site amenities, including golf.

The picturesque coastal towns of Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Sol and Calheta, where the scenery is stunning and you can live a semi-rural lifestyle, are also attractive options. Or, to really immerse yourself in the Madeiran countryside, opt for a rustic villa or period manor house on one of the many charming old estates. Wherever you are, features that are almost guaranteed in Madeira are breathtaking views and being near both the sea and verdant countryside.

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