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Popular things to do in Madeira

Canyoning in Madeira - Beginners
Canyoning in Madeira - Beginners
Canyoning in Madeira - Beginners 3 hours
Canyoning is a fun and adventurous way to explore the beautiful landscapes and nature Madeira has to offer. Abseil, climb, jump and scram through the rugged surroundings... an experience you will surely remember for a long time.
Price from: €60.00
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Rent a campervan (caravan) in Madeira
Rent a campervan (caravan) in Madeira
Rent a campervan (caravan) in Madeira 1 day
Rent a campervan (caravan) and enjoy a completely independent and unique way to discover Madeira with family or friends. Price from EUR100 per day in medium and low season and EUR125 in high season, for up to 4 person in a campervan.
Price from: €100.00
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Fun Classic Jeep Safari tour - Madeira West (half day)
Fun Classic Jeep Safari tour - Madeira West (half day)
Fun Classic Jeep Safari tour - Madeira West (half day) 4 hours
One of a kind classic jeep safari excursion exploring beautiful west of Madeira by local guides who want you to fall in love with their island, just like the do. Highlights include: fishing village, vineyards, banana and cherries plantation as well as breathtaking views of the Nuns Valley.
Price from: €30.00
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Travel Inspirations - Madeira

Fancy a holiday in Madeira island? Volcanic in nature and surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, this island not only offers relaxation on the beach, but also adventurous hikes through its pristine forests. Awarded Winner of 2013 Europe’s Leading Island Destinations, Madeira is relatively tranquil, but certainly not lack of buzz and things to do. With only 57 km in length and 22 km wide, this mild climate island is easy and suitable to explore all year round. Madeira is only 1 hour flight away from the Canary Islands and 1.5 hours from mainland Portugal. There are frequent flights from major European cities. The Atlantic island of Madeira is politically part of Portugal but is nearly 1000 km away from the mainland. While the nearest neighbouring island groups - the Canary islands, and the continent of Africa, is only half as far away. Together with the Azores, the Canaries and the Cape Verde islands, they form the Macaronesian, meaning “islands of the fortunate”. What you see today of Madeira , is only the "tip" of what has been built up over millions of years by several volcanic eruptions. The volcanic rocks coupled with the humid temperate climate contributed to the emergence of very fertile soil. The northwest part of the island tends to record more rainfall than the southeast, but overall almost the entire island is covered by green forests - hence the name Madeira (" wood" in English). The lush vegetation of the island makes Madeira a hiking paradise, with the Levada trails being particularly popular. Levada is the ancient water irrigation system of the island which are still being used to this day. The networks of Levadas help supply the drier coastal and southeast regions with water. At these watercourses many narrow paths leads to the untouched wild nature. Lush forests, high mountains, deep gorges, steep cliffs, together with the unique volcanic landscapes have made Madeira the nature playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the popular activities you can do during your holiday in Madeira are: c anyoning, mountain orienteering, hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, horse riding and jeep safari. Due to the island’s mild climate and wind conditions, hand-gliders and paragliders taking in the fantastic panoramas while flying above the island. The interior of the Madeira is largely covered by forest and the coast consists mostly of high cliffs and rocky volcanic coastline with golden and black sand beaches scattered around the island. There are also many purpose-built sea pools where you can plunge in for a swim. This 740km2 island, which resides on top of the African tectonic plate, is surrounded by the Atlantic seas. The underwater is full of rich and diverse marine creatures, perfect for diving or gaining your qualifications. Madeira is also internationally famed for its big game fishing with possibility of marlin weighing half a tone being caught. Above the surface, water sports like jet ski safaris is a great way to explore the island’s coastline; while Paul do Mar and Porto da Cruz with its larger waves are more ideal for surfing and windsurfing. If you love the sea but all the above sounds too tedious, there are many boat excursions or sailing trips where you can just sit back and relax while spotting the Mediterranean monk seals. If you are lucky, dolphins and even whales might come close! For the quiet minds who prefer solid ground under your feet, there are museums, botanical and tropical gardens of the island waiting to be explored. Most gardens and parks are located in the catchment area of the capital, Funchal .                    The Madeira residents are happy folks with much joy of celebrating various religious festivities and other events like the Flower Festival in Funchal . The island also hosts one of the world’s largest annual new year fireworks shows, with its 2006’s event written in the Guinness World Records. As for gastronomy, seafood and meats are the main contributions to the residents’ diet. The scabbard fish for instance is served with banana - a first ‘unusual’ combination for many people. A great meal would not be complete without the famous Madeira wine and pastries, which the locals adore! Madeira is also noted for its basketry and embroidery artisans , which can be purchased at the various specialty and gift shops. In all its versatility, Madeira promises a varied holiday. Mild weather, impressive nature, cultures and histories, and choice of things to do... Madeira is an ideal island vacation destination for anyone.                 
Overview: The historic city of Machico is situated on the eastern side of Madeira island. A quaint ambience of old-world charm has never lifted from this seaside city, with architectural traces of the old village that was the first settlement on Madeira  island still sprinkled all over Machico. To the east of the city, not far from the coastline, are a number of medieval-era chapels rich with Manueline features and local legends. All year round, the city enjoys a warm, tropical climate where both the young and old can enjoy relaxing or adrenalin-pumping activities where they are rewarded with the magnificent natural views  Madeira island has to offer.                       History of Machico On July 1, 1418, Portuguese navigators João Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira disembarked on the bay of Machico. As the exploration of  Madeira Island continued, Zarco went on to rule the southwestern half of the island, and Teixeira was left to look after Machico and neighboring settlements in the northeast. Legend has it that the town was named after English knight Robert Machim, the forbidden lover of Anne d’Arfet. The star-crossed pair boarded a ship headed to France, but they were shipwrecked and marooned on the shores of an unnamed island. Anne died due to exposure and was buried by Machim, who also died shortly afterwards. It is said that Zarco discovered their graves on the site where the Capela dos Milagres now stands and named the first settlement after Machim. Economy of Machico Machico can easily pass as an alternative economic base to Funchal , with a busy fishing harbor that’s one of the most productive in the island. It is also a tourism hotspot, with vacationers frequenting the Manueline churches and cobblestoned squares built during the medieval period and the modern beachfront boardwalk that is popular during the summer. Culture of Machico The atmosphere is laidback and easygoing in Machico, where cab drivers lounge and old men play cards under the oak trees on the cobbled Largo Dr António Jardim d’Oliveira. There is an ounce of nightlife in the city, where a handful of bars and nightclubs on the Traversa do Mercado provide live entertainment by local artists, karaoke sessions, and local drinks. Sights: Machico has several to offer its visitors, from centuries-old edifices that were borne out of the Manueline era, to modern-day spectacles and natural attractions. Igreja Matriz de Machico (church) Constructed in 1425 