Madeira is the pearl of the Atlantic Ocean. Any true nature lover will be delighted with this colourful island, two-thirds of which is protected. In addition to its lovely nature, Madeira also has historic sights that are definitely worth a visit.
Many of the sights of Madeira are found in Funchal, the capital of the island. This includes the Funchal Cathedral, one of the oldest structures still standing on the island. The church was built at the end of the 15th century on behalf of Emmanuel I. Construction was completed in 1512, with the exception of the tower, which was not finished until six years later. When visiting the church, make sure to have a look at the silver procession cross that King Emmanuel I donated to the cathedral.
The highest mountaintops on Madeira are the Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. If you’re not a seasoned hiker, it’s recommended to visit Pico do Arieiro. This mountain is 1,818 metres high and easy to climb via a specially made trail. You can even spend the night just below the top of the mountain! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience a memorable sunset and sunrise. One of the sights on Madeira that should not be missed! Are you a more experienced hiker? Climb the 1,862-metre-high Pico Ruivo, the highest mountain on Madeira. The climb takes 3 hours and offers fantastic views of rock formations and deep ravines.
Most of Madeira is protected, so it has various nature reserves. One of the most famous ones is Laurisilva Forest. This park is 15,000 hectares in size and is the world’s largest remaining laurel forest, which was once widespread. Laurisilva Forest is therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other nature reserves on Madeira are the Garajau Reserve, Madeira’s Natural Park and Rocha do Navio Natural Reserve.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a beautiful botanical garden that is also located in the capital of Funchal. No less than 35,000 square metres in size, it boasts more than 2,500 exotic plants and flowers. There is also a park next to the botanical garden, home to a variety of exotic birds like lovebirds. You can reach the garden by funicular from Monte. While you’re at it, you can enjoy fabulous views of the city!
The island of Porto Santo is also referred to as the ‘golden island’ of Portugal. Why? Because of its golden sandy beach. Porto Santo and the uninhabited islands of Ilhas Desertas and Ilhas Selvagens together form the island group of Madeira. Since there is little vegetation, Porto Santo is a completely different island from Madeira. Madeira itself has few beaches, while Porto Santo has a sandy beach along the entire south coast of no less than 9 kilometres! Perfect for spending a day on the beach while on holiday in Madeira. You can travel to Porto Santo daily by plane or boat.