My personal overview of the places I loved the most in Madeira:
- Sao Vicente
Sao Vicente is a village on the Northern coast where we stayed for the whole of our trip. It’s a quiet village however it does have a supermarket, some restaurants AND two good bakeries (perfect to enjoy a bolo de arroz or pasteis de nata after a long hike).
I spent many hours watching the changing light over this sea view while Paolo attempted to catch the elusive bodiao, a typical fish from Madeira. With help from the local fishermen as well as trial and error, Paolo fine tuned his technique and managed to catch the bodiao on our last day!
Sao Vicente is surrounded by mountains, with the base of the hills covered with terrace cultivations of vineyards and other crops.
- On the path to Pico Ruivo (PR 1.3)
Good conditions for hiking in the mountains in Madeira are not a given, as it is sometimes sunny on the coast but very misty on the peaks. We took our chances one morning and were very lucky as it was sunny when we started on the walk from Encumeada towards Pico Ruivo.
After the steep hike up hundreds of steps on the mountain top, you are rewarded with breathtaking views and on the crest at times you can see both the sea of both the Southern and Northern coasts.
- Natural pools in Seixal
Swimming on the Northern Coast of Madeira is not always easy because there are large waves and strong currents. But luckily there are the natural pools of Seixal, where you can swim safely to the sound of the waves crashing on the volcanic rock. We practically had the pools to ourselves that day:)
- Botanical Gardens
I already wrote about it here… Best succulent garden ever!!
- Jardim do Mar
We discovered this village by chance and I immediately fell in love with its tiny winding pathways between houses and beautiful gardens. At the bottom of a steep stairway, you can access the peaceful rock beach which is perfect for swimming and chilling, and watching the sun set at the end of the day.
- Levada Faja do Rodriguez (PR 16)
This was my favorite walk along one of the levadas (man-made waterways that cross the island of Madeira to bring irrigation to the fields and vineyards).
A headlamp is needed as there are several tunnels, including an extremely long one, where you have to squeeze yourself against the wall with only about 15cm for your feet and walk alongside the levada.
Not only was there a light at the end of the tunnel, there is the most stunning, secluded valley with rushing waterfalls, lush ferns, mosses and plants. Definitely worth it!
(Thanks to Paolo S. for the photo!)