at the bidding of Teixeira’s daughter, the Igreja Matriz de Machico, now also known as Matrix Machico, is dedicated to the Nossa Senhora de Conceiçao. Although the Igreja Matriz has undergone several restoration and remodeling periods, particularly during the fifteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the parish church has retained its Manueline features, notably the ornate gothic basalt portal, the gilded baroque altarpiece, and the rose window. Statue of Teixeira Just outside the Igreja Matriz de Machico, on the town’s main square, the Largo do Municipio, stands a statue of Tristão Vaz Teixeira, one of Machico’s discoverers and the city’s first captain. Address: Largo de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, 9200-095 Machico,  Madeira Island Machico Waterfront The coastline of Machico is steep and stony, but this does not prevent tourists and locals from flocking to the beach, especially during the summer, when they can stroll along the seafront promenade and sample a number of seaside cafés serving the day’s local catch. There are also shops for renting water skis, windsurf boards, and canoes and arranging other water sports activities. Forte do Nossa Senhora do Amparo (fort) Also fronting the shores of Machico is the eighteenth-century Forte do Nossa Senhora do Amparo, a triangular, pale-yellow fort that is one of several strongholds that protected the island of  Madeira from pirates and privateers. It was the last fort to surrender when the Miguelite troops took over the island and ousted the Liberal Regime in  Madeira in 1828. Today, the fort houses Machico’s tourism office and is classified as a cultural heritage building. Address: Largo Dr. José Antonio de Almada, 9200 Machico, Madeira Island Telephone: +351 291 965 339 Fórum Machico Cultural Center Not so far away from the weather-worn Forte do Nossa Senhora do Amparo is the contemporary glass and concrete Fórum Machico, the city’s Cultural Center. The Fórum houses a 280-seater auditorium which also doubles as a multi-purpose room, two 80-seater conference rooms, two 80-seater cinemas, and the Biblioteca de Machico (Library of Machico). On the first floor is a seafront restaurant that is big enough for 300 guests and offers sweeping views of the breathtaking Machico Bay. Capela de São Roque (chapel) On the western end of the promenade stands Capela de São Roque, a small chapel that was built in 1739 in honor of the saint who spared Machico from plague. The capela, which is due to open to the public after efforts of restoration are complete, showcases several azulejos, baroque tiles narrating the life of São Roque during his mission to help the victims of plague. Address: São Roque Largo, 9200 Machico,  Madeira Island Capela dos Milagres (chapel) The oldest chapel in Machico is the Capela dos Milagres, situated on Largo dos Milagres on the other end of the promenade, right above the site where Robert Machim, after whom the city was named, and Anne d’Arfet are said to be buried. The chapel was named such when American seamen miraculously recovered a medieval cross at sea, which was washed away during a flood in 1803 that destroyed the original building. The anniversary of the recovery is celebrated by Machiquensis every October 8. Address: Largo do Senhor dos Milagres / E. R. 212, 9200 Machico,  Madeira Island Ponta de São Lourenço On the easternmost tip of Machico, in the fishing community of Caniçal, is the spectacular Ponta de São Lourenço, one of the last untouched nature reserves in the whole of Portugal. The Ponta, which offers breathtaking views of the sea from its highest peaks, is home to a diverse combination of flora and fauna. Hikers, picnickers, and bird-watchers who regularly visit the place enjoy sightings of rock sparrows, goldfinches, and  Madeira lizards, as well as exotic plants such as flowering thistles, ice plants, and the pride of Madeira . Pico de Facho Pico do Facho, is a lookout point and site of the old bonfire which used to be lit to warn the residents of  Madeira of incoming pirate attacks. Visitors can reach the peak by driving a two-kilometer drive on the old roads of Caniçal and turning right after the Restaurante Tipico O Tunel just before the tunnel. The road ends on a rough dirt trail, where visitors can hike a kilometer up to the peak while enjoying views of the valley of Machico and the neighbouring island of Porto Santo . Activites: Nature lovers craving for excitement will certainly find what they are looking for in this little city offering its own taste of eco-adventure. Hiking in Machico Machico is a fine venue for levada walks, those that trail along a network of irrigation canals built in the fifteenth to eighteenth century to carry off mountain water to the dry valleys. Hikers set out on an easy hike from Largo dos Milagros up Pico de Facho and from there proceed to the east, where the rocky summits of Ponta de São Lourenço provide them scenic views of the mountains and the sea. From there, hikers descend to the Caniçal tunnel entrance and take a 15-minute easy walk to Levada Nova, where they can get a view of Machico’s terraced rice fields and the slightly forested hills of Ribeira Seca valley. Diving in Machico The tropical climate of  Madeira Island, along with its rocky beaches and colourful marine ecology make it a haven for shore divers. Several meters from the eastern side of Machico Bay is Baixa da Cruz, a black coral reef dive site that descends down to up to 38 meters into the Atlantic Ocean. Further east, in Caniçal, are more dive sites where divers can be lucky enough to swim underwater with sea anemones, urchins, and star fish, as well as moral eels, congers, and ray fish. Festivals: Festa do Senhor dos Milagres On October 9 every year, the residents of Machico celebrate the anniversary of the miraculous return to the Capela of an image of Jesus Christ which was washed out to sea in a devastating flood that destroyed the original chapel in 1803. This religious festival is one of the most important in the entire city and is marked with a candle procession on the eve of October 9, followed by food, drinks, and merrymaking on the day itself. Restaurants: There are no lack of restaurants and cafes in Machico, especially in area closer to the oast. There are however restaurants inland (on hills) which offers great food and views. Meat and seafood lovers are in for a treat in Machico, with fresh seafood and tasty spit fire skewer meats Espetadas often the main features on the menus. Restaurante Lily’s Slightly far off the coast up on the hill, Lily Restaurante can be found in a pink building with ample parking spaces below it. The restaurant offers daily specials and extensive menu of starters, mains, desserts and wines. Special menu of suckling pig and roasted lamb are also be offered from time to time. Vegetarian options available. Some tables with great views. Address: Estrada D. Manuel I, 170, Caramanchão, 9200-143 Machico, Madeira island Madeira &FORM=FBKPL0&name=Restaurante+Lily%27s&mkt=en-US"> Telephone: +351 291 964 014 Opening hours: Mondays : 08:00 - 14:00 (some Mondays are closed, please call prior to avoid disappointment) Tuesdays : 08:00 - 15:00 Wednesdays - Sundays : 08:00 - 14:00 Website: http://www.restaurantelilys.com Restaurante O Casco Popular amongst the local, this low key, unpretentious restaurant offers a relaxing atmosphere to dine. The food is tasty, fresh and reasonably priced. Menu seems dominated by Espetadas (meat skewers) and some seafood, hence might not be so vegetarian friendly, although there are light value meals like sandwiches being offered. Wide selection of wine. If you eat outside, make sure to take a peek of the restaurant’s interior before you leave. Address: Rua do Ribeirinho, 9200-102 Machico, Madeira island Restaurante Mare Alta For good location with sea view and seafood, look no further. The open smell from open grill/ BBQ outside will surely lure you in. Freshly grilled fish, octopus salad, seafood rice, swordfish with banana or the lapas... the menu selection of seafood is extensive, but not so much with meat. Address: Beach waterfront of Machico beach, 9200 - Machico, Madeira island Telephone: +351 291 607 126 / 291 962 320
