Madeira Island Tourist Traps

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Best Rated Tourist Traps in Madeira Island

  • zweiblumen's Profile Photo

    The Toboggan Ride

    by zweiblumen Updated Dec 19, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Toboggan

    It's THE most touristy thing to do in Funchal .. no in Madeira as a whole. Take a trip in a toboggan (read wicker basket!) down from Monte to Funchal pulled, pushed and steered by two "tobogganeers". A hair raising journey down narrow winding streets with cobbles and ruts thrown in for good measure. Sounds exciting! Well maybe .. but be prepared for the cost .. 10 Euros per passenger, plus you are expected to tip the drivers generously afterwards .. oh and if you want a photo of yourself waiting in the basket .. sorry .. toboggan as you consider the wisdom of your decision .. you will be photographed before the journey commences and hey presto the photo will be ready for you at the journey's end .. that will cost a further 10 Euros. Oh and one more point .. the toboggan trip no longer takes you all the way down into Funchal as the traffic conditions make that too dangerous so you will have a 2km walk to reach Funchal.

    Did I take a toboggan trip then? Of course I did!

    Unique Suggestions: Well at least save yourself 10 Euros and ask the photographer to take a picture of you with your own camera, they are usually quite happy to do so.

    Fun Alternatives: You could try walking .. it's only 4km! Damned hard on the knees though .. steep!

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Ribeira Brava - The beach area.

    by Jerelis Updated Dec 17, 2006

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    The remains of the S. Bento Fort.
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    The obviously new promenade consists of stone block flooring, with imaginative curvy raised and stepped areas, with wooden decking. Together with the beach area there is a childrens wimming pool, infants paddling pool, changing room, toilets and reception. Because of all these changes it is now considered a significant tourist destination, especially for those who are passing through on a day trip. We were this one day tourists, but rather liked to visit some historic sites. Like what was left of the Sao Bento Fort, built in the 17th century. It's a surviving witness to the battles against pirates. At this day it is the local Tourist Office.

    Also the Mercado dos Lavradores with its beautiful tile entrance. Once we were inside we saw a rather large central courtyard. Immediately we witnessed the hive of activity and the atmosphere was a riot of colours. We smelled the aromas from the various exotic flowers, fruit/vegetables, willow work, fish and local crafts. Some of the vendors were in traditional costumes, which again added to the vibrancy of this magical place.

    Ribeira Brava has a small harbour tucked away to the east of the town, but it is not visible from the town itself. We had to access it through a rock tunnel at the east end of the sea front. A fun fact is that this tunnel to the harbour is the coolest place in Ribeira Brava on a very hot day!

    Unique Suggestions: We guess that there is not a real alternative. You must at least visit this place and maybe try not to take too much notice of the many tourists :-)

    Address:
    The village of Ribeira Brava

    Directions:
    The village is situated at the south side of the island at the beach. It's a 30 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Website:
    http://ww.cm-ribeirabrava.pt

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Religious Travel

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  • davidcross's Profile Photo

    'Typical' houses at Santana

    by davidcross Written Sep 3, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pretty- but you've seen it now!

    The 'typical' in the description begs a question. If they are indeed typical of the island, why go to Santana to see them?
    In fact houses with the triangular shape can be found in many parts of Madeira - but nothing like as smartly decorated as those in Santana. These are simply not typical and we only saw one garden shed resembling them!
    What's more, if you want to go and look at the overpriced goods at the one which functions as a shop' you'll have to give to beggers or work to avoid them on your way in.

    Unique Suggestions: Whrn we went it was belting down with rain but I believe there's a cable-car fairly near that gives good views.

    Fun Alternatives: With a car you are conveniently placed for seeing a lot of the north coast. We were without a car and therefore I shall not be doing a specific tip.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Ribeira Brava - One of the oldest towns.

    by Jerelis Updated Dec 17, 2006

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    Very beautiful entrance of the mercado.

    Established in the mid fifteenth century, Ribeira Brava is one of the oldest towns in Madeira. It is situated on the southeast coast near the mouth of the river with the same name. Writers think that its name comes from the furious (Brava) river (Ribeira) that used to flow in this area.

