What to do in Madeira: Madeira is a small paradise lost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With hundreds of natural secrets to unveil, this is a trendier destination than ever. If you feel like discovering one of the most hunted Portuguese treasures, Madeira is the perfect place for you to go. Secrets from Portugal has joined the best travelling tips for those who want to visit Madeira.
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Visiting Madeira is diving into a destination that makes the perfect connection between sea and mountain. This island is full of History and is marked by the hospitality of people that redefined for centuries that welcoming art. In the end, Madeira is just a green point in the middle of the Ocean – but it’s so much more than that.
Under a subtropical weather, Madeira can be a perfect destination during any time of the year, offering you 17ºC even on Winter, to say the least. Madeira and its people are used to welcome people from any corner of the world. The richness of Madeiran flora is proof of that: bananas, sugar canes, vineyards, tropical fruits, multiple species of flowers – the world concentrated on a single point in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
What to do in Madeira: Must-visit places
The magnificent Cabo Girão is the largest natural promontory in Portugal, with a verticality of 589 m. A recent, glass-bottomed gazebo allows you to contemplate even better the fajãs grown at the base of the promontory. The views from the gazebo extend from Câmara de Lobos to Funchal, with these cities facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Curral das Freiras
With a little more than two thousand inhabitants, Curral das Freiras is a small village in the heart of the mountains of Madeira. Once practically isolated in an enclosed valley, accessible only by a dizzying road, today it’s possible to cross a tunnel and reach the village easily. It’s worth to feel the claustrophobia of the place, but also contemplate the village of some of the most beautiful viewpoints of Madeira, as in Miradouro do Paredão and Miradouro da Eira do Serrado. This is one of the must-visit places on Madeira.
Piscinas Naturais de Porto Moniz
Porto Moniz grew around the tip of the island where natural pools, cornered in the volcanic rocks attracted the vacationers. Once completely natural, today there are more and more structures, such as stairs, walkways and various infrastructures to support tourists. You can bathe in the natural pools or the modern ones, already arranged, but the essence is still there, swimming in the midst of the solidified lavas of the volcanic eruptions that formed the island. All with a magnificent view over the Mole islet.
Ponta de São Lourenço
Ponta de São Lourenço, in the extreme northeast of Madeira, is a magnificent place for a walk. You can opt for the PR8 – Vereda de São Lourenço rail, with 4 km of extension – you have to make the round trip which gives 8 km of route from Baia d’Abra to the Sardine Pier. The complete route takes about 5 hours and has magnificent views of the point where you will have landed the boat of Gonçalves Zarco when he discovered Madeira. If your time is more limited, there is a rail to the right of the closet that skirts the slopes and has magnificent views over the very tip. Another option to contemplate this place is to climb to the belvedere of Ponta do Rosto.
Levadas da Madeira
No visit to Madeira is complete without going through some of its levadas. The levadas are man-made channels for transporting the water from the northern part of the island, where precipitation is highest, to the south. Today many of these levadas, which take advantage of the contour lines, have been transformed into pedestrian paths and are signposted. There are hard and picky levadas, but there are also levadas to the less well prepared. One of the easiest to do, the most beautiful and the shortest is the Levada dos Balcões with only 1.5 km to each side. For the best prepared, the Levada das 25 Fontes or Levada do Caldeirão Verde are the most beautiful. For the most demanding, you can still follow Levada from Caldeirão Verde to the Caldeirão do Inferno. But there are many more levadas to experience in Madeira.
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What to do in Madeira: Where to eat
Madeira is blessed not only by its breathtaking natural landscapes, but also by amazing gastronomy. For that reason, on this natural paradise, there are, at least, two Michelin-starred restaurants you can’t miss.
Il Gallo D’Oro
Since 2004, the kitchen is under the meticulous care of the talented French Chef Benoît Sinthon. Back in 2009, Il Gallo d’Oro received its first Michelin star, and curiously, it was also the first one awarded on the island of Madeira, an achievement that was once again accomplished in 2017. The refined Mediterranean cuisine of the restaurant merges perfectly with the traditional Iberian cuisine. This results in a wonderful combination of Mediterranean products with high-quality ingredients from other regions of the Iberian Peninsula.
Address: Estrada Monumental 147, 9004-532 Funchal
Since 2015, the recently renovated William restaurant of the historic Belmond Reid’s Palace hotel in Funchal has had Joachim Koerper as a consultant chef. The renowned chef, who already has a Michelin-starred restaurant in Lisbon, Eleven, gets one more distinction for the Country – it is the second restaurant in Madeira to enter the Guide. Luís Pestana is the executive chef of the restaurant and has worked for William for more than 25 years. There are three degustation menus, all of which are highly recommendable, but there are also many à la carte options, such as lobster with cauliflower, mullet with mashed potatoes, or the supreme chicken with textures of beet.
Address: Estrada Monumental 139, 9000-098 Funchal
What to do in Madeira: Where to sleep
Belmond Reid’s Palace
Belmond Reid’s Palace is surrounded by nature and history. From the famous and award-winning Madeira wine to the steep cliffs that rise from the sea, the Belmond Reid’s Palace stands out for its luxurious quality, being regularly recognised at an international level. The suites have incredible balconies and terraces with views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Funchal Bay. Be delighted by the Dining Room that highlights a glamorous Edwardian decor, where guests dress up and are transported to the past.
Address: Estrada Monumental 139, 9000-098 Funchal, Madeira
Pestana Carlton Madeira
The Pestana Group possesses an immense variety of hotels in Madeira Island. In this edition, we decided to distinguish the Pestana Carlton Madeira Hotel, a sublime palace of hospitality with a breathtaking view that transports us to paradisiac islands, between palm trees and seawater. This stunning and elegant hotel is equipped with wonderful saltwater pools, large rooms where the light of the sun shines through and a state of the art SPA area.
Address: Largo António Nobre, nº1, 9004-531 Funchal
The Cliff Bay
Ex-libris of the PortoBay Hotels & Resorts, The Cliff Bay is situated at the epicentre of one of Madeira’s Natural Heritage. Surrounded by lush green gardens with centuries-old plants, innumerable corners and centuries-old palms, this Five Star Hotel also boasts magnificent views of Funchal Bay. This environment guarantees genuine tranquillity, well-being and refinement to all its guests, who can also enjoy fantastic meals at Il Gallo d’Oro, a gourmet restaurant under the supervision of Chef Benoît Sinthon with 2 Michelin Star.
Address: Estrada Monumental 147, Funchal
Quinta da Casa Branca
Member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the Quinta da Casa Branca is a five-star boutique hotel built in the heart of a wonderful botanical garden, located near the centre of Funchal but still far away from the bustle of the city. With an avant-garde architectural style, Quinta da Casa Branca offers its guests a unique experience, where the rooms open to the incredible garden, allowing for a close relationship with nature, with trees and plants from all over the world.
Address: Rua da Casa Branca 7, 9000-088 Funchal
If you had any doubts about if you should or not visit Madeira or about what to do in Madeira, we hope this curated selection from Secrets from Portugal has helped you decided to visit this lost paradise!
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