                       Overview: Away from the tourist hub of Funchal on Madeira 's northwest shoreline you will find Porto Moniz, a place where the thrill of outdoor life sits alongside the historical necessity of farming the land for produce. Amongst the tropical fruit and vegetable plantations lie vineyards, fields, native plants, and farm life. The charismatic volcanic rock shoreline which has been sculpted by the ocean over time is also prominent, with the natural bathing pools being the most notable ones. The surrounding municipality of the same name encompasses over 8,000 hectares of land and includes four local parishes. Connecting roads and tracks offer not only hiking possibilities but also scenic drives including along the north coast from Santana to Porto Moniz and the road out of Porto Moniz towards Paúl da Serra - a 1,600 barren plateau reminiscent of the Scottish highlands. There is another side to Porto Moniz's connection with nature though, evident in the Aquarium and Living Science Centre in town. History of Porto Moniz The village of Porto Moniz dates back to some point in the late 15th century, making it almost as old as Madeira 's capital Funchal . Known originally as Ponta do Tristão the village was a distant Portuguese settlement with few citizens, and the land at first largely uncultivated. Then came Francisco Moniz O Velho,  a wealthy nobleman from Portugal's Algarve region. Moniz funded, amongst other things, the Nossa Senhora da Conceição chapel which was the place of worship for the first fishing and farming inhabitants. It arguably helped solidify productive agricultural life on the island. Moniz later married Filipa da Câmara, a descendant of João Gonçalves Zarco, the man who first discovered Madeira . At this point historical records largely suggest that some time after Moniz's death, the settlement was named Porto do Moniz. Another school of thought dictates however that Zarco's second wife Isabelle Moniz might lay claim to the new Parish's name. Yet another argument is that the daughter of the governor of nearby island Porto Santo , Filipa Moniz Perestrello, who married Christopher Columbus, must have had a mother with the maiden name Moniz. All in all, there were clearly a few people with Moniz somewhere in their name kicking around the region in the 16th Century. Two immediate problems the new inhabitants faced were transport and attack from the open ocean. Steep, craggy land with ravines meant walking was perilous whilst with no ability to reinforce the coastline, attack from pirates was a likelihood. Indeed when sea travellers did attack, the villagers had to take their possessions and hide in the forested higher land. After many surprise attacks had caused increasing hardship for the people and village Porto Moniz, the São João Baptista fort was constructed in the 1730s as a means of defense. Naturally with veritable opposition to attacks and an early warning system in place should they have happened, village life began to flourish. By 1836, 7,000 people were earning a living in the region. Porto Moniz was unified with the rest of the island shortly after the end of World War II when a road between the region and São Vicente (now the ER-101) was dug. Subsequently, over time, more paths were forged in the volcanic rock connecting the various villages, the farming industry took off and the  Madeira grapevine was cultivated. Economy and Culture of Porto Moniz The primary economic activity in Porto Moniz village and the region centres around tourism, agriculture, fishing and the wine business. Countryside cottages pepper the region, and the village itself has a booming hotel trade especially on the waterfront promenade; the area is the second most visited after in and around Funchal . Seafood is still a major outlet for the local fisherman and the local restaurants. There are a surprising number of restaurants in the area with most specialising in fish and crustaceans. In the hamlet of Seixal however, it's not fishing but the production of dry Madeira n wines from the local Seiçal grape. The fertile Seixal valley yields mangoes, avocados, figs and sugar applies. The culture of the region has always been one of traditional farming and fishing, with a heavy dependence on the land and all its produce. The world famous Madeira wine is intrinsically linked with the culture on the island. How to get to Porto Moniz By car: From Funchal , take the ER-101 west towards Ribeira Brava, continue past Ribeira Brava through the tunnel and join the ER-104 towards São Vicente on the north coast. You will pass through another tunnel - the Encumeada - around here. Rejoin the ER-101 towards Seixal and Porto Moniz, about 16km. The total journey is about 48km and should take 1 hour. If you're a bit more of a thrill-seeker, and would like to take in the scenery, then follow the old coastal road in the same direction from São Vicente to Porto Moniz. This road took a painstaking 16 years to make, most of it by hand, hacking away into the rock. It's 19km long and is only one-way: east to west. There are other benefits: several waterfalls along the way can provide you with a free car wash...or shower! By bus: Rodoeste buses serve the west of the island; however, they are not intended for tourists so you need to be prepared. Route 80 winds around the west coast from Funchal via Calheta, stopping in most villages and taking about 3 hours to reach Porto Moniz. Bus 139 goes north from Ribeira Brava to São Vicente and then along the coast. Asking the driver if the bus goes to São Vicente is a good idea because some of them turn off in the middle of the island. From São Vicente the 139 goes along the north coast to Porto Moniz. The journey from Ribeira Brava to Porto Moniz takes about 1.5 hours Sights: Porto Moniz old town If you stay in a hotel or wander the old town you will noticed a stark contrast with the waterside development: less touristy, less well-trodden and more in keeping with its traditional roots. There are some facilities and shops but not a huge deal. Two churches adorn the municipality of Porto Moniz. The Iglesia Matriz dates from the 17th Century and impresses with its high baroque style. Santa Maria Madalena do Mar was built in 1471. It is thus one of the oldest churches of Madeira . Should you have your own car then take a drive upwards out of the town for mesmerising views along a road at the top. Museums: Living Science Centre of Porto Moniz In addition to the aquarium, close by is the modern Living Science Museum (Centro de Ciência Viva). Whether you've got a passion for science or a complete novice you'll find something for you here. With interactive displays, information boards, exhibitions and a cyber-cafe, families and visitors of all ages and dispositions can get plugged into a world of natural sciences. This was not built for tourists though: only some of it is in the English language. Address: just off the Rotunda do Ilhéu Mole, 9270-095, Porto Moniz, Madeira island. Telephone: (+351) 291 850 300 Opening times: Tuesdays- Sundays 10:00- 19:00 Entrance: €5 adults; €3.50 senior over 65, €2.50 children over 5; free for children under 5. Activites: Teleférico Achadas da Cruz (cable car) How's your handling of heights? A solution to the problem of connecting the village of Achadas da Cruz, at 575 metres above sea level, to the fertile farmland on the coast below was found in 2004 with the opening of the cable car. Cast your eye of incredible views of the land below the cliff, though if you're easily frightened then watch out - the cable car wire is very thin. Also, be respectful: it's primarily for villagers and farmers to ship produce between houses and fields. Alternatively you can walk the 4.5 kilometres to the bottom and get a ride back up. Where: Achadas de Cruz, off EN-101 road between Porto Moniz and Ponto do Pargo Opening times: Winter: Monday - Friday  08:00 to 09:00 and 11:00 to 18:00; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 07:30 - 08:00 & 11:00 to 18:00. Summer: Monday - Friday  08:00 to 09:00 and 13:00 to 20:00; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 07:30 - 08:00 & 13:00 to 20:00. Price: from €3 return Piscinas Naturais Porto Moniz (Natural sea pools) On the coast of the town you can witness the intricate sculpting ability of the ocean at the naturally formed sea pools. Here, lava rock is dotted between a system of waterways and small pools with concrete bases - making them ideal for summertime bathing. There are two sets of pools along the coast separated by a 500 metre promenade complete with bars and cafes. Whilst the depth depends on the tide, during peak season sunbathing space is precious so get there early. Where: on the coast of Porto Moniz town centre, 9270-095, Porto Moniz, Madeira island. Entrance: €1.50 Aquário da Madeira (Aquarium of Madeira) The old São