Madeira Island is a stunning and unique volcanic island that rises over 3.7 miles above the ocean floor. It formed on top of an east-west rift in the oceanic crust over five million years ago. The construction of Madeira Island continued well into the Pleistocene era, until about 700,000 years ago. Its erosive process left the island with two large amphitheaters, one to the north and the other to the south.
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Funchal is the capital of Madeira island and is home to the cathedral of the same name. The building was built during the 16th century and is a masterpiece of Baroque and Renaissance architecture. The interior is filled with marble, tile, and gold leaf. It was originally home to the Jesuits and Portuguese military forces, and later became the main campus of Madeira University.
When visiting Madeira, you’ll want to make sure you spend plenty of time in the capital of the island, Funchal. This old trading town is known for its beautiful gardens and lively food market, where you can sample local delicacies. Also worth a visit are the historical sites of Quinta das Cruzes Manor House Museum and the 16th-century cathedral.
One of the best things to do in Funchal is to wander through the Old Town, which is home to the city’s rich history. You can spend a couple of hours here exploring the narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful facades of old houses. You’ll also have the chance to try authentic Madeira wine while you enjoy the local market. You can even take a walking tour of the city, for around EUR75.
The view from Cabo Girao is one of the best things to see on Madeira island. You can get a beautiful panoramic view of the bay of Funchal and the western part of the island. This viewpoint is easily accessible by car. You can choose between English, Spanish, or Portuguese tours.
The village of Cabo Girao is located on a slope overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It offers free parking and free WiFi in the common areas. The cabins have a living room with satellite television and fully equipped kitchenettes. In addition, there is a restaurant serving local dishes. The hotel also has a mini-market and car rental services.
The view of the Atlantic Ocean is absolutely amazing from Cabo Girao, the island’s highest cliff. It is also home to the Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the most important pilgrimage sites on the island. If you’re interested in exploring the island’s natural landscapes, you can hike or go paragliding.
If you’re looking for a breathtaking view of the island, the Skywalk at Cabo Girao is one of the best things to see. You can walk on a glass walkway at 580 meters above sea level and marvel at the beauty of the island. It’s open all year long, but is most popular during the peak tourist season.
Ponta de Sao Lourenco hike
If you are looking for a great hike on Madeira island, you should consider the Ponta de Sao Lourenco. It is located on the island’s easternmost point. The hiking route takes you along rocky terrain and through herbaceous vegetation.
The hike begins at a car park and is well-marked. The path is not very long and has no trees. It is in the Natural Park of Madeira and offers views of the volcanic landscape. You can go up and down the path a few times.
The hike is rated medium difficulty, but it is not too challenging. The hike starts off with wooden steps and footbridges and then carries you along rocky terrain, with some dropoffs. Despite its difficult terrain, the hike is rewarding with beautiful scenery. You’ll have a stunning view of northern Madeira and Porto Santo.
The Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco trail is one of the best hikes on Madeira island. It takes you from the town of Canical to a peninsula on the island’s eastern side. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views as you follow the coastline on your way.
The laurisilva forests of Madeira island are one of the island’s main attractions. The forest is made up of a heritage-listed area that covers 20 per cent of the island. There are several ways to access the laurisilva, including by car or on foot. However, the most popular approach is via a tour bus. There are also levada walks through laurisilva forests, which are great for combining the two experiences.
The laurisilva forests are found between 300 and 1300 meters above sea level and are home to some of the island’s rare flora and fauna. There are many endemic species of vertebrates and invertebrates that call the forest home. Two examples of endemic plant species are Freira da Madeira and Pterodroma Madeira, also known as the Zino’s petrel.
Madeira’s Laurissilva forest is a rare and valuable botanical relic. Its origins date back more than 20 million years, before humans began living on the planet. This ancient forest is so beautiful that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
The Zino’s petrel is a small seabird, belonging to the gadfly petrel genus, that is endemic to Madeira island. It has a grey back and a dark “W” marking across its wings and upper tail. It is quite a charming bird, and is perfect for watching from a cliffside.
This endemic seabird breeds on the central mountain ridges of Madeira island, where it incubates its single egg. The species is critically endangered in Europe and is a prime target for conservation efforts. In 2010, wildfires on the island destroyed its breeding grounds and killed most of its chicks. The recovery of the species will depend on continued conservation efforts.
The Zino’s Petrel’s population is very small, and the species is now listed as endangered by BirdLife International. The recent development of a radar station on the island had many people worried, but the Freira Conservation Project, a local NGO, has determined that the new facility will not pose a significant threat to the bird’s home.
The researchers used the calls of the Zino’s Petrel to identify possible breeding ledges. Using ropes, they climbed to the ledges where the birds were known to breed. They eventually discovered that the birds were not extinct after all.
Day trips from Madeira
Madeira Island has plenty to offer visitors looking to spend their days on the water. The main town is Funchal, and its harbour is the perfect place to start your day trips. From here, you can take a ferry to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, where you can stroll along golden sandy beaches. However, be warned that the ride can be rocky, so plan accordingly.
For a more offbeat adventure, consider a full-day Jeep safari tour. This tour begins with pickup in Funchal and then heads for the sunny enclave of Ponta do Sol. The trip also includes a visit to the viewpoints at Santa and Paul da Serra, and a stop for coffee.
Another of the island’s most popular tours is the Skywalk, Porto Moniz, and Fanal Tour. Leaving Funchal, the tour makes stops at the Veu da Noiva waterfall and the lava pools in Porto Moniz. Afterwards, the tour continues to the highest plateau of the island, Paul da Serra, where many travelers opt for a lunch.
Madeira has many breathtaking sights to explore. In addition to seeing its picturesque mountains, the island also has many attractions for nature enthusiasts. One of these is the Ponta de Sao Lourenco Natural Reserve, which offers beautiful views of the sea and protected sea birds. Another great destination is the Pico Ruivo, which is the highest point on the island. A trek through the craggy terrain will allow you to witness the volcanic base layer of Madeira and marvel at its stunning views.