According to 800zipcodes.com, Madeira, an archipelago consisting of the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, as well as uninhabited islands, is located about 700 km west of the African coast and 1000 km south of Portugal. The style of rest here is “total relaxation” surrounded by wonderful nature, beauty, silence and unusually clean air. There are no beaches on the island, but there are balneological centers near the ocean and special ladders for descending into the water.
Here expanse for lovers of fishing and hunting (from September to December), golf and trekking, windsurfing and diving. Tennis and horseback riding are very popular. Local restaurants offer the world-famous original Madeira and delight with excellent cuisine.
Almost all five-star hotels have thalassotherapy salons. Prices are European.
How to get to Madeira
Madeira is separated from the continent by 1000 km of ocean surface, so you can get there only by plane or ship. There are no direct flights from Russia, you will have to make a transfer in Lisbon, Prague, Helsinki, Madrid or Amsterdam. Transportation is carried out by Portuguese Airlines, Czech Airlines, Lufthansa, Airbaltic. The flight will take at least 8 hours.
The host airport bears the name of the world football star, Cristiano Ronaldo, and is famous for the fact that its runway runs right by the ocean and rests on giant piles.
The cheapest way to get to Madeira is by low-cost airlines from the Baltic or Scandinavian countries. It is possible to combine the trip with a visit to mainland Portugal. From Portimão, from the southernmost point of the country, a ferry goes to the archipelago once a week. Swimming will last about a day. You can find the schedule and book tickets at the office. carrier’s website (in English).
From airport to city
There are buses, shuttles and taxis from the airport. Regular buses No. 20, 53, 78, 113, 113RS and 208 depart from the terminal to different areas of Funchal. Traffic intervals are from 15 minutes to 1.5 hours. At the bus stop there is a map with directions. Travel time 30 minutes, ticket price 5 EUR. Shuttles start running every half an hour from 9:30 to 21:30. You will have to pay 7 EUR for a ticket, a ticket for a child is 50% cheaper. For 45 EUR a taxi will take you to Funchal in 20 minutes. The prices on the page are for August 2021.
Resorts of Madeira
The most visited city and the heart of the island is Funchal, where most tourists stay. From the capital, located on the south coast, roads lead to anywhere in Madeira. Near Camara di Lobos, which became famous thanks to W. Churchill – a memorial sign with the image of the Prime Minister at the easel is installed right on the road. The resorts of the west coast are Ribeira Brava with a beautiful observation deck, Ponta do Sol, where the ancient Church of Our Lady of Matrizh is located, and the town of Calheta with the best beaches and a lighthouse.
Drawing in Madeira was carried out not only by Churchill, but also by Karl Bryullov. The Russian artist painted several portraits and watercolors here.
The resorts of the eastern part are Caniço, where the statue of “Cristo Rei” rises, Caniçal with the Whale Museum, Santa Cru and Machico. Tourists go to the North to see the triangular houses of the islanders in Santano, admire the highest waterfall in Porto Moniz and swim in the lava pools there. In the center of the island, from the Encumeada pass, you can view the north and south sides at once, as well as visit the Curral das Freiras valley in the crater of an extinct volcano.
If in the south the coast is protected from the wind and the ocean waters are more or less calm, then in the north you can observe the Atlantic in all its glory.
The island of Porto Santo, which is part of the archipelago, is very similar to Madeira, but is distinguished by the presence of 9 km of sandy beach. On the uninhabited islands, there is a national reserve with a wide variety of flora and fauna, where representatives of an endangered species of pinnipeds, monk seals, live.
Many people prefer to live in Funchal, because there are conditions for recreation and entertainment outside the hotel walls. In the capital, 4-5 * hotels are concentrated, working on the basis of breakfast or half board. There is practically no all-inclusive system here.
Almost all hotels, even three-star ones, have their own pools or terraces with ocean water.
For a secluded holiday, hotels in the village of Kanisu are suitable. This picturesque fishing village is located a 20-minute drive from Funchal and can be reached with the free hotel shuttle or shuttle bus. It is a couple of degrees cooler here than in the capital of the archipelago, and entry into the water is different for the better – tourists are waiting for sand and pebble beaches.
In addition to hotels, you can stay in hostels, guest houses and campsites. There is housing for every budget – from 60 EUR for a room in a good “treshka” near Funchal to 2500 EUR for a presidential suite in the oldest Belmond Reid’s Palace hotel, where members of royal families and aristocrats from all over the world stay.
