I have collected the best Madeira tips for you to have a great time here. The Portuguese island of Madeira is, like the neighbouring Canary Islands, volcanic in origin and boasts some breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. If you know a bit about the Canary Islands, you’ll know the kinds of extraordinary landscapes, mountains and plains that can be created by volcanic activity. Madeira’s coast has a pretty steep descent into the sea, its mountains invite for long hikes and the variety of flowers and other plants are bound to make any nature lover speechless. Clear the stage for the flower island of Madeira…
It’s best to explore the island with a rental car, as the roads are very well built.
There is a two-part climate on the island: it rains a lot in the north, while a subtropical climate prevails in the south. Madeira is comfortably warm all year round, so temperatures reaching between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius are present even in January. We have to thank the Gulf Stream for that, as it influences the climate on the island. It’s the perfect place to escape the gloomy British winter!
Madeira tips – places worth seeing
Where do you even start on such a diverse island like Madeira? With the breathtaking, steep cliffs, numerous nature reserves or maybe with the green mountain ranges looming over the island which attract avid hikers year after year? It’s best to start our little tour around the island in the capital city of Funchal.
Located in the south of the island, the city of Funchal is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the island. The port of Funchal has become very famous and popular that every day many cruise ships arrive and bring hundreds of visitors ashore. Once arrived most of the tourist head first to the picturesque old town of Funchal. The old town captivates especially with its small streets, where you can forget the time while walking. Colourful paintings and magnificent flowers as well as trees will certainly enchant you completely. Numerous restaurants and cafes offer you a great opportunity to catch your breath and to soak up the atmosphere.
A feast for the eyes is also the Mercado dos Lavradores, a market where you can find almost everything that you love. In addition to the typical Madeira flowers, you will surely find some souvenirs here. A very special highlight of the market is in the atrium: here you will find more than 700 different colourful and tasty fruits as well as all sorts of vegetables.
Besides huge avocados, mangos and guavas there are many types of fruits which you’re bound to not have seen let alone tasted ever before. Or have you come across an annona, a pitanga or a banana passion fruit before? No? Then the Mercado dos Lavradores is the perfect place to change that! The merchants are happy to let you taste some of their fruits. Next on the programme is something you should definitely not miss – riding the cable railway to the city of Monte. During the ride in the closed cable car, which lasts about 10 minutes, you’ll have a fantastic view of Funchal.
Madeira Tips – Monte
Arriving in the small town of Monte, you should first of all make a detour to the famous Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte. It’s a real place of pilgrimage for many Christians and the building is very impressive. Not too far from the church is one of the stunning botanical gardens of Madeira, the Jardim do Monte Palace, where you’ll find a galore of exotic and familiar plants.
Madeira’s Flower Festival:
The Madeirans love flowers. The fact that the island is so green and flowers can be found on every step is celebrated with parades and festivals between 7th and 13 April.
Besides quite a number of fountains, you’ll also find various themed gardens such as a Japanese garden inviting to linger for a while. After a visit to the botanical garden it’s time to return to Funchal. But instead of taking the cable railway like we did on the way here, choose a different method of descending from the mountain, namely with a wicker sledge. This wonderful method of getting around has become quite the tourist attraction and simply forms an invaluable part of a visit to Funchal.
Madeira Tips – Cristiano Ronaldo Museum
It’s simply impossible not to mention the world class footballer Cristiano Ronaldo when talking about the island of Madeira. The Madeirans are mighty proud of their most famous export. And Ronaldo is very proud of his home island of Madeira too, as he placed his own statue here in 2015 with the opening of the CR7 Museum. You can find out everything about Ronaldo’s career here and examine his prizes and trophies. A visit to the museum followed by viewing of the bronze statue depicting the player in a typical pose is an absolute must for all fans of the famous footballer. The statue, perched in the harbour of Funchals has gained notoriety shortly after it was unveiled. The reason: luckily for Cristiano, some body parts came out more detailed than others. ;)
Pestana CR7 Funchal – The Cristiano Ronaldo Hotel
It’s not a secret that Cristiano is damn proud of his hometown Funchal and you can see it reflected in one of his latest projects: under the name CR7 and in cooperation with the hotel group Pestana, Cristiano had his own hotels built in Funchal and Lisbon. Do you want to know what to expect from the 49 rooms of the Pestana CR7 Funchal? A lot of Ronaldo of course!
