In January 2018, I spent 10 unforgettable days in Madeira, Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean.
I chose Madeira spontaneously, and I didn’t know much about it, but it really surprised me and made it one of the top places, where I would live.
During my trip to Madeira, I met the most friendly and cheerful people in my life, and tried some activities I never tried before.
Watch the 10-minute video from my 10-day trip, and I will tell you some details from it below.
My 10 day trip to Madeira in 10 minutes
When I arrived in the airport, I saw a shuttle bus going to the center of Funchal, capital of Madeira. One of its stops was right near my hotel, so I chose it instead of a taxi.
The hotel I stayed in was Four Views Baia. As the room I wanted wasn’t available for 10 days, the hotel manager proposed me to stay at their another hotel in Canico, 15 minutes away from Funchal. And, I agreed.
The hotel was very nice, and its main feature that I appreciate most of all in different hotels, were great views…
It was such a pleasure taking a bath in a jacuzzi with a panoramic view on the sunset over Funchal.
The first thing we did was going to the ocean because it was about 20 degrees Celsius, while in Belarus was 10 below zero.
First days were just relaxing: chilling on the coast and exploring the city of Funchal, trying the local food, enjoying coffee and pastry.
Local Food in Madeira
Regarding the local restaurants, there are few central streets in the old town of Funchal that are full of them, and the waiters interrupt each other trying to lure you to their restaurant. You can go to one of them, but I recommend you go on a side street and visit one of the places, where the locals eat. (which is one of 50 tips to travel cheaper and better from me and 15 other travel bloggers)
The restaurant we visited was called Taberna Madeira. The food there was delicious and very fresh, our waiter was the restaurant manager, and he recommended some of the best dishes we could try there (so glad that we listened to his advices!).
The atmosphere was very cozy like in a family restaurant, not a big commercial touristy establishment, and the prices were about 30% lower than in other places.
So, if you’re hungry, visit them at tv. Joao Caetano 16 in Funchal.
If you don’t want to eat in the restaurant 3 times a day to save some money, you can also try food at the self-service canteens near the Pingo Doce supermarkets. Doesn’t matter if you take tuna steak or a pile of fries, you pay the same price per 100 grams.
Apart from lots of seafood, we tried different exotic fruits for the first time (I don’t even remember most of their names now). They all are interesting to try, but I will still stick to oranges 😀
There is also a nice market called Mercado de Lavradores with lots of people trying to sell you fruits and spices. They can give you something for free, but better go away from them, as then you will be obligated to buy something, while the prices here are several times higher than in the supermarkets or in fruit shops around the city.
For coffee, you can just go anywhere; it is really good and cheap in most of the cafes. You can often get a coffee and the famous Portuguese dessert called Pastel de Nata for 1 or 1,5 euros. There is a chain of cafeterias in Madeira called Opan, where you can always expect a relatively good quality and some of the lowest prices.
Just a small tip when ordering coffee: instead of cappuccino, take chinesa [shinesa], it is more or less the same kind of coffee, but has less milk and it costs sometimes 2 and even 3 times less.
Madeira is a volcanic island with tall mountains in the middle and Atlantic Ocean around it. All this gave great opportunities for different kinds of activities that I wanted to try.
Without leaving Funchal, I decided to try scuba diving in the Explora Madeira diving center at the Quinta Pehna Franca Mar hotel. And, it was great.
You see the underwater life you would never see just walking along the beach. Moreover, it was surprisingly easy and relaxing to be under water, as the instructor does everything for you, you just need to breathe and enjoy 🙂
Madeira is actually a big and very diverse island. That is why we wanted to see other parts of it, not only the capital. One of the best ways to do that is to go on a jeep tour. After checking the places that each of the jeep tour companies visit during their tours, we chose a tour around the Eastern part of the island by Lido Tours. Here are some pictures from the tour:
Our driver Nuno has shown us the best spots on the East, and even more than the regular tour covers. We saw about a third of the island by jeep, but you can see in my video, how diverse this part is.
Of course, I needed to see the whole island, not just a part of it, so we made two more trips, but this time by bike/bus/taxi.