    The town is blessed with a long beach, a river and an unusually long thin strip of flat slightly sloping land on which the town is built. Apart from the sea front, it is surrounded on all sides by a wonderful lush mountain scenery. Facing east from the harbour, you will be looking towards the cliffs of Gabo Girao, one of the highest cliffs in Europe.

    Ribeira Brava has made enormous progress in the last few years and has geared itself up to tourism. Now it's a lot of easier to access since the construction of the two lane motorway from Funchal. The town boasts many street cafes and shops and is certainly a place to spend a few hours taking in the sights and sounds.

    Unique Suggestions: We guess that there is not a real alternative. You must at least visit this place and maybe try not to take too much notice of the many tourists :-)

    Address:
    The village of Ribeira Brava

    Directions:
    The village is situated at the south side of the island at the beach. It's a 30 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Website:
    http://ww.cm-ribeirabrava.pt

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Ribeira Brava - Igreja de Sao Bento.

    by Jerelis Updated Dec 17, 2006

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    The Igreja de Sao Bento near the principal square.
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    Near the principal square we visited the Igreja de Sao Bento (Sao Bento Church). It's situated just 2 streets back from the promenade and we noticed that the spire is easily spotted from most parts of Ribeira Brava. This beautiful church has its origin in a small chapel dedicated to this saint in the 15th century, that was later altered and expanded to become the parish church in the 16th century. The panels depicting the Virgin with Jesus, with Sao Benardo beside her, are of rare artistic standard. We liked the carved stone front and pulpit. The reveal Flemish influences, as does the image of Our Lady of the Rosery, dated from the 16th century. The church has its main body divided by two series of five arches, into three naves.

    Be aware that the Igreja de Sao Bento closes from 1 pm to 3 pm for lunch. We arrived at the closed doors as we read that it was supposed to be open from 7 am to 7 pm, which is true, but do remind the lunchtime! The church clock chimes the hour twice and the church bells 'talks' to the community usually once and sometimes severals times a day, so its presence in the town is felt everywhere.

    Unique Suggestions: We guess that there is not a real alternative. You must at least visit this place and maybe try not to take too much notice of the many tourists :-)

    Address:
    The village of Ribeira Brava

    Directions:
    The village is situated at the south side of the island at the beach. It's a 30 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Website:
    http://ww.cm-ribeirabrava.pt

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel
    • Family Travel

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  • sunchasers's Profile Photo

    Santana Houses

    by sunchasers Written Aug 25, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Though going to the Northeastern part of Madeira and seeing these cute little thatched Madeiran homes amongst the foliage is really nice, they are not located all together. Rather there are 3-4 stacked right next to each other for tourists to take photos of. The rest of these homes require you to drive around in search of them. From tourist brochures of Madeira, this is a bit suprising as most people would think that these cottages would be together forming a village in Santana, but unfortunately that isn't the case.

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Camacha - Apple festival and willow craft.

    by Jerelis Updated Oct 15, 2006

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    A craftsman working in
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    Camacha is famous for its apple festival and very active folklore dance troops. Therefore many consider the Camacha village the Madeiran Capital of Culture. We were unlucky not to see the very talented people on a cultural, social or entertainment event.

    They also like to call this the village of basket makers. Well, that's not quite true, because it's much more than that - it's the centre of Madeira's willow craft industry. You will be surprised what they can produce from basket. From normal small stuff over garden-furnitures up to complete furniture for living rooms - and all that of stable quality. We learned that there are over 1000 different articles on exhibition, like ornaments, kitchen utensils and wine holders.

    At the back of the shop "O Relogio" we saw the craftsmen doing their work. Just be aware that you will hav eto swirm your way through the masses. Busloads of tourists are being dropped in front of the shop!

