- More Pristine Portuguese Atlantic Islands To Explore
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean. Cruise ships carrying people from older generations frequent this place, but it is also a great destination for young travelers. It is often likened to Hawaii due to its similarities, making this hidden gem southwest of Portugal a haven for vacationers.
The spectacular views, botanical gardens, natural volcanic lochs, and toboggan rides make Madeira a great place for adventure seekers, family vacations, or romantic honeymoons.
UPDATE: 2023/02/06 13:52 EST BY AARON SPRAY
More Pristine Portuguese Atlantic Islands To Explore
It’s not just Madeira that is an autonomous and pristine Portuguese island destination in the Atlantic. Anyone who has the time should also plan on visiting the picture of the Azores. This article was updated with why one should visit both islands if one has the time – or return to visit the other at a later date if one doesn’t have the time.
How Many Days To See Madeira?
If you are pressed for time, spending seven days at a minimum in Madeira will allow you to visit most places on the island. But if you want some days where you can unwind by the pool and have some downtime, setting aside 10 days will give you a trip that is more relaxing.
Getting Around Madeira
When it comes to getting around Madeira, the options are public transport, guided tours, and renting a car.
- Public transport is not that great on the island booking tours will cost you some serious cash and will also limit you by its schedule.
- If you want some flexibility and freedom in your visit to tourist spots in Madeira, the best option is to rent a vehicle.
Places To See During Your Stay In Madeira
Depending on where you are from and the time you arrive, you might want to go straight ahead and start exploring the island, or you could relax. Usually, the first day is dedicated to securing your rented vehicle, checking in at the hotel, resting for a bit, and discovering nearby places to jumpstart your itinerary.
The next day, you can start your road trip and head to Cabo Girao, ranked second among the highest sea cliffs in the world. This hidden gem offers fantastic views from its popular skywalk with a glass floor, and the best part is you can visit it there for free.
Valley Of The Nuns
“Curral das Freiras” is a small and secluded village burrowed between adjacent mountains, located in the middle of Madeira. The name Valley of the Nuns originated in 1566 during the attack of Funchal by pirates, which led the nuns of Santa Clara Convent to find shelter here.
If you decide not to visit the village for a closer look, you can view it from atop Eira do Serrado and still not be disappointed.
Ponta Do Sol
Golden views on tropical island, Madeira Portugal
Next, you can stop by Ponta Do Sol, and this is where renting a car is an advantage. Being the hottest place in Madeira, beautiful sunsets and hours of sunbathing can be enjoyed in this small and peaceful village.
Situated in the northwest of Madeira is Porto Moniz, one of the places you should not miss visiting. Created by volcanic lava, the natural lochs here are filled with clear blue waters, giving you a taste of the beach without the sand.
Paul de Serra
Paul de Serra is located approximately 5,000 feet above sea level and is another place worthy of your time. Known as the flattest area in Madeira, it offers spectacular views of the valleys and green mountains. After sightseeing, you can drop by the Jungle Rain Café for lunch.
Faja dos Padres
Faja dos Padres is a quiet and isolated paradise located on Madeira’s southern coast, offering an exclusive beach, and has its own winery and a Madeiran restaurant serving the island’s finest cuisine. The nutrient-full volcanic soil provides organically grown fruits and vegetables that are used by the restaurant to create their delicious menu.
Accessing this paradise is not for the faint of heart, as you have to ride a cable car to get here. But if you can muster your courage and step in, the ride will give you picturesque sights of the shore.
Porto da Cruz
Known to be a beautiful and quiet place, Porto da Cruz is the perfect spot for swimming, surfing, and taking nature walks. The processing factory of sugar cane in Porto da Cruz turned rum production site can be visited for free, and you can stop by the plant while walking along the waterfront.
Santana is a lovely village boasting its little thatched triangular homes that originated from the 16th century. Madeira Theme Park is also located in the village, where instead of roller coasters and other rides, you can find an exhibit that caters to all ages displaying the culture, history, and traditions of Madeira.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Known as a crowd favorite, the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a 70,000-square-meter lot housing a large assortment of exotic plants that come from around the world. You can also visit the Monte Palace Museum, an exhibit that highlights a distinctive collection of minerals from all over the world.
Wicker Toboggan Sled Ride
Before cable cars were a thing, the old-style way of getting back to Funchal was via the wicker toboggan ride. Today, it is a tourist attraction where you will be driven on the streets riding a wicker sled by a pair of carreiros, or men wearing straw hats and white clothing.
Although a bit overpriced, the experience will be worth the hole in your pocket. The ride will stop at Livramento, and you can go back by riding a bus or hailing a cab, and if you are still feeling the effects of overspending, you can always take the 20-minute walk to Funchal.
Visit The Azores Too – Portugal’s Other Atlantic Island Paradise
Maderia is one of two autonomous regions of Portugal – the other is the stunning islands of the Azores. The Azores are made up of nine volcanic islands around 870 miles into the Atlantic off the coast of Portugal. Visitors see how the Azores have developed differently with their own dialect, cuisine, traditions, and more to be expected of isolated islands.
Like the Canary Islands and Madeira, the Azores are all of the volcanic origins that make for some very dramatic landscapes (although since they have been discovered, there has been no recorded volcanic activity). These islands are also home to the highest point in Portugal at 2,351 meters or 7,713 feet.
Lake of Sete Cidades, Azores, Portugal
Just like Hawaii’s Manua Loa is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its base in the ocean, the mountains of the Azores are some of the world’s highest mountains.
While Maderia and the Canary Islands enjoy more tropical climes, the climate of the Azores is mild and influenced by the Gulf Stream. Daytime temperatures are normally around 16 and 25 °C (61 and 77 °F). The islands are popular for their isolation, timelessness, warm white sand beaches, vineyards, volcanic lakes, hot thermal waters, and many other attractions. Naturally, hiking is a major attraction in the Azores as well.
If one has the time, then visit both Maderia and the Azores. If time doesn’t permit, then plan to put the Azores on the list for next time!