Madeira Island Things to Do Tips by pikuu Top 5 Page for this destination
Madeira Island Things to Do: 360 reviews and 667 photos
Porto Moniz: vineyards on slopes
Porto Moniz was my headquarter during stay on Madeira. Here is my 'top 5' of its attractions (together with neighborhood area). More info about Moniz you will find on my separate Porto Moniz page (things to do, hotels, various info).
1. Natural pools - excellent idea and marvellous place for resting (see my special tip)
2. Seixal - quiet place, lovely streets and sandy beach (see my separate tip)
3. Old uphill Moniz - drink cafe in local bar, observe people and ocean below
4. Miradouro (view-point) Porto Moniz - spactacular Moniz and ocean views
5. Levada Ribeira da Janela - wild Madeira in its beauty (see spacial tip)
Also: Lighthouse in Ponta do Pargo, nice promenade in Moniz, Aquarium and Living Science Center, Moniz restaurants, old road between Moniz and Sao Vicente.
Madeira west end: road turn back
About 1 km from the centre of village Ponta do Pargo is situated west cape of Madeira. Here you can also find interesting lighthouse and 'miradouro' - belveder (panoramic view).
The sunsets there are incredible. This place (like few others on the island) emanates - apart of magnificent views - some kind of calm and harmony.
10 min (by car) form lighthouse is located nice TeaHouse. Chocolate cake and cafe taste perfectly (see my separate 'restaurant' tip).
There are some Rodoeste line buses connceting Ponta do Pargo and Funchal or Porto Moniz. But they run irregularly and seldom, so honestly the best way is to rent a car. The distance from Funchal (by car) is about 1,5-2 hours.
On the picture I tried to show (from different perspective;) the "ending of island". Even roads turn back:)
Directions: between Porto Moniz and Faja da Ovelha.
Funchal from Cabo Girao
Half Day Car Trip: FUNCHAL - CURRAL DAS FREIRAS - RIBEIRA BRAVA - CABO GIRAO - FUNCHAL
Time from my memory ;) Can be not exact.
1. Funchal (0:00) - towards Curral das Freiras. Car is climbing between charming slopes and forests.
2. Curral das Freiras (arrival 0:25 - departure 1.25) - 14 km from Funchal. Marvellous placed inside the mountains. Walking, cafe, staring at peaks hidden in the mist. Big fresh breath! 1 hour break (see my separate tip)
3. Return towards Funchal, just before city you have to take motorway. Direction: Ribeira. From left side Camara de Lobos. 35 min. travel.
4. Ribeira Brava (2.00- 2.30) - Nice centre with the big squere and church. Only 1-2 cafes (nothing special to choose).
5. Ribeira - Cabo - once again motorway, exit in the neighbourhood of Quinta Grande. About 25 min. way to Girao.
6. Cabo Girao (2.55- 3.30), parking and beautiful landscape. You should decide to go there at the evening time. Sunsets and ocean waves far, far below.
7. Return to your starting point (if you have more time see for example Camara de Lobos or some places in mountain part of Funchal > Sao Martinho, Monte)
8. Funchal after 4 hours 15 min from beginning. I hope you will enjoy the trip :)
Map source: www.travel-images.com
ONE DAY CAR TRIP
During this trip you can see Ribeiro Frio and its levadas, Pico do Arieiro (one of the highest peaks) and marvellous peninsula Ponta de Sao Lourenco. Obviously you can modify the route. Near the track are situated: traditional houses and Madeira park in Santana, caves of Sao Vicente, towns: Machico, Camacha and even golf-course in Santo da Serra.
1. (0 hours 0 minutes) We start from our headquarter: Porto Moniz, we take the north-coast road via Sao Vicente, Sao Jorge and Santana. Road between Sao Vicente and Santana is... let's say 'adventurous'. Narrow (but two-way traffic), full of turns, precipices, old tunnels. Simply cool!!! (see my tip >> To surive "Antiga")
2. Ribeira Frio arrival (1:15) From Santana you have to drive towards Funchal/Poiso. After visting 'florestal park' and trout farm take the walk along the levada - more info >> see my Ribeiro Frio tip
Ribeiro Frio departure (3:15). After walk through the nice forest and cafe in the local bar we drive towards Arieiro. First to the Poiso and after (see signposts) up and uphill almost to the peak.
3. Pico do Arieiro (3:35 - 4:15) This is incredible that Madeirans built the fine road through the tops and valleys up to the 'no low' peak (1810). More about Arieiro in my separate tip.
Through the Poiso and Camacha we reach the highway.
There is not enough time so we give up to stop in Canical. 45 min. after departure from Arieiro we are on the Sao Lourenco penisnula.
4. Ponte de Sao Lourenco (5:00 - 6:45). Views, views, views (see my special tip). Sky, rocks, ocean and our favorite beach called Prainha nearby.
Return to Porto Moniz. We decide again for north-coastal road. You can also take modern road: highway through Machico and Ribeira Brava and after road via Sao Vicente to Moniz. It is faster but longer in kilometres. So the time of using north-coastal or highway/Sao Vicente is almost the same.
After 8 hours and 30 min. from beginning we are again in the hotel. Tired but vey, very happy.
Map from www.travel-images.com
ONE DAY CAR TRIP
We started from Porto Moniz and visited Levada 25 Fontes, Paul do Serra, Ponta do Sol, Jardim do Mar and Ponta do Pargo. But you can begin you adventure from Funchal or any other point of island.
Please notice: Time estimation is from my (fallible) memory. So it can be not exact.
OK - let's start
1. Porto Moniz (0 hour 0 minutes) - we driving south-west uphill and uphill .
2. Miradouro Porto Moniz (0:20) - one of the most beutiful view-points, you can see the whole Villa do Porto Moniz, ocean, natural pools, islets.
