5 Reasons to Visit Madeira Island
Madeira island is a very special place for me … It was there that I did my first trip by plane, I was about 5 years old … My mother told me that I screamed so much during the flight that she was embarrassed. I can’t remember any of that, but I remember many moments that I spent in that paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Since then, I’ve been back to Madeira four times, I just can´t get enough and I’m sure I’ll go back again in the future. Madeira is one of the most beautiful islands I know, and I’m not say this because i’m Portuguese, for a long time that the beauty of Madeira has conquered the world and today the island is also part of many tourists who lived here unforgettable moments … There is magic in those mountains, on those slopes and in that sea.
The mild climate makes it perfect for visiting the island during all year. Is the perfect place to get away when winter freezes all Europe… And there’s no excuse, it’s only 978 kilometers, and not more than 1:30 h by plane from Madeira to Lisbon. Composed by the island of Madeira, the island of Porto Santo, the deserted islands and even the wild islands, the archipelago of Madeira hides treasures capable of rendering those who visit it. The spectacular landscapes, carved by its rugged peaks whose height rises to 1862 m (Pico Ruivo) leave anyone speechless. It is no coincidence that in recent years the island has gained numerous awards … Since 2009 it is considered a destination of excellence, in 2015 it was ranked as the 6th best island in the world, and in 2015 and 2016 was voted the best Island destination in the World Travel Awards.
My parents already live there, for that reason I know most of the 57 km long and 22 km wide of the island. In this post I will give you some tips about Madeira and list 5 reasons why you should visit Madeira NOW 🙂
1 – NATURE
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Madeira is: Nature. There are lots of activities to do. Have you been in the Laurissilva Forest? A visit is mandatory, even if it is only to breathe the fresh air of this subtropical rainforest. Here you will find a huge variety of species of flora and fauna. It is said that it is thanks to this forest with more than 15 million years that the island is called Madeira, according to historians, the whole island was “covered of extensive and dense grove, reason for which the Portuguese navigators attributed this name to him, by the way, madeira means wood in Portuguese. Considered by UNESCO as a Natural Heritage of Humanity, the forest has nooks and viewpoints of incredible beauty.
You can explore the Laurissilva in several ways … If you like to walk there are dozens of trails that you can follow … It goes through the famous levadas, you have more than 3000 km between abysses and tunnels that cross mountains, you will go crazy with the landscapes. Take your lunch in your backpack, there will be plenty of amazing places to do a picnik. If you like adrenaline, you came to the right place, you can venture out on a horseback ride, climbing, canyoning (I love!), mountain biking, geocaching, etc.
Here are some of my favorite places to explore.
- Ponta de São Lourenço: One of the most beautiful places in the island, a stunning arid landscape. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Belvedere Bay D’Abra.
- Pico Ruivo Trail to Pico do Areeiro: If you like hiking, you’ll be fascinated by the trail between the two highest points of the island.
- The levada of 25 fontes: One of the most beautiful levadas of the island, for those who like waterfalls at the end of the path of 4.6 km you will have a beautiful surprise 🙂
- Cabo Girão: If you have vertigo then you’d better think twice before coming here. There are 589 meters of cliff from the top of the mountain to the sea, it is one of the highest vertical walls in the world and the view is superb. The platform is made of metal and glass and it is possible to see the whole cliff under your feet. Scary!
- Véu da Noiva: It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island, the water falls from the mountain directly into the sea.
- Miradouro das Cabanas: It is one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the island, the view over the green hills that surrounds the village Arco de São Jorge is incredible!
- Vereda da Encumenda: It is one of the most beautiful routes of the island, it takes at least 6 hours to cover the 11.2 km that starts at Pico Ruivo. The landscape is absurd, the clouds that tear at the volcanic escarpments involved in the Laurissilva lush forest make this place one of my favorites.
- Miradouro dos Balcões: There are images that we keep in our mind forever, one of them is the view from this viewpoint over the valley of Ribeira da Metade, when you go there you will understand me.
2 – LIFESTYLE
Madeira is not only scenery, the island has some pearls regarding hotels, spas and restaurants. The offer is huge, varied and of high quality, you can stay from rural houses in the middle of nature or opt for the modernity of the hotels. One of the most iconic, but not for every wallets is the “Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel” which has over 120 years of history. I never been there, but I promise next time I go to Madeira, I’ll bring you some images from inside.
