Funchal The capital of the archipelago is on Madeira’s south coast, in a beautiful bay washed by the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by tall, green mountains and deep valleys.
Monte is often compared to Sintra, in mainland Portugal, as it has some of the most beautiful old palaces and its bucolic surroundings exude the charm of days gone by.
Ribeiro Frio – Balcões On leaving Funchal, head for Ribeiro Frio. As you climb the hillside, you will come across several places of interest, such as Ribeira das Cales and Chão da Lagoa, both belonging to Funchal Ecological Park, and the highest points on the island, Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro.
Caniço is an important tourist centre about 10 km from the Madeiran capital. It has the typical hustle and bustle of a small town and the seaside area in Caniço de Baixo is a real holiday resort.
Garajau is on the coast between Funchal and Caniço. Its name comes from the huge numbers of garajaus (sandwich terns) that nest here.
There is a promontory here, Ponta do Garajau, where you will find a large statue of Christ the King. The Garajau Partial Nature Reserve was set up in 1986.
Thanks to its biological treasures and the extraordinary transparency of the water, the reserve, which has unique conditions for diving, has gained international fame and divers come here from all over the world.
East coast On Madeira’s east coast each place has its own, different landscape. Here we can find scenery ranging from the lonely aridness of Ponta de São Lourenço in Caniçal to the tall, verdant summits of Machico and Santo da Serra.
Cabo Girão (the 2nd highest sea cliff in the world).
North coast Untouched nature is the main feature of Madeira’s north coast. Here we find high mountains and deep valleys full of a wide variety of fauna and flora belonging to the Laurissilva Forest, a relic of bygone ages that has been declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The best ways of getting to know the north coast include rambling through the forest, enjoying the landscapes that seem to plunge into the sea or cooling down in the natural swimming pools. If you go to the north coast of Madeira, be sure to visit two sites of scientific and educational importance, the São Vicente Caves and the Volcano Centre.