Travel to Madeira

Porto Moniz, Madeira

Travel to Madeira from London is less than four hours’ flight, and the scenery and weather are very different, especially in the winter! Actually, I have been told I was very lucky to have a warm, sunny week in Madeira in January. The blue skies combined with beautiful beaches and mountain views were amazing. On my first full day, I did a driving route with lots of stops all around the islands. Many of the viewpoints were stunning- cliffs, sea, waterfalls, rocks and more beautiful nature. Most of the beaches are pebble beaches, rather than sand. Very beautiful but not as nice to walk on, at least for me. I enjoyed walking along the paths to enjoy the views. Another feature of the island, is the natural rock formations that create swimming pools, such as in beautiful Porto Moniz.

Sunrises and sunsets were spectacular! I caught the sunset at Ponta de São Lourenço, which was stunning. If I get the chance to travel to Madeira again, I would take some time to go hiking around the many mountain trails.

View from Cabo Girão skywalk
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Lunch at Casal da Penha


  • Monte Cable Car
  • Wicker basket down the Monte hill – I saw this though didn’t ride one. Looks a bit dangerous dodging through cars but quite organised
  • Monte Palace Gardens
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Try the local cuisine including seafood, fruits, prego (steak sandwich), bolo de caco bread
  • Statue of Cristiano Ronaldo at the harbour
  • Baía de Câmara de Lobos
  • Teleférico das Fajãs do Cabo Girão
  • Girão sky walk
  • Ponta do Sol Tunnel, Praia and Pier
  • Praia da Calheta
  • Centro das Artes – Casa das Mudas da Calheta
  • Jardim do Mar town and beach walk
  • Paul do Mar Praia and town
  • Miradouro do Ponta da Ladeira
  • Porto Moniz natural swimming pools
  • Piscinas do Seixal
  • Veu da Noiva viewpoint of a cliff waterfall
  • Natural pools and Ruins of St. George
  • Miradouro do Guindaste
  • Ponta de São Lourenço to see the sunset
  • Funchal Old Town
  • Funchal Lido bathing complex
  • Cristo Rei Cablecar and Praia do Garajau

Before you go

  • Madeira is an archipelago of Portugal located in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Morocco
  • Weather is temperate and slightly cooler in winter months
  • Rain can appear unexpectedly and the weather can change quickly. Also, it can be very different at the beach compared to the mountains
  • On Sundays, some restaurants are closed
  • Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere except for some smaller attractions like the local cable cars
  • Hiring a car is expensive, but the most convenient way to get around
  • Roads in the mountains can be very steep and narrow
  • People seem to park on the sides of roads even when there is no parking. Outside of the towns, that seemed to be allowable
  • The island is in general very hilly so bring good shoes if you are going to walk
  • Businesses can be open seasonally, so check opening hours during the winter months (off-peak). Also, some places like museums are closed on Sundays
  • The nature is beautiful and there are lots of places to go hiking
  • Beaches on Madeira are mostly with pebbles rather than sand
Cristiano Ronaldo statue
Ruins of St. George
Cristo Rei statue


  • The main airport, Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo Airport, is located in Santa Cruz, about 20 minutes drive from Funchal.
  • Hiring a car is the easiest way to get around Madeira. However, it can be very expensive. The rental company recommended upgrading to an automatic, and I could see why while driving through the very steep and narrow streets in the mountains. I can drive manual but was glad to have an automatic when I had to back down a small road on a hill to let a car pass!
  • Getting around Madeira is possible with buses if you have plenty of time.


  • While in Madeira, I stayed at Vila Camacho Guesthouse. It was very friendly and cute, as well as comfortable.
  • Although it was not in the centre of Funchal, it was easy to walk to the town. Walking back was a little tougher as it is uphill
  • My room had plenty of space and a balcony. Breakfast was included each morning. And there was a swimming pool, sun deck and library
  • As usual I recommend checking reviews on or using AirBnB
Miradouro da Santinha
Girão beach
Ilhéu de Câmara de Lobos view
Ponta de São Lourenço at sunset
Praia do Garajau
Funchal Old Town
Seafood lunch at Casal da Penha
Madeira Aragonez red wine Barbusano
Fontes do Horácio Scabbard fish with banana and passion fruit sauce
Barbusano Madeira white wine
Il Gallo D’Oro Foie gras
Il Gallo D’Oro bread box selection
Il Gallo D’Oro Sea bream and seaweed fish bone
Monumental Patisserie
100% sushi
Number 2 Pub Prego Especial Bolo do Caco


Madeira is part of Portugal, so the typical Portuguese foods and wines are available. In addition, there are specialties of the islands. Luckily, I also had some local recommendations on where to go from a friend of a friend who lives there. I truly enjoyed all of the food, wine and poncha!


One of the local foods to try is a Prego, which is a steak sandwich on the local bread Bolo do Caco. I ordered this specialty from Pub Number 2 and picked it up to eat at the airport. It was delicious and the meat was very thin and tender. Interestingly, I had asked if they had chips (fries) as a side order and they said they don’t make those and only have crisps in a bag.

The Vila Camacho guesthouse has a restaurant and bar that serves simple meals and drinks. It’s especially nice to sit in the outdoor terrace. I had a tuna nicoise salad there, and also enjoyed the local puncha rum cocktail.


Casal da Penha is a quaint, traditional restaurant in Funchal. On a sunny day, dining on the rooftop terrace is amazing, with the view of the sea. Their specialties include a lot of seafood, and I had the mixed seafood platter.

Fontes do Horacio is a popular traditional restaurant in the hills above Calheta. I enjoyed fresh orange juice, local red wine, and the scabbard fish Madeirense style. The fish was grilled and served with a banana, potatoes and vegetables with a passion fruit sauce. Quite unusual to have fish in a sweet sauce, but it was delicious.

For fine dining, there is one two-Michelin star restaurant on Madeira, Il Gallo D’Oro. Fortunately, it was not too difficult to get a reservation in the off-peak season in January. From start to finish, the service, presentation and food were incredible! Even the bread box with oils, salt and butters on the side were impressive.

There are a number of sushi restaurants in Funchal, and 100% Sushi was recommended by a local as something good and experimental. I was not sure what this meant, but once I ordered I could see the mix of Japanese and local cuisine. Some of the sushi had mango and there were flowers to decorate the sushi. Very fresh and tasty, and I recommend the local lobster maki.


Momentus Pastry and Bakery was a great find for desserts and snacks. It’s a cute café with a selection of sweet and savoury pastries.


White, rose and red wines are grown and produced on Madeira. The sommelier at Il Gallo D’Oro told me that the vineyards are usually small, so the wines will sources grapes from multiple vineyards.

Poncha is a specialty of Madeira, and it consists of rum and another flavour. The original flavour is lemon, and I also liked the passion fruit. It’s available at almost all bars and restaurants, as well as in bottles at the markets.

Finally, the fresh orange juice was available in most places and was sweet and delicious.

Museu de Arte Contemporânea
Miradouro do Guindaste
Ponta do Sol


Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No, it is easy to find the sites to see

Q: Do people speak English?

A: Yes, most people speak some English

Q: Is it a walkable city?

A: A car is needed to get around the island. However, to get around Funchal you can walk around

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