Things to do in Madeira
One of the joys of an island holiday is that the sea is never far from sight! Spend your days exploring the coast covered in majestic cliffs, pebble beaches and natural rock pools, or venture up the mountain to Pico do Areeiro: a guaranteed thrill from 0 to 1862 metres.
If you want to spend a few days on the beach, catch a ferry or a plane to Porto Santo and enjoy the numerous kilometres of golden beaches. Blessed by nature with a perfect climate, Madeira seduces visitors into returning time and again!
Hike to Machico
Machico is probably the most historically interesting city on the island. This is where the first discoverers to find Madeira docked. This peaceful town has several restaurants and bars, and is the ideal place to begin your outings.
Leave the hotel via the pool area and visit the S. Roque chapel on the wharf, built in the 16th century, which stands out due to its stained glass windows. Next, follow Machico’s promenade, which connects the entire seafront from the hotel to the marina. Make sure to visit the oldest church, the Capela dos Milagres (Chapel of Miracles) as well as the two forts that witnessed the defence against pirate invasion during attacks on the city.
If you admire Madeira embroidery, visit the embroidery factory at the very heart of Machico. Stop by the Galã café and taste a Queijada, a traditional Madeira pastry. On your way back to the hotel, stop at one of the esplanades along the bay’s promenade and try the delicious Bolo do Caco (traditional bread) with a Coral, the local beer.
Ponta de São Lourenço
Leave the hotel by car and head towards Caniçal. Here, visit the new Museu da Baleia (Whale Museum), and then walk to Ponta de São Lourenço. On your way back to the hotel, stop at Prainha, the only sandy beach in Madeira, and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on a lounger. This small beach is served by a bar and restaurant.
Madeira's highest peaks
Leave the hotel by car and head towards Portela where you can lunch on the traditional beef skewered on a laurel branch at the restaurant Portela à Vista. Afterwards, head for Santo da Serra and Pico do Areeiro. Once you reach Pico (Peak) you can take a small hike to the highest point of the island, Pico Ruivo! But be careful: the altitude is above 1800 metres and it is usually quite cold.
Put on some comfortable shoes and venture off for one of the famous “Levadas” ou “Veredas” (footpaths), which can take you to an altitude of 1862m surrounded by indescribable beauty. Don’t miss the Laurissilva Forest, classified by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site.
The most popular routes are:
From Rabaçal to 25 Fontes (25 Fountains); from Queimadas to the Caldeirão Verde waterfall (a waterfall surrounded by the Laurissilva Forest); from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo and from Ribeiro Frio to Portela.
There is also a route, between Pico das Pedras and Queimadas, that is especially prepared for people with reduced mobility, which is equally stunning but easier to manage.
Head to the Vertente Natural shop in the Hotel and book your outing!
Full day outing (Cabo Girão - Câmara de Lobos - Porto Moniz)
Head to Funchal by car. On the road between Câmara de Lobos and Quinta Grande, heading towards the hills, you will see Cabo Girão. This is the highest promontory in Europe and the second highest in the world.
Continuing along until Ribeira Brava / São Vicente, you can visit the São Vicente caves, a set of volcanic tunnels that stretch for more that 1000m. Then head to Porto Moniz and spend the rest of your day in the fantastic natural volcanic pools.
On your way back, stop at Câmara de Lobos (Wolf’s Den), which got its name due to the shape of the bay and the many sea lions that once made it their home. Taste the famous local drink – Poncha; we suggest the tangerine punch. At the end of the day, try a traditional Espetada (kebab) in Estreito da Câmara de Lobos, at Quinta do Estreito’s 'Adega da Quinta' restaurant.
The Volcano's Cradle: Curral das Freiras
This is a trip to the centre of Madeira Island, where extraordinary mountains, their peaks engulfed by clouds, drop spectacularly into green valleys.
Recent theory suggests that the massive crater in which Curral das Freiras lies was formed through erosion, although many still believe it was created by volcanic activity. The town is very isolated and residents live primarily off what they grow. The local chestnuts are delicious and are used in daily cooking. Every year, the population celebrates the ‘Festa da Castanha’ (Chestnut Festival), which the town is famous for.
Visit to traditional Santana Houses
The traditional Santana houses are the region’s greatest symbol, featured in various tourism promotional material all over the world. Head out to explore Santana and its traditional houses, located in a part of Madeira Island classified by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve.
Don’t miss Achada do Teixeira and take the cable car down to Rocha do Navio (Ship’s Rock)… exciting and dizzying. If you’re looking for something calmer, watch the 3D presentation explaining the island’s origins at the Theme Park.
Funchal: Madeira's Nativity
Funchal is the capital of Madeira, a city inserted in a grand natural amphitheatre facing the Atlantic, in stark contrast against the impressive mountains.
Stroll through the streets of the capital, discover its charming historic quarters and picturesque squares and cafés, such us the Café dos Teatros near the Municipal Theatre. Don’t miss the numerous 15th century churches and convents, the tiny basalt cave of Capela de São Vicente or the beautiful interior of the Cathedral.
Also not to be missed is the Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmer’s Market), an explosion of colour where you can buy typical Madeira flowers, spices and local fruit, as well as some of the regional delicacies (such as bolo do caco, grilled chicken or wheat soup).
Head for the old part of town, behind the Mercado dos Lavradores, and catch the Cable car up to Monte. To return, slide down in the traditional baskets. A thrill you won’t forget!
Visit one of the Atlantic's Gardens
Madeira Island is known as “the Atlantic’s floating garden”. In 2000, the city of Funchal received a gold medal and was named 'European Flowering City 2000'.
Don’t miss the Botanical Gardens. Before reaching Funchal, approximately 3 km from the centre, you will find the Botanical Gardens, the former Quinta do Bom Sucesso which belonged to the Reid family. The entire garden features harmonious shapes and contrasting colours, where more than 2000 plants can be admired.
The basket weaver's town
If you enjoy local handicrafts, be sure to visit Camacha, a small town on the way to Funchal, known all over the world for its wicker baskets and colourful folklore.
Today, it manufactures furniture, hats, ornaments, kitchen utensils and, of course… baskets of every shape and size. More than 1000 articles tourists adore!