João Baptista Fort used to have to withstand the roars and gunshots of sea pirates; on the contrary nowadays it's a 'World of Silence' - an aquarium featuring Madeira 's oceanic biodiversity in all its glory. Up to 70 species including moray eels, sharks, crustaceans, rays and lots of fish, swim peacefully in its 12 tanks. And you can sit down in special tank-side seats to join in the free-flowing ebb of underwater life. The modernised inside of the old fort shell also contains a laboratory, souvenir shop, exhibition, cafe, bar and library. Ideal on a rainy day and for family with children. Where: Rua Forte de São João Baptista, 9270-095 Porto Moniz, Madeira island. Telephone: (+351) 291 850 340 Opening hours: every day from 10:00 - 18:00 Entrance: €7 adults; €4 children over 5, senior citizens and visitors with special needs Hiking in Porto Moniz Madeira 's walking trails run through carpets of luscious grass often parallel to levadas - Madeira 's irrigation channels. Exercise aside, a walk is perhaps the best way to find out about Porto Moniz (and wider Madeira ), see fruitful farmlands and spot species of animals and plants endemic to the island. Vereda da Ribeira da Janela (Trail PR 15) The remains of an old, beaten track connect the north and the south of Madeira was once used to transport farming produce and barrels of wine between the two coasts as well as firewood from the forest. Unless your Portuguese is proficient or haggling skills well-practised then sadly you won't be hauling any wine back to where you're staying though, just bags! Starting point: Curral Falso, off ER-209 road Finishing point: Ribeira da Janela Highest altitude: 820 metres Length: 2.7km Duration: 1.5 hours Levada dos Cedros (Trail PBTT 2) Beginning at the water springs of Lombo do Cedro at an altitude of 1,000 metres, this trail weaves through the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Forest of Laurissilva. You will follow the irrigation through a subtropical forest of Tilo trees (Ocotea foetens), Lily-of-the-valley (Clethra foetens), Laurels (Laurus azorica), Madeira Mahogany (Persea indica) and Madeira Blueberry (Vaccinium padifolium). From these, the Tilo trees date back to when the island was first discovered. Starting point: Fanal, close to ER-209 road Finishing point: Curral Falso on ER-209 road Highest altitude: 1,130 metres Distance: 5.8km Duration: 3 hours Levada do Moinho (Trail PR 07) This track is a bit longer though an absolute gem. Beginning with an uphill climb, you'll soon find yourself drifting forward alongside the canal through the forest. At times the canal splits into tributaries so be wary of staying on track - unless of course you enjoy adventure to the point of getting lost. At one point, to reach your destination of Junquiera, you'll have to go back on yourself as well. You'll also go past ruinous old windmills and a borehole at Pico Alto (made so that two ladies with leprosy could be supplied water without the main flow being contaminated). Moinho was known as the 'Popular Levada' because is irrigated much of the area around Pico Alto. Starting point: Ribeira da Cruz, off ER-101 road Finishing point: Junqueira Highest altitude: 900 metres Distance 10.3km Time 3.5 hours There are also some other, less-trodden hiking routes. Vereda das Cruzinhas At Fanal, at the bottom of the Chão da Ribeira valley in Seixal, you can amble along towards Terra Chã at Chão da Ribeira and then pick up the path again. It's not uphill until the end and is fairly flat for most of the way. It is 11km though and will take up to 7 hours. Cavaca footpath This popular trail, beginning at Chão da Ribeira, is about 8km long and is characterised by an array of ferns and flowers - including orchids and birds of paradise flowers - instead of trees. There is also a beautiful viewpoint - or belvedere - along the way. Camping- Parque de Campismo in Ribeira da Janela Although Porto Moniz is not a rowdy tourist spot, you might prefer to spend your nights away from the city in a grassy camping spot. The campsite is located between Porto Moniz and Seixal down the east coast, it is one of only two official campsites on the whole island. From Porto Moniz it is about 5 minutes drive down the ER-101 road or just a twenty minute walk. Clean, well-kept and spacious at 5,300 square metres, the campsite can get quite busy during July, August and September (though mostly with Portuguese campers). It is quieter though for the rest of the year. Facilities include laundry and cooking areas, first-aid, children's play area, WC, clean showers (you have to pay for hot water) and a mini-market and bar/cafe nearby. One downside is that, aside from a pebble beach and the river mouth, the surrounding area is quite uninspiring meaning you'll probably be driving, walking or cycling to Ribeira da Janela village or Porto Moniz. Where: Ribeira da Janela Parque de Campismo, 9270-101 Ribeira da Janela, Porto Moniz, Madeira island. Telephone: +351 291 853 856 Email: [email protected] Opening times: year-round 09:30- 21:30 Campsite fees: per person: from 3-25 years old €1.70; over 25 years €2.80 Tent prices: up to 4 m 2 - €3; 4 m 2 to 12 m 2 - €4; 12 m 2 to 25 m 2 - €5; over 25 m 2 - €7; Tent deposit: €25; reservation deposit: €75 Getting there: if driving, turn off the ER-101 road between Porto Moniz and Seixal. If coming from  Funchal you'll need to take the ER-101 west then the ER-104 north and then rejoins the ER-101 west towards and through Seixal. Bus 80 goes through Calheta in the south and stops at most villages on the west coast (about 3 hours); bus 139 goes up from Ribeira Brava north to São Vicente on the coast. Ask the driver though because some buses turn off before the north coast (2 hours). Canyoning in Porto Moniz For a completely different perspective on the multi-layered, volcanic landscape that composes Porto Moniz and  Madeira you could try canyoning. Alongside activities such as rock climbing, abseiling, walking and swimming, this is an extremely physically demanding way to explore hidden caves, rock pools and walkways - and you need to be in good shape to be able to do it. That's not to say that you can't try it if you've never done it before; there are companies and instructors available to accompany and assist you. Some of the canyoning routes within the municipal of Porto Moniz are: Ribeira do Inferno Location: São Vicente / Seixal Altitude: at start - 640 metres; at end - 50 metres Time for descent: 4.5 - 5.0 hours Ribeira da Hortelã Location: Chão da Ribeira - Seixal Altitude: at start - 742 metres; at end - 495 metres Time for descent: 4.0 - 4.5 hours Ribeira de Seixal Location: Seixal Altitude: at start - 960 metres; at end - 500 metres Time for descent: 4.5 - 5.0 hour Beaches: Praia da Ribeira da Janela beach
 This beach is a beauty. The sea is calm and turquoise, the access is good - including for the disabled - and there are some stunning offshore volcanic rock formations. Showers, parking, a lifeguard during peak season, and a nearby campsite and walking routes help in making it the ideal middle ground between overly-touristy and completely isolated. Where: Ribeira da Janela, 9270-101 Porto Moniz,  Madeira island. Praia da Laje beach Past the pebble beach you come across as you enter the village of Seixal is a black sand beach, Praia de Laje - also known as Jamaica. This boomerang-shaped black sand bay has good facilities including indoor and outdoor showers as well as a small restaurant. Access is fairly straightforward as there are ramps and there are lifeguards at busy times. Where: 9270 Seixal, Porto Moniz,  Madeira island. Natural swimming pool and Lava Pool in Porto Moniz There are two natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz, both located at the waterfront of Villa of Porto Moniz and filled with natural fresh sea water from the Atlantic ocean. Visitors tend to get confused between the two as they are only about 350m apart from each other. The Natural Swimming Pool The natural swimming pool though filled with fresh sea water, is man-made. Its pools are spacious and access to them are constructed bearing in mind the elderlies and those with mobility difficulties. Despite being man-made and looking modern, the pools are surrounded by natural volcanic rocks. There is a small entrance fee to enter, EUR1.50. Where: west side of Porto Moniz waterfront, follow Rua dos Emigrantes. Look for the Orca Restaurant. The Lava Pools Although there's no lifeguards, these naturally-formed lava sea pools represent the type of relaxation