Reasons to go to Madeira
Maybe you find something that is of special interest for you on this site. It is about comfortable weather, wonderfull walking routes, very good wine and food. Just keep on reading…
We have been in the Quinta Bela São Tiago Hotel. It is an 4 star hotel with every comfort we would expect. Only the restaurant of the hotel was too expensive, so that we always went to the restaurants near by. But if you are looking for a really good hotel in the old town of Funchal we can really recommend it.
Funchal (the central town) has three parts. In the west the large and really not attractive hotel zone. In the center the harbour with the town center and shopping area above. This part includes all main buildings around the cathedral. And eastern to the center is the old town. Old however does not imply beautiful old houses. It is the old living area of poor fishers and has small houses with narrow stone roads. It is however very attractive because of its cafes, bars and selection of great restaurants. It is called old town, because this part was the original core of the town, but the center moved to the area around the catherdral already 600 years in the past.
The old town is famous for its restaurants. Most of them serve similar selections of fish and beef or chicken (there is hardly any pork or sheep). The fish is typically of very high cooking level, but comparable cheap (about 10 Euro). If you find a restaurant that does not serve regional food, such as pizza, chinese or such we can not recommend them. Most pizza we had were not made out of fresh vegetables and not with quailty meat. Also the chinese restaurant was worse than most fast food restaurants we know in Hanover (Germany).
Restaurants we can recommed are
- O Tapassol
- Le Jardim (next to O Tapassol, the owner is the same but the cook and citchen is different)
- Cidade Velha
- Embaixador Madeirense
note that we did not try every restaurant, there are too many.
If you want to go out really good, and can afford it, we highly recommend Riso Risottoria del Mundo. It offers very good interpretations of regional and international food all comming with some sort of rice. Not only the food is very good, but also the location and the view!
Funchal Market – Mercado dos Lavradores
This market offers all the fruits you can find on the island. If you want to go for longer walks it is good place to take some ‘snacks’ with you. And you can try fruits you did not know before.
No question, Madeira offers excellent wines. If you want to buy one, it should be 10 years old. These have a much more rich taste than the 5 years or the cheap ones with 3 years. Also do not consider to buy them at home via web. That can cost up to twice of the money you have to spent in Madeira (for example a 10 year Bual costs 22 Euro in Madeira, but 45 Euro in Germany).
We visited three gardens. The Jardim Botanico, Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Palheiro Gardens.
Madeira is a rock mass that looks out of the water. Therefore all streets are steep and seldom flat. That makes it very difficult to walk on the island – but the Levadas change this completely. The early settlers on the island had the problem that there are many springs of water, but seldom where the farmers have their land. So they created water flows of very small downward slope that collect that water sources and bring it to the farmers. These were mainly build hundret years ago by slaves but most were reworked or new ones created in the last century. Since they need to be maintained regulary they all have walking ways next to the levada. This can nowadays be used to walk around the island.
High, steeps or rough
Apart from the Levadas there are places to visit which offer a great view over the mountains and you can look hundrets of meters down to the ground. One should therefore be free from giddiness. One has a great view over the mountains from the peak of Pico Ruivo and a nice view down into a valley from Balcoes at Ribeiro Frio and from the cliff Cabo Girao where one can look straigth down to the sea at a high at 560 m. Really nice cliffs in a very rough are can be viewed in the area of Ponta de Sao Lourenco
The island, or better its surrounding sea is an oasis in the atlantic sea for all dolphins and wales. We went on a dolphin wathcing tour with Rota dos Detaceos. Wales are very shy and we could only see some from far away. Since they did not start to dive it was not possible to identify the. But we had the pleasure to watch a school of spotted dolphins, which are curious and swim around the ship if you come close.
Reasons not go to Madeira
if you read until now maybe that is of additional interest:
- if you are a vegeterian you will die of hunger. If you on the other hand like fish or steak it is great place to go. The restaurants simply have no vegeterian meals and do no emphasize on the vegetables.
- if you are looking for sunbathing and beautiful sand beaches, there exist no beaches and the sun shines only in the morning. During midday to afternoon thick clouds evolve around the mountains. It though does not get any colder because of the clouds.
- if you want to go out drinking and having fun with many young people – The typical visitors is older than 30 years and though there exist bars and discos, they are probably only used by people from Madeira.
(I could read about this article that this last section is not very accurate…)