MADEIRA ISLAND GUIDE: WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO VISIT

MADEIRA

belongs to our favorite holiday places. This beautiful island belonging to Portugal is full of sun, moaning of the sea, good food, wine, mountains, greenery, and flowers. But what will I tell you here? Read the article, view photos and judge for yourself.

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LOCATION

Madeira, Portugal

Latitude: 32.760707 | Longitude: -16.959472

 

WHEN TO GO

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The weather in Madeira is quite variable. It changes not only during the day but also with a change of location. By the sea, it can be hot, while half an hour drive away in the mountains and you will be freezing at 9°C. Think about it when choosing clothes and shoes.

ESSENTIALS

PRICE RANGE: $$$ ($-cheapest, $$$$$-most expensive)

CURRENCY: € / Euro

SOCKET: European 220 AC and the connection is made by a two-pin plug

WHERE TO STAY

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One Love Maktub in the village called Paúl do Mar was our favorite. We loved it. We enjoyed the amazing view and the best food and drinks ever. It’s located one hour from the airport near the sea and it’s totally worth the drive! We are travelers and explorers, but during this stay we sometimes just stayed at this place, forgot about sunrise on some location and enjoyed this place. The seaside view balcony has a pulley to order and get your mojitos directly to your apartment! What more could you wish for? But be aware that this place is always overbooked (for a reason) especially during summer so better to book it soon before the trip - book it now.

WHERE TO EAT

this time we were very conservative. We just fell in love with One Love Maktub restaurant belonging to the owner of our apartment. The food was amazing and the drinks were strong. As I said, we loved it! Every morning you can order what you want to eat. Staff will buy you the freshest meat, fish or seafood and veggies from the market and serve it perfectly prepared for your dinner. Price can be higher. Therefore we cooked most of our food in the apartment kitchen and enjoyed dinner in One Love Maktub for special occasions.

EXTRA TIPS

  1. Rent a car. Tourism board Visit Madeira recommended we rent a car at Madeira Rent - and we can recommend them too. They have new and nice cars and people at the counter were friendly and helpful. Due to the nature of the Madeira drivers and the narrow turning turns we recommend paying extra for insurance (we did). It brings you a peace of mind even for experienced drivers.

  2. At the biggest tourist attractions go by sunrise so you can avoid crowds. If you are lucky you will be almost alone and you will enjoy the atmosphere that can not be experienced during the day. Waking up is pretty tough even for me but it’s definitely worth it!

WHAT TO VISIT

The capital city Funchal

Funchal is the capital city of Madeira and probably the first place you will see because of the presence of the international airport. Prepare the camera, you’ll love the view!
In the city center, there are streets painted by local artists, lots of cafés and restaurants and many cultural activities. Still, we are more to nature. The only thing that really impressed us was the local market - Mercado dos Lavradores. We haven‘t tasted better fruit and spices for a long time. But be aware of the “turist traps” - some guys are trying to put big prices on the fruit.

Day trip to the highest mountain of Madeira Island Pico Ruivo

The route leads from Pico Arieiro to the highest mountain of Madeira Pico Ruivo. The walk took us about 5 hours. Be prepared it can be quite demanding. We didn‘t expect it and it got pretty hot on the way. You have to get up to around 300 floors on your way (measured by iPhone) and walk about 14 km. The views are amazing and definitely worth it.

We set off at 15:00. Thanks to that we avoided people and were almost alone all the way. Thanks to the timing we have also experienced a perfect sunset right above the mountains. Do not forget to bring warm clothes and windbreakers. You will be dressing and undressing them alternately depending on whether you are in the sun or not. We also recommend good firm shoes. You will climb the stairs (a lot of stairs!), hills and stones. After 2-3 hours you will reach the summit of Pico Ruivo. The views are worth the long hike. You will be above most of the mountains and also above the clouds. If the weather is good you can see the sea and also small towns in the distance. We were there just with another couple so we truly enjoyed the place! During the hike back down after 17:00, you will appreciate the warmer clothes.

We also visited the starting point of the hike (Pico Arieiro) another day again without the following tour just for shooting the sunrise. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places at Madeira. The memories and the shots that we made are definitely unforgettable to us.

Ponta do Pargo

Ponta do Pargo is a viewpoint by a famous Madeira lighthouse. We visited it on the very first day. We stayed for about an hour and headed for the Miradouro Garganta Funda waterfall. Note: The viewpoint can be very windy.

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Miradouro Garganta Funda

Miradouro Garganta Funda is a nice view overlooking the ocean, the hills, and the huge waterfall. Because we were on the spot all alone, we really enjoyed this place. When you arrive just like us in June, the view will probably be full of flowers and poppies - Madeira is called the flower island and the greenest island of Europe for a reason. From the waterfall prospect, we moved to the last stop of the day - Faja Da Ovelha.

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Ponto de Vista + Sao Lourenco + Ponta do Furado

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It is a hiking trip along the beautiful peninsula, which was beautifully seen when reaching Madeira island by plane. The hike offers stunning views of the rocky coast and the ocean. It is worth it to hike to the very end (about 7 km back and forth) even when it's uphill. Both the views and the path itself are amazing. Suddenly you would find yourself on a completely different island. The green grass is replaced by gold colored one and you will see the rocky formations towering from the ocean. It reminded me a little of the island of Nusa Penida. Hynek was thinking of the Faroe Islands. We recommend visiting this place early in the morning for the sunrise. We have experienced it both ways. Daytime was hot and crowded. In the morning it was totally peaceful, quiet and pleasant temperature for hiking and only us two. Exactly like at the picture.

Santana Houses

If you want to see a piece of Madeira history with your own eyes you should visit the shepherd's houses located in the northeastern part of the Santana island. The interesting thing about these pastoral houses is that after the salvation of the surrounding grass it can be transferred to another place. Animals can continue to graze without the pastor having to take a long way home. Every four years, their straw roofs must be changed. These houses are one of the Madeiras symbols. Visit also the lighthouse in the village. Once you have your names registered in the guestbook by the entrance, you can look inside the lighthouse and climb up to its peak.

DO YOU HAVE PICTURES FROM SANTANA HOUSES? SEND THEM TO US IN THE FORM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ARTICLE AND WE WILL SHARE THEM HERE!

Arco de Sao Jorge

Arco de Sao Jorge is a viewpoint we visited on the way back from Santana. You will not see much except the sight. But Hynek was very enthusiastic about the drones shots. So maybe you might be too. 

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Still not enough? 

Even along the way you will find about a million magic and photogenic places.

FROM OUR READERS

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TIPS FROM OUR READERS

Porto Moniz - tip from @barca_sol

Not only the road to this lovely town is an adventure on it's own, you can enjoy swimming in little natural lakes right below this town.

Seixal - tip from @barca_sol

Seixal is a place to visit on the northern part od the island. It's full of wild cliffs, waterfalls, mountains views and natural beaches. It's definitely a place to visit if you wish to see some untouched nature in it's full beauty.

Madeira cable cars - tip from @reni.rudisin

We were able to grasp the essence of this breathtaking island in 5 days but I will definitely return to explore it better. I would totally recommend you cable car routes which are not so known to the tourists, my favorites were Achadas da Cruz and Rocha do Navio. They will take you to the "villages" where fisherman and local agricultors used to live. Very authentic.

Rocha do Navio