Madeira Island Things to Do Tips by cachaseiro
Madeira Island Things to Do: 350 reviews and 627 photos
Levada walking is very popular on Madeira and a fantastic way to explore the island.
The levadas were never actually made for the tourists but are used to transport water around the fields on the steep slopes of Madeira.
They were started way back in the 14th century where the portugese used slaves to build them and the last were build by prisoners in the 1950's.
They are still transporting water around the island and are of great use to the farmers, but they are also very useful as walking trails as long as you are not afraid of heights as they can be narrow with very steep drops at times.
If you want to go levada walking then you should consider doing the first trip with a certified levada guide so that you can get used to them and learn how to navigate them as they can be dangorous to walk.
But don´t let this scare you as they are in my opinion the best way to explore Madeira.
Porto Moniz is located on the north western part of the island and is a pretty little seaside town that used to be the center for whaling on Madeira until Portugal signed the anti whaling treaty in the 1980´s.
These days the town hosts a few good seaside restaurants and also has a nice aquarium in the old fortress that is right on the harbour front.
It´s a nice daytrip if you stay in Funchal and the views of the coastline is really spectacular.
Very good place to stop for lunch if you are doing a daytrip to the northn part of Madeira.
In the town Santana you still have a few of the traditional madeiran triangular houses that many people used to live in,in the past.
These days there are only a couple of families left in Santana that lives in them as they have straw roof that is hard to keep and expensive in insurance because of the fire risk and having a triangular house leaves little room for a second floor.
But they have kept a few houses in Santana that are now working as open air museums so that visitors can see how many people used to live.
The houses are very colorful and i am personally a little suprised that they don´t have more people chosing to live in them as they are very original.
The whole scene with the Santana houses can seem as a bit of a tourist trap, but they did afterall live in these houses in the past, so i think they still serve a purpose even if they have tourist shops in most of them these days.
they can be found around Santana, but the biggest collection of them are right next to the town hall.
Toboggan sledges on Madeira island.
The toboggan sledges is one of the ver well known and unique things from Madeira.
They were originally used to transport english upper class tourists down from the mountain in monte when they had been there for sunday picknick back in the early 20th century.
And it is still that way really, except that today most tourists can afford it and it´s not just confined to the upper class.
the toboggan sledges is a little over two kilometers from Monte and down and takes around 10 minutes.
The toboggan sledges are made from wood and steered by two men who have ropes attached to the sledges and they are quite skillful at navigating them.
At the time of writing (february 2012) the price for a ride is 25 euros if you are one in a sladge, 30 euros if you are two people and 45 if you are 3 people, so you better team up with one or two people if you want to take the ride unless you want to pay the extra cost of being alone.
Curral das Freiras.
Curral das Freiras, or nun's valley as it is also called in englis, is a secluded valley a little inland from Funchal.
It got it´s name after a group of nuns fled in to the valley in 1566 when french pirates attacked the island.
Today the valley is a hikers paradise but can also been seen by people who do not travel by foot as it is connected to the rest opf the island with good roads and there are many nice viewpoints overlooking the valley.
It´s only around around 15 kilometers from Funchal, but expect the drive to take around 45 minutes as the road to Curral das Freiras is very steep and winding.
Camara de Lobos.
Camara de Lobos is a small fishing village around 10 kilometers west og Funchal.
This is small town Madeira where they still have traditional fishermen going out in small boats fishing and they are still drying their fish by the little beach right in the middle of the town.
Camara de Lobos was also a favorite of Winston Churchill when he holidayed on Madeira island back in the day.
they have a little sign on the spot where he would sometimes sit and paint and if you talk to some of the old local guys then they will also tell you he was a very frequent visitor to the local bars and he probaply spend more time there than he did painting.
Camara de Lobos is actually one of the poorest towns on the ialsnd but that is probaply part of why this is still a place where you can get a feel of what Madeira is like before mass tourism arrived.
The place is certainly worth a visit and i personally consider it the gem of Madeira.
Funchal is the capital of Madeira and with it´s 100 000 inhabitants the biggest town on the island.
It´s a pleasant town that is big enough to have most of the things you need, but still small enough to retain a provinsial feel.
Funchal has a nice old part of town with small fishermans houses and funky art made by the young aspiring artists of the island and the old part of Funchal is by far my favorite.
The harbour area is quite pleasant too with a marina, a cruise terminal and quite a few cafes and a nice walkway where you can stroll.
Funchal will be where most people make their base when on holiday on Madeira and it´s for sure a good place to have as a base for a nice holiday.
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