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Portugal’s name ‘garden of Europe’ has been well-earned. Indeed, thanks to the benefits of the Gulf Stream, the exotic plants which explorers brought back long ago from the four corners of the world have become indigenous all along the Atlantic coast. But beyond its gentle climate and varied vegetation, Portugal is above all known for its history rich with navigators and adventurers who have endowed this marvellous country on the western tip of Europe with some beautiful historical treasures.
Madeira - the ‘island of eternal spring’ - is covered by luxuriant subtropical vegetation making it look like a veritable island of experiences in the middle of the Atlantic. To fully appreciate its wonders, a walk along the levadas is a must: these aqueducts make up a sophisticated network of canals that cross a wild natural habitat of nature reserves.
The neighbouring island of Porto Santo is also worth a visit: it boasts a magnificent sandy beach of 9 km, guaranteeing perfect seaside holidays.
The best way to discover the diversity of the magnificent landscape of Madeira is through hikes along the irrigation canals (levadas). Admire the viewpoint on Cabo Girão (580 m), a natural pool at Porto Moniz, charming fishing villages such as Câmara de Lobos, traditional thatched houses in Santana, the Pico do Arieiro (1,818 m) with a breathtaking view of the ocean, and much more.
If you are looking for a thrill, take a ride in one of the famous ‘Carreiros do Monte’ wicker sledges. This method of descent is unique to Madeira and is suitable for the whole family.
For golf lovers, Madeira and Porto Santo have three superb golf courses offering fantastic views. Fishing, water sports and snorkelling are also very popular.
Admire the incredible variety of flowers and exotic plants in Madeira’s botanical garden covering more than 35,000 m². Enjoy the fantastic view of Funchal during the visit.
For a breathtaking 360° view of the old town of Funchal, take the ‘Teleférico do Funchal’ cable car. At the top, you can visit the romantic little village of Monte.
Madeira is the ultimate destination for spotting whales, sea turtles and dolphins. Treat yourself to a boat excursion and swim with the dolphins: an unforgettable experience!
Funchal (approx. 21 km from the airport) is a town rich in colours, overlooking a large open bay to the south. The old streets rise steeply and in olden times, sledges were used to bring vegetables to the market. The new roads wind up the ascents and are more suitable for motorised traffic. Funchal is the busy centre of the island with regards to shopping and tourism. Cars creep along the one-way streets and it is almost impossible to find a parking spot. It is therefore better to get around on foot!
In the narrow little streets of the old town, near the La Marina harbour, there are many restaurants serving fish and seafood.
The Sé cathedral in the city centre dates back to the 15th century; its sober exterior is in stark contrast with its richly decorated interior. Don’t miss out on a visit to the Collegiate in the Municipal Square, the fortress of São Lourenço, the Palacio do Governo Regional, the Praça do Municipio and the Igreja do Colégio.
The hotel zone stretches to the west of the city centre.
The municipality of Caniço is made up of three villages: Caniço Alto (approx. 10 km from the airport), Caniço Baixo (approx. 13 km from the airport) and Garajau (approx. 12 km from the airport).
Caniço Alto with approximately 8,000 inhabitants, is located about 2 km from the beach. It is a charming village, surrounded by large vegetable-growing fields. There are numerous bars, restaurants and shops around Caniço’s central square.
Caniço Baixa is a pretty residential zone (built in the 1980s) on the sea front (access via rocks), approx. 2.5 km from Caniço Alto, with villas, hotels, apartments and some restaurants.
Garajau is a residential neighbourhood approx. 3 km from the sea and approx. 2 km west of Caniço Alto.
Santana, on the north coast of Madeira, is famous for its pretty traditional thatched-roofed houses, which have become a veritable symbol of the island. These simple little houses, often painted red, were formerly the homes of farmers and country folk. Leaving Santana, one can enjoy the spectacular views offered by the craggy north coast, or set off on a hike towards the island’s hinterland to the north and the east.
Situated on the south-west coast, Calheta has a pretty marina as well as two beaches with golden sands. It is also home to a museum of modern art as well as a rum distillery which produces, in particular, the white rum used in the quintessential Madeiran poncha. Numerous starting points for hiking trails are located just a few kilometres away for nature lovers.
São Vicente est une belle ville côtière avec des traits d’un village montagneux. Un chemin de promenade de 620 mètres de long relie les quartiers Varadouro et Baía dos Juncos et vous invite à une belle promenade. Les hautes vagues et les excellents sports nautiques rendent Sao Vicente intéressante pour les surfeurs et les amateurs de sports nautiques.
