Madeira Island Travel Guide

  • A view from Botanic Garden
    A view from Botanic Garden
    by Toshioohsako
  • Arts Centre at the cliffs above Calheta
    Arts Centre at the cliffs above Calheta
    by sachara
  • Ponta de Sao Lourenco
    Ponta de Sao Lourenco
    by PALLINA

Madeira Island Highlights

  • Pro
    salinhopt profile photo

    salinhopt says…

     The climat! The flowers! The people! The food!... 

  • Con
    zweiblumen profile photo

    zweiblumen says…

     The towns can be very busy and noisy - Head for the hills! 

  • In a nutshell
    willy_wonka profile photo

    willy_wonka says…

     madeira - the atlantic garden of eden! 

Madeira Island Things to Do

  • Portela

    I must confess that I would never go to Portela by my own - it was a new name for me, meaning nothing. Well, it was a very good surprise, with, maybe, the best views that I had in Madeira. That's it - you will only know the island if you explore it in detail.My Portela page is poor, but, it was a good moment

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  • São Vicente

    When crossing from the south to the northern coast, in the middle of the area, we arrive to S. Vicente. It´s a nice small town, with a wide but rough pebble beach, with a restaurant in the centre of it.More details in São Vicente

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  • Paul da Serra

    The top of the island is wild, with dramatic landscape dotted with cows pasturing in a flora that should be preserved, what means a discrete local conflict. With good roads, the visit is easy and doesn't demand much time, unless you want to explore one of the "levadas".Specific page in Ponta do Sol

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Madeira Island Hotels

Madeira Island Restaurants

  • Poncha

    We couldn't leave Madeira without tasting the famous drinks - Poncha and Nikita. Our friends did it in Serra d'Agua, and we stopped in "A poncha da Fátima" in Santo António da Serra. Poncha is too strong (dangerous for a driver), Nikita was cool.

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  • Great Beef.

    Those that enter Beef and Wine notice two main themes:The Beef and the Wine.Both are present everywhere,especially the wine. This focus has led to rewards,best wine service in Portugal,by the Wine Magazine.They have a list of 220 quality wines,150 of which can be served by the glass. New Zealand top sirloin steak,considered the best in the world,is...

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  • Yummy food!

    The food was great!The service make you feel like home, the surroundings are tipical latin teras was in the middle of a street between houses.The food was good comparing the price, for 2 person with starter, main dish, dessert and drinks with tip included is around 40€.And when i say main dish i mean 1 bord full, with fresh fish, or meat.The...

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Madeira Island Nightlife

  • Fado song

    The best place in Funcial, to listen to the lokal fado song.UPDATE !!!http://portuguese-american-journal.com/fado-world%E2%80%99s-intangible-cultural-heritage-%E2%80%93-unesco/

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  • Nightlife

    If you are staying in Funchal, then the place to be in the evening is the small place 5 km away from the city called Camara de Lobos. you just need to ask the taxi driver to take you to the old harbor of the place and there you can choose your place. planty of bars and places to drink. They expect in Madeira that you are nicely dress (long pants...

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  • Relax after sunset

    I already know that Capoeira was related to a brazilian dance/martial art but in Portuguese it's mean also henhouse! So I understand why a rooster (Galo in Portuguese and national icon) is standing proudly on the toproof of the pub.The terracce give you a stunning overview on the endless Atlantic Ocean, the Desertas Islands, the South Coast,...

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Madeira Island Transportation

  • Ferry to Porto Santo Island

    From the harbour of Funchal you can take the ferry to Porto Santo Island every day. The ferry leaves ussually at 8 am from Funchal. The boattrip will take two and half hours.You can return with the same boat, which leaves from Porto Santo island the same day at 6 pm. This way you can easily make a one day trip.If you wish you can bring a car at the...

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  • Hop on hop off bus around Funchal

    Like in many touristy places there are since the last years also the so called hop-on hop-off buses in Funchal. When you hp off there is every half an hour a next bus to hop on. A good opportunity to get familiar with a place when you visit for the first time.Though we knew allready every place along the route for ten years or more, we decided to...

