We had the opportunity to spend a week in my new favorite destination Madeira!
Madeira offers stunning vistas, B&B, Hotel and Apartment accommodations from Mountainside to Beachfront.
The main town of Funchal is vibrant with incredible restaurants offering excellent value, a stunning view from every corner. The city is walkable, but also offers an excellent public transport and taxi system. Keep in mind is Funchal is on the side of a mountain, and the walk to higher accommodations can be challenging, the walks down are a breeze 😀.
The true beauty and grandeur experienced when you venture up 6000’ from Funchal, and down to the east coast for incredible coastline with vistas of otherworldly rock formations. So otherworldly, the latest Disney+ Star Wars offering The Acolyte is shot from the upper reaches of Madeiras forest to the rugged eastern and western coastlines.
What we experienced in Madeira
We hit the ground running, after checking in to our accommodations. We were off to see the Saturday Farmer’s and Fish Markets, then wondered around old town, ending our first day with a wonderful dinner at Casa Velha.
After a much needed night of rest we spent the day exploring our surroundings via the local Hop on Hop off bus, with an extended visit to Farol de Câmara de Lobos, that is famous for Winston Churchill spending large chunks of time painting the vistas.
On Monday we started the day with a ride up the Funchal Gondola to ride a basket down the mountain, but first we visited the beautiful Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. Then it was the days main event, a wicker basket ride down the mountain roads guided by our basket wranglers. Yes it’s a touristy activity with a typically hour long wait to ride. And still it’s worth it for the fun you will have.
Tuesday was our day with Rico’s Off Road Adventures, and our guide Vitor. Taking a tour like this is a must do, you can take a true off road adventure with Rico’s, our you can take a more sedate tour via a Land Rover. Whichever option you take will provide an incredible experience. The diversity of ecological areas as you travel up from the coast to over 6000 ft is magical.
Wednesday we spent the afternoon with Claudio hiking along the Levadas a couple of thousand feet above the sea. Due to a heavy rainstorm we got a late start on our 5K hike. Near the end of the hike we had to don our headlamps to see our way out. Making the final more exciting than expected 😳 we followed the hike up with an unforgettable experience cooking our dinner over an open fire in a mountainside bbq restaurant. The beef, chicken and sausages were outstanding, and the interaction with the locals with even better.
On Thursday we hired a taxi for the day to take us to Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools. This is also a must do experience. Natural volcanic pools next to crashing waves provided an incredible experience. In addition to the pools you can stay in Porto Moniz for a night or two. Lots of good restaurants and cafes. Part of the intrigue of Porto Moniz is the drive across the island through deep valleys and numerous tunnels, that now bypass the harrowing single lane cliffs roads of 20 years ago.
We ended our night with an excellent dinner at Taberna Madeira.
Our last full day was a walking food tour through the Velha to experience excellent cuisine, snacks and drinks. Our guide was excellent, we ended the day with a glass of Puncha.