What to see in Madeira: top 7 iconic places
Walk along irrigation canals, swim in natural lava pools and descend the mountain in a tarmac sled. We have already told you what to do on the Portuguese island of Madeira. From must do to must see. Today’s selection includes the top attractions of the “pearl of the Atlantic”.
Cristiano Ronaldo Museum
One of the best footballers in the world, the reigning European champion and captain of the Portuguese national team – Cristiano Ronaldo – was born in Madeira. The islanders are very proud of their compatriot: any local cab driver will be happy to tell you that he knew, if not Cristiano personally, then certainly someone from his family, and the streets of Madeira cities and towns are never more deserted than on the days of soccer matches with Ronaldo, when fans “occupy” the local sports bars. In 2017, the Madeira International Airport was even named after the famous footballer.
Cristiano himself likes to visit his small motherland, and even opened his own hotel Pestana CR7 in Funchal – the capital of the island. On the first floor of the boutique hotel there is a museum where you can see the Golden Boot, the Golden Ball and more than 120 personal and team trophies of the footballer. Other exhibits include childhood photos, letters and gifts from fans around the world.
Guests of the museum love to take pictures with a wax sculpture of the soccer legend, located in the center of one of the halls. Another “selfie magnet” is an interactive screen that allows you to capture yourself with the “hero of the occasion” and immediately get the photo on your smartphone: the photos you take are usually posted on Facebook, and the museum staff is happy to explain how to “get there”.
In the museum store, you can buy autographed Ronaldo jerseys, soccer boots, balls, and other souvenirs.
Cabo Girao Lookout
One of the highest cliffs in Europe, the 580-meter Cape Cabo Girao, is equipped with an impressive observation deck.
The floor and railings are made entirely of glass, making it feel as if you’re floating above the immense ocean. You can get a good sense of Funchal and the surroundings, and take lots of atmospheric photos – don’t forget to bring your phone.
However, a smartphone with a good camera or a camera in Madeira is a must. The breathtaking angles follow the traveler here at every step.
Monte Palacio Tropical Garden
One of Madeira’s most spectacular man-made attractions, the Botanical Garden of Palacio de Monte, is situated on the mountain of the same name rising 500 meters above Funchal. This land was bought in the early 19th century by the British Consul Charles Murray. Later the estate passed to another owner who built a luxurious palace, following the example of German castles from the Rhine, and laid out a garden.
Today, Monte’s tropical garden is home to plants from all over the world: there is, for example, Scottish heather, Belgian azaleas, and laurel trees from the Canary Islands. On the paths of the garden freely stroll fighting roosters, peacocks and other birds, and 2 artificial lakes are loved by black and white swans. Pagodas and statues of Buddha give special flavor to the tropical garden – one of the palace’s owners was partial to all things Oriental.
To get back to Funchal from Mount Monte, you can either take the cable car or a wicker sled, a toboggan, driven by two cabbies.
The Valley of the Nuns
The Nuns’ Valley in Madeira is a natural valley that was home to the nuns of the Convent of Santa Clara during the island’s pirate invasions. Today, the views of the Nuns’ Valley are considered one of the most picturesque in Madeira, which is why there are many viewing platforms here.
From the Eyre do Cerrado viewpoint, a serpentine trail with more than 50 twists and turns begins that leads down to the village, where you should certainly try the chestnut pie and the famous chestnut liqueur.
The village with its old thatched-roofed houses down to the ground is one of Madeira’s calling cards. Most of these colorful buildings are a tourist attraction. Inside there are souvenir stores or small museum rooms where traditional household items are on display. Next to the houses there is a bakery, a mill and a pond with fish where you can rent a boat.
A little farther from the center of Santana you can find similar lodges: less well-kept, but more pristine, not yet given over to tourists.
Blandy’s Family Winery
Where better to sample madera than in its homeland? It is believed that the famous fortified wine, of which Winston Churchill himself was a great admirer, appeared by chance. Centuries ago a Portuguese ship carrying goods to India got stuck in the equator for a long time. There was not enough space on the ship, so barrels of wine were stored on deck. The sailors added a small amount of grape spirit to the wine so that it would not spoil. In India, the goods were unclaimed and the wine returned to Madeira. As a result of the long swings and direct sunlight, the drink took on shades of baked wood, nuts and caramel.
By the way, the tradition of keeping barrels of Madeira closer to the sun has survived until today: the wine matures in special greenhouses or in the attic. However, over time it is poured into barrels located one floor below, then even lower and so on to the familiar wine cellars.
You can taste the Madeira straight away,
right in the middle of Funchal. in the center of Funchal. This is where Blandy’s is located: the winery was founded by John Blandy, a British soldier who came to the island during the Napoleonic wars. Today there are guided tours on the territory of the winery, where guests are introduced to the process of making madera. Signature wines can be purchased in the store located on the museum grounds.
Cape San Lorenzo
When you travel around Madeira you are always captivated by bright colors and a riot of vegetation. Cape San Lorenzo, the easternmost point on the island, shows a completely different picture: razor-sharp cliffs instead of the usual trees – low tough grass with occasional sparse flowers breaking through the stone. A Nordic, almost Martian landscape, unlike the rest of Madeira. Once here, you realize that the island knows how to surprise, even when you seem to know it very well.