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Madeira 1 - What to do in Madeira?

Updated: Jan 8

Madeira has a lot to offer:

Dense, ancient evergreen laurel forests, breathtaking levadas (water channels), spectacular coastal walks and high, rugged peaks that like to hide in the mist. Funchal is a pretty old town on the coast that invites you to stroll.Actually, there is everything except a long sandy beach ...

For me Madeira had a bit of a reputation as a destination for pensioners or at least people wishing to retire.

My grandparents visited the island in the 80s and raved about botanical gardens and colourful flowers. Even though I like flowers, my initial impression was formed. Over the past few years there were several times when I saw photos and thought:

“Cool, where is that?” And very frequently the answer was: Madeira!

Click on the first image

After my on-site research, I can now reliably say that Madeira is extremely diverse:

yes, there are colourful flowers and botanical gardens, the nice capital Funchal, good fish restaurants, nice and very reasonably-priced accommodation. But the island also has dense, ancient, evergreen laurel forests, stunning levadas (water channels), spectacular coastal walks and high, rugged peaks that like to hide in the fog. The light changes from green to greyish brown to turquoise blue; from sun to fog to rain, the island constantly reinvents itself. Madeira is many things – but certainly not boring.

One note of caution though: if you are planning a pure beach holiday … you may be disappointed. The sea is rough and most beaches are pebble beaches.

 You can read more blog bosts about Madeira HERE 

Getting there:

Both Lufthansa and Condor fly directly from Frankfurt to Funchal in about 4 hours. Anyone who has always wanted to go to Lisbon - a city that is definitely worth a trip (see my blog) can also book a flight with TAP, which does a stopover in Lisbon. Depending on the season, there are flights from around € 250.

Getting around:

Madeira has an OKish public transport network, which works quite well if you have Funchal as a base ( For a little more flexibility, I would recommend a rental car (, or However, many hikes are not designed as circular routes, so that for the return trip you either have to take the bus, take a guide, or simply walk the same route back – I will write more about this topic in my hiking blogs …


My favorite accommodation in Madeira is Quinta do Furão on the wild north coast. It is located directly on a cliff above the sea - with a gigantic view over the steep coast. The hotel has an outdoor and indoor pool as well as a sauna - which is a great thing to warm up after a long hike in rainy weather.

Here I was able to take the best sunrise photos - right out of bed, so to speak. Breakfast is a dream and - what I think is particularly great - nothing is wrapped in plastic here. Everything is freshly made and there is a huge selection.

The hotel also has a restaurant (even for vegetarians) with a terrace that reveals really spectacular views.

Double room with breakfast approx. 75 €

Estrada da Quinta do Furão nº 6, 9230-082 Santana, Madeira – Portugal, Tel: (+351) 291 570 100

The self-catering huts Fajã dos Padres, which can only be reached by cable car, are also really great, as they are located below a 300 metre high cliff in a garden that was already used more than 500 years ago by Jesuits for fruit and vegetable cultivation. Bananas, mangoes, avocados and vines are still grown here today. The location is sheltered and sunny - so it is always a few degrees warmer here than elsewhere on the island. All of the renovated cabins have decks right above the surf - a great lullaby.

The restaurant by the sea is a popular destination, unfortunately it closes at 6 p.m., but the terrace right on the pebble beach AND right in the garden is a dream.

For those who want to go to the mountains early or go out late in the evening, the cable car times between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. may not be ideal.

We therefore divided our time between two hotels, which I actually also found perfect for access to the hikes.

Self-catering hut including breakfast from € 80

Rua Padres António Dinis Henriques nº 1 9300-261 Quinta Grande Tel: +351 291 944538

Food and Drink:

Ok, I'm a vegetarian, but my boyfriend was so enthusiastic about the typical Madeiran Espetadas (meat skewers), which are chunks of meat skewered on a laurel branch and grilled over an open fire, that I still recommend the Santo Antonio restaurant ... they also serve fish.

Estrada João Gonçalves Zarco, nº 656 9325-087 Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, Madeira, Portugal, Tel: +351 291 910 360

Cool for a café right by the sea where you can watch Funchal's last fishermen mending their nets is the Santiago Beach Bar right at the eastern end of the bay below the Forte de São Tiago. The restaurant Cidade Velha is not the cheapest, but the food is first class and the terrace in front of the fort (not in the fort) with a view over the sea is a welcome oasis of calm when strolling through town. Rua Portao de Sao Tiago 21, Funchal, Madeira 9060-250 Portugal, Tel: +351 291 232 021 The Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva is pretty cool for a sundowner. Nini Andrade Silva is a hip Portuguese interior designer. Right at the western end of the bay (behind the Christiano Ronaldo Museum) is her modern exhibition space, which was built on a historical fortress. Personally, I would be too stingy for the restaurant (but I'm not a gourmet either), but for a drink with a view over the port and the city is always worthwhile.

Estrada da Pontinha Forte de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Funchal, Madeira 9000-016 Portugal, Tel: +351 291 648 780

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