    Address:
    Village of Camacha

    Directions:
    Situated at the middle (bit to the north east) side of the island. It is a 18 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Camacha - More appreciation for the little church.

    by Jerelis Updated Oct 15, 2006

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    A beautiful old church in Camacha.
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    Camacha is situated on a mountain, it is rich on secular trees. We noticed that some of the magnificent Quintas da Madeira still remain with all their splendorous gardens.

    More than the average (bus) tourist we rather had more appreciation for the little church which was situated near the centre square. It's quite old, because we learned that some documents presented us the year of 1452 as the date of its foundation. A funny fact is that we were about the only people visiting this beautiful little church and we admired its finely sculpted wood altars and the baroque tiles.

    Later on we strolled down the street to have a look at the new and modern church which was inaugurated in 1998. It has a very interesting architecture - very, very different from the traditional churches on the island.

    Address:
    Village of Camacha

    Directions:
    Situated at the middle (bit to the north east) side of the island. It is a 18 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Family Travel

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  • PALLINA's Profile Photo

    Tourist information in Funchal

    by PALLINA Written Sep 11, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We went to the tourist information office in Funchal downtown and it was very useless and disappointing. Nothing more than a travel book...a basic one! They were not helpful. On the seaside there are many others but private, basically. They are even worse. We asked for some nice place where live music is played and they answer they are used to raccomand tourists to go to the Casino, where tourists can have a dinner and a show for tourist as well. it is obvious that we don't want to do what all tourists do!!!! What kind of advice is it?

    Unique Suggestions: it is nonesense to go there. You'll waste your time.

    Fun Alternatives: Ask to the receptionists for any kind of information about the island. They are very proud to be born there and will welcome you and give you all kind of information you may need.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Singles
    • Family Travel

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  • JazzyOrange's Profile Photo

    Jeep Safari - exhaust fumes and a sore bum

    by JazzyOrange Updated Dec 27, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    bumpy road
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    My partner and I thought it sounded quite nice and adventurous: ''Discover Madeira by Jeep'', with 60% off road, a little walk included and stops at villages in the mountains and at the coast. A full day costed Euro 39, and if you wanted you could pay an extra Euro 10 for lunch. It turned out to be a disaster.

    After a short ride on the motorway we drove into the mountains on a small road. Just when I thought, ''this is going to be good'', we stopped. ''Coffee break'', the guide said. I had just finished breakfast and really didn't want any coffee after only 20 minutes. The guide obviously wanted to catch up with a few friends during our trip.

    In the mountains, the scenery was great, but then the 'off-road' bit started... My bottom was black and blue after only half an hour and during the whole trip we could hardly see anything due to the small, low car windows and our high seats. The fuel smell we noticed already at the start of the trip also got worse and I found myself holding my jumper in front of my nose and mouth after some time. ''It's because the wheel on the back of the door is heavy and therefore the door cannot close properly'' the guide said. The exhaust fumes were blown straight back into the car.

    When we got to the restaurant for our lunch break (another place run by some of the guides' friends), my partner and I both felt light headed and ill because of the fumes. One of the teenage boys in our car also suffered from tiredness. We explained to the guide how we felt and asked if he could drop us off at the nearest village so we could catch a bus back into Funchal. ''But maybe you can swop seats with the young boys?'' the guide tried.

    Eventually he promised to drop us off in Calheta and he confirmed there would be plenty buses, taking one hour into town. We found out there were only two buses per day....and we had just missed the last one. The taxi back to Funchal costed us 45 Euro...

    An interesting day I must admit. I'd rather go hiking instead next time.

    Unique Suggestions: Check what car you're going to be in. The old landrovers are worst for their exhaust fumes. Also, check what sort of organisation it is. What are they going to tell you? Where are they going to stop? Will you have time to have a look around on your own when you stop in a village? We got rushed through the most interesting towns, but got ''photo stops'' at less obvious places.

    Fun Alternatives: Go on a hiking trip with a guide and a group of other people. We did this and it was great. The scenery you see during a jeep 'safari' is better to be enjoyed during a walk in the fresh air!

