Madeira: Main Sights
Scenic mountainous landscapes, stunning wildlife and fabulous food
The Sao Vicente Caves and the Volcano Centre
The Sao Vicente caves can be found on Madeira’s north coast. The largest known cave system on Madeira Island, the Sao Vicente Caves were discovered in 1885 and are estimated to be more than 890,000 years old and were caused by volcanic eruptions. A guided tour lasts 30 minutes.
Monte was once a separate resort. It stands high on a hill above Funchal, the main city of Madeira, and boasts the fabulous Monte Palace Tropical Garden, as well as palaces and churches. Take a short cable-car ride (15 minutes) up to Monte from Funchal and ride down on a traditional sledge – there’s no wheels, just runners and two men in straw boaters to keep you on the road! Or you could choose to climb up along Madeira’s irrigation canals (levadas) and then take the sledge ride downhill.
Madeira's most memorable attractions are natural ones. Indigenous flowers, plants and cacti await visitors to Funchal's Botanical Gardens. And on your Madeira holiday don’t miss a visit to the Quinta do Arco rose garden in the north of the island, which offers the perfume and bright colours of more than 1,000 species.
To appreciate Madeira's beauty you need to get up high. See the mesmerising sea and mountain views of Madeira from the summit of Pico Ruivo. At 1,862m the mountain is higher than anything in the UK.
Natural Seawater Pools
Tourists on Madeira list the natural seawater pools at Porto Moniz as high on their list of must-sees. The pools are formed on the Madeira seashore in the volcanic rock and allow visitors to Madeira to bathe and sunbathe, while being sheltered from the sometimes rough northern seas.
The Madeira Aquarium
Porto Moniz on Madeira, is also home to the Madeira Aquarium where you can see 70 or so local species of marine life. In the Madeira Aquarium you can view sharks, Madeiran Rays, stingrays, octopuses, starfish and many more.
Madeira's Theme Park
Santana is home to Madeira's theme park - Parque Tematico da Madeira – where visitors to Madeira can explore Madeira's nature, traditions and history. Madeira’s Theme Park has a watermill, lake, children's playground, labyrinth, Monte train, auditorium, examples of the traditional A-frame cottages and more.
Reid's Hotel Funchal
Reid's Palace Hotel is a luxury five-star hotel, which opened in 1891. Madeira’s most famous hotel is a conversion of a much older quinta, and offers great views over Funchal's seafront. If you can’t afford to stay in Reid’s Hotel while on holiday in Madeira (and you’d need pretty deep pockets) treat yourself to afternoon tea there on the terrace overlooking the sea.
Santa Cruz Water Park – Aquaparque
Situated just south west of Santa Cruz in Madeira, is Aquaparque. The Santa Cruz Water Park Park in Madeira offers slides, tubes or black holes and rapids. There is also a zone for toddlers.
Nuns’ Valley (Curral das Freiras)
One of Madeira’s many natural wonders, the Nuns’ Valley is so-called because the sisters of the Santa Clara convent fled there in 1566 to escape the pirate raids on Funchal. In a hollow surrounded by the near-vertical montains of Madeira, there is now a hamlet, and it was only in 1959 that a road was built to this natural fortress. Today, you can take a bus to one of the most isolated villages of Madeira (and sample some of Madeira’s famous chestnut delights, from cake to liqueur).