Points of Interst (POIs) on Madeira including seasonal content
Castelo do Mar
Where to bring my garbage?
Please NEVER leave your garbage inside castelo! On this side of Madeira / at Ribeira Brava every block of houses / every street has community garbage cans (NOT for one house but for every block/suburb)....so please bring your garbage to the containers you're going to find 150 m before arriving at castelo at the right side or if leaving to your left side - click here to open google maps.
What is the "MUST HAVE SEEN"?
Which are the most recommended POI's on Madeira?
Well...where to start...Madeira has chosen us to stay...we love the nature, the people, the climate and our locations....
- Restaurante Sabor a Fado in Funchal: A very small, family owned and managed restaurant in Funchal, Tel. +351925612259, reservation mandatory! The restaurant is lead in 2nd generation with 3 generations of the family singing tradtional Fado every day and 3 generations serving the guests every day! The restaurant opens every day at 18:00, but reservations can be done all day. The family with friends starts singing and playing the portuguese guitar every day at 19:30 till 23:30: So reservation is best for 19:15 - don't be late! Pedro, one of the family owners, is one of the last portuguese guitar (12 strings instead of 6 like normal guitar) teachers on the island. Alexandra and Sylvia, his aunt and sister, are the best Fado singers on Madeira singing 4 times with a pause between for serving the guests. The dishes are traditional portuguese but of best quality. Just for the quality of the dishes this is one of the three best restaurants on Madeira. But together with the Fado experience and the athmosphere this is the best restaurant on Madeira for me! You have to try the recomendations of the house (see the picture on the left)! For a vegetarian dish ask them directly, its not on the menu! They prepare mushrooms in cream sauce with fried cornbread cubes, rice and French fries.
- Whale watching and ship tours e.g. to the "Ilhas Desertas" starting in Funchal harbor including whale, dolphine or sea turtle watching:
- whale watching ... with the rebuilt flagship of Christopher Columbus, the Santa Maria if your preference is more to experience an original Caravela Portuguesa AND seeing whales from a bit distance! (you don't have to book the tours online! You can book them also at Funchal harbor)
- whale watching ... or if you prefer more the sailing experience and being closer to the whales and dolphins by Catamaran. Our favorite due to hissing of the sails and beeing one of the fastest ships is VMT Catamaran Trips Madeira. (see picture above - you don't have to book the tours online! You can book them also at Funchal harbor)
- The highest cliff in Europe is also a good start for sightseeing: Miradouro Cabo Girão Skywalk. (A spectacular view from 500 m altitude from Funchal till Fajã dos Padres)
Carnaval at Funchal harbor promenade at night - click here to see program and map 2023 - starting 18th of February 2023 till 26th of February 2023 / starting 08th of February 2024 till 15th of February 2024
- Christmas market at Funchal harbor promenade at night: The fairy lights throughout Funchal at night are spectacular: carousels, hot chestnuts and Christmas stands in front of the biggest ocean liners in the world, starting in mid-November till 08th of January
- Madeira Flower Festival, starting last weekend in April till 21st of May:
- Funchal harbor promenade / Marina: Even if you live in Funchal, here you do find everything! Shopping mal "La Vie" is a good place to leave your car, starting at CR7 museum walking to the old foodmile in Downtown, enjoying life under palm trees and the tropical ambiente in front of the impressive ocean liners in a safe surrounding!
- Madeiras Copa Cabana: Calheta beach and Marina: Perfect beach feeling! After enjoying the beach go early to get a table at the Marina at the Restaurant "Manifattura Di Gelato" - its not just an ice cream manufacturer but also a recommended restaurant! In high season go there first to make a reservation! There's an parking garage at the end of the Marina that is quite empty most of the time - click here to find Parking Calheta Marina.
- Praia Formosa: Most beautiful beach of Madeira
- Mercado dos Lavradores / Daily fruit market in Funchal: I promise you: You will not know the plants creating these extraordinary fruits! Some fruits are just known in south america like pipinella, banana-ananás, Anonia or many others! All tasty and worth of trying! What is even more relaxing: Take your time on/in the market taking a uma bica (Espresso) with all this happy life around.
