Madeira Travel Guide
Things to do & places to stay on the island of Madeira, Portugal
Back in August 2019, I travelled to Madeira to shoot for Visit Madeira, Savoy Signature and The Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club. Whilst on assignment I made a note of the activities I enjoyed the most and I’ve included some images of the hotels I stayed in.
Things to do -
One of the many things I loved about Madeira was the fast change in climate - the sun beats down so hard on the South side of the island that they grow bananas and sugar cane. In stark contrast, due to the higher elevation, the middle and North of the Island was a little chillier with low hanging fog and I experienced a lot of rain on one of the two days I went and I loved experiencing the different climates in one day. It’s an island that offers many different types of holiday; you can have a chilled out pool holiday on or an adventures break but I really recommend doing both!
Make sure you catch at least one sunrise
I live by this being the one thing you should do in every country you visit but watching the sunrise over the clouds might be one of my favourite experiences on the island (along with off-roading) - there are many points on the island that have incredible views over the clouds, some can be reached by car and some require a hike, so it’s definitely not to be missed. I also made sure I got up for sunrise whilst I was south of the island so I could take pictures overlooking one of the hotel pools, I love how peaceful hotels are at sunrise.
I did this with a company called Green Devil and it was so much fun - it wasn’t in my itinerary, so when he said “do you like rollercoasters” I was slightly confused by the change in conversation, until he turned off onto a gravel track on one of the mountains and told me to stand up at the back of the 4x4. 100% recommend if you don’t mind ducking branches!
Waterfalls and levada walks
I did a few of these and really enjoyed all of them but for the most enjoyment choose one that has less crowds, I did a morning trek to a lesser visited waterfall and didn’t see a single person until we got to the more tourist-known Risco Waterfall about 2 hours later.
Explore the East Coast
The landscape changes from lush green to pastel, earthy tones on this side of the island and I’m partial to earthy colours - so this was one of my favourite areas!
There’s plenty more to see like villages with traditional thatched cottages, rum tasting and checking out the local surf!
Places to stay -
During the 5 days I had in Madeira, I stayed at two hotels - Savoy Saccharum in Calheta and the The Albatroz Beach and Yacht Club in Santa Cruz and was lucky enough to photograph the newly opened Savoy Palace in Funchal.
Described as a hedonist design resort, this hotel had it all. The decor was inspired by the area and it’s namesake (saccharum is latin for sugar cane). The interiors were modