Fans of the picturesque island of Madeira will be pleased to learn that it will re-open to international visitors from 1 July, along with its neighbour in the archipelago, Porto Santo. They had closed back in March to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

A woman hiking beside a waterfall in Madeira
Madeira is famous for its open canals and irrigation channels © Iñigo Fdz de Pinedo/Getty Images

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal off the northwest coast of Africa. As well as the main Madeira island, which is 57km long and 22km wide, its sister island, Porto Santo, measures just 14km by 8km, and the Desertas and Selvagens islands are uninhabited. So far the region has registered 90 cases of COVID-19, no community contamination and no deaths. To ensure the situation stays controlled, visitors travelling to the islands will have to either present a negative test done within 72 hours prior to departure or be tested upon arrival.

Panorama over the cityscape of Camara de Lobos in Madeira
Madeira is known as the Pearl of the Atlantic © Cristian Balate/Shutterstock

“The government will pay for all costs of the tests upon arrival to the destination to prevent any extra costs for travellers," says Eduardo Jesus, regional secretary of tourism and culture. "This measure ensures all visitors that not only the locals are virus free, but all those who enter will be scanned, thus promoting a highly secure and reassuring environment. The testing process is being prepared by the Regional Health Authority, with the collaboration of ANA – Airports of Portugal, and strives for the highest speed with least inconvenience for travellers."

People on Porto Santo beach in the Madeira Islands
Porto Santo is famous for its golden-sand beach © Francisco Caravana/Shutterstock

Warmed year-round by the Atlantic sun, Madeira is known as the 'Pearl of the Atlantic' and is loved for its lush botanical gardens, wine tasting and, of course, the exhilarating toboggan rides in a wicker basket from Monte to Funchal. It is also an outdoor nirvana that attracts hikers, with its black sand beaches, towering rock walls, gushing streams and irrigation channels. The main reason to make the journey to Porto Santo is that it boasts one of Europe’s finest golden-sand beaches.

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