The first thing to note about Madeira is that it’s tiny; it has a population of less than 300,000 and it is just 35 miles from one side of the island to the other. Yet despite it being so small it actually takes quite a while to get around as the roads wind their way along the jagged coastline, the endless hairpin bends and cliff edges can be a bit sketchy to navigate. The scenery is truly beautiful, so I had no complaints about slowly meandering around the island.
Straight from the airport we drove out to Ponta De Sao Lourenco, this was probably my favourite part of the island and the hike was a beautiful way to start the trip. We spent six days on the Island and filled our time with slow mornings in bakeries, day time hikes and evening sunsets. For the first half of the trip we stayed in a little wooden cabin in the North East, exploring the surrounding area and the northern coastline during the day.
The latter part of the trip was spent on the South West coast in Faja da Ovelha, we hiked the mountains in the centre of the island and spent a day in the main city of Funchal. Other than a few man-made ones, there are no sandy beaches in Madeira and most of the time you will find yourself high above the ocean on cliffs, however there some small towns and ports that allow you to get down to sea level.
Madeira has a diverse set landscapes, from rugged coastlines, mountain ranges and dense forests and right now it still has that feel of being undiscovered. It hasn’t been overshot and I wasn’t ticking off places from a list of images that I had seen on Instagram, which is is sadly how some trips can feel at times. Out there it was almost as though everything we saw was for the first time and because it wasn’t a job there was no pressure to visit certain places or to come away with specific photos. At some point in the past few years I seem to have forgotten how to “holiday,” as we didn’t really stop or relax and I came home far more tired than when I left. That said, I defy any landscape photographer to visit a place like this and not treat it as though you’re out there to shoot.
We didn’t get around to doing all of the hikes or view points but here are some of the things that we enjoyed:
- Levada Do Risco – An easy and beautiful hike up in the mountains to a waterfall at the end. The whole walk is under the cover of the trees.
- Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco – The Easternmost tip of the island, the hike is beautiful with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and volcanic rock formations.
- Vereda Do Pico Ruivo
- Vereda Do Areeiro
Beautiful Places and Drives:
- Sao Jorge
- Ponta Do Rosto
- Ponta Da Pargo
- The drive to Pico Do Areeiro is incredible and totally worth it even if you don’t plan to do the hike.
Funchal – We spent one day in the main city and found it easy to drive around and park up. They have some lovely bakeries and restaurants and even a Zara. After a couple of hours wandering around the shops and Funchal Old Town I was ready to get back on the road.
Calheta and Jardim Do Mar – There are plenty of beautiful small towns on the south Coast that allow you to get down to sea level and enjoy the ocean. We had dinner down in the Port of Calheta one evening which was particularly nice.
If you a planning a trip out and would like any tips feel free to get in touch.