This tiny Portuguese island has an interesting character, wine like no other and is home to arguably the best footballer of our generation as you will see later. Closer to Africa than to the European continent.
Located in the atlantic ocean, some 520 km of the african coast and 1,000 km from the european continent. 1 of archipelago islands consists Porto Santo, Deserted and Savage.
Beside all that this island has to offer, If you thought the famous new year’s eve fireworks at Marina Funchal here was all a hype think again. We couldn’t have chosen a better time of the year to witness this specticle. What a memorable New Year’s Celebration!
Table of Contents
After spending a few days in Porto, we chose Madeira to spend our 2015 New Year’s Even there. We heard a lot about the Madeira New Fireworks, and they did not disappoint! but that part comes later, first things first.
We arrived in Madeira on the 28th December 2015 at night. Even though it was now late at night, you could feel the appreciation and anticipate the beauty of the island to come.
We arrived at our hotel and straight to sleep in preparation of adventure ahead next day. Next morning, Breakfast @ The Lince Madeira and off we went. And a chance to have better perception of our surrounding plus the hotel we are staying at. Location wise, hotel is good and service is kind and professional. Breakfast in my opinion is not as impressive though, standard full British breakfast and cereals, yogurt and toast are basically the options. The room are quite standard and does not have any views. It is not the worst hotel we have been to, but it wouldn’t make it to our top 10 either – reason? We left it too late. Lesson learned. Tip to self: if you are travelling during popular dates, book way early in advance.
By coincidence we found the Cristiano Ronaldo Museum. If you are a football fan, you will feel right at home here, it boast and showcase all the trophies, trajectory and even letters from fans Cristiano receives. There is also an interactive screen for a friendly kick about with Ronaldo! A side distraction and we move on.
Exploring the Marina and again by coincidence we found the Funchal Cable Car that takes you to the other side of the Jardim Tropical Monte Palace (Botanical Gardens). The trip on the Cable car lasts for about 20 minutes with impressive sights, a bit intimidating one could say. View from there is amazing You will oversee the whole city of Funchal and the Marina – it is a beautiful view of the city and it just gets better the higher you go!
We decided to book an island Tour on the second day to experience it fully. It is a big island, so you want to make most of it. Here is a little insight about doing this kind of group tours:
Pros: you just relax, don’t need to worry about where to go, how to get there, am I going be lost?, am I going to miss highlights of the island since I am not familiar with it?
Cons: You have to follow the pace of the group, whether it is too slow or too quick, you won’t be able to spend extra ten minutes on a place you like or leave earlier if you don’t feel there is more for you to see there.
We chose and did the West Island Tour. We were picked up at our hotel at 9.00 am and left at the same point around 6.00 pm.
Our first stop was Câmara de Lobos (Chamber of the Sealions). A lovely suburb of Funchal with approximately 35,000 residents, it owns its name to the fact that sea lions were seen at the coast and they still appear occasionally today. Main highlights of the town are São Sebastião Church and the cliff of the islet from where you will overlook the sea.
Our next stop was at the most beautiful and stunning view point of the island: Cabo Girão. This is definitely a must. One of the things we both agreed on was “will the best camera ever capture the beauty of this place?” Jugde for yourself:
One of the highest sea cliff in Europe, the viewpoint has been renovated and a suspended glass platform has been included to allow the viewer to enjoy a spectacular view amazing!
Ribeira Brava, which means “Angry River” whose water providers the main source of drinking water to the municipality. It is small cosy village. The highlight is the beach, which is empty during winter time. Just 15 mins away, you will find Ponta do Sol, whose main highlight is the Cascata dos Anjos a Waterfall on old road in Anjos.
Canhas, owns its name to one of the first settlers of the city. The beauty of this parish is the walk along the plateau of Paul da Serra. Check out the cane fair, just in case you are in Madeira around the same time.
Our final stop before going back to Funchal was at Encumeada.
On New Year’s Eve we took a half day tour to see the Nun’s Valley (Curral das Freiras). So much is said about this place that we could not leave Madeira without seeing it with our own eyes.
Madeira Happy Tours was our choice this time around.
Our first stop was Eira do Serrado, which is a 360 panoramic viewpoint of the Nun’s Valley. You can see the Valley beautifully surrounded by a chain of mountains.
We then descended to the actual Curral das Freiras. You kind of feel small in this natural surroundings of the mountains. You will also notice how the temperature lowers once you enter into the valley if you compare it to Funchal. We had some time to relax having a coffee and wandering around the valley before making our way back.
On the way back to Funchal, we stopped at Pico dos Barcelos, a gorgeous viewpoint over Funchal. Built in 1950, this viewpoint has not only green areas but also restaurants ad shops where you can buy local craftwork.
After another exciting trip around the island, back to the hotel to get some rest and spend the rest of the afternoon anticipating the count down for the new celebrations for New Year’s Eve.
We chose Restaurante O Dragoeiro for the New Year’s Eve Dinner– You can try “Carne a pedra” (Steak on the stone” or “Bacalhao” (Cod – one of the typical dishes across Portugal). Fantastic dish!
After dinner, we grab a few drinks and went to the Marina for the famous New Year’s Fireworks. They were S•P•E•C•T•A•C•U•L•A•R! We heard a lot about the fireworks and they did not disappoint!
We ended the celebrations at one of the local clubs until breakfast time. A memorable New Year’s Celebration!
On our last day, we decided to spend more time by the Marina by walking towards the Ribeira de Santa Luzia. The last cruises were leaving and the sun was (as nearly everyday) out on the 1st of January!
We had lunch by the Marina´s restaurant and spend the afternoon buying some souvenirs for family and friends.
Relaxing afternoon in Funchal was the perfect ending our trip.
As you may have noticed from this post, the beauty of Madeira does not reside on impressive architectural sites or palaces but in its nature, food and warmth of its people
Thanks For Reading
If you find this post helpful, tip to share or have question let me know in the comment below.