Madeira in 8 Days
Thinking about visiting the 'Pearl of the Atlantic'? We give you at least five reasons to do so. The stunning landscapes of the archipelago of Madeira and the friendliness of its locals are a guarantee to a unique trip. This along with the mild temperatures throughout the year, which allow you to choose at your own pace, the best time for your travel and imagine yourself relaxing in one of the island's terraces, overlooking the crystal clear sea.
Can you see yourself yet? Then think of the opportunity to observe "first hand" unique species of the World, to interact with dolphins in their natural habitat, to dive with friendly 60 kg mere in complete safety or to stroll a sailboat to enjoy a romantic sunset?
If you like adrenaline, we have also reserved a place for you in the wicker cars, where you can enjoy a breath-taking descent or why not go on a canoying trip in the beautiful streams of the island. Did you know that in the Botanical Garden will can find over 3000 different plants and in the Monte Palace Garden you will find priceless works of art? We will show you much more: pack your bags. Come with us!
Day One: Funchal
To start your journey to the Pearl of the Atlantic, we have planned for you a relatively quiet day. We recommend that you get up early. Even if you are lodged in the outskirts of Funchal, you can quickly and easily reach the centre. Start at Avenida Zarco. For some moments enter into the Baltazar Dias Municipal Theatre to admire its architecture and stop at Blandy Wine Lodge, where you can taste the different types of Madeira wine.
Stroll through the city towards the Old Town, not missing out on a quick stop at the Cathedral. Feel the cosmopolitan city and come inside the temple for a few minutes, where you can enjoy this masterpiece with Hispanico-Arabic and Roman-Gothic lines, the building of which was ordered by the King D. Manuel.
Passing through the Farmers Market (Mercado dos Lavradores), on the way to Old Town, go through the building, breath in its history and marvel at the variety of fruits and flowers. Next go to Rua de Santa Maria and enjoy a visit to the Madeira Story Centre, which will guide you through the history of Madeira since its discovery in 1419.
In this area you will find a variety of restaurants with regional cuisine. Enjoy lunch and relax a bit before reaching the lift, in Campo Almirante Reis that will take you to the Hill, in around 15 minutes. Enjoy an aerial view of the city.
At the Hill, make sure not to miss out on a visit to the lush gardens of Monte Palace. [Hill Palace Garden]. Enjoy the exposed art and then visit the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte [Our Lady of the Hill], patron saint of Madeira. Upon returning to Funchal, choose the wicker cars that will take you to Livramento, on a journey of pure adrenaline.
After a very busy day, our suggestion is that you have a pleasant dinner in one of the many restaurants of Funchal and, why not, take a trip to listen to the Fado, in Old Town; we suggest you try the punch (a traditional drink of Madeira).
Day Two: Camacha, Santana and Machico
This will be a day to get to know the island a little better. We recommend that you dress in comfortable attire and footwear. Start by Camacha for a brief visit. In this parish town, you can become acquainted with the art of wicker production, an important part of Madeira craft, and who knows, maybe you can buy your first souvenir. Then, head towards Ribeiro Frio, where you can visit the local trout nursery and get to know the spectacular viewpoint of Balcões. There is a 45 minute walk to reach the promontory, the views of which will amaze you. If the fresh air brings about your appetite, choose one of the local restaurants and enjoy a wonderful trout or any other regional dish.
After the tour, we continue to the city of Santana to enjoy the known thatched houses and visit the Madeira Theme Park, a fantastic exhibition grounds directed towards the history and tradition of Madeira. On returning home, there is still time for a stop at Machico, where the first Portuguese navigators disembarked. You can choose to dine in this peaceful city or choose among numerous restaurants in the capital city of Madeira.
Day Three: a fantastic boat trip
Getting to know the island of Madeira, whilst on a wonderful boat trip around the coast is our suggestion for this third day's-stay in Madeira. The options are many and it is up to you to decide on what suits you best.
You can relax on board a ship while enjoying the view of the migratory whales; dive into the Atlantic and let yourself float with the dolphins or go to the Desertas, a group of three islands that are part of the protected areas of the Natural Park of Madeira, where you can enjoy beautiful views and also see rare and beautiful birds. And who knows, maybe you will be lucky enough to see one of the fur seals, a protected species which is very dear in Madeira.