The rooms are decorated with pictures and football jerseys and staying here costs around £77 per night. The price includes breakfast and the beautiful view over the port of Funchal is free of charge. :)
So if you’re a CR7 fan you shouldn’t miss out on staying here. By the way: Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t attend the official hotel opening, because he was working hard to make one of his biggest dreams become true: becoming European Champion 2016. And he actually did it! Portugal won the European Champion ship in France!
Take a look at the Pestana CR7 hotel in Funchal:
Madeira Tips – Pico da Arieiro & Cabo Girão
As I’ve already mentioned, Madeira is a dream destination for hikers. If you want to climb one of the countless mountains, you’d do best to start with the Pico de Arieiro, the third highest mountain on the island. A trip to the peak without much effort will suit the inexperienced mountaineers among you, as the top is accessible by a road. You’ll have a great view of the island once you reach the 1,818 metre tall peak, when the weather is clear you can see all the way to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo.
On the more cloudy days, you’ll be standing above the clouds and watch the peaks of neighbouring summits poking their way through. If you’ve still got some strength in your legs after that trip, you could continue your hike for another three hours from the peak of Pico do Arieiro to the top of Pico Ruvio, the highest mountain on the island thanks to its height of 1,861 metres. Don’t worry about losing your way – there are hiking paths set in place.
You’ll find another spectacular natural setting at Cabo Girão. Here you’ll find cliffs about 570 metres tall, steeply descending into the sea and providing breathtaking views. Cabo Girão belongs to the highest cliffs in Europe and the brave souls among you can enter the glass viewing platform and witness a view that’s simply out of this world!
Madeira Tips – Lava Pools of Madeira
You’ll be searching for natural beaches in vain on Madeira. Due to its volcanic origins, most coasts on the island are steep. Nevertheless there’s one place on Madeira perfect for swimming; other than the artificially created beaches and bays of the hotels, namely the Lava Pools in the north-western parts of the island. These natural swimming basins made from lava rocks are filled with the Atlantic waters. They are quite similar to swimming pools and are definitely worth a visit. You can reach the Lava Pools from Funchal in about an hour with your rental car.
Madeira tips – Risco Waterfall & Caldeirão Verde
Madeira is the perfect place for active holidaymakers. While we’re on the topic of hikes… I’d like to introduce two more paths where you’ll be able to witness the nature of the island at its best. The hike to the Risco Waterfall in south west of the island near Rabacal is said to be an easy route and can be tackled by all those who feel confident walking long distances on foot. After the hike that will lead you through paths overgrown with greenery, you’ll come to the Risco Waterfall. Masses of water plummet down rocks 100 metres tall. The view is certainly worth a three hour walk. I advise you to take some food for the way, you won’t find any restaurants here.
The Levada hike to the Caldeirão Verde is also a popular route. Those who followed it talk about a ‘pure nature experience’ and confirm that this route is an absolute must when visiting Madeira. You’ll pass the rare laurel trees, caves, streams and a waterfall on the way. I find this to be the perfect way of clearing your mind of everyday stress!
Madeira Tips – Diving on Madeira
The diving enthusiasts among you are constantly on the search for the most diverse reefs in the world. Madeira has a lot to offer in this matter too. As thanks to the bizarre volcanic rocks many species of fish and other sea dwellers choose to make the coast of the island their home. You’ll find a large underwater national park on the southern part of the island, abundant in biodiversity. Rays, perches, seals, parrotfish: these are just some of the animals which you can observe here. You’d do best to join one of the local diving schools on Madeira and book a course or an excursion. The Explore Madeira Diving Center caught my eye during my research for example.
Madeira – a colourful holiday paradise
Madeira has an insane amount of things to offer, don’t you think? If you’ve caught the bug and want to see the beauty of the flower isle with your own eyes, just keep an eye on my blog. I’ll be sure to share every Madeira deal I find. :) Soon you’ll be sitting on a plane heading for Madeira!