6 Madeira Must-Sees

Madeira is full of surprises – beautiful churches, fantastic food, stunning scenery. Read on for our full list of 6 Madeira must-sees.

Madeira Must-Sees: 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.

Butterfly near Funchal centre
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.

O Calhao - www.luxurycolumnist.com
The chocolate tart was even better!

O Calhao - www.luxurycolumnist.com
There’s also a fantastic ice cream shop in the Old Town, Ottavia. We went there twice, they have some local flavours.

Ottavia - www.luxurycolumnist.com
At night, the main square or Praca do Municipio is often lit up and open air concerts are held there.

Praca do Municipio - www.luxurycolumnist.com
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.

Painted doors district, Funchal

This area near the Old Town has some striking artwork created by local residents and shop owners.

Painted doorPainted door
Painted door
Painted door
Painted door
Painted door
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.

Limpets - www.luxurycolumnist.com
However the main fish course was absolutely delicious.

Jaquet - www.luxurycolumnist.com
If you walk to the top of the hill after the painted doors district, you will come across this beautiful church.

Funchal church

Painted door
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.

Madeira flower - www.luxurycolumnist.com
You will come to this beautiful 18th century palace in the centre of the park.

Botanical garden
We admired this statue of a girl skipping rope behind the palace.

Botanical garden
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.

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!

Cliff face
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.

Cliff faceCliff face
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.

Bacchus has a charming garden with spectacular views to the sea.


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.

Levada dos Tornos - www.luxurycolumnist.com

Wild lilies - www.luxurycolumnist.com
We walked along another levada on our way to Salvador – it started out as quite a misty day. You can see why the island is so green!

Traditional houses of Santana

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! Have you been to Madeira? I would love to hear your own Madeira must-sees!

Dos Combatentes

  • DPT Legal

    Wonderful photos. We also recently toured Funchal and were struck by its laid back charm and colourful pallete. A perfect destination to retreat and relax on the island.

    • I’m glad you liked them, it sounds like you also had a wonderful time in Madeira

  • Sienna

    oh man! i went this summer and wish i had read this before! but i did have that black pasta dish so I guess I”m ok 🙂

    • Hi Sienna, yes the squid pasta was fantastic! Will make sure to read your blog post about it. I’ll definitely go back to Madeira once they’ve finished the marina

  • What an incredible place! The lit up square by night looks so exciting and atmospheric, whilst the food appears to be endlessly interesting .. the colours of the dessert are so unusual! 🙂


    – I follow back on bloglovin’ –


    • Yes the food is fantastic and so reasonable. I wish we had Ottavia ice cream here!

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  • Aiko

    What an amazing place! So many great things to do and eat there. I will be sure to check these out when I go there.

    Thanks for sharing!