Madeira: Highlights

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As a 30th birthday surprise Woody pulled off a goody by taking us to Madeira for five days of indulgence, relaxation and adventure. What more could a girl ask for!?

Madeira has a subtropical climate pretty much all year round and with plus 22 degrees everyday in the end of May I was happy as Larry! The terrain is generally lush very green hills and high cliffs contrasted against pebbly beaches and incredible blue seas and skies! Besides the subtropical weather, the area is known for it’s wine and rum.

We stayed in Funchal and did day trips around the island as everything is so near. Here are some of my highlights from the trip.

EAT:

  • Casa Da Penha

    We stopped here on our first night for dinner and this spot definitely set the mood for our stay. The service and food were amazing, we sat up on the roof terrace and enjoyed some wine while the sun set.

  • Taberna Maderia

    Tucked away up an unassuming alley this place has more locals than tourists and serves local fresh produce and delicious tapas in the old town for surprisingly reasonable prices. Make sure you check out the Fort before dinner and take a walk through the old town.

  • High Tea at Belmont Reids

    The balcony gives you gorgeous views of Funchal and the garden. If not for the high tea then it’s worth going for some seriously good Italian food.

  • Restaurant Sea View

    This little gem of a restaurant is where we stopped to refuel after venturing out to Porto Moniz to see the volcanic rock pools. The pools were lovely, but the food here was even better!

Do: 

  • Take the cable car from Funchal centre up to the botanical gardens, visit the old church and sled your way down one of the traditional sleds. Set a good few hours aside for this, as there are two gardens and lots to see! Grab a bite at the cafe in the Botanical gardens or a coffee from the cafe next to the church. Make sure you have some cash on you for the sleds and grab a beer at the little cafe after your joyride.

  • Take a Jeep tour of the island with Adventure Madeira and ask for Pedro (say from me)! We did a tour of the east island. There are full day tours if you want to see more, but we enjoyed the half day just fine. We got to see the main view points, a bit of the forest and even got to stop at a seriously local spot for some beer and homemade pork scratchings.

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  • We hired a car for 24 hours and did the west of the island by car, which gave us a little more time to adventure.

    We went on a hike and did the Levada Das 25 Fontes route and got up very early to avoid the tourists and big groups. This walk is very popular and has some beautiful waterfalls, so worth getting up early for so that you can be the first ones to enjoy the route! This also means you get to have a private skinny dip in the icy pools!

    There is a cute little cafe on the way back that is called Rabacal, the cake and coffee was very tasty after a good hike! 

This little island has so much to offer that these highlights don’t even begin to scratch the surface, but hopefully that gives you some ideas and inspires you to venture there.

Happy travels! x

Lashara van Heerden