Madeira has many things to offer for its visitors. Here you can read our Madeira Top 10 list, with the ten best places that you cannot miss visiting once you’re on this Portuguese island.
Madeira Top 10
You cannot and won’t miss Funchal for sure. It is the capital of the island and the majority of the services are based here. It is in fact a modern, cosmopolitan, rejuvenated city, well known for its many top class restaurants, stunning new 4 & 5-star hotels, warm all year round climate. The city itself is nestled in a great natural amphitheatre, facing the blue Atlantic with a backdrop of dramatic mountains. Located in the stunning south of Madeira, on its sunniest coast amidst banana plantations and wonderful gardens where flowers bloom all year round in the shelter of the verdant mountains, it is an extremely lush, green and relaxed city.
Câmara de Lobos is a beautiful fishermen village on Madeira island. The specialisation of the area is the black sablefish fishing. Therefore its main bay gives home to local fishermen boats, and they come in many vivid colours. They call them “Xavelhas”. The former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill visited Madeira in 1950. While he was in Madeira, he painted an outstanding portrait about the bay with the “Xavelhas” on January 8. The village till today remembers his visit, and we can see many sites named after him.
Ponta do Sol is one of the cutest villages on the island. It’s tiny, and it doesn’t take more than an hour or so to walk around. But we highly recommend not to miss it. Especially the upper terrace that overlooks on the entire village. Besides that, Ponta do Sol is considered the hottest point on the island, with the highest number of hours of sunshine. It is, without a doubt, the perfect place to see a good sunset from its viewpoint over the beach.
Porto Moniz is considered one of the top attractions on the island of Madeira. Many people and organised tours stop here during a day tour. It is famous for its natural swimming pool. But Porto Moniz is also a charming town that was isolated for a long time. It offers amazing mountain views, beautiful plantations, a fort and a peaceful atmosphere. It’s worth bringing your bathing suite with yourself, as you can get into the natural pools freely!
Seixal is a little village in the municipality of Porto Moniz. The population in 2011 was 656, in an area of 36.37 km². It is located on the eastern frontier of Porto Moniz on the border with the municipality of São Vicente. The largest village in Porto Moniz by area, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean into the interior of Paul de Serra. It is famous for its black sand bay and beach. As well as for its natural swimming pool. On sunny days, you can experience here real beach life.
Discovering São Vicente is just a trip to the quintessence of Madeira, its people, culture and lifestyle. São Vicente is a small town of less than 6.000 inhabitants on the northern coast of the island. It is located in between Santana, famous for its thatched houses, and Porto Moniz, well-known thanks to its natural pools on the Ocean.
Just on the coast, there is an Ocean front with bars and restaurants. Behind the rocks, hidden like if the locals still fear the old times pirates, there is the ancient town a short distance to the inner land. São Vicente has an amazing heritage such as the set of beautiful houses downtown as well as the church that sits on a basalt rock at the small river of the town. It is surrounded by beautiful landscapes with volcanic caves and some interesting trekking paths.
The hike out to the Peninsula of São Lourenço is one of the most beautiful and stunning walks Madeira has to offer, with amazing views of the Atlantic ocean. Even if you’re not an experienced trekker, you will enjoy this walk very much. Be prepared that it’s much longer than as it seems for the first sight. So it’s better to have enough water with you, and also clothes that cover you from the strong wind.
At the main starting point of the hike you will find the parking where you can leave your car. On a sunny day, we recommend to arrive on time. It can get full very quickly. Usually, there is quite a lot of people. The upside to so many visitors of course is that the route is very well maintained, wide, and relatively easy to walk.
Characterised by its small thatched triangular houses, Santana is a beautiful village on the north coast. These small houses, built of natural stone and thatched with straw, have served the locals for centuries as stables and dwellings. This region, which comprises six villages (Arco de São Jorge, Ilha, Faial, Santana, São Jorge and São Roque do Faial), lives essentially from agriculture, craftwork and tradition. The mountainous landscapes are dominated by the lush green that characterises the Laurissilva Forest, which was classified as ‘World Heritage’ by the UNESCO, encouraging locals even more to do everything for maintaining its beauty.
You could say that São Jorge is not more than another viewing point among the hundreds you can find on Madeira. Indeed, it’s a viewing point, but since it’s on the main road, it would be really a pity to miss it. There is a proper parking as well built around it, so you won’t have problem with that either. Thanks to the wooden bench and the hanging sign, became one of the most Instragamable spots on Madeira.
Santa Cruz has an area of 81.5 km² and 43,005 inhabitants. The village of Santa Cruz is one of the oldest on the island, dating from the beginning of the fifteenth century. The municipality was created on 26 June 1515, was granted city status on 2 August 1996.
As for architectural heritage, we can highlight the Santa Cruz Parish Church, built by King Manuel I, which began as a small chapel built in 1533, and has a Gothic portal, the Caniço Parish Church, founded in 1536. The Chapel of Consolation in the sixteenth century, was reworked in the eighteenth and twentieth centuries and presents works in carved and inlaid wood, religious ornaments in silver and various religious imagery.
Santa Cruz is also home to some beautiful beaches such as the Praia das Palmeiras, a rocky beach with a great view from which to view the sunset and spend a fantastic day relaxing. The Machico beach, where you can find an alcove with sand brought over from Morocco if rocky beaches aren’t your thing.
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