09 Feb Beautiful Madeira islands
Named as World’s Leading Island destination at the WTA 2015 (World Travel Awards) & more famously as the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, Madeira archipelago is known for its rugged terrain, warm climates, extensive flora & evergreen gardens. The Garden island comprises of 4 islands namely – Funchal, Porto Santo, Santa Cruz & Machico with Porto Santo boasting of the only sandy beach in Madeira & provides for exceptional diving sites & the casa house of Christopher Columbus now serves as island’s tribute to the maritime history.
The major city & the capital of the island, Funchal looks like a postcard city from the 17thcentury with its predominant whitewashed stone houses. The rich volcanic soil & pleasant climate throughout the year ensure the presence of rich, distinctive flora & fauna across the island which is a rear trait to be found in most of the European cities. We have made a list of some of the beautiful experiences that you can opt for while holidaying in Madeira, especially the capital city, Funchal.
Walk in the Gardens & Parks
Funchal is full of evergreen colorful gardens which can de-stress any heart. Starting from Madeira Botanical Gardens, Orchid Garden, Monte Palace Tropical Garden, Santa Catarina Park, Palheiro Gardens and many more, you will have fair chances of appreciating the beauty & coming across rear species of plants & flowers from across the globe which have now found their home in the rich soils of Funchal. Monte Palace Tropical gardens located at Quinta Monte Palace have won the title of being the most visited garden in Funchal owing to its vast, exquisite collection of over 1,00,000 plants & its convenient location just next to the upper station of the Monte Cable car.
Cliffs of Cabo Girao
The cliffs of Cabo Girao standing at a massive height of 590 meters above sea level are amongst the world’s highest ocean cliffs. With the construction of Skywalk in October 2012, the cliffs now provide for spectacular views over the ocean below, to town of Camara de Lobos & Funchal city to the east side. To add to your delight, the experience is totally free. Enrich your experience as you take a cable car to Fajas de Cabo Girao terraced fields at a small additional cost.
The Old Town of Funchal
In the heart of Funchal lies Zona Velha (Old town), characterized by narrow cobbled lanes, local bars & eateries, Corpo Santo Chapel from 15th Century and off course Cristiano Ronaldo Museum. You can look for a good bargain at Rua do Aljube or Rua da Carreira, and buy some fresh fruits, vegetables & fish from the local Farmer’s market, Mercado dos Lavradores. The major attractions here are the painted doors that run along the streets of Rua de Santa Maria & the cable car that can be found taking tourists to Monte Hill.
Monte Cable Car & Toboggan Sled Ride
For decades, Monte has been on the visiting list of any tourist who is planning to visit Madeira Islands. You can choose to visit the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens or else take a second cable car to the Botanical gardens. The Church of our Lady of Monte stands majestically few steps away from the Cable car station. You can see the tomb of Charles I, last emperor of Austria who spent last days of his life here or climb to the roof of the Church for spectacular views of the city below.
On return, hop on to a traditional wicker toboggan ride right to Livramento being pushed & steered by two traditional runners who shall steer you all the way down. In the past, these were used by villagers from Monte to get quickly down the hill to the main town & is something that you will find happening only here.
Wine making in Madeira goes back to 15th Century when island mainly served as a port for long voyages & grape spirits would be added to prevent the wine from spoiling. When these ships set on long expeditions, the heat & continuous movement enhanced the taste & added a distinguished flavor to the wines. This is from where the Madeira Winemakers opted their unique technique of heating & aging wines.
So, when on the island, do opt for a wine tasting experience to embrace the unique flavors of the local produce here.
Madeira islands have a rugged terrain with green vegetation throughout the year which means it is ideal for nature trails & hikes. In order to ensure water availability all across the island, dozens of irrigation channels were cut in the mountains to bring water from the North towards the drier South. These irrigation channels, popularly called as ‘Levadas’ have been acclaimed as the one of the Seven wonders of Portugal & provide for some of the spectacular walks in the vicinity of rich landscapes, waterfalls, fields, valleys & mountains for the nature lovers.
The warm & clear waters provide for excellent diving sites & opportunities to meet the wild, marine life which might not be visible to the naked eye elsewise. You can also opt for a safe boat trip into the vast oceans looking out for whales & dolphins or just watching the sun go down. To honor the whale industry on the island, Madeira whale museum has been built on the east coast of the island housing unique tools, instruments & models of whales & dolphins.
The variety of sea food that you can savor here is sure to make your heart flutter & indulge in a dining experience second to none. There can be nothing compared to the freshly caught Tuna fish when cut into steaks & served with fried maze, scarcely found black scabbard fish served as fish fillets and off course the national dish of Madeira, ‘Espetada’ served with Bolo do caco & a glass of fresh Poncha are sure to tantalize your taste buds. End your food trail with a passion fruit pudding freshly prepared just for you.
Above listed are some of our top recommendations for your next trip to the beautiful Madeira islands. Do let us know how it went.