you couldn't get in any luxury spa. It is totally natural and some stairs has been built to allow for easy access to the pool. These mini lava-maze of rock pools are fun to be explored above and under the water, so don’t forget to bring your goggles. It is definitely worth a visit even if you don’t intend to swim, though when you see it you might change your mind. It could be slippery so do take care. Where: east side of Porto Moniz waterfront on Rue de Forte de São João Baptista. Near Aquarium and just below the Restaurante Cachalote. An alternate landmark is the Ilheu Mole islet, which can be found just off the lava pools. Festivals: Festa do Panelo - January This festival began by youngsters taking pork left over from Christmas and making it into a meal with cabbages and potatoes often dug up from the land of other people without them knowing! It was all in a good cause though, and so this annual celebration was born. These days potatoes and cabbages still feature, but so does an increasingly diverse range of other local foods. People bring, cook and eat a Portuguese feast on the ground, which is covered with cabbage and bay leaves. Date: 3rd Sunday in January Where: Chão da Ribeira do Seixal Carnaval -Feb/ Mar Each year on shrove Tuesday, up to 500 people from Villa de Porto Moniz dress up in whacky, colourful costumes and masks and parade through the town from the harbour to the waterfront. This festival is also joined by some who come all the way from Funchal. Date: Shrove Tuesday (February/March) Where: Villa de Porto Moniz Feast of Saint Peter Festa do São Pedro - This is the only festival honouring a patron saint to be celebrated across the whole region. It has grown in popularity over the years, from smaller village celebrations to ones which now have sponsors as well as food and drink for sale. Date: June 28th - 29th Where: Lamaceiros, Porto Moniz Semana do Mar (Week of the Sea) - July The town's residents and tourists alike congregate by the water for this week-long nautical party. The main event is the sea games: teams from each region of Madeira compete against each other in canoeing, sailing and swimming to name a few. It also features live shows from traditional and modern bands and singers. Plenty of other entertainment is available, and the blue flag - a symbol of water quality - is flown on the beach. Date: 1st week of July Where: Villa de Porto Moniz Porto Moniz Agricultural Fair - July Agricultural farming has been a staple in this part of the island for centuries, and its rustic routes are still celebrated in the form of this summer get-together. Organised by the Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e Recursos Naturais (The Regional Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources), there is an emphasis on sustainability and locality of produce. The first event took place in 1956 with just cattle; goats, sheep and pigs have since been added. All animals are on display in both their living and dead forms, and there's an award for 'Best Animal'. Tuck into delicious espetadas (seasoned meat kebabs) or take part in other forms of entertainment amongst tens of hundreds of visitors. Date: 2nd week of July Where: Sítio das Portas da Vila; on the ER-101 road out of Porto Moniz and through Santa. Christmas Lights - December Just like the rest of Madeira municipals, the Christmas lights are lit on first week of December in the region of Porto Moniz, marking the exciting anticipation of the festivity. When: 1st week of December Where: The whole municipal, and the rest of Madeira island New Year's Eve - December Though most visitors pitch up in the summer months, if you are fortunate enough to be around during the calmer winter period and New Year's Eve then be sure to be out and about in Porto Moniz. A shimmering splash of fireworks are fired into the night sky above the ocean; the bangs break the silence reminding you of your mid-Atlantic location. Afterwards, head to the streets to celebrate throughout the night. Date: 31st December Where: Villa de Porto Moniz Restaurants: The waterfront area of Villa de Porto Moniz offers not only the wonderful seafront promenade, natural swimming pool, lava rock pools and the Aquarium of Madeira, but also a good selection of restaurants and cafes. You don’t have to travel far from the main attractions to a nice meal or a bite to eat. Restaurante Polo Norte Grilled meat and seafood from Portugal and Madeira are the orders of the day at this delightfully bright restaurant. An extensive menu beckons and includes many specialities including local trout stuffed with ham, mussels, octopus and kebab with local meat. For your money €15 - €20 - you'll also be able to soak up the sun on an outdoor terrace overlooking the sapphire sea. Where:  Vila de Porto Moniz at the round about behind the natural swimming pool, Rua dos Emigrantes, 9270-095 Porto Moniz , Madeira island. Opening times: 12:00 - 22:00 every day Telephone: (+351) 291 853 322 Restaurante Orca Magnificent views over the open ocean and the natural swimming pools. Specialities including tomato soup with black swordfish and tuna steak. The average price is €13. Address: Frente de Mar de Porto Moniz, 9270 Porto Moniz, Madeira island Telephone: (+351) 291 850 000 Restaurante O Cachalote Translated O cachalote means 'sperm whale' and although this eatery specialise in Madeiran seafood, there's none of the creature made famous in its name on the menu. You can enjoy local specialities and seafood in this classic restaurant that is nestled on some rocks overlooking Porto Moniz's coastline, and the natural lava pools. It's mid price-range, about €17 for a meal. A favourite is fresh limpets with rice 'arroz lapas'. Address: Rua Forte de São João Batista, 9270 Porto Moniz, Madeira island. Opening hours: every day for lunch 12:00- 18:00 Telephone: (+351) 291 853 180
Overview:          Santana is undoubtedly the most famous village of Madeira. Situated 20 km northwest from Machico and 40 km from Funchal, its main attraction is its A-shaped thatched houses with roofs that go all the way to the ground.  Their flamboyant and bright colors add a sharp contrast to its whimsical structure, making these traditional houses a spectacular sight for any first-time traveller. Santana has a rustic and earthy air to it—the kind that makes you feel right at home straight away. It might not be as busy and active as Funchal; and people who thrive on club hopping and boisterous, adrenaline-filled night parties may leave Santana feeling a bit disappointed.  However, the village more than makes up for its mountainous landscapes and spectacular views, making it a perfect getaway for anyone who wants to go on a vacation just to relax and unwind. Tourists will find that most Santana’s produce are organic; and those who visit the place often recall their time in Santana with gastronomic delight. Make sure you try their famous espetadas, which are large chunks of beef rubbed with garlic and salt and skewered on a bay leaf stick. History The Portugese word Santana was taken from Sant'Ana, its patron saint. Founded in the vicinity of a chapel, it includes six major parishes: São Roque do Faial, Arco de São Jorge, Santana (municipal seat), Ilha, and São Jorge. Santana (parish) has the largest population, while Arco de São Jorge has the smallest number of residents in the whole village. Economy Santana's economic activities centers mostly in craftwork and agriculture, especially fruits, cereals (corn), vineyards, and sugar cane. Crops are grown without the use of pesticides or fertilisers to deter pests. This makes the appearance of their produce look unsightly; although locals often state that an ugly produce tastes the best. Many tourists attest to this belief as well. Santana also has a strong tourism industry, thanks to many of its tourist attractions, such as its Palheiros (“A” shaped houses) and the Madeira Theme Park. Culture The Santana locals are simple, hardworking, and hospitable. Their culture is both modern and traditional at the same time, with religion playing an important part in the place. The annual 48 hours folk dance festival in July show cases various traditional dance arts and delicacies from different regions; whilst the locals’ passion with agriculture are reflected in its custard apple and lemon festivals. How to get there By Car: Pick the E101 road from Funchal and head towards Santa Cruz eastward. Keep on the ER101 after about 20 km, as you reach Machico. Pass by Porto da Cruz and follow the remaining signs to