If you prefer a 5 billion stars hotel, take your tent, you can always camp in the campsite. There are two, one in Madeira and the other in Porto Santo. For those who prefer boutique hotels, here you will find the best one in the world. The “Hotel The Vine” won in 2013 the most desired hotel award. It also has one of the best known spas on the island.
Another of the most luxurious hotels on the island is “Quinta da Casa Branca Hotel”, a mansion with magnificent gardens and a very beautiful restaurant.
For a drink and dance, just say to the taxi driver “Vespas”, the disco is open since 1980 and is the most classic club in the island. If you prefer something smaller and quieter for a glass, the Prince Albert Pub (typical English pub) or Café Teatro, a space where they often do parties with Djs and live music. You can go there during the day, but is during the night when it heats up!
3 – CULTURE
Discovered by the Portuguese navigators in the year 1419, Madeira has a long history full of traditions. Visit some of the most emblematic monuments such as the Fortress off São Tiago, the Paços do Concelho of Funchal or the Cathedral. In addition, Madeira has a huge cultural agenda, from the famous and colorful carnival to the huge New Year’s Eve party, there are dozens of events, fairs, festivals… Don’t forget to buy typical products, from Clothes, handicrafts, sugar cane, fruits, flowers, wines, and of course o ponche da Madeira… One of the best places to buy regional products is in Casas de Santana, the typical Madeiran houses or in the Mercado dos Lavradores. Another very typical and original thing about Madeira is the “basket car”. These handmade cars are driven by two races. It’s a 10 minutes ride going down the hill… Prepare to scream out loud eh eh.
4 – GASTRONOMY
I’m sorry, but you’re more likely to accuse excess baggage when you leave the island. The Madeiran gastronomy is divine. If you like fish and seafood right it down: “I have to eat grilled Lapps, octopus and shrimp as if there’s no tomorrow, and tuna steaks. For meat fans, please try the “Espetada” of beef on a roasted spit with fried corn and bolo-do-caco.
Now let’s talk about restaurants … If you are a gastronomic lover, here are some suggestions: Restaurant II Gallo D’Oro, located in The Cliff Bay Hotel the restaurant has two Michelin stars and it serves the best of Mediterranean cuisine. To eat fish and seafood, the “Maré Alta” in Machico serves the best flavors that come from the sea. To taste the Madeira gastronomy, the “Adega da Quinta Restaurante” is a good option. If you are at “Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel” dine at Ristorante Villa Cipriani, people say the food and the view are worth it!
Don’t forget to try the fruits, there is a huge variety, from mango, avocado, passion fruit and obviously the bananas of Dona Dolores (for those who don’t know, Dona Dolores is the mother of Cristiano Ronaldo).
5 – MAR
If you are one of those who love swimming and diving here you will have many opportunities. The water temperature ranges from 19º to 24º, which is perfect for snorkeling, diving, sailing, surfing … there are many activities you can do here. If you are not so much into adventures, take a quiet boat trip to have a different perspective of the island, with luck you’ll find dolphins or whales that live here.
It is possible to find natural pools at Porto Moniz, formed by rocks, here it is possible to swim without being worried about the ripples or currents of the sea.
The best beach, without a doubt, Porto Santo, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. It is 9 km of golden sand beach bathed by crystal clear waters. There are also other beaches that you should visit, Faial beach where you can observe the interesting rock formations of the area. Prainha, near the tip of São Lourenço … Small as the name suggests, but quite beautiful. Machico beach: one of the most famous and popular of the island.
Okay, now that I have written this and remembered the places I went in the past I’m officially depressed ah ah … I have to go back soon, maybe to make a video and share it with you.
By the way, do you know that Tourism of Madeira has a spectacular offer?
From 15 March to 30 June 2017… If you buy a flight package + 3 nights at the hotel they offer one experience per person, if you buy flight + 5 nights they offer two experiences. Yep, you really should check this out! Find out everything about this promotion on their site: http://experiencias.madeiraallyear.com/oferta/
Here is a video of Madeira to make me dream a bit more!
Photos and Video by Copyright © 2016 Madeira all year.