|View over Funchal|
Madeira has been in my bucket list for a long time. When I saw that Easyjet starts to operate direct flights between Basel and Madeira, I didn't think long. January seemed also to be a nice time to visit because it's relatively warm but not the high season for tourists.
We stayed in Madeira for a week but actually didn't manage to see the whole island. You can easily spend there 2 weeks without getting bored. Madeira is an island that has something to offer for everyone - lazy beach vacation, museum and culture vacation, active vacation in the nature. We were mostly focused on the last one. And it really is a hiker's paradise. I will write about each hike we did a separate post.
|Hiking from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo|
You could stay the whole time only in Funchal and then do day-trips from there. Funchal area is very touristic with loads of restaurants and hotels. North coast is more "wild". I actually quite enjoyed staying in a small coastal Sao Vicente village for a change.
First couple of days we mostly walked around in Funchal. After that we rented a car. I must day that driving culture is excellent in Madeira but you need to be an experienced driver there. Actually, it is easy to get around without a car. The bus network is very good and there are buses also going to the most popular hiking routes. If you don't fancy driving on occasional very narrow and steep roads then you can either use the public transport or services of tour companies that organize transport to the hiking trails. Those companies you can find basically everywhere in Funchal.
|Example of a good road|
Food we had was excellent. If you like seafood then this is the place to go. They also have lots of meat dishes there. Big part of Madeira is covered with laurel tree forests and local specialties are beef skewers marinated in wine, vinegar and laurel leaves.
Weather in Madeira is very local. We experienced several times how it might be cold and cloudy in one place and just 5 km away it's full sunshine and warmth. The mountains in the middle of the island really make a difference and alter the weather. So if you happen to experience a bad weather you can be pretty much sure that not far away there is a place with nice weather. In general on the coast the temperatures were around 20 degrees but on higher elevations it was often very windy and much colder. At our mountain hike I was actually wearing a winter jacket.
Our travel agenda:Day 1. Our arrival to the airport was in the afternoon. We took an Aerobus to Funchal, checked in to a hotel, walked a little bit along the beach and had dinner. The first dinner was the best dinner we had during the whole trip. We followed the advice from TripAdvisor and went to a restaurant called Med. It's located in one huge hotel and it's not so easy to find but it is totally worth it. It is hard to beat the level of food and service there.
Day 2. We participated in Madeira Cook Experience cooking class. There was another couple in addition to us. The day started with visiting the local market which unfortunately is quite small and most of the sellers sell exactly the same things. It is definitely not comparable to Middle Eastern or Asian markets. Then we went on to the class where we learned how to make fennel salad, local drink poncha, parrot fish with pomegranate dressing and a dessert from local cheese and passion fruit. The two ladies organizing the cooking class where really nice and we had lots of fun. Unfortunately they engaged in cooking only one participant at time and the others just had to watch.
The cooking class ended around 2 pm. Since it was located very close to the cable cars going up to Monte, we decided to take the cable car and visit the Tropical Gardens.
Unfortunately I don't have any photos until this point because I discovered only at the Tropical Gardens that I have forgotten the memory card home. We went back down and the next stop was electronics store to get new memory card.
Dinner was again very nice, although not as amazing as the night before. This time we went to Taberna Madeira.
|Christmas decorations in Funchal in January|
|Natural swimming pools|
|Casa das Mudas|
|View down from Cabo Girao|
|Volcanic caves of Sao Vicente|
|Ponta do Poiso view point|