Santana. By Bus: Go to the stop near the cable car terminal on the Avenida do Mar, which is parallel to the seafront promenade. Take Horario Buses with line numbers 56, 103, and 138, which go via Machico or Ribeiro Frio. Most journeys will take around 2 hours to complete. There are buses that operate inside Funchal; while there are also those that provide long distance services as well (No. 12). However, all of them depart from strands within Avenida do Mar, which goes from the São Lourenço palace to the Monte cable car station. You have to buy a ticket in advance if you want to get on at the Avenida do Mar, but you can buy tickets from bus drivers if you are going elsewhere. Take note that tickets bought at the kiosk are cheaper than the ones bought on the bus. Sights: Santana appears like it jumped right out of a travel magazine, especially when you see the Laurissilva Forest, the Palheiros, and Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve. Palheiros You can never go to Santana without seeing one of its most popular tourist attractions - the Palheiros. Triangular in shape, these whimsical houses have straw roofs that go all the way to the base of the house. Often, the Palheiros have the traditional red doors, blue-trimmed windows, and white walls for their design. Now considered as museum villages, these small houses date back all the way from the 16th Century and were used as houses by old rural families. Today, it is more of a tourist attraction than a practical dwelling place. Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve Located between Ponta de São Jorge and Ponta do Clérigo this protected natural reserve was created to protect marine fauna. It houses spectacular sceneries, from sea birds like the Cagarra and Garajau, to even the possibility of monk seals roaming its coastal areas. Where: Northeast coast of the Island in Santana Laurissilva Forest This natural, subtropical forest dominates the mountainous landscapes of Santana, and is classified as a 'UNESCO World Heritage Site'. Water can be constantly found within the area, which contributes to the natural balance of the Madeira island. Its name comes from the Latin word, 'silva' or forest; and 'laurus' (laurel), an arboreal species found in the forest. A tip to travellers: If you want to visit the place, you must book in advance with the Madeira Natural Park Museums: There are no museums in Santana, and if you wish to visit one, you can drive an estimated 10 miles to Arco de São Jorge in the Viticulture Field Experiment. This interactive museum showcases the process of wine making from beginning to end. Activites: Santana offers travellers a chance to learn more about their culture and history at the Parque Temático da Madeira (Madeira Theme Park). It also offers breathtaking landscapes at the Queimadas Forest Park and Rocha do Navio Cable Car. Parque Temático da Madeira (Madeira Theme Park) This 7-acre land is a good place to combine your love of nature with history, culture, and tradition. Set amidst a a beautiful landscape, the park-garden atmosphere will help you to stay in tune with nature at its finest. Address: Estrada Regional 101, Fonte da Pedra, 9230-116 Santana, Madeira island Telephone: (+351) 291 570 410 Opening hours: daily 10:00 to 19:00. Closed on Mondays for the following dates: 7th Jan - 12th May, 20th May - 9th June, 9th Sep- 15th Dec Entrance: Adult €10, Senior (>65 years) and Junior (5-14 years) €8, children under 5 years free Website: http://www.parquetematicodamadeira.pt Rocha do Navio Cable Car Previously built for the convenience of the local farmers, these vehicles include two orange cabins that descend down the coastal plain are now open to tourists. The descent can be an experience in itself; not only will you see a spectacular view of plantations and Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve below, you'll also get to get a bird's eye view of the Ilhéu da Viúva islet, just off the coast. Where: North coast of Santana Queimadas Forest Park The park is set amidst the backdrop of the Laurissilva forest and offers breathtaking vegetation every step of the way. Explore the popular Caldeirão do Inferno, Caldeirão Verde, and Rancho Madeirense areas, and see the traditional house in the park which bears close resemblance to the triangle-shaped house (Palheiros), but much bigger. From here you have a selection of 30 trails with various difficulty levels to explore the beautiful surrounding areas. Where: 5km south of Santana Swimming, tennis, volleyball and walking in the park For those who are keen for a swim in the sea or some ball games, the nearest place for head for will be towards the beach of Praia do Faial, about 6km towards the coast from city centre of Santana. There you will find a small pebble beach surrounded by a newly built promenade. Tennis and volleyball courts can also be found, along with a recently created beautiful park for leisure activities like jogging, or a picnic. Karting En-route to the Praia do Faial beach area on VE1 you will come across the Pista de Karting where you and pals can have a friendly race against each other on the track. Beaches: Santana is town is land-locked. The closest beach you will find is about 6km down the coast from. Alternatively, you can head to neighbouring town of Porto da Cruz (about 12km east) for its black sand beach Praia da Lagoa and bathing complex. Alternatively, similar distance west of Santana is São Jorge swimming complex with 3 pools and a restaurant. Praia do Faial beach Venturing 6km down the coast on VE1 will take you to this small sheltered rocky bay with calm waters to swim in. The promenade area surrounding the beach has just recently been renovated. There are a few good restaurants here too. A new park is also built nearby for those who keen for a jog, run or just a relaxing walk along its trails. Tennis and volleyball courts can also be found nearby. Festivals: One of the best festivals you can go to while you’re at Santana is the Festa dos Compadres and the 48 hours folk dance festival. Fruits are also the main features of some of the festivals in Santana. Compadres Feast - February For over half a century, Festa dos Compadres is celebrated around the 3rd week in February, signalling the beginning of the island's big event: the Madeira Carnival. Amongst the fancy activities are parades and pageants. When: around the 3rd week of February Where: town center of Santana Custard Apple Exhibition - May This is a yearly regional effort in promoting Santana’s most cultivated fruits - the custard apples. The event features the versatility of this most celebrated fruit where you will be able to sample and purchase products made of custard apples: liqueurs, milk shakes, cakes and even ice creams! Various performances and games are also featured in this custard apple fair. When: May (date varies) Where: Faial, Santana Lemon Festival - May As you can probably tell by now, this region is surely a fertile land. For over a decade, the Lemon Festival has been held in the small parish of Ilha in Santana in the honour of this yellow citrus fruit. When: May (date varies) Where: Village of Ilha, Santana 48 Hours Dancing Bailar (Folk Festival) - July This is a 2 full day of non-stop (yes, 48 hours non-stop) folk festival where various folk dance groups around the island come together to show case their dances and traditions. Come learn about the Madeiran folk dances and cultures while sampling its regional specialty cuisines. When: July (date varies) Where: town center of Santana Restaurants: Santana is widely known for its Sopa de Trigo, a thick soup made from wheat. One good tip for coffee lovers: some parts of Santana, including other regions of Madeira, use a different terminology for this popular beverage. "Chino" means normal coffee for them, while "Chinesa" means coffee with milk. “Espresso” refers to small-portioned coffee. For a good place to eat, try Quinta do Furão Restaurant. Quinta do Furão Restaurant One of the most visited restaurants in Santana, Quinta do Furão is a 43 unit inn that stands on a cliff-top that overlooks the ocean and rugged coastlines. Its rustic atmosphere specializes in Portuguese, international, and Madeiran cuisine, and many travellers swear by its gourmet and deliciously prepared food. Address: Achada do Gramacho, 9230-082 Santana, Madeira island Telephone: (+351) 291 570 100 Shopping Santana offers small souvenir shops; however, Funchal (the capital of Madeira) is the best place to go to if you want some serious shopping. 
