Discover Simon Calder’s Madeiran highlights

5/5 - (10 votes)

I first visited Madeira in the year 2000 when I was quite young. Since then, I have returned numerous times and I would like to share my favorite spots on the island.

One of the most appealing resorts on Madeira is Porto Moniz. Located in the far northwest of the island, this town boasts unique volcanic rock formations that have transformed into stunning pools. These pools provide a perfect opportunity for a refreshing dip and offer a natural water park experience. The saltwater buoyancy adds to the enjoyment as you float around, admiring the surrounding scenery. Additionally, the spray from the Atlantic breakers meeting the land after a 3,000-mile journey from North America adds to the excitement of the experience.

Moving on to my second pick, the levada is a distinctive feature of Madeira. These irrigation channels, which were created centuries ago to distribute water across the island, now serve as excellent paths for leisurely walks. You can explore the highlands of Madeira and witness the spectacular landscapes while following the levadas. Walking along these channels is a unique and beautiful way to navigate the island’s higher altitudes. The levadas often twist and turn tightly along the hills, providing an exhilarating adventure. You can plan your own linear walking trip using the available maps and local bus schedules, ensuring an amazing journey through the picturesque landscapes.

In third place is an experience exclusive to Madeira: riding in a wheelless wicker car. In the hilltop town of Monte, you will find the Church of Our Lady of Monte, where these unique transports can be found. The carro de cesto is a large wicker basket attached to wooden runners and can carry up to three passengers. While originally used for transporting produce downhill to Funchal, these wicker cars are now used to transport tourists along steep hills using public roads. This gravity-assisted descent offers an exciting ride with two pilots, known as “Carreiros do Monte,” expertly guiding the car. The passengers embark on a thrilling journey with breathtaking views of Funchal.

Next on the list is the Design Centre, a former fort overlooking the Bay of Funchal that has been transformed into a visionary space. Created by globally recognized designer Nini Andrade Silva, the centre serves as a place for ideas and creativity. It features a permanent exhibition showcasing her striking and organic designs. The bold lines and curves of the exhibits captivate visitors, and the center also offers a bar and restaurant with a splendid view of Funchal.

Lastly, no visit to Madeira would be complete without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest football players of all time and a proud Madeiran. The island takes great pride in its favorite son and even renamed its airport to Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport. For football enthusiasts, there are opportunities to learn about Ronaldo’s success story and even discover how to take a free kick like him. Even for non-football fans, exploring Ronaldo’s impact on the island and experiencing the local culture, from wine to football, is a must.

In conclusion, Madeira offers a multitude of captivating experiences, including splashing around in volcanic rock pools, walking along the levadas, riding in wicker cars, visiting the Design Centre, and discovering the island’s connection to Cristiano Ronaldo. These diverse attractions make Madeira a truly unique and unforgettable destination.

About Benjamin Harris

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