Les sites touristiques de São Vicente comprennent les grottes, le centre volcanique avec d'anciens canaux de lave souterrains et l'église baroque « Igreja de São Vicente » du XVII e siècle. Cette église est située au centre de la ville pittoresque.
Visit to the capital to admire its famed monuments, wander in the narrow little streets of the old town and discover its famous market (Mercado dos Lavradores). After a visit to the botanical garden, stop by a cellar for a tasting of Madeiran wine.
The route begins at the Camacha, a basketwork centre, and continues towards the top of the island - stunning panorama guaranteed! - up to the third summit of Madeira, the Pico do Arieiro (1,818 m). We will go through the national park as far as Ribeiro Frio and its trout farm before going along the north coast, through Faial and on to Santana with its little thatched-roofed houses. You will enjoy an excellent lunch. Departure for Porto da Cruz (Eagle Rock), via the terraced fields typical of the region and the Portela pass towards the eastern point of Ponta de São Lourenço, from which you can admire the magnificent panoramas and the view of the Desertas islands.
From Funchal you will travel to the charming fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, then to the second highest headland in the world: Cabo Girão, standing at a dizzying height of 580 m and offering an unparalleled view. After the visit to Ribeira Brava, we will cross the Encumeada pass on the way to São Vicente. A moving experience before the force of the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the north coast. Along the craggy route you can admire the waterfall known as the ‘Bridal Veil’. In Porto Moniz, visit to the natural pools carved into the lava by erosion, then lunch break. You will then be ready to take on the nature reserve on the high plateau of Paul da Serra. Return to the hotel.
Located 40 km north-east of Madeira, the island of Porto Santo stands in total contrast with its neighbour. Much smaller (42 km²) and more sparsely populated (4,300 inhabitants), it is made up of a large plain where some peaks rise to the north-east and south-east, the highest of which, Pico do Facho, stands at just 517 m. Aside from winter, when its fields are green thanks to the humidity, its limestone soil and lack of vegetation give it the ochre colour of a desert. A huge golden sand beach that runs along the south coast for more than 7 km and a mild climate (average annual temperature 19°C), draw tourists to this quiet island. The inhabitants of Porto Santo live off of fishing and several crops (cereals, tomatoes, melons, watermelons and figs). The vines produce an excellent, very sweet white wine.
The island of Porto Santo can be visited daily:
- Departure from Funchal harbour: 8:00 a.m. (Fridays 6:00 p.m.)
- Return from Porto Santo: 6:00 p.m. (Fridays 10:00 p.m.)
- Departure from Funchal harbour: 8:00 a.m. (Fridays 6:00 p.m.)
- Return from Porto Santo: between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. (10:00 p.m. on Fridays)
Duration of journey: 2 and a half hours
An excursion with transfers and guided visit can be done daily except on Fridays and Tuesdays.
- 7:00 a.m.: transfer from the hotel to Funchal harbour
- 8:00 a.m.: departure of boat
- 10:45 a.m.: arrival in Porto Santo. Tour of the island. Free afternoon on the beach in Porto Santo (bath towels not supplied)
- 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. transfer to Porto Santo, return on board the Lobo Marinho to Funchal. Transfer to hotels
- Important note: reserve your tickets two to three days in advance.
From the panoramic viewpoint of Pico dos Barcelos (350 m) - with a superb view of Funchal - you will continue to the Valley of the Nuns before climbing the Eira do Serrado (1,094 m). The journey will take you to Monte and its pilgrimage church. Optional: descent by wicker sledge.
You will discover the island’s hinterland and its luxuriant vegetation via charming routes. Departing from various viewpoints, you will be able to admire the beauty of Madeira and learn more about the traditions and inhabitants of the island.
Discover the levadas, the ingenious Madeiran irrigation system. Thanks to its irrigation canals, water from mountain springs is directed to the most remote parts of the island. This method, mainly used for terrace cultivation, has been employed for centuries and today the circuit is around 2,150 km long. During these walks, you will have the chance to admire beautiful views and quintessential corners while enjoying the silence and clean air. Sturdy shoes and rain protection are essential. Every day, hikes are proposed with different levels of difficulty.
The excursions on offer, as well as their prices and times, may vary depending on the location of the hotel. Excursion prices are provided for information purposes only and may be subject to change. For more information and to book, please contact your local LuxairTours guide.
A mandatory tourist tax is to be paid on site (at the hotel) in Santa Cruz and Caniço and not included in the prices.
• €1 per person/per day (max. €5 per stay)
• this tourist tax does not apply to children under 18 years of age