Overview The meaning behind Ribeira Brava's name is completely juxtaposed with its reality. Meaning 'wild river' or 'angry river' (various translations are given; they're all similarly themed though!), the stream of water through the region and town of Ribeira Brava is more like a leaking tap than a burst dam. Apart from in the winter and when it rains in the mountains, the river is a calm reflection of the life around it in this part of Madeira. Whilst the town itself, located at the base of a gorge in the land, has become more popular with tourists over the years, the area itself remains very true to the local and traditional way of things. Banana plantations, vineyards nurturing various local species of grape and fruit trees dot the land, and the river ravine runs back to the west-central mountains of Madeira, flanked by vegetation and natural life which has flourished for centuries. Fans of the outdoors come to the area to explore the various walking trails and enjoy a level of sunshine constantly high throughout the year, whilst the increasingly-vibrant town and its man-made black sand beach strike a nice balance between busy and quiet. History Ribeira Brava is one of the oldest settlements on the island of Madeira, dating back to the 15th century. The locals named it Ribeira Brava after the wild, onrushing river waters from its mountain source 327 metres skyward.  Though that very water meant fertility in terms of fruit, vegetables and vines. Irrigation canals were also dug so the flow of water could branch off and reach farm holdings and smaller plots of land. The municipality of Ribeira Brava was established in 1914 and consists of the Parishes of Campanário, Ribeira Brava, Serra d’Água and Tabua. Culture The culture in Ribeira Brava is one still largely uninfluenced by tourism to Madeira, and remains a close relationship between the people and the natural world. In Ribeira Brava town, a selection of restaurants with terraces represents the outdoor way of life and leisurely mealtimes indicative of the constantly warm region. Economy Aside from a number of small, local businesses located in Ribeira Brava town centre, the primary economic outlets of the region are agriculture, fishing and production of Madeira wine. How to get there By car: simply take the ER-101 road west towards Ribeira Brava from Funchal until you start seeing signs. By bus: Rodoeste bus service runs two lines that stop in Ribeira Brava. Bus number 7 from Funchal goes direct to Ribeira Brava and leaves regularly throughout the day. This takes about 30 minutes. The number 142 runs from Funchal to Ponta do Pargo along the entire south coast and leaves 5 times a day between 8.00am and 17.30. It takes about 1 hour and 35m minutes.   Sights Ribeira Brava Promenade The stretch of land along the Atlantic coast in Ribeira Brava is a great place for an afternoon stroll, or to relax in a cafe or do some shopping. You can also jump off onto the beach or down the jetty for a swim. Igreja Matriz de São Bento (São Bento Church) The 15th century church has been added to and restored over the years but none of that takes away from the original beauty, characterised by many styles including Flemish and gothic. Flemish artistry is present in various panels on the inside, as well as the symbolic image of ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’. Meanwhile three Gothic archivolts run on the ceiling arcs. There are also a small collection of old artefacts - a testament to the church’s pedigree as one of the most important religious places in the region. Address: Corner of Rua Comachos & Rua do Visconde, 9350-213 Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. The church is easily spotted on your left when coming into the town via ER104 towards the coast. Forte da Ribeira Brava (Fort of Ribeira Brava) - now a tourist information centre This small round turret-like building served as part of an old fort which was used to defend Riberia Brava from attacks. These days the 18th century relic is a tourist information office. Address: 9350-213 Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10:00- 15:30, Saturday 10:00- 12:30. Câmara Municipal da Ribeira Brava (Town Hall) This isn't a standard looking council building. Light pink and set back down a drive in a garden surrounded by jacaranda trees, it looks like it could belong to Willy Wonka. In fact, built in 1765, it was actually once the home of a wealthy sugar merchant. Address: Rua Visconde Ribeira Brava 56, Vila, 9350-213 Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Farol (Lighthouse) Just west of the port in Ribeira Brava is a rather unusual lighthouse sitting atop of a rocky cliff. Just 6 feet in height, this square red and white lighthouse was thought to be built in the 1920s. Caís da Ribeira Brava (Pier) Built between 1904 and 1908, the pier was formerly used as a dropping off point for crates, barrels and other goods. These days it's more for dropping off people from boat trips. On Ribeira Brava's coast you can take advantage of the different boat trips that leave the pier, or simply take a stroll to the end. It's also a prime car parking space! Miradouro de São Sebastião (View point) Located just outside of Ribeira Brava town, you can get a sparkling panoramic of Ribeira Brava village as well as the coastline.  Address: Campanário, Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Fajã dos Padres This stunning area is tucked away under a cliff on the south coast of Ribeira Brava. Not just any old coast either: the area - Fajã means a flat, arable piece of land which sticks out by the way - sits in the shadow of Cabo Girão, the second highest cliff in the world. The secluded spot has been inhabited since the earliest days of settlement on the island who have cultivated avocado, banana, guava and papayas amongst other things. Fajã dos Padres was once inhabited by the 'Padres' or priests of the Society of Jesus; these days a huge 250 metre glass elevator can take visitors down to the land below, where once it was only accessible by sea. Aside from wonderful views, there's a pebble beach with excellent swimming conditions, guesthouses for short stays, and even a restaurant. The area also has a rich history of Mavalsia wine production. You can get to the coastline and the lift by turning off the main road (ER-101) on exit 3. Access by panoramic lift: Address: Estrada Padre António Dinis Henriques, 1, 9300-261, Quinta Grande, Madeira. Telephone: +351 291 944 538 Opening hours:  Summer - every day except Tuesday: 11:00-19:00  Rest of the year - every day except Tuesday 11:00-18:00 Closed from January 10th - March 1st Price (round-trip): around €9 Access by boat: A regular sea taxi service connects the Ribeira Brava village port and Fajã de Padres. See www.madeiraseataxi.com for all the details. Paúl da Serra plateau From the air this could be the American Midwest; a single road stretching across untouched terrain. In reality, on Madeira's largest land plateau - 1500 metres high and 24k m 2 in area - you are in the company of views, forests and the start of many potential hiking trails. This plateau is environmentally vital as it collects rain water and feeds the irrigation channels (levadas). It also offers a view of water: a sea view on both sides will reward you for choosing a clear day to drive over it. Needless to say Paúl da Serra is much more accessible if you have your own vehicle. To get there: From Ribeira Brava - the easiest way is to leave the town on the ER-222 road towards Serrado E Cova. This road is scenic but is also a little steep in places with some awkward turns, so leave plenty of time for the drive. At Serrado E Cova turn off onto the ER-209. And here you're on the plateau. Technically speaking the plateau is found in the Ponta da Sol municipality but is easy enough to get to from Ribeira Brava.   