Public transport is well developed. Mini-buses run in the center of Funchal – they do not have stationary stops, they can be stopped anywhere. Opening hours: Monday – Friday 8:00-20:00, Saturday 8:00-14:00, Sunday – day off.
On city buses you can get to the suburbs of Funchal and get to the main attractions – the Botanical Garden, the Praia Formosa beach and the Monte area. There are buses adapted for transporting bicycles – they are marked with a special sign on the windshield. Intercity buses make trips to the villages of Camacha, Santana, etc. Tickets are purchased on board. The schedule is available on the websites of EACL (in English) and SAM (in English) carriers.
There are two funiculars in the Monte district of Funchal – one starts from the center, the other from the Botanical Garden. To the north, a cable car operates in Sanatan, which offers impressive views of the ocean and the island. Picturesque landscapes surround the cable car in Garagua, it starts under the statue of Christ in Caniço.
Cycling is a great way to get to know Madeira, but many of the roads and trails are very steep. There are no dedicated cycle lanes on the island, but there are mountain and road bike paths. There are plenty of rental points, including at hotels. For example, in the Forum Madeira shopping center next to the Formosa beach. The rental price is 30 EUR per day.
In Madeira, it is customary to go to the sights by taxi – price lists are posted right at the parking lot indicating the excursion route. A trip for the whole day will cost 110 EUR.
Rent a Car
To see all the local beauties, you will need a car, so it makes sense to rent one right at the airport. The main European and local operators operate in Madeira – Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, Madeira Rent, Keddy By Europcar, InsularCar, etc. Prices depend on the season – in summer there is a noticeable increase.
The road surface is good, there are serpentines, but, according to experts, they are not critical. Taking into account the local terrain, it is better to take a car with a manual transmission – it is better to go uphill and downhill, and less motion sickness. There are no problems with parking – there are paid and free options. In some paid parking lots, you can park for free on Saturdays after 13:00, Sundays and holidays. As a rule, this is reported at the parking meter. The police are loyal to tourist drivers and are usually limited to a warning.
The beaches of Madeira can hardly be called beaches in the usual sense of the word – even approaching the water in most cases is not so easy. Steep rocky shores are everywhere and there are very few places suitable for swimming. As a rule, tourists in hotels sunbathe by the pool, and swim by descending into the water along the decks or stairs. Entrance to paid beaches with minimal infrastructure will cost 5 EUR, where you can also rent a set of umbrella-chaise longues for 11 EUR per day. You can stay on unequipped beach areas for free.
Funchal has a large public Formosa beach, as well as complexes of natural lava pools with ocean water: free – Posas do Governador and paid – Lido and Doca Cavacas. The beach in Machico with imported African sand is considered the best on the island, similar to it is still near the town of Calheta.
For swimming on the beaches of Madeira, you must use special shoes – even if the coastal strip looks like sand, there are sharp stones in the water.
The largest complex of natural pools is located in the north in Porto Moniz. Here, in Praia da Laia, there is one of the best beaches with black volcanic sand. The waters near Paul do Mar are best for windsurfing.
The neighboring island of Porto Santo is a paradise for beach lovers. The length of its sandy strip is 9 km. Everywhere there is a convenient gentle slope, but only near the city of Vila Baleira there is a special recreation area. You can get there by ferry in 2 hours or by domestic flight in 15 minutes.
What to bring
An alcoholic drink of the same name is brought from Madeira. This fortified wine can be dessert and dry and is sold in any store. Souvenir bottles are more profitable to buy in ordinary supermarkets, and not in souvenir shops. Another tasty gift is local sweets: candied hibiscus flowers and fennel-flavored lollipops are sold everywhere.
Fennel is a hallmark of Madeira. It is believed that the name of the city of Funchal comes from this plant.
It is worth paying attention to local fruits, among which cherimoya and monstera fruit – bananas stand out. The first tastes like a cream of tropical fruits, and the second is a banana and pineapple at the same time. Solid specimens will perfectly endure the flight and ripen already on the spot. For fish lovers, souvenir shops sell local sardines in packages convenient for transportation.
For walks in the mountains, knitted hats and sweaters made by local craftswomen will certainly come in handy – buy them instead of a souvenir. In our cool climate, they will also not be superfluous. Read more: Madeira shops.