One of the best panoramic views on the island you can find in the Cabo Girao. It is a great spot with a glass floor, so that you are almost 600 meters above the ground. You can get there by bus from Funchal, take a taxi or even walk if you’re not too lazy.
Another trip to the North of the island I made on my own. Some interesting spots are located very close from each other; the buses go whenever they want disregarding the schedule, and you never know, when is your bus stop, the taxis are more expensive than on the mainland, so I decided to rent a bike.
A very convenient spot was not far from the center of Funchal (Estrada Monumental 182), E-Bike Madeira bike rental having mountain bikes, e-bikes and scooters. I didn’t want to have problems with e-bikes in the middle of nowhere, so I chose a mountain bike. Well, riding in the mountains in Madeira is very difficult, but if you stay near the coast, you will avoid the hills.
So, here is what I’ve done:
I took a bus to the north of the island (town called Sao Vicente), and put the bike into its luggage space. The bus had several stops in some towns on the way, so I could explore a little bit more of Madeira.
When I was in Sao Vicente, I took the bike out of the bus and started exploring the coastline. The climate on the north of the island is more humid and cold, but the storms and fog made the coast look magnificent.
After about an hour, it started to rain, so I stopped in the nearest café to have some lunch. It was a small bar, which also served as a small shop (it had different goods that you won’t find in any other bar).
The island is very touristy, so most of the locals can speak English. Here, it was a place with no hotels that the tourists just pass by in a car, so I didn’t expect them to know English. Fortunately, the Portuguese can easily understand Spanish, so I didn’t have any problems with communication.
From warm food, they only had burgers, and it was more than enough for me, as I was really hungry. I also ordered poncha, local alcohol of 20-25% made of rum and some fruits (usually, passion fruit, lemon or orange). It was the first time I saw a place, where the locals live in Madeira. My impressions from the trip wouldn’t be full without this bar.
After that I went back to Sao Vicente, where they also have guided tours to caves. It was really beautiful there, but the disadvantage was that it was a guided tour with lots of boring information, most of which the guide could tell in 5 minutes, but you had to walk with a large group of old people and listen all that for almost an hour.
The next day, I checked in in the Four Views Oasis hotel in Canico, which is not a town, but a relaxed resort full of hotels and houses owned by Germans, British and other Europeans.
It was very different from Funchal, and I liked it (as I like changes). The hotel was located very close to the ocean, so I’m not sure, which of the two had a better view.
Perhaps, the best day in my trip was when I tried surfing and paragliding.
Best day in Madeira trip
After a delicious and diverse breakfast in the hotel, I went to the gas station near the highway, where the owner of the Calhau Surf School himself picked me up with his wife and two Finnish girls that also were going to surf. The owner, Rodolfo, told me in advance, what time and where it is best to go surfing. So, even though the surf school is located in Porto da Cruz, we went to Machico, and were surfing under the sunrise.
We were about 6 people, and two instructors helped us to do our best on the boards. We all really enjoyed it, and later went to the surf school to see our pictures from the surfing lesson to analyze our technique and improve it for the next time.
Apart from the surf school, they also have a guesthouse, a hotel and a restaurant with great views and delicious food (the last two are called Vila Bela, located on Caminho de Penedo 17). Having all that, they also sell surf packages (surfing lessons, and a hotel stay with breakfast), which I think is a great idea if you want to try this activity, or if you’re a fan of surfing.
One of the surfing instructors recommended me to try paragliding in the same town, Porto da Cruz. It is a small town, where everyone knows each other, so the paragliding pro, Emanuel Spinola from MadAir Paragliding, soon was in the same restaurant sitting with all of us.
Before taking off, I was a bit nervous about flying in the sky without a plane, but in the first second in the sky, I just started feeling relaxed, and enjoyed the flight. The same places from the sky look so different! We took off close before the sunset, so we could enjoy some amazing views of Madeira. Highly recommended!
The amazing 10 day trip in Madeira has gone to an end, and I made a conclusion that it is one of the best places to not only to visit, but to live thanks to great climate, beautiful nature, unforgettable activities and relatively low prices.
I will soon publish a Madeira travel guide with many tips, best places to visit and places to stay on the island. Check my trip to Valencia and follow me on social media not to miss similar posts!
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