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip
    • Safari

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Monte - Monte's Municipal Garden.

    by Jerelis Updated Feb 7, 2007

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    The Municipal Garden.
    1 more image

    At Monte, the fashionable hill town in Madeira, are the magnificent gardens that surround the cahteau-like Monte Palace. After our visit to the church we walked down the stairs and saw 2 white-clad "chauffeurs" with straw hats waiting for tourists to take a sledge ride.

    We didn't take the toboggans ride and had a strowl through the Monte's Municipal Garden. It's certainly the most wonderful and varied garden on the island. To us it brought some peace in the day through its flower, ancient trees, the small river and the pebbly tracks.

    Don't miss the opportunity to see the Koi fishes, a specie whose origins come from East Asia and considered extremely valuable. We liked the Buddhist sculptures, miniature islands and ornamental bridges. We also enjoyed the swans beauty and majesty on the central lake. A perfect place for an unforgettable morning!

    Unique Suggestions: Do hike the stairs up to the church of Monte. It's worth it, not only for the church itself, but also breathtaking views over the city of Funchal.

    Address:
    Village of Monte

    Directions:
    Situated at the south side of the island. It's just northern of the capital of Madeira, Funchal, a 5 minutes drive.

    Related to:
    • Festivals
    • Historical Travel
    • Cruise

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Camacha - Soccer played for the very first time...

    by Jerelis Updated Oct 15, 2006

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    Soccer was played for the first time in Portugal.

    Next to the centre square there was a small look-out point which allowed us to overlook a part of the southern side of the island. Trully breathtaking!

    Finally we we visited Achada, which is the centre of this small village where the locals socialize. Arriving there we were pleasantly surprised by the monument we saw there. We read that right here soccer was played for the first time (1875) in Portugal due to the influence of the British.

    But eventhough we had this last positive surprise we won't stick with the opinion of the people that say that Camacha is the most picturesque village of the island. In our opinion it has some beautiful Quintas, great craftsmen, a nice little church and a soccer monument, but it's mostly a place where busloads of tourists are blocking the way and most old traditional houses are replaced by modern ones.

    Address:
    Village of Camacha

    Directions:
    Situated at the middle (bit to the north east) side of the island. It is a 18 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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  • sunchasers's Profile Photo

    Sled Riding in Monte

    by sunchasers Written Sep 10, 2006

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    It's a must-do tourist activity for some, but if you're uncertain as to whether or not you'll actually try this odd little activity out, consider that the round-trip ticket on the air-tram is the same price or cheaper than the one-way trip on the taboggan. The sled rides cost around 20EUR (not including the obligatory tip to the drivers) and the madeiran sled-drivers themselves spend much of their days standing around, smoking, waiting for the next tourist to take the bait. I think I could take a luxury vacation on what was in their till for 1 day - large piles of 20EUR bills. It's interesting to see them take other tourists down, but overall, the vibe is tacky, touristy, and expensive.

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  • Jerelis's Profile Photo

    Camacha - Picturesque? Or not?

    by Jerelis Updated Oct 15, 2006

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    Traditional clothing of Madeira.

    Before we decided to visit the village of Camacha we heared that it was one of the most picturesque villages on the siland of Madeira. The drive towards Camacha was beautiful indeed. We drove through some laurisliva forests, which is a type of humid subtropical forest. It's made up of Laurel-leaved evergreen hardwood trees, reaching up to 40 meters high.

    When we drove some further to Camacha we noticed that lots of new houses were being built replacing the old traditional ones. In the village itself the small shops and bars are fast disappearing to be replaced by supermarkets and large shopping centres. Such a shame!

    Address:
    Village of Camacha

    Directions:
    Situated at the middle (bit to the north east) side of the island. It is a 18 km drive from the capital of Madeira, Funchal.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Festivals
    • Arts and Culture

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  • PeterKnudsen's Profile Photo

    Foot poisoning

    by PeterKnudsen Written Apr 26, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In Funcial their is more resturants than turists. One day 200 guests, next day 20 guests. Be carefull what you eat, it may be old food, heavely spiced to camoflage bad tast.
    OBS all sea food is import.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Food and Dining

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Madeira Island Tourist Traps

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