Perhaps this is something you’ve been considering for a while, or on the contrary, never gave a thought to. Either way, it’s a good idea whatever your age. A Portuguese Island in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, the floating garden of Madeira delivers volcanic scenery, a stunning coastline, sub-tropical climate and plenty of exciting and interesting things to do. Here’s a pick of the top 10!
Just 5km offshore, the ocean floor drops off dramatically to staggering depths of more than 3,000 meters making it the ideal location for whales and dolphins to frolic. The unique location and warm waters surrounding the island during the summer months lure a large array of these magnificent mammals, thus making it one of the best places possible to embark on a Whale and Dolphin Spotting Safaris and experience an unforgettable encounter.
The mountainous terrain of Madeira may trick you into thinking you can only explore if you’re a well-seasoned hiker. With a Levada Walk this certainly isn’t the case and all ages and fitness levels can revel in their explorations of the island. These old waterways extensively cover the island and now make for excellent walking paths with truly wonderful views.
Nuns Valley is probably one of the best known villages on the island as frequent tours are run here. You can choose to join a tour or make your own way there, either way, it’s certainly worth a visit. Found nestled between sheer mountains, the village was settled by nuns who fled pirates attacking Funchal in 1566. Pay a visit and sample the delicious chestnuts grown here.
Time spent in the capital city of Funchal is of course essential. Spend time at the markets, walking the pretty promenade, satisfy your taste buds at one of the excellent restaurants and get your dose of culture with a visit to some historical attractions.
The surrounding crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean naturally offer boundless Scuba Diving and Snorkeling opportunities. Dive in and meet the rich species of underwater creatures.
For an action packed, adrenaline inducing activity, give Canyoning a go! It will see you abseiling down gorges, through canyons, and jumping, swimming and wading down waterfalls and through natural pools. It’s full on but a lot of fun and you will witness some beautiful sights!
Dotted with quaint and sometimes isolated villages and small towns the extent of the island is worth exploring. Its compact size means it is easily traversed and there are gems to be found in all corners, allowing you to get a further insight into this beautiful island.
Monte toboggan rides are highly favored by visitors and probably one of Madeira’s most famous attractions! Starting just beneath the steps of Monte Church overlooking Funchal, your ride in the wicker toboggan will wind down 2km of road controlled by two carriers (men dressed in white wearing a straw hat) who will guide you down the route using their rubber shoes, whilst you enjoy wonderful views of the harbor below!
As a volcanic island, you won’t find golden sand here, but the beaches are still excellent none the less and there are plenty to choose from. Paddle in the warm clear waters uninterrupted in the warm sun!
Dominated by rocky, plunging terrain there are many cable cars and elevators that have been built across the island over the years. Providing easy access to otherwise inaccessible areas and boasting panoramic views across the landscape, a ride in one will be memorable and probably sure to get your heart pounding, in a good way!
Nightlife in Madeira
If people say that there is not much nightlife in Madeira, we have to admit that this is partly true during the week as – and that is the good thing about Madeira – daily life on the island hasn’t submitted yet to the rhythm of a tourist life. The ratio of tourists to locals – who live and work here all year round – is very low, so it is quite understandable that the working and studying population lives their climax of a ‘normal’ week on the weekends and then there are lots of things to do on an enjoyable night out until dawn!
To make your evening a success, here are a few suggestions where to go in Funchal… depending on your mood, preferences or special occasions you might want to celebrate on your holidays in Madeira.
If you want to meet Portuguese women then you must visit bars and clubs for nightlife. Start in the early evening and look around, do you see bars with classy women? visit them again later at night.
Café-Bars & Pubs
Café Fora d’oras, White House Pub (both in Rua da Casa Branca – Lido area), Number 2 (opposite the Madeira Carlton), Moynihans ( Madeira’s only Traditional Irish Bar), Prince Albert Pub and Joe’s Bar (all in Rua da Imperatriz Dona Amélia – street passing behind Hotel Savoy), Café Teatro (next to Municipal Theatre), Bar do Museu (city center – at the Municipal Square)
Bars and Night Clubs
If you enjoy live music, dancing and a drink ‘al fresco’ on a nice esplanade, you can try Moynihans (in street behind the Savoy), FX bar (behind Municipal Theatre – harbor side)
There are several discotheques for all age groups located in the center of Funchal and within or nearby long established 5 star hotels. Opposite the Number 2 pub night owls will find Kool (open all week until late into the morning). The ‘Chameleon’ (open every day from 19.00 to 04.00 h) is located a bit further down from the Madeira Carlton on the left side of the street leading to the harbor. On the basement of the Casino you will find the ‘Copacabana’, a club that normally has a themed evening where very often fashion and aerobic shows take place and bands perform live until 01.00 h before the club night’ starts (open Wednesdays to Saturdays and on nights before public holidays from 23.00 to 04.00 h).
Further downtown, within the harbor and next to the ferry terminal you will see an the remains of an old fort with a building on top, this is ‘O Molhe’ (The Pier) an al fresco club with 2 or 3 rooms playing different sounds. (Fridays & Saturdays from 24.00 to 06.00 h) This club is at its busiest between 1am and 3am then people start heading down to the row of clubs opposite the freight harbor, here you’ll find ‘Marginal’ and ‘Jam’ (both open from Wednesday to Sunday and on nights before public holidays from 24.00 to 06.00 h),
‘Marginal’ is a small bar playing thumping music and new beats while ‘Jam’ is well known for its “eighties” inspired music and tends to have a slightly older crowd. Next door to these two clubs is ‘Vespas’ (open from Wednesday to Sunday and on nights before public holidays from 24.00 to 06.00 h) Madeira’s biggest and best known club. On weekends this place is very popular with the locals, but it also serves as last ‘pit stop’ for all those who just don’t want to go home yet!
Dinner Shows & Themed Entertainment Evenings
Many hotels offer weekly programs with various themed evenings open to the public. Madeira Folklore evenings – combined with a typical dinner – usually take place every day in ‘A Parreira’ and ‘A Seta’. ‘Fado’ can be heard at ‘Arsénio’s’ and ‘Marcelino’ in the Old Town.
Madeira also has a Casino for all those who want to try their luck with gambling! Opening times for the slot machines are from Sunday to Thursday from 15.00 to 03.00 h – Fridays & Saturdays from 16.00 to 04.00 h. The Games Rooms (with 7 French Roulette and 4 Black Jack tables) are open from Sunday to Thursday from 20.00 to 03.00 h – Fridays & Saturdays from 20.00 to 04.00 h. Free entrance; identification document needed (sports clothes not permitted).