3. Rabacal parking arrival (1:00) - after the Santa we turn left, direction: Encumeada. We're climbing above the forest level. The clouds are touching our car and along the road the cows are walking slowly. From Rabacal parking we are going downhill on foot. After 30 min. we are starting walk on Levada 25 Fontes (see my special tip).
Rabacal parking departure (3:45) - towards Paul do Serra plateau
4. Paul do Serra (4:00) - we stop on the small parking near the crossroads Encumeada/Estanquinhos. Beautifull colors, fresh air, strange but stunning 'flat between peaks' scenery (see my separate tip).
5. Ponta do Sol (5:00) - we turn back from Paul do Serra and take the road to Canhas and next to Ponta do Sol. This town has nice promenade and several lovely old streets. 30 minutes break.
6. Jardim do Mar (5: 50) - Something to drink! Now! The sun is very strong today! We are in Jardim do Mar (before this town you can visit Calheta). Marvellous place and cold fresh fruit juices in Joe's Bar (see my special tip). 1 and the half hour break.
Jardim do Mar departure (7:15)
7. Ponta do Pargo, the lighthouse (8:00) - unfortunately the time is running so quickly so we decided not to stop in Paul do Mar and Faja da Ovelha but we turn left and after 3-4 km from main road we reach Ponta do Pargo lighthouse. We stare at ocean horizon. Far, far away is America (see my Pargo tip)
Ponta do Pargo departure (9:15)
Porto Moniz - finito (10:00)
One from the valley guardians
15 km from Funchal you are in the other world. The valley is the mountain bottom and when you see around it seems almost impossible that you can escape from here. The peaks and the mist create tight wall.
Currral is very very small - several tourist shops, 3-4 bars, church with the cemetary, narrow streets. But this is the strong point to go there. Obviously 'strong' for all dreaming about tranquility. Sitting in the cafe you can admire the 'power of nature' and you can compare it to the effort of society, the 'survival' force of people.
Curral is famous for its liqueurs - especially chestnut one. But I recommend cherry or passion fruit. Naturally it's a question of taste :)
Antiga: wild wild north coast
From Porto Moniz up to Santana (and maybe far away - I didn't check it) brave Madeirans built picturesque but also dangerous road. The rock slopes from one side and the ocean from the other surrounded poor driver and her/his passengers.
Road is narrow, full of terrible turns and precipices which take your breath away. For strong nerves. But the views from the road are worth of risk and when you drive carefully nothing bad happens.
Between Porto Moniz and Sao Vicente islanders constructed modern road with the system of tunnels, but the old road - called Antiga - still exists. Now, there is one-way traffic (towards Porto Moniz). Antiga sometimes is connected with new one - creating several sections. Take the second one and close the window (if you are in cabrio turn back:). Aftere one-two minutes from start you car is clean. The row of waterfalls effectively washes everything below. Incredible experience.
The most dirt-road is in neighbourhood of Ponta Delgada up to Sao Jorge (section: Sao Vicente - Santana). There is two-way traffic and be preperad for turning back when you see the bus drives from opposite direction. The attraction of this part is also old tunnel - dark and mysterious, looks like just miners dig the hole using only picks and dynamite. Water is dropping from the ceiling and surface is not too flat. Cool adventure.
Be prepared that using Antiga the road from Moniz to Santana (about 50 km) can take you 2 hours. But surely it's worth of your effort.
On the picture: new tunnel in the centre, waterfall on the left, and small wall of Antiga road on the right.
Levado do Furado: local bird-world example
Ribeiro Frio, first impression: the crowd of buses blocks the road and the tourist lava flows among the few shops and bars.
Ribeiro Frio consists of 7-8 houses, interesting trout farm and small but pictoresque 'florestal park' with examples of Madeira plants. Above all Ribeiro Frio is the starting point for Levadas: Balcoes and do Furado.
We were a bit afraid of too many people on the track. But to our great surpise path was almost empty Did all the people only visit the shops and cafes?
Levada do Furado is very pictoresque. Direct your attention especially on bush tunnels and nice bridge (after the 1 h 30 min from Ribeiro). The track is well-preserved and good for not advanced walkers.
This levada is also called Levada Ribeiro Frio. This happen sometimes on Madeira that one levada track has different names. So be careful when checking the info in guides or on the map.
Ribeiro Frio is located between Funchal ans Santana/Faial. Regular buses stop here.
Pico do Arieiro: view from the top
1810 m above the sea level. Panoramic views, rocks and mountains' peaks around. Fantastic atmosphere - take a big breath and admire the inventions of nature.
From one side you can see 'reduced version of Sao Lourenco peninsula', from the other Pico Ruivo - Madeira top. The sky is beautiful and clouds touched the peaks create fabulous feelings.
And only not especially nice building of tourist shop disturbs this idyll. You can reach (signum temporis) Arieiro by car using the comfortable road leading from Poiso pass.
Ponta ds Sao Lourenco: waves and islets far below
Just behind the town of Canical begins Sao Lourenco peninsula. Steep cliffs, waves hundred meters below, 'treesless' soil burnt by sun, rocks around and wild Islas Desertas on the horizon created amazing atmosphere of freedom and independence. Breeze from ocean, the 'azul' of the water and ubiquitous lizards underline these feelings.
The landscape is totally different than the forests or high mountains' parts of Madeira. This is one of my favourite places - undouptedly I can recommend it.
Ponta da Sao Lourenco is the north-east part of island. You can reach it easily from Funchal (road towards airport, Machico, Canical) or north coast (Porto Moniz, Sao Vicente, Sao Jorge, Santana, Canical - the old road between Sao Vicente and Santana is very pictoresque but also narrow and - how to say - cause pressure (rocks from one side and sea far below from the other;)
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