Planning and researching your holiday in Madeira

Madeira is an island of contrasts. Are we going to divide the island into directional chunks? North South East and west. In a broad brushstroke description you have, in the north, a rugged, mountainous, very rural landscape. It is less populated than the south coast, but now has good road systems, allowing for sightseeing in your hired car (easy to book online with major international companies). The colors are predominantly the green of the beautiful forested mountains, the black of the basalt columns, and the clear turquoise waters of the Atlantic with white waves. If you like the idea of ​​this color combination, go visit Porto Moniz in spring to see the high seas from a friendly cafe. Or, swim in the natural rock pools. You are more likely to experience rain in the north during the winter months than anywhere else on the island, but that is why the Biosphere at Arco Sao Jorge is a World Heritage Site, so green and clean; giving you a feeling of well-being just by breathing the air.

There are fewer hotels in the north than in the south, where of course the capital city, Funchal, sits at the foot of a majestic mountain range. In Funchal you will find a variety of activities and tourism opportunities. Because it has a higher density of tourists, you will find excursion offers at a lower cost than anywhere else on the island. There is a high volume of taxis and they are quite cheap, but like in other capital cities, you need to bargain and compare one driver’s quote with another! There is a wide choice of hotel accommodation, easy access to the sea from concrete sunbathing terraces and there will soon be a beach; this is being formed from the new urbanization on the seafront, in front of the Cruise Terminal. Funchal is a lively city that offers an insight into the local culture through the market that efficiently sells flowers, fruit and fish, displayed in quite a unique way, stacked in large colorful arrays. You’ll find any and all fruit, many grown right here. Madeira in the warm subtropical air on terraces that seem impossible to reach, much less cultivate.

The east of the island is dry and looks very different from the rest. There are spiky agaves that grow wild alongside the Madeira dragon trees. The Sao Laurenco peninsula “trickles” from the end of the island and ends at a small end point. The walk from the car park along the accessible trails that lead to the end of the island offers stunning views of both north and south. Machico is always worth a visit and is the largest town in the East. There is a yellow sand beach, cafes galore and it has the most beautiful fort to visit to survey the seas like the port authorities did 500 years ago!

Along the south coast there are towns that offer squares, access to walks, shops and coffee culture, from Santa Cruz to Ponta da Pargo, there will be a place you will fall in love with. There are a variety of activities on offer, from deep sea diving to paragliding (for the bravest of course!).

I haven’t mentioned the central area of ​​the island, that’s amazing too! Deep crevasse valleys from which new clouds sprout, tall mountains with weird and wonderful shapes, interesting viewing platforms and towns: as an example, there is the Nuns Valley, where the religious community fled from the raiding pirates who invaded and once They ruled Funchal… Clearly pirates weren’t for walking the hills! But you don’t have to walk it; there are now regular buses, tour buses and taxis taking you to breathe the mountain air, perhaps to lunch at the hotel in Eirra do Serrado (great fish!) and take in the glorious views from its panoramic window in the main restaurant . .

And to my favourite; West! Lush green vegetation, mountains and beaches, restaurants and cafes, sugar production museums, rural life museums, hiking and paragliding, whale watching and just sitting and watching. The coastline is spectacular with the second highest cliff in the world at Cabot Girao. If that’s not enough to take your breath away, there’s a glass platform to stand on and look at everything below!

There is so much to see and do that you will quickly realize that one trip to the island is not enough. Do you come again and maybe stay in a place that contrasts with the one on the first trip?

In the west there are mainly small hotels and self-catering accommodation. However, there is a large hotel on Calheta beach and in 2015 a large spa hotel will open very close to the Calheta beaches. Quinta hotels are available here, or you could describe them as Casa de Campo Hotels. There is a style for everyone.

These are my recommendations:

If you want noise, hustle and bustle, nightclubs and flashy entertainment, multi-storey designer shopping? Don’t come to Madeira. BUT if you like the drama that nature offers, can appreciate the simple life and want to meet local people from Madeira – COME! Do you like the challenge of climbing mountains, going through tunnels and entering landscapes that you have only seen before in urassic Park? COME. You’ll be greeted with a big welcome whichever direction you take when you land at our airport, just east of Funchal.

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