If the time of the discoveries is something that fascinates you, take a trip on a fifteenth-century ship. Board the Santa Maria Columbus! This full-size replica of the ship that carried the Spanish conqueror Christopher Columbus to the discovery of America will take you into the fantastic Cape Girão Fajã [a flat terrain generally arable, of small extent, located on the seafront, formed by materials displaced from cliffs or lava deltas]. There is also the option of a romantic stroll along the coast of Madeira, on-board a sailboat.
Day Four: get to know Porto Santo and relax on 9 km of therapeutic sand
Now that you have become used to the labours of the sea, come with us on a one-day mini-cruise to the island of Porto Santo. Enjoy the island, explore its landscapes, visit the local golf course and relax in the fantastic 9 km beach.
On the island of Porto Santo, you can benefit from treatments that use the sands of Porto Santo, which have proven therapeutic properties on several physical conditions, ranging from rheumatism to dermatologic problems. Alternatively, try out a class in the local Equestrian Centre.
Day Five: Câmara de Lobos, Madalena do Mar and Porto Moniz
Back on the island of Madeira, take the motorway towards Funchal and Ribeira Brava and exit at Cape Girão. Climb to the highest cliff in Europe and enjoy the breath-taking views of the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Câmara de Lobos. We recommend a stroll down to the city centre and maybe a visit to the Press Museum o to the Lime Kiln.
Following the tour through Câmara de Lobos, we suggest that you take the motorway towards Porto Moniz. On the way, enjoy the diversified landscape. For instance, make a stop at one of the many restaurants on the São Vicente seafront for a pleasant lunch.
Once in the village of Porto Moniz, get to know the natural pools, the Aquarium and the Living Science Centre. On your return to Funchal, we suggest a walkthrough the Strait so you can try out the famous regional kebab with fried corn.
Day Six: Areeiro Peak and Edge of São Lourenço
Madeira is very rich in what concerns natural beauty, most of them located along the coast, where the sea wrestles areas of towering cliffs and mountains, but also where the interior of the island hides priceless treasures. Therefore, we could not help but propose to you a visit to the fantastic Areeiro Peak with its 1818 metres in altitude, a breath-taking biodiversity and unique bird species.
Weather permitting, it is possible to, from this rocky mass, see the Edge of São Lourenço, Nun's Valley (Curral das Freiras) and even the island of Porto Santo. During winter, the peak and its surrounding areas are covered in snow, and due care is recommended.
Feel the fresh air and let yourself be dazzled by this, which is one of the three highest peaks of the island, however it is advisable that you leave the area mid-afternoon, in time to visit the Edge of São Lourenço, Madeira furthest Eastern edge, which is also a natural reserve with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
When leaving, and because the day was intense, what we propose is that following your visit to the Edge of São Lourenço, you head towards the city centre of the fishing village of Caniçal, where you can enjoy a lovely meal in a relaxing environment. Here you will find barnacles, shrimp, damselfish and mackerel at very attractive prices. Make the most of it and come back soon!
Day Seven: Calheta
You have done one stretch, taking in the beautiful landscapes of Madeira. Today we go to Calheta. If the weather is inviting, take some time to enjoy the local beach. In this municipality is located the Arts Centre 'Casa das Mudas', a masterpiece of the architect Paulo David, named for the 2005 edition of the Mies van der Rohe European prize for contemporary architecture. Relax in the beautiful terrace or visit one of the exhibitions on show.
Calheta is also famous for producing the best spirit of the island. This ingredient is essential for making the punch (Poncha): a typical drink of Madeira. You can sample the spirit at the Engenho da Calheta distillery, where you can, if wanting, learn about its production process. If possible, dine at the Prazeres or take the time to stroll through the Sea Garden promenade.
Day Eight: A museum and 3000 plants to you to get to learn about
On your last day of holiday, you may prefer to stay in Funchal. Go to the Santa Catarina Park, choose the museum that you like the most and plan out your morning. After lunch, visit the Botanical Garden and delight in the aromas of circa 3000 plants originating from all across the World. Return to the centre of Funchal and indulge in an amazing ice-cream made using natural fruit. Here is thus completed the itinerary that lives up to your five senses.
Come back whenever you like: there is plenty more to enjoy!