Madeira is full of surprises – beautiful churches, fantastic food, stunning scenery. Read on for my list of 6 Madeira must-sees.
1 – Old Town, Funchal
The cobbled streets of the old town have some beautiful designs.
There’s a shady park near the theatre, where we spotted this butterfly.
The Jesuit College and Church is located on the main square.
Completed in 1647, it has an impressive collection of golden carved altarpieces.
Nearby, I’d recommend the O Calhau restaurant on Rua de João Gago for lunch. The decor is modern and you can eat on the terrace outside. Our spaghetti was delicious.
On the edge of the old town, towards the Painted doors district, you’ll find the Workers Market, the Mercado dos Lavradores. It’s a bit of a tourist trap but interesting to have a wander around.
2 – Painted doors district, Funchal
This area near the Old Town has some striking artwork created by local residents and shop owners.
There is a fantastic fish restaurant in the Painted Doors district, Jaquet in Rua Santa Maria. It only has a few tables and you eat what the chef is cooking. We tried the grilled limpets to start, which are a bit of an acquired taste. They’re a type of aquatic snail.
3 – Monte Palace Tropical Gardens
The Tropical Gardens in Monte are a must visit – you can travel up on the cable car and down on the famous sleds! The sleds were closed for our visit as it was Easter, but definitely something that we’d do if we returned to Funchal. The orchids on display are stunning.
There’s a cafe past the palace but choice is limited so if you want anything other than a sandwich it is best to eat before your visit to the gardens. A few minutes walk from the exit, you will find the picturesque church of Nossa Senhora do Monte.
4 – Cabo Girao
Cabo Girao is one of the highest cliff faces in the world, at 589 metres above sea level – just look at the drop from here!
Situated along the southern coast of the island, there is a glass platform which you can stand on to admire the view from below. It shields you from the wind as it can be quite breezy up here.
If you want to stop for lunch or dinner near to Cabo Girao, I can recommend Bacchus restaurant. We had one of our best lunches, a delicious stew pot of chicken at Bacchus restaurant overlooking Camara dos Lobos. It’s part of the Charming Hotels group and certainly lived up to it’s name.
5 – Levadas
The levadas are a series of canals that irrigate Madeira’s hillsides. They are fantastic places to walk along if you plan it out properly. Ideally, you need proper walking boots and a torch. We didn’t have these so did a “levada light” version on the Levada dos Tornos!
The views from the hillside were spectacular.
Santana is famous for its traditional triangular thatched houses, known as patheiros.
Situated on the north coast of the island, some of the houses are still in private hands and used as extra storage or summer houses. Most have become shops and one houses the tourist information office.
Back to Funchal for dinner, at Dos Combatentes, a traditional grilled meat restaurant. I think that skewer is as big as me!