- The oldest Poncha Bar on Madeira: Taberna da Poncha, not far from Castelo - just for those who want to try the famous (alcoholic) cocktail of madeira
- Madeira Botanical Garden
Three POI's in a row:
- Monte Palace Madeira with its Tropical Gardens: Who likes exotic plants and gardens will be impressed by garden architecture from all over the world. Even Queen Sissi (Empress Elisabeth of Austria) came to cure her disease on Madeira. And even better... take the cable car from Funchal promenade to go there
- Carreiros do Monte in Funchal: 40,- EUR per Person is worth it to see it once! Take the cable car from Funchal harbour to Monte, and after...taking the taxi back to Funchal promenade again
- Nature Pools from Porto Moniz,...
- ...the beach promenade at Madalena do Mar with café
- ...the serpentines and the old road to Paul do Mar
- ...the cliffs at the north coast, f.e. Ribeira do Inferno,...or at Sao Jorge
- ...the old coast roads and the old tunnels hammered out of the stone - my favorite: The old road from Ponta del Sol Beach to Madelena do Mar, driving through the old tunnel(s), passing the old prison, driving through the Angels Waterfalls, passing the Cais da Esperança.
- ...the high altitude forests in fanal pond or near Funchal Ecological Parque..... and no, you're not in switzerland or Austria, ...
- ...sunset at Ponta do Sol: Or enjoy the sunset at the old prison you can drive through the old tunnel at the end of the beach direction Madalena do Mar/Calheta - at the end you're going to find the old prison in front of the tunnel or enjoy at the beach bar-restaurant Maré Alta Bar.
- ...the levada trails carved out of the rock by hammer and hand
- ...the flowers,...
- ...the waterfalls,...
- ...and last but not least: The levadas, Madeira's unesco world cultural heritage!
What to do at a cloudy or rainy day?
Due to the altitude of the mountains its never raining all over Madeira, but in some parts! So check how's the weather for today!
Here are two examples of external websites offering access to webcams all over the island:
Here're our favorites:
7. 3D Museum in Funchal - your kids will love this place!
Where's the next supermarket?... next to Castelo do Mar - click here
Most recommended restaurants/cafés/bakery/conditory - click here
On the South coast beaches are usually warmer then on the north coast
- Praia da Calheta - 14,4 km/19 min - 5-star-sahara sand beach, perfect to swim, warmest water on Madeira, water temp 24-26°C in summer and 20-22°C in winter, 2 beaches easy to swim from one to the other with harbor, restaurants, bars, bistros, pingo doce supermarket beside, our beach reating: ***** perfect to swim
- Praia da Ribeira Brava - 3,6 km/7 min by car, 3 km/40 min walk - black sand beach, our beach rating: ***
- Praia da Ponta do Sol - 5,3 km/10 min by car, 25 min by bike - stone beach, our beach rating: ***+
- Cable Car Beach: Fajã dos Padres - 12 km/16 min - stone beach, but what a panoramic view and the beach has a restaurant, and a perfect snorkeling area, our beach rating ***+
- Praia Formosa, Funchal - 19,5 km, 24 min, leave your car here, most famous beach of Madeira, our beach rating ***** but be careful swimming here, due to the tides!
North coast beaches are usally colder - In january there's just sun for 2 hours between 11-13:00
Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools, Porto Moniz (37,3 km/48 min - a must see! But beware and check 3 things before:
- Check the temperature at Porto Moniz first
- Check if there's sun at Porto Moniz
- Check if the tides/waves are less than 2m high e.g. via Windfinder app
- Seixal beach (29,1 km/39 min - natural black sand, perfect for sufing or bodyboarding if the tides/waves are higher than 1 m)
- Praia da Laje, Seixal (30,3 km/36 min - small unknown stone beach, perfect to swim with good restaurant beside)
- Santana Cable Car (60,5 km/59 min - not recommended to swim but a 5-star-panoramic view...)
Walking on Madeira! Where to find best walking tours on Madeira?
We recommend the walking app komoot to install on your smartphone to choose a walking tour suitable for you by distance and altitude to walk and by quality of the path.