Activities Hiking Across the landscape of Ribeira Brava you can pick up one of the numerous walking routes which span across all levels of difficulty. Some of them involve following 'levadas', Madeira's irrigation channels, which should also give you a helping hand with the directions as if walking through a labyrinth laying a thread to find your way back. Only these won't be dark and scary; instead, luscious, green and light. Levada do Norte do Cabo Girão to "Boa Morte" This trail begins at Cabo Girão, where the levada de norte touches the regional road. Despite the translation of the destination Boa Morte as 'good death' (actually a 'Sítio' or small site on the outskirts of Ribeira Brava), you can be assured that your countryside hike won't leave you needing to climb wearily and happily into a grave at the end of it. You'll be treated to views of farmland and coastline as well as twists and turns in the irrigation channel which display varieties of wild plants. This isn't so challenging, but there is a tricky descent towards the end. Start point: between Cabo Girão and Garachico where the levada de norte and regional road meet End point: site Boa Morte, Ribeira Brava village Distance: 11.3km Time: 3-4 hours (one-way) Difficulty: fairly easy apart from the last descent to Boa Morte and Ribeira Brava Lugar da Serra e Espigão Starting out at Cabo Girão, this longer and steeper trek will be more challenging but you will see many sights along the way including Jardim da Serra (Sierra Garden) and the Trompica Forest; you'll also get a view of Funchal in the distance. Walk through forest, along tracks and smell the eucalyptus as you make your way up and then town again towards Ribeira Brava. Start point: Cabo Girão End point: Ribeira Brava village Distance: 15km Duration: 8 hours Difficulty: Medium; long, and steep at the end. Levada da Serra de Água ao Curral das Freiras There are two possibilities for this trail, both starting at Igreja da Serra de Água (the church) by the levada. One leg is longer at 14km and finished up further east at the Igreja da Curral das Freiras (Church of the Nuns' Valley) in Curral das Freiras; a second is 8km and goes to the Belvedere Encumeada viewpoint where you can have a rest and take in the sight of some of the landscape you've just walked. You'll pass by a startling array of plant and tree life including holly, laurel, mahogany, laurel, eucalyptus, ferns as well as grazing cattle. Start point: Igreja da Serra de Água, Serra de Água, just off ER-104 road End point: either the Igreja da Curral das Freiras (Church of the Nuns' Valley) in Curral das Freiras or the Belvedere Encumeada viewpoint Distance: 14km or 8km Duration: 5-6 hours or 3-4 hours Difficulty: medium; there are some damaged paths that can be quite slippery in places   Museums Museo Etnográfico da Madeira (Madeira Ethnographic Museum) Set in Ribeira Brava's old spirit mill, this museum presents everything to do with the documentation, preservation and research carried out on the traditional culture of both Madeira and the archipelago islands. Containing articles and exhibits on social, cultural and economic there are not only exhibitions but also plenty of fun activities for the family. Address: Rua de São Francisco 24, 9350-211 Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Telephone: +351 291 952 598 Opening hours: Tuesdays- Fridays 09:30-17:00; Saturdays & Sundays 10:00- 12:30, 13:30- 17:30. Closed on Mondays and holidays.   Beaches Ribeira Brava beach A very popular, well-located beach on the coast of Ribeira Brava village. It was actually man-made in 2004, complete with snake-like stone jetty which cordons off a safe swimming area and breaks the oncoming waves. There's typically a lifeguard on hand anyway. The beach runs parallel to the promenade which houses shops, bars and cafes and has volleyball, football and canoeing facilities. Permanent palm umbrellas offer shade for sunbathers.   Festivals Festas de São Pedro (Feast of Saint Peter) Buoyant, colourful celebrations begin in the day and continue through the night for Saint Peter - a popular regional saint and, importantly for people who have historical relied on the sea, protector of the fishermen. Flowers, traditional dancing, live music, food and drink stalls as well as many other activities and forms of entertainment fill the streets of Ribeira Brava. And, as if in a show of Saint Peter's strength of power and care, a procession of boats float in the sea. A midnight firework display is a must see. Visitors are much more than welcome for this local two-day party. Date: 28th - 29th June   Restaurants Casa dos Grelhadas What better way than to cap a summer's evening than with the gentle waft of barbequing meat and fish on an outdoor terrace. Casa dos Grelhadas, as per the name, specialise in grilled meat. Frango no espeto (chicken kebab) and alheira da caça (game sausage) are amongst the favourites. Average main courses start at around €7. Address: Largo dos Herédias, Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Telephone:+351 918 096 654 Opening hours: Tuesdays- Saturdays 11:00- 15:00 and 19:00- 23:00. Sundays 11:00- 15:00. Dom Luís Another restaurant which offers that winning combination of meat, fish and a seaside view. Beef, chicken and tuna are just some of the meats which sizzle over the open fire. Full meals from €15- €20 Address: Rua Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral, 9350-217 Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Telephone: +351 291 952 543 Opening hours: every day 08:30- midnight Fajã dos Padres The restaurant in this unique location is a history lesson in the produce which has been grown and caught here over the centuries. Like a proper market, the fresh fish options are usually dictated by what comes up in the fishermen's nets that morning. Tuna and grilled limpets are usually always on the menu though, as are a variety of interesting desserts and side dishes including regional fruit and vegetables. And of course your hosts will be more than willing to pour you a glass of local Malvasia Candida for an aperitif, or with your main course. Address: Estrada Padre António Dinis Henriques 1, 9300-261 Quinta Grande, Câmara de Lobos Telephone: 291 944 538 Opening hours: 12-17 every day except Tuesday. Closed 10th January - 1st March   Nightlife As you might expect for such a region, the nightlife scene isn't so happening. There are some bars and restaurants in the town though in which you can enjoy a relaxing meal or drink   Shopping You can see both sides of the coin in Ribeira Brava: the token mugs, t-shirts and postcards but also wooden sculptures, wickerwork, embroidered tablecloths and drinks mats as well as glassware. Mercado Municipal (Municipal market) Here you can find a treasure trove of produce from the region including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables as well as arts and crafts. Remember to take cash. Address: Rua Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral, 9350, Ribeira Brava, Madeira island. Date and time: 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month; 09:30-14:00