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  • Landrovertrip to the west

    In 2008 I made a full day off landrover trip to the west of the island. After a visit to the view point Cabo Giraõ we followed unpaved tracks in the woods close to Jardim da Serra. The most spectacular part of the trip was following the track from Ribiera Brava up to high plains of Pau da Serra. I loved the rough landscape along a stream. We saw...

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Madeira Island Shopping

  • Expensive mango!

    The bulding is in heart of Funchal.Is the place where all the farmers and fishermen are selling their products.The moment they here you tourist the price will go up, we bought a mango for 2.50€ and was very small...But the way is arranged and the sfeer all is worth to visit. We got ourselvs the drinks tipical from Madeira, liquiors. If you want...

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  • Supermarket

    With more than 200 stores (Portugal mainland and Madeira) and around 8000 employees, Pingo Doce is the largest supermarket chain in Portugal. In each store there is the commitment to supply perishables and everyday household products, with the warranty of low prices and good service. Everything you could imagine is available from this store,ideal...

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  • Fresh seafood & flowers

    The Mercado dos Lavradores is really worthseeing. At the entrance you see immediately tropical flowers everywhere and fruits, vegetables (also very strange ones: a mix between banana and ananas, a lot of types of maracuja etc) and seafood everywhere. It's amazing to see people cutting, preparing and selling fishes, enormous codfish, thunafisch,...

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Madeira Island Local Customs

  • Popular Saints

    May-June, when the heat comes but people don't flock to beach... yet, is festivity time. All pretext is good to gather people eating, drinking, dancing, and having fun. The popular saints, in June, are celebrated all over the country, each village concentrated in one of the saints, to free the other to the neighborhood.Being so touristy, Madeira...

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  • Try some poncha.

    On madeira Island they have a very popular local drink called poncha.It's a mix of sugarcane alcohol and fresh orange and lemon juice with a good splacs og honey in it and it's sweet sour and pretty strong at the same time.You might compare it a little to sangria but it generally hits a little harder.The locals like to have this in late afternoon...

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  • Folklore

    The folklore in Madeira has many contact points with the continental one (as expected) but it has a funny distinctive detail - the dancers perform always bended, with the eyes in the floor. Tradition says that the humble workers in sugar cane plantations didn't dare to face their masters while dancing.

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Madeira Island Warnings and Dangers

  • Poncha

    Tourism made famous two local cocktails: Nikita, a long drink based in cream, and Poncha,a strong short drink with alcohol and honey, both sweet.Though some places claim "the best of..." it is possible to taste them almost everywhere now, so, if you are not driving...

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  • Serra d'Água

    Serra d'Água is a beautiful area seriously damaged by the flooding in 2010. The works were hard but I don't know if they are already finished, so travelling in the area may have some unexpected difficulties.

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  • Strawberry World Financial Problems

    The tour operator Strawberry World (http://www.strawberry-world.com) is facing financial problems and many hotels on Madeira and beyond are not accepting guests that have booked through Strawberry World.Here the hotels warning to...

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Madeira Island Tourist Traps

  • Foot poisoning

    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.

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  • Tourist information in Funchal

    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...

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  • 'Typical' houses at Santana

    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...

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Madeira Island What to Pack

  • Remember to pack the essential items

    Lightweight suitcase (recommended with new baggage allowance) luggage labels. Secure hand luggage containing passports, flight tickets, insurance documents, money, E111health insurance card link below, accommodation invoice.

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  • Madeira Guides

    Torch and waterproof gear for walking through Levada tunnels, some of which are very long, dark and wet!! Madeira'(AA World Travel Guides)`Madeira'(Sunflower Landscapes) by John and Pat UnderwoodCan also recommend the `Madeira Tour & Trail' map from Discovery Walking Guides Ltd.

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  • Don't forget

    In Madeira never is very cold or too hot, so, if you go there during the summer’s months, take thin clothes.When I was there, in April, it was a warm weather but when we go to the highest peaks it was rather cold, so don’t forget a coat. Don't, but don't forget your camera, you will have great places to take amazing photos. Take a look to my...

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Madeira Island Off The Beaten Path

  • Rabacal. Levada walks

    Rabacal is situaded at Higway ER110 in the Paul de Serra Highlands. Park your car. Take the bus down to Rabacal. From there you can walk to the Risco waterfalls or to 25 Fontes.We chooose to go to 25 Fontes. The 25 Fontes (literally "25 Sources") is a group of waterfalls located in Serrado, Ribeira da Janela, near the town of Porto Moniz in the...

