The Portuguese archipelago of Madeira is dream location. Did you know a quarter of a million people live on the island? Which is 57 kilometers (35.4 miles) long and 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) wide. The island is home to dramatic cloud-topped mountains, lush rolling valleys, and world class beaches. It seems whatever corner you turn, your eyes land on beautiful view. Here we outline some of the most picturesque places to discover on Madeira.
Madeira’s capital, Funchal, is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. An old trading town, Funchal is located on the south coast of the island, and is best known for its glorious and blooming gardens. Its bustling food market of Mercado dos Lavradores is home to many local delicacies (try the Black scabbard fish with banana), and if you’re looking for beautiful historical sites, the Quinta das Cruzes Manor House Museum and the 16th-century cathedral are definitely worth exploring.
2. The Valley of the Nuns
Situated in the crater of an extinct volcano is a small village referred to as ‘The Valley of the Nuns’ (Curral das Freiras). In 1566 the nuns from the Santa Clara convent fled from pirates who were attacking Funchal and besieging their convent, and they sought seclusion in the valley. Today the village remains isolated, with many of its inhabitants achieving a fully sustainable lifestyle. Located in the heart of Madeira, the two greatest viewpoints from which to observe this wondrous village location are the Eira do Serrado and Paredão viewpoints.
3. Ponta do Sol
One of the greatest aspects of life in Madeira are its coastal villages. And Ponta do Sol is arguably the most beautiful. Rows of pastel buildings and a glorious pebble beach give the village its unique charm. Ponta do Sol is also known as the sunniest place on the island and it’s a great place to take in the sunset. It’s also a wonderful spot for divers, as there are many underwater treasures found just off the shore. The 15th century Church of Nossa senhora da Luz is also an architectural highlight.
4. Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Set high in the hills above Funchal is one of Madeira’s most popular tourist attractions – The Monte Palace Tropical Garden. The garden was first created in the 1990s, and today it features thousands of exotic plants and diverse wildlife. The garden’s rugged nature, complemented with lush vegetation is a great reminder that Madeira is volcanic origin, and a true tropical paradise.
5. Pico Ruivo
You can’t explore the beauty of Madeira without considering its mountains. Pico Ruivo (“red peak” in Portuguese) is Madeira’s highest peak, standing tall at over 6,000 feet above sea level. It’s also the third highest peak in Portugal. For those looking for adventure, there is a 5.6 kilometre hike from Achada da Teixeira which rewards you with stunning views of the island. You’ll feel as if you’re walking in the clouds.
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