Quinta Esperança In order to more fully experience the historical district of Funchal, Madeira, consider Quinta Esperança in "Zona Velha" or "Old Town," for a well located stay. Situated outside of the modern hotel districts, Quinta Esperança has five self-catering apartments to choose from. We chose the Orchid Apartment, for it's private patio, with fantastic views over the sea. Equipped with a small kitchen, the Orchid Apartment is perfect for shopping at the local market and preparing your own food! We found a fabulous bakery called Mariazinha, with a neighboring grocery store, just a couple of blocks from the Quinta.
From the Quinta, you can take a steep, downhill walk, into the heart of "Old Town." The walk is less than a mile. If the uphill return walk proves too tedious, you can catch a taxi back for under 5.00 euro. Alternatively, there is a bus stop conveniently located across the street from the Quinta. You can catch this for slightly under 2.00 euro each way. It is possible to purchase a weekly bus pass, directly from the bus driver, for around 25.00 euro per person. We found the property managers at Quinta Esperança, to be more than helpful in answering our questions.
Quinta Esperança, Funchal Madeira
Views from community balcony at Quinta Esperança
Enjoying the lights at dusk from our private patio (Orchid Apartment) Quinta Esperança
Old Town/Zona Velha in Funchal Madeira Funchal offers both a swimming beach in "Old Town," as well as places to dine and explore. A popular activity is strolling down Rua Santa Maria, to see the artwork painted on apartment doors, while browsing for a good restaurant. My favorite restaurant in "Old Town," was O'Tosca, listed in the top 10 restaurants on TripAdvisor. It is common for restaurants to present you sea food options, depending on their catch of the day, after which they prepare you your choice!
Traditional Portuguese cuisine includes dishes such as Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup), Bacalhau (salted cod), Milho (fried polenta squares), and Chanfana (lamb or goat stew), among others. The most popular bread on the island is Bolo de Caco, and the most traditional dessert sold in markets and souvenir shops is Bolo de Mel (honey cake).
Pigeons in "Old Town," Funchal, Madeira Portugal
Tiny church in "Old Town," Funchal, Madeira Portugal
Milho (fried polenta), is a popular side dish in Portugal
Door art in "Old Town" Madeira
Doors of "Old Town" Madeira
Picos Dos Barcelos Funchal Madeira There are many fabulous lookout points over Funchal. Our friends introduced us to this gorgeous view at Picos Dos Barcelos. You can drive right up to the top of this hill, which contains a nice paved garden area with some benches for relaxing. We found the climate in Funchal to be the best we have experienced anywhere we have traveled. The temperature in July was moderate, with a nice cloud cover, that came and went without rain. We did not find the island to be overly humid, and personally did not have any problems with mosquitoes.
Exploring the island with our good friends, who live on Madeira, Arlindo and Graca!
View from above Funchal at Picos dos Barcelos, Madeira Portugal
Mercado Dos Lavradores in Funchal Madeira Mercado Dos Lavradores, the main market in heart of the Santa Maria area of Funchal, is full of flowers, fruits, fresh vegetables, and fish. You can also find wines, cheeses, crafts, and coffee shops. It is fun to stroll and shop, but a bit more expensive than the local supermarkets. Nevertheless, we enjoyed supporting the locals, who bring in their daily catch and produce, for some great farm to plate food!
Fish on ice at Mercado dos Lavradores, Funchal, Madeira Portugal
Locally grown island fruits at Mercado dos Lavradores, Funchal, Madeira Portugal
Fresh tuna at fish market, Funchal, Madeira Portugal
Madeira Divepoint If you are looking to scuba dive or engage in any snorkeling excursions we found Madeira Divepoint to be first class. Located at the Carlton hotel in Funchal, this scuba center not only runs a great dive program, with PADI certifications, but offers a variety of ocean adventures including snorkeling activities. There are 15-20 popular dive sites on the island, including a shipwreck. The water is very clear and visibility excellent! The water is cold enough to need wet suits year round.
Views of dive center at Madeira Divepoint, Funchal, Madeira Portugal
Checking equipment for the dive!
Olivia Preparing for Open Water Certification!
Ponto do Sol Madeira Portugal
Ponto do Sol has a large, ocean front, pebble beach, and is the sunniest point on the island. There is a well established community here with plenty of shops and restaurants. To travel from one town to the next, you can either utilize the freeways with the tunnel systems, which cut through the mountains, or take the old scenic roads. We happen to come upon this waterfall (see below) while taking the scenic route from Ponto do Sol, back to Funchal. Check out my Instagram for a video.
In terms of a rental car, we rented a small manual car for approximately 200.00 euro from Santiago RENT-A-Car (Rua Bela de Sao Tiago #53/tel: 291 221 722) for the week. In the hotel district, rental cars were going for 300.00 euro plus per week. In hindsight, I would have rented an automatic due to the difficulty of navigating the steep neighborhood roads and mountains!
We happened upon this waterfall en route to Funchal from Ponto do Sol, Madeira Portugal
Beach at Ponto do Sol Madeira
One of dozens of tunnels we traveled through on the island of Madeira
Monte Madeira Portugal
Monte is popular for it's cable car, botanical gardens, toboggan rides, and it's church, Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte. We paid 10.00 euro to ride the cable car or teleferico up to Monte, from the center of Funchal, and decided to sled down in the toboggans. The toboggans stop at a platform where you can walk into town, or take a taxi back into Funchal. Do NOT hop in a taxi before negotiating a price. We had someone try to charge us 28.00 euro for what should have been a 5.00 euro ride!