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  • The Encumeada Pass

    A new road traverses the 1004 m high Encumeada pass. Starting in Ribeira Brava at the south coast, the road winds up to Serra d’Água (which was the island’s first water power station) and arrives at the top of the valley giving incredible views of both the south and the north coast.The shortest north-south way is the tunnel highway, but then you...

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  • Santo da Serra

    I wouldn't go there, but I was taken there. Santo da Serra is a somewhat plane area in a generally steep island, and that's why (maybe) it became the destination of golfers in Madeira. It has an interesting organization to preserve biodiversity.

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Madeira Island Sports & Outdoors

  • Diving

    Beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean lies a fantastic underwater garden. Diving in Madeira is a unique experience. They have got everything!

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  • Ponta de Sao Lourenco - Most eastern...

    They say that the Ponta de Sao Lorenco is one of the last nearly untouched places in Europe. For a fact it´s the most eastern peninsula of Madeira's island with a length of 9 kilometers and a width of 2 kilometers. This includes the two islands Ilheu da Cevada and Ilheu da Ponta de Sao Lourenco. It was declared a National Reserve in 1982 with the...

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  • Ponta de Sao Lourenco - Baia da Abra.

    The access to the Nature Reserve is free. However, amenities are minimal. Gravel parking lots, if they exist at all, are small. But after parking the car at the parking space we started our hike in front of Baia da Abra on the south coast. We walked our way to the north coast. The trail follows the coastline the entire time, with great views at the...

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Madeira Island Favorites

  • Delicious custard tarts

    Very popular in Madeira,very Portugese and very delicious.They consist of crusty puff pastry,filled with sweet egg custard and caramelised on top.Have tried them in several places on Madeira,but the best ones,and the largest are found at the Barcelos restaurante,which is at the viewpoint at Pico dos Barcelos (355 meters above sea level),just...

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  • Southern coast

    The density of construction in the southern coast, from Machico to Ribeira Brava is too high. Using every possible location in the steep hills, the houses hang among trees and flowers, in a miracle of adaptation. Nature may disagree, as shown in the recent flooding, but combines well with men to compose a very nice landscape.

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  • An excellent little book about Madeira.

    When you are in Madeira i recommend that you head down to the Madeir astory center as it's very interesting, but on top of that you should purchase a little booklet they are selling there called "Madeira a short illustrated history".It has a little grey cover that is mabye not the most catching and you might think that 10 euros is a bit much to pay...

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Explore Deeper into Madeira Island
Pico de Barcelos
Things to Do
Câmara de Lobos
Things to Do
Camache - famous for its wicker-making.
Things to Do
Take the coastal walk to Praia Formosa
Things to Do
Visit Machico
Things to Do
See the houses known as palheiros.
Things to Do
Natural beauty of Ponta de Sao Lourenco
Things to Do
Nuns Valley
Things to Do
Visit Funchal
Things to Do
Santo da Serra
Things to Do
Machico
Things to Do
Funchal
Things to Do
S. Lourenço
Off The Beaten Path
Estreito
Off The Beaten Path
Pico do Areeiro
Things to Do
Porto Moniz
Things to Do
Seixal
Things to Do
Eira do Serrado
Things to Do
Véu da Noiva
Things to Do
Rabaçal
Things to Do
Santana
Things to Do
Fajã dos Padres
Things to Do
Girão cape
Things to Do
Lido
Things to Do
Orchids
Things to Do
Birdwatching
Things to Do
Encumeada
Things to Do
Ribeira Brava
Things to Do
Eternal Beauty
Favorites
Levada walking can be dangorous.
Warnings and Dangers
Carneval in Madeira.
Local Customs
Levada walking.
Things to Do
Porto Moniz.
Things to Do
Encumeado.
Off The Beaten Path
Espada.
Favorites
Santana houses.
Things to Do
The local and good tasting soda of Madeira.
Favorites
Try the toboggan sledges.
Things to Do
Charles I of Austria fled to Madeira.
Favorites
Nun's valley (Curral das Freiras).
Things to Do
Map of Madeira Island

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