Be aware that there's no Madeira weather! So you can start your day swimming in Calheta with water and air temperature in the lagoon of 22°C in Calheta and find snowy rain by 4°C on pico ruivo with 1.861 m altitude the same day. In winter you can find all 4 seasons on the island the same day! Every bay usually has its own weather!
If you want to start one point and getting picked up by a taxi on another point please visit thsi site: https://yourtaximadeira.com/categoria-produto/levadas/....but ther are also many round tours without necessarity booking a taxi. See the follwoing recommendations:
- Our favorite tour is including levada do alecrim, cascata do risco (waterfalls), 24 fontes (springs/waterfalls), and feeding the birds and geckos at Rabaçal Nature Spot Cafe (just with unsalted crushed nuts on the flat hand - but beware: bread can kill the birds!, the geckos prefere bacon) on 1/3 and after 2/3rd of the tour. Also take your swimwear with you: But beware not to jump in the poços (bassins) - water temp is a bit lower than you think... To start: Best leave your car here.
- Calhau e ruinas de São Jorge: Leave your car here. If you are not afraid passing the sign "beware of falling rocks" you don't have to walk the same way back. 1,5 h if you are fit! But beware 150 m up and down on small slicy stairs and possible rockfalls like on many tours. The panoramic view is worth everything!
- Levada dos Balcões, Ribeiro Frio and Levada do Furado - spectacular! But take warm clothes with you!
- Pico Ruivo, 1861 m altitude - highest point and highest mountain on Madeira. If it rains on the rest of Madeira, it might come as a surprise: In winter it is possible to find snow with sun ... depending on the temperature and the height of the clouds.
- Fanal Pond / Fairy wood / Lantern pond: Parking here. Who would have expected woods like in switzerland or austria with bearded pines and cows on the "alpine / madeiraine" meadows?
....a lot more tours for the 3.000 km of levada trails you will find with your walking app or in your guidebook.
What do you recommend for Cave lovers and Cavers?
- São Vicente Caves and Volcanism Centre: But closed in 2022 for renovation
- Furnas do Cavalum: Recommended to those parents whose kids like caves. Decide by yourself if its woth visiting.
Where to go shopping? Where to leave my car visiting Funchal harbour and Funchal Downtown?
Several big shopping mals in Madeira are waiting for you! Also Portugal with its harbors seems to be interesting for chinese warehouses to establish shops with imported goods from china; On Madeira most next to MadeiraShopping but also in Funchal and in or next to the small shopping malls in Caniço and Ponta del Sol.
- MadeiraShopping is our favorite with its cinemas, perfect quality restaurants where you can try mexican (Taco Bell) and also traditional portuguese dishes, but also Burgers (Burger King and McDonalds) and Pizza (PizzaHut).
- Forum Madeira has more or less the same size like shopping Madeira but on 4 floors, also with cinemas on top floor.
- "LaVie" Central Parking and Shoppingmall: Beware of December/christmas rush hour: 17:30-20:00. La vie and also
- AnadiaShopping are both good to get a feeling for portuguese life and maybe not just to leave your car there... If you buy something over 15/30,- EUR at Pingo Doce you get a better price for parking.
- CR7 Museum to leave your car: If you ask... what's CR7 standing for? ...don't ask on Madeira, please ;-). Christiano Ronaldo number was no 7...so better visit the museum ;-). Christianos mother is still living on Madeira...
What do you recommend in December or January?
Are the christmas markets worth a visit?
...short answer: Yes Madeira is famous for its christmas market in Funchal! But due to the lights some other destinations on Madeira are worth visiting! The christman markets you find from 1st of december till 8th of January.
- Christmas market at Funchal harbor promenade at night (due to the solar energy, electricity is not expensive on Madeira: The fairy lights throughout Funchal at night are spectacular: carousels, hot chestnuts and Christmas stands in front of one to 4 biggest ocean liners in the world, starting in mid-November). Best to leave your car at CR7 Museum.
- Parque de Diversões Santo Antônio is for young and old - time to be a teenager again ;-).
- Christmas market at praia da Calheta... a lot smaller then Funchal...but Calheta by night is magnificient...