Popular Posts

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Madeira - A Guide

Madeira: a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa settled in the early 1400s by the Portuguese and once, briefly, part of Britain.

The south side is dry, rocky and populated; the north wetter, lusher and rural. With years of EU development subsidies, it is safe and clean with good roads and infrastructure.


Located just 15 minutes from airport, and away from the main hotel area west of Funchal, Palheiro Village has apartments and villas commanding an impressive view over the capital.

You'll need a car to get around - Blandy Travel can arrange a hire.


Set back from the harbour, Funchal's old town has a Mediterranean feel with touches of colonial outpost; ornate cathedrals with gilded interiors and churches, fortresses, a governor's residence and narrow cobbled streets.

More modern additions include a cable-car ride over the city and up to the botanical gardens.


The grapes for Madeira are grown around the island, but the magical transformation of the base wine into Madeira takes place via a process of Canteiro, for the best wines, over several floors of the Madeira Houses in central Funchal.
Blandy's, one of the largest producers has regular tours of their working Madeira House, Blandy's Wine Lodge, ending with a tasting.
Round the corner, the D'Oliveiras experience is less polished-corporate and offers the chance to taste their "bottled electricity".

Eat Out

Next to Blandy's, Dos Combatentes is a small restaurant serving well-made food and Portuguese wines. The char-grilled squid is a speciality; the traditional Madeiran beef skewer is also excellent.

Drive up to Pico do Areira, one of the island's highest peaks, for breathtaking views in all directions.
If you're feeling energetic, walk along part of the narrow, dizzying track that was once used to carry goods from Santana to Funchal.
And look out for the local wildlife.


If you need a change from the heated pool at Palheiro, there is a sandy beach 30 minutes' drive away at Machico.

Eat Local

Set on a cliff top with views along the dramatic rocky coastline, Quinta Do Furão is an hotel and restaurant between Santana and São Jorge with a traditional Madeiran menu.
Try local specialities, limpets
And, with beef skewer, local table wine, Terras do Avô


Whilst you are in the area, check out the local traditional thatched triangular houses in Santana and around.

Eat In

Most of Madeira's food is imported from, and subsidised by, Portugal. The main exception is seafood which is incredibly fresh and ridiculously inexpensive.
There is plenty of cheese, too.
Drink Well, Drink Local

The supermarkets are well-stocked with delicious, inexpensive Portuguese wines, costing only a few euros. It would be remiss not to try the local Madeira; a strong, fresh fortified wine, it matches best with a simple supper of olives, strong cheese and tuna steak.

Other related articles
On Madeira
Terras do Avô

No comments:

Post a Comment