This Portuguese island, my family and I decided to visit in the month of November, several years ago when we decided to seek some Winter sun.
The island is a walker’s paradise, with levadas running all through the mountain range, they provide a perfect path through tunnels and past waterfalls for all the budding trekkers to enjoy.
If you do decide to check out these walks, be prepared for sharp drops and narrow paths and wear layered clothes. It can change from hot to cold. You’ll also need good hiking boots and waterproof’s and don’t forget a torch. If you go through a tunnel they are pitch black.
If hiking isn’t you’re thing, there’s still plenty to do if you are keen to explore and are happy to hire a car. Waterfalls can be found on many of the routes around the island and in some cases even fall onto the road.
Due to the mountainous terrain and the abundance of high sea cliffs, there are quite a few cable cars on the island. The main one that many may know, takes you from the centre of Funchal and up over the city into the hills to Monte where a pretty church sits and you can take a ride part way down in a toboggan.
But explore further afield and you’ll find some fantastic and reasonably priced cable car rides down steep cliffs to secluded beaches.
We stayed on the outskirts of Funchal, which was a short walk into the town, but also many hotels offer free buses into the centre. It has an intriguing market where fish and fruit can be bought, and a fort by the sea. Also many houses are decorated in amazing art work.
On the other side of the island, which is rich with lush vegetation and farmland, you can find traditional Maderian houses that are still lived in and well cared for.
Cuisine wasn’t great for me as I’m a fussy eater and prefer vegetarian food, which wasn’t in abundance here. But even my carnivorous family didn’t find the meals that great in the restaurants around Funchal. However, they did have a great steak sandwich at an incredibly low price in a small cafe we found out on a road on the North of the island. Pitched alone on the cliff with the grey sea tumbling behind us, it was a gem to discover.
If you fancy an island with stunning scenery and winding roads to take you through and over every mountain and valley, than I’d recommend Madeira. It’s not you’re typical sunbathing, karaoke Brit and sports bar location, and also not somewhere you can fully appreciate if you pop in on a cruise. To fully explore the island, a fortnight trip would be perfect.