The island’s numerous museums, found mainly in the capital, are bursting with artefacts revealing the history of this archipelago. From paintings, sculpture, gold and silverware, to jewellery and furniture, there’s so much to see.
For paintings, try the Museum of Sacred Art – where there is an outstanding collection of Flemish art - and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Museu da Quinta das Cruzes and the Casa Museu Frederico de Freitas specialise in religious art, old furniture and the traditional Portuguese decorative tiles known as azulejos.
Madeira also boasts Portugal’s only Photographic museum, the Photografia Museu Vicentes.
It is the country’s first photographic studio, having opened in 1848.
The island is also famous for its handicrafts, so a visit to the Museum of the Instituto do Bordado, Tapeçarias e Artesanato da Madeira (the Madeira Institute of Embroidery, Tapestry and Handicraft) is well worth considering.
Meanwhile the museums telling the story of Madeira’s commercial past also come highly recommended. Visit the Madeira Wine Museum and the Museum of the City of Sugar. The history of whaling, once important to the island’s economy, is recorded at the Museu da Baleia in Machico.