|Area||801 km2 (309 mi2|
|Islands||Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas, Selvagens|
|Municipalities||Calheta, Camara de Lobos, Funchal, Machico, Ponta do Sol, Porto Moniz, Porto Santo, Ribeira Brava, Santa Cruz, Santana, Sao Vicente|
|Political Autonomy||1 July 1965|
Calheta is located on the southwest coastline, one of Madeira's hottest tourist spots with a beautiful little marina and two man-made golden sandy beaches. It’s considered a favourite place, not only by the locals but also by those who visit it. Founded in 1430 Calheta has a large selection of historical churches and it was one of the first places to be explored by the early colonisers.
CAMARA DE LOBOS
Câmara de Lobos is an attractive village by the sea whose main activity is fishing. Upon arriving at the village you will find many small colourful boats in the bay just waiting for fishermen to take them out to sea. Children and adults socialize in the narrow streets, a place where most of their time is spent.
At night, from the pier, witness the preparation involved before fishing boats set out to sea
It was here that discoverer, João Gonçalves Zarco, found many sea lions who sought shelter in these rocky shores. Thanks to this event the village was named “Câmara de Lobos” meaning “Municipal chamber of Sea Lions
Funchal`s stunning bay and surrounding mountains make this one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. Funchal was named after an herb called Fennel “Funcho” found when the island was discovered; today this herb is used to make the traditional sweets of Fennel ‘rebuçados de funcho’ found all around the Island.
There is so much to see and do here. You may visit the many historical churches around Funchal and admire their magnificent paintings and architecture. And don’t miss the Madeira Story Centre, the Market, museums, gardens, wine houses, the embroidery factory at Patrico & Gouveia and the old town ‘zona velha’ to name but a few.
Machico is a historic city and the second most populated on the Island. Situated towards the eastern part, Machico was the first capital of Madeira from 1440 – 1496 under Tristão Vaz Teixeira. This is where explorers first settled in 1420.
In 1508 Funchal became the capital city. The question of settlement land was decided and the island divided into two parts; the South and West given to Captain João Gonçalves Zarco and the North and the East to Captain Tristão Vaz Teixeira, who ordered the construction of the first buildings and cultivation of the Island.
In association with the settlers were the Franciscans priests who were responsible for building chapels. The oldest religious place is Capela dos Milagres and the forts of São João Baptista and Nossa Senhora do Amparo date from this era.
Modern Machico has a lifeguarded pebble and sand beach equipped with showers and W.C. And for those who enjoy diving there is a marine reserve on the coast, a popular place for divers.
PONTO DO SOL
Ponta do Sol “Sun point” located in the southwest; a peaceful and beautiful village by the sea and the sunniest point of the island, where you can enjoy an excellent pebble beach and beautiful sunsets.
Just offshore of Ponta do Sol divers can visit the wreck of the Bowbelle, a gravel dredging boat that once operated on London’s river Thames. This is the notorious boat that collided with the Marchioness in 1989. It was subsequently sold to a company in Madeira, where during a storm it sank off the coast and now diving schools make trips to this area.
The main agriculture here is sugar cane, banana and wine production. Historically the sugar cane was worked by slaves owned by a Flemish lord João Esmeraldo, a close friend of Christopher Columbus.
Porto Moniz is a small and pleasant town located at the north-west point of the Island. Known for its natural volcanic pools it is very popular with locals and tourists alike in the summer. Porto Moniz has the safest harbour on the north coast of the island and a heliport designated for tourists and for emergency purposes.
The historic Fort of João Batista was built in 1730 to protect from Pirate raids and has now been restored and transformed into the Madeira Aquarium with more than 70 typical species.
Along the promenade you will find a variety of cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and the Living Science Centre; a place for all ages to explore mixture of science and cultural exhibits. Furthermore, if you enjoy camping, nearby is a campsite and on your way out of town don’t forget to visit the Miradouro da Santa (lookout point) for spectacular view of Porto Moniz.
Madeira’s best kept secret, Porto Santo is the smaller of the inhabited islands of the Madeira Archipelago. It lies in the Atlantic Ocean, at the South-western tip of Europe, about 500 km from the coast of Africa and 1000 km from Continental Europe. It takes around 1hr 30 min to fly from Lisbon to Porto Santo Island.
The friendliness and hospitality of its locals, the mild climate all year around, the spectacular unspoilt landscapes and the richness and variety of the natural, historical and cultural resources are just some of the reasons why you should discover this paradise yourself.
A golden isle, washed by turquoise sea and where peace and quiet reign supreme, is all you need for a truly relaxing holiday.
Ribeira Brava (Wild River) is named after its river; when it rains heavily in the mountains, waters rapidly run down to sea. It is a small town on the southwestern coast of the island with steep valleys on either side and is a very pleasant tourist stop. In between these valleys is the Madeira Sports centre with excellent facilities, which attract all types of sports and athletics.
By the sea but protected from the Atlantic waves for safe swimming is a man-made black sandy beach, children’s swimming pool and promenade with cafes, snack bar and restaurants where you can spend a quiet and enjoyable afternoon. Climb the spiral staircase at the east end of the town for a spectacular view, or walk through the adjacent rock tunnel to the fishing harbour.
Santa Cruz located in the eastern part of the island near the International Airport and by the sea. It’s a wonderful town with many attractions. In the centre of Santa Cruz is a beautiful historical Church; the Igreja Matriz built in the 16th Century.
Down the street is Palmeiras Beach, a pebble beach very popular with locals and tourists in the summer and equipped with kids swimming pool, beach toys, trained lifeguards and first aid centre. Enjoy a wonderful walk along the promenade, bounded by palm trees and the sea.
Don’t miss the nearby Santa Cruz Aqua Park built in 2004, with fantastic water slides swimming pools and lazy river; a wonderful place for a family to spend an entire day of fun.
Santana a charming town in the northeast of Madeira famous for its unique colourful triangular typical houses built of stone covered with a roof of straw thatch. Originating from the 16th century, nowadays most of them are kept as a tourist attraction.
The Madeira Theme Park in Santana has a fantastic exhibition for all ages to learn the history, traditions and cultures of Madeira where one may enjoy its attractions and shows.
48 hours of dancing! One of the largest traditional folklore Festivals is held here every year in July where many folklore groups are invited to participate, not only from Madeira but also from other regions or countries.
Santana is a great place from which to explorer some of the best Levada walks Laurisilva forests to Queimadas, Pico das Pedras and for the truly fit, Madeira’s highest point Pico Ruivo, at 1861 m for some spectacular views.
São Vicente is a pleasant village in the north of the Island set in one of the most beautiful valleys of Madeira. The São Vicente Caves “Grutas de São Vicente” are the best underground channels of lava ever found in Madeira. The result of an eruption that occurred about 400,000 years ago they were first discovered in 1885. Enjoy a guided tour by a specialist through the caves and learn how they were formed.
Down the valley by the sea find a small symbolic chapel built in 1694 constructed right on the very spot where it is said Saint Vicente appeared. Another interesting chapel is in Pico da Cova with a 14 metre high Chapel tower and a clock built in 1942. The town of São Vicente is fast becoming popular with surfers thanks to a pebble beach with excellent conditions where many surfers from all over Europe come to ride the wave.