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The subtropical Atlantic Ocean Island of Madeira is a part of Portugal that many might not be aware of or think is too expensive to arrive. On the contrary it lies just a little over an hour’s flight from Lisbon and is well connected to Europe via regular and low cost airlines. One good tip would be to avoid peak times like the middle of summer or New Year’s Eve.
Once on the volcanic and forested island the capital of Funchal makes for a great starting point, many tourists simply remain here, but that would be missing out on the islands grand cliffs, caves, peaks and small villages. Here are some recommended places to see via the bus system or by renting a car.
Ponta de Sao Loureço
This is one of the island’s most panoramic cliffs. It is just a 15 minute drive outside the capital and it can be reached by taking the 113 bus to Caniçal. From there it is a little walk but easy enough to spot. There are no guard rails but the views are breathtaking and one can even see the nearby island of Porto Santo on a clear day.
This little town is the quintessential local experience. It is on the opposite side of the island from the capital and it has these triangular colorful houses only found here with thatched roofs. The local agriculture sits between the houses and the lush Laurissilva Forest which borders the area. Every July a festival of 24 hours of dancing draws a large crowd and many famous island trails for hiking pass through here.
This town on the Northern coast is quaint and scenic. Its foremost attraction are the hollowed out caves formed by immense lava flows thousands of years ago. There is a hands on museum and educational center on Volcanism and the geological formation of this unique island.
This is the highest peak on the island of Madeira and it is over 6,000ft high. On a good day one can see the whole island, at other times the winds and temperatures can shift dramatically. There are many access points, lengths of trails to hike and penny of parking a few kilometers from the summit.