Travel Guide: Madeira
Madeira and its capital Funchal are within my Top Ten (10) favourite places on earth. I was blown away by the beauty of the landscape, the activities to choose from and the quality of Madeira's capital city, in terms of restaurants, bars and shops. Funchal was well-developed, had expensive stores and hotels and had incredible options for food and drink. One morning, I was scuba diving off the coast of Madeira and I looked up from the water at the towering hills and lush vegetation and it hit me how surreal and amazing this place is. The volcanic pools and fairytale forests of Fanal reinforce how incredible Madeira is—and there is even more to explore on the island!
Food & Drink
- Il Gallo d'Oro & William • Il Gallo d'Oro is the only two Michelin Star Restaurant in Madeira. Chef Benoît Sinthon creates Iberian and Mediterranean inspired cuisine using ingredients from the Island of Madeira. The restaurant was renovated in recent years and is very charming (eat at the chef's table or on the terrace for the best experience). For dress code, a jacket is recommended and shorts, jeans or athletic gear are not permitted. This restaurant also has beautiful views of the ocean. As for William Restaurant, it was named after visionary founder of Reid’s Palace, Mr William Reid. William (located in Reid's Palace, a Belmond hotel) has a menu that celebrates the finest produce from the island and creates seasonal dishes of the highest quality. Savour Chef Luís Pestana’s innovative creations alongside panoramic views of the dramatic Funchal coastline.
- Kampo • A small but welcoming space. A simple menu with local fish from the market, well-made meat dishes and wines from Madeira. With an open-kitchen, the ambiance of the restaurant is incredible. Chef Júlio Pereira is renowned and focuses on highlighting local flavours from the island.
- Cris’s • The food at Cris's is amazing, the service impeccable and the value astonishing. Eating at Cris's is an experience: a Prosecco on arrival, an amuse bouche to start and a refreshing sorbet between courses. Additionally, you have the option of wine pairings with your courses, which are "topped up" if necessary. Overall, an amazing option for food and drinks.
- Barreirinha Bar Café • Right on the coast, this bar has outdoor seating by the water with a fantastic view over the Atlantic. The Prego sandwiches (Portuguese steak sandwich) are incredible and the drink options are good, ranging from cocktails to wine to local beers.
- Madeira Rum House • Right next to Santiago Fortress in the old part of the city, this bar boasts the largest collection of rum bottles on the island, even local Madeiran rums. The space is intimate and traditional in design. Feel free to do a rum tasting!
- GastroBar at Reid's Palace • If you're looking for cocktails on the island, the GastroBar is the place for you. Reid's Palace is an institution and part of the Belmond hotel group, so you know it is luxurious and the highest quality. William Restaurant is also located in the same building, so you can pair the two places together for an elevated experience.
Other Food & Drink
Other Food • Restaurante dos Combatentes, Villa Cipriani, Avista, The Dining Room, Casal da Penha, Armazém do Sal, Madcuba, Casa Velha Restaurant, Taberna Madeira, Restaurante Hemingway, Casa Da Penha
Other Drink • Galáxia Skybar, Turim Santa Maria Hotel, FugaCidade, Local Shop in Monte, Rei da Poncha
Coffee Shops • Greenhouse Coffee Roaster, MaiaCoffeeShop, Art Food Corner Madeira
Activities & Attractions
- Toboggan (Monte Sledges) and Funchal Cable Car • One of Madeira Island most famous attraction is the famous "sledge rides" or tobogganing. These downhill carts are made of wicker and wood a fit 2–3 people. These sleds are controlled by two "carreiros" wearing white uniforms and straw hats. They use their boots as brakes. The journey takes place between Monte and Funchal and is done in about 10 minutes with a distance of 2 km. Combine this with the "Teleférico do Funchal" or Funchal cable car, so that you can get to the top of the hills (Monte) where the tobogganing starts. See amazing views of Madeira from the cable car and save yourself a long walk up the hills or a taxi ride.
- Green Devil 4WD Tour of Island & Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools • This full-day 4WD Jeep adventure is ideal for travelers who want to get off the beaten track and see impressive natural beauty. By traveling in a Jeep, you’ll access hard-to-reach off-road sites that you wouldn’t be able to alone. Cross the stunning Laurisilva forest and visit the fairy tale Fanal forest, access ocean views, see waterfalls and swim in volcanic pools. Highlights include Serra d’Agua, Paul da Serra and Porto Moniz, to name a few things!
- Scuba dive • Scuba diving off of Madeira is a surreal experience. Being in the Atlantic ocean and looking up at the island of Madeira with its vast hills and lush vegetation is a scene that is hard to believe exists. The main highlight was petting a giant Goliath Grouper who was friendly with divers. Unfortunately, the diving itself was not incredible as there was not enough aquatic life or coral to make the dive really interesting. But I do recommend the overall experience to divers.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS (SITES, PARKS, ETC.)
Other Activities • Blandy's Madeira Wine Tour