Madeira is a rendezvous of land and water, where jagged mountains meet the cobalt oceans. From some of the best culinary experiences to indulging ample of outdoor activities, life on this island is as perfect as it can be. In our time here, we made some new friends who are localites, and what better way to learn about a new destination than talking to the people who belong to it!
1. André Delgado
Ah, Madeira – the beautiful island that you will never want to leave!
As a local, I have the luxury of knowing some of the secret spots – from the hidden beaches at Ponta de São Lourenço or Porto Santo, to the quaint local restaurants, like O Polar in Câmera de Lobos, or Castelo dos Hamburgers in Funchal for a burger and a delicious peanut milkshake!
For me, a perfect day in the summer starts with a trip to São Vicente to enjoy the beautiful landscape, and then I head to Seixal to enjoy a swim at the magnificent black sand beach, where the view is nothing but breath-taking. On my way there, finding a good restaurant to grab some lunch is usually never a problem. After enjoying a drink at Clube Naval do Seixal, I head to Ponta de Sol to spend the end of the afternoon. A swim at the beach, followed by a cold beer while watching the sunset to the sound of the bar’s DJ, is as good as it can get. Dinner and a concert at the hotel Estalagem da Ponta de Sol would is just like the cherry on top. But all this is just one of the million ways to enjoy the island! With so much to see, you’ll never want to leave.
2. Catarina Claro
Madeira Island is a very special place for me. I was not born here, but love brought me to this amazing piece of land in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Discovered by the Portuguese navigators in the XV century, this archipelago as a beautiful history full of traditions and interesting places to visit. As a storyteller and cultural mediator, one of the things that I like the most in Madeira is to visit emblematic monuments and museums that tell us stories about the past, present and future of the island.
If you’re planning to come to Madeira alone, with friends or your family (and even with your kids) I would recommend you to visit, in the city centre of Funchal, the Cathedral, the Museu A Cidade do Açúcar, Museu Henrique e Francisco Franco and Porta33 Art gallery, which has different artistic programs. If you have the luxury of time, you can visit the Municipal Theatre Baltazar Dias and do an incredible journey to the 19th century when it was built.
If you go on a trip around the island (which I highly recommend), visit the Museu Etnográfico da Madeira, in Ribeira Brava and MUDAS – Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Madeira, in Calheta – an amazing building above the sea where you can find some of the best contemporary artists’ works.
3. Chantelle Valerio
I moved to the beautiful Island of Madeira when I was all of 6 years old! We travelled 8,000 kilometers to get to a small portion of land in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Madeira is all about experiencing nature to its fullest. If you want to have a deeper connect with nature, you should definitely do a Levada walk. If you are on the lookout for something adventurous, you can try outdoor activities, such as canyoning, rappelling, safari, scuba-diving, and much more. Food is one of the best things about the island apart from spending the day admiring the blue ocean. Sea food (lapas, caramujos, sword fish), the famous espetada (which is a beef kebab) with some “milho frito” and of course the “Bolo do caco” with garlic and parsley butter, are few of my favourites. If you have a sweet tooth, try our delicious passion fruit pudim, sugarcane syrup cake and cookies. The fennel candy is also very popular with locals and tourists. Although Madeira is a small island, we are big in experiences and adventures. Undoubtedly, the best island destination in the world.
4. Dina Moldovan
I traveled to Madeira in 2013 to visit my parents for a few months and ended up staying here. There is a sense of freedom I get from this island. Be it while going for a run or taking a dip in the ocean whenever I want. You can easily have a picnic or yoga session in the park or by the beach. Take a long stroll along the Levada walk in the mountains and a finish the evening at some family restaurant with some traditional food. Everything is simple and affordable, you won’t get lost because locals will help you even if you don’t speak English.
What I like about Madeira is that here we have all sorts of activities, so it easy to socialize and find something you like or try something new, like surfing or diving. Another interesting thing about the island is its coffee ritual. Everyone will find 5 minutes in their busy day to take a break and grab a cup of coffee somewhere outside of their office. The coffee here is amazing, especially with traditional pastel de nata or queijada (local cakes). Life on this island is so peaceful and relaxed. Though I don’t have a particular favorite place to visit, I enjoy every piece of this small island.
5. Luis Mendes
When you talk about Madeira, the first things that crosses your mind is nature. I believe this island is an equivalent to a small piece of paradise. The picturesque town of Funchal offers amazing experiences such a journey by a cable car to Monte with a beautiful panoramic view, and a riveting experience with the Monte sledge. The south west is one of my favourite parts of the island because of its quaintness and unique charm.
Also worth visiting is Ribeira Brava, a small village perfect for riding a bicycle or jogging. Ponta do Sol is another village known for its scenic backdrops especially during sunset. During summers, Paul do Mar is where I recommend everyone to go to relax and sunbathe along the crystal waters.
6. Marco Matos
My favourite places on the island of Madeira are in Camacha, my hometown, which is located over 700 meters above sea-level. Small, but stellar, it has so much to offer. In terms of food, my favourite place to eat is called “Regedor”, one of the oldest restaurants in the area, where they offer many different traditional dishes, like “espetada”, “bolo do caco”, “milho frito”, “Picados” and “Macarrão Espedindo”. You will find me wandering around Levada da Serra do Faial and Levada dos Tornos, two sublime spots in the village, spotted with many rustic bars that offers “poncha” and “pé de cabra”, two traditional beverages from Madeira Island.
7. Richard Matos
Madeira is a lyrical island adorned with a sense of calmness where everyone lives in harmony with nature. I personally like to visit the northern part of the island, for its verdancy and outstanding views; the air feels purer here. It’s perfect for long walks and drives. One of my favourite trips is going from Ribeira Brava to Sao Vicente, which is all about majestic landscapes. Another thing I love about Madeira is its wine food. The Bolo do Caco is delicious and the honey cookies are to die for! Also a shout-out for the barley soup made here, it feels so nice in the winter to warm you up. If you love nature, green backdrops, fresh breeze, and delectable food, Madeira is where you should be.
8. Rubina Cassaca
This exquisite Portuguese island of Madeira was discovered in the 15th century and is well-known for is natural beauty, where the magnificence of the green mountains matches the enchantment of the blue sea, as well as for the mildness of its subtropical climate and distinctive forest called “Laurissilva”.
The local gastronomy reflects the simplicity and generosity of its people and includes a broad variety of delicious fish and meat dishes, not to mention Madeira wine. I, personally, recommend the swordfish served with banana and the tuna steak while, for vegans, there are a range of vegetable soups such as watercress and cabbage on offer, and also the typical fried corn and “bolo do caco” (bread baked in a traditional fashion over a fire). If you happen to visit Madeira, you cannot miss out on “poncha”, an alcoholic drink that can be made with different types of tasty fruits, for instance, surinam cherry and tamarillo.
This island offers a wide number of leisure activities, especially outdoor activities both on land and sea. In my opinion, the Levada walks are the best and perhaps the most unique activity on the island. On the other hand, if you are keen on water sports, try body-boarding, canyoning and, of course, scuba diving, particularly in the summer.
9. Sandra Boloto
One of my favourite things to do in Madeira during summer is head out to a clandestine local beach in Ponta do Sol. I love to drive beneath the waterfall in the middle of the road. Hidden stairs will take you to Praia dos Anjos. I like to spend my time here until the sun sets, as it feels like a true celebration of nature.