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Madeira island is known for its exotic vegetation, breathtaking views from the mountain tops, crystal clear ocean water and warm weather year around. While this is one of the smaller Portuguese islands, there is still plenty to do and see. Another added bonus is that the locals enjoy catering to the tourists needs.
Madeira - a guide and places to visit
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal consisting of a group of islands to the south-west of mainland Portugal. Islands within the group include Madeira itself, and Porto Santo, the Savage Islands and the Desertas.
Sao Vicente Caves which is located on the North Coast of Madeira is a must see. You will be taken on a 30 minute tour through the depths of the earth to view what was left after a volcanic eruption that happened over 400,000 years ago. Exploring these volcanic caves will give you a true sense of the power eruptions have.
Religion is very important on Madeira Island, so a visit to the Funchal Cathedral (Se do Funchal) located in the city of Funchal is well worth your time. Once you walk through the Gothic entryway, you will be amazed by all of the intricate work done on the inside of the Cathedral. The ceiling is carved in cedar and interwoven with ivory. There are also plenty of statutes and paintings done by famous Portuguese artists for you to admire.
Another favorite attraction in Funchal is the cable car. You start your 15 minute ride at Parque Almirante Reis and end at the mountain village of Monte. The scenery in Monte is breathtaking, and you will feel like you’re on top of the world overlooking the city below. The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is near the cableway station and is worth seeing while you’re there. Here you will enjoy lush vegetation and see nature at its best.
A visit to a Madeiran market brings your shopping experience to a whole new level. These marketplaces are generally frequented by the locals who do their weekly shopping at the various stands. However, they welcome tourists as well. You can find just about anything you want on your visit. They sell everything from flowers, food, vegetables and fruit to clothes, toys and music. These markets are located in Funchal, Ponta Delgada, Santo de Serra and Porto Moniz.
No island vacation is complete without basking in the sun on the beach. There are plenty of beaches on Madeira Island; however, most beaches in Madeira are pebbled and covered in volcanic sand. It’s highly recommended that you bring beach mats or lounge chairs to soak up the sun. The beaches are well known for their pristine clear water and pleasant temperatures, so you’re sure to enjoy your time in the sun.
When visiting Madeira Island, most people choose to stay in Funchal itself, capital of Madeira. This is because most of the island’s activities and restaurants are located there. The top three choices of hotels to stay at are Madeira Regency Cliff, Pestana Grand Hotel and Madeira Palacio Resort. All three of these hotels have easy access to many restaurants, cafés and shopping districts found in the city. The hotel staff is more than happy to help you schedule any sightseeing trips you might want to take or answer any questions you may have about places to see and things to do on Madeira Island.
With all of the natural beauty, lush gardens and traditional Portuguese hospitality, your visit to the Portugueuse island of Madeira is something you’ll remember for a lifetime.