Cable Car or Teleferico to Monte, Madeira Portugal
Traditional toboggan runners
Preparing to sled down the mountain roads
Climbing the steps to Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte, Madeira
Inside the Church the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte, Madeira
Camara de Lobos and Cabo Girão Madeira Portugal
The fishing village of Camara de Lobos is a short drive or boat ride from Funchal (approximately 20 minutes). We took advantage of both of these options on different days. Our favorite restaurant in the town was Vila do Peixe, which allows you to choose your fish, after which they grill it for you. This village, with it's fishing boats is charming and and well worth the visit! While you are in Camara de Lobos consider a visit to the Madeira wine company Henrique & Henrique. There are a variety of options for tasting different varietals of this world famous, fortified island wine, at a nominal price. From Camara de Lobos, you can take the steep drive up to Cabo Girão, for one of the most fantastic and dramatic views of the island. We hired a taxi to take us up and back for a 20.00 euro fee. The lookout point, comprised of a glass platform, is free of charge to experience and well worth the view! Our taxi driver waited for us, for the negotiated rate, while we enjoyed the views.
Fish out of the sea at restaurant Vila do Peixe, Camara de Lobos, Madeira Portugal
Enjoying some Rose wine at Vila do Peixe in Camara de Lobos
Fishing boats of Camara de Lobos, Madeira Portugal
Wine tasting at Henrique & Henrique, Camera de Lobos, Madeira Portugal
Madeira wine barrels are exposed to the sun to encourage oxidation
Setting up for a tasting of different Madeira wine varietals with varying sweetness designations
This shot was taken from the lookout point of Cabo Girão, Madeira Portugal
Lookout point at Cabo Girão, Madeira Portugal
Agricultural steps and levadas of Madeira Portgual
Catamaran ride from Funchal to Camara de Lobos, Madeira Portual
Calheta Beach, Madeira Portugal
Unless you ferry over to Porto Santo, one of Madeira's neighboring archipelago islands, you won't find white sand beaches. Most beaches have small to large grey pebbles. In Calheta, however, they have brought in sand from Africa to make a sandy beach for beach lovers. We spent a sunny morning in Calheta on the beach. Lawn chairs cost approximately 2.00 euro a piece, and umbrellas were 1.50 euro a piece. The beach is not so much a beach, but more of a lagoon, and great for kids! Set against the mountains, the ambience is nothing short of relaxing!
Nice cloud cover at Calheta beach, Madeira Portugal
Beautiful mountain views from Calheta beach, Madeira Portugal
Porto Moniz Madeira Portugal
Porto Moniz is popular for it's natural swimming pools. With jagged black lava rocks, and clear blue water washing over the parameter of the swimming pool, these natural swimming holes are one hundred percent ocean water, and are not heated. There are two main swimming holes in Porto Moniz that sit side by side. One is free, and the other charges an entrance fee of 1.50 euro and has a changing room and bathroom on site. We brought a picnic to enjoy at the pools, in spite of the fact there are many restaurants close by!
Natural ocean pool (free) in Porto Moniz, Madeira Portugal
Natural ocean pool in Porto Moniz (cost 1.50 euro) in Porto Moniz
Coastline heading into Porto Moniz, Madeira Portugal
Curral das Freiras & Valley of Nuns Madeira Portugal
Curral das Freiras is not for the weak of heart! Braving the mountain drive with clouds and fog, only to find the sun breaking through the Valley of Nuns, is nothing short of a pilgrimage. A bit harrowing, it is well worth the drive, and one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen in my life. If you are driving, follow the arrows off the freeway to Eira do Serrado "Eagles Nest," and park at the base of the hotel. From here you can follow the path to the edge of the mountain view overlooking Valley of Nuns. From a different point you can actually descend into the Valley of Nuns. We decided not to make the journey down into the town, but rather enjoyed the views from up high. Although we drove our rental car, there are many options for tours by bus to this location.
Driving through the clouds to reach eagles nest high in the mountains of Madeira Portugal
Lookout point at Eagles Nest, with Valley of Nuns below, Madeira Portugal
Video footage taken of dissipating clouds at Eagles Nest, Madeira Portugal
Ponta de São Lourenço Madeira Portugal
A day trip to Ponta de Sao Lorenco is a must! This side of the island is rugged, windy, and invigorating. You can hike as much or little of this peninsula as you like. We found the beach views to be our favorite part of this hike! While there is a stand that sells water on the roadside, it is a good idea to plan on packing a pack to stay well fed and hydrated.
Breathtaking views from our hike at Ponta de São Lorenço, Madeira Portugal
Dozens of rock statues flank one of the lookout points at Ponta de São Lorenço!
The winds at Ponta de São Lorenço are strong enough to blow you about!
Rocks formations at Ponta de São Lorenço, Madeira Portugal
View of the island point in São Lorenço, Madeira Portugal
Canico and Cristo Rei da Ponta do Garajau
We made our way to the famous lookout point that showcases the Cristo Rei da Ponta do Garajau, known as the Sacred Heart Statue. This statue stands in memory of non Catholic Christians, who were thrown off the cliffs here at death, as they were not allowed to be buried on the island. Cristo Rei da Ponta do Garajau, was created four years prior to the Christ Redeemer statue in Brazil. In spite of the fact the statue was under construction, we enjoyed the hike! From the parking lot where Cristo Rei stands, you can hike a small staircase out to a jutted rock that allows you a view the statue from afar. Also of interest, is the cable car in Garajau, you can catch at this point, and ride to the beach below!
Hiking staircase at Cristo Rei da Ponta do Garajau, Madeira Portugal
Lookout peak at which you can look back on a view of the Cristo Rei da Ponta do Garajau, Madeira Portgual
Julio Carvalho. "Ponta do Garajau | Cristo Rei | HD | Madeira." Online Video Clip. You Tube. You Tube, 14 May 2012