What to see in Madeira, itinerary include the main places of interest on the island of Portugal, characteristics of the territory, historical notes, how to get there and where to sleep.
The Madeira archipelago is made up of the largest island of the same name and the smaller islands of Porto Santo, of the deserted islands and of the group of wild islands.
It is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 900 kilometers from mainland Portugal and constitutes an autonomous Portuguese region surrounded by a beautiful sea.
The Portuguese navigators who discovered the island in the early 15th century called it Madeira, which in Portuguese means wood, due to the dense forests that covered it.
Madeira is an island of mainly mountainous volcanic origin, which reaches its maximum altitude with the 1861 meters of Pico Ruivo, mainly equipped with jagged coasts overlooking the sea, therefore with few beaches.
The island offers a great variety of landscapes, mountains covered with luxuriant vegetation, large valleys, slopes transformed into terraces supported by dry stone walls, where thanks to the fertile soil and the ideal climate, various types of crops grow, including the fine vineyards from which the famous Madeira wine is produced.
The northern coast from Saõ Vincente to Porto Moniz has a beautiful coast with cliffs and slopes covered with vegetation overlooking the sea.
In Porto Moniz, in the volcanic cliffs, there are natural swimming pools which in summer are very popular with swimmers.
As for its discovery, history attributes it to the Portuguese navigator Juan Gonçales Zarco, who in 1419 found himself in front of these islands after losing the route that was to take him to Africa.
Except for short periods due to the presence of the Spaniards from 1580 to 1640 and the British during the Napoleonic wars, the Madeira archipelago has always belonged to Portugal.
In the northern part of the island there are also the town of Faial, known for its fort, and the town of Santana, the starting point for excursions to Pico Ruivo and other mountains.Recommended readings
- Sesimbra (Portugal): what to see in the seaside resort
- Porto Santo (Portugal): what to see on the island
- Algarve (Portugal): what to see in the region
- Cascais (Portugal): what to see
- Braga (Portugal): what to see in the ancient city
This town is distinguished by the presence of the picturesque houses used by peasants in the past, with its characteristic triangular shape, thatched roof, white walls, the door and the red windows garnished with blue.
In the southern part of Madeira there are the main inhabited centers, including the capital Funchal, connected by a funicular to the village of Monte, and the fishing villages Machico and Caniçal.
Fuchal, perched on a hill slopes down to the sea protected by a vast bay, a famous landing place for cruise ships.
The city surrounded by magnificent nature offers monuments, churches and museums to visit.
The 16th century Manueline-style Cathedral is dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Assunção.
Other churches in the city are, Nossa Senhora do Monte (village of Monte), Santa Maria Maior, São Roque, São Pedro, Igreja do Colégio (Reitoria), Santa Luzia and Santo António.
Also you can admire the palace-fortress of Sao Lourenço and the forts of Pico and Sao Tiago.
The airport is 16 km away from Funchal.
Ponta do Sol is a municipality in the southwestern coast of the island of Madeira with an area of just under 50 square km and a population of a few thousand inhabitants.
Unlike the deserted and wild islands, which are uninhabited, tourists are welcomed into comfortable hotel complexes in Madeira and Porto Santo.
Although separated by only 50 km of sea, the two islands of Porto Santo and Madeira are profoundly different from each other as regards the landscape.
In fact, while Madeira is rich in vegetation and water, in Porto Santo the land is arid.
The island of Madeira, of which Funchal is the capital, has a length of 58 km and a width of 23 km.
It is crossed in all its length by a mountain range including some volcanic peaks, the largest of which reaches 1861 meters above sea level.
Along the coast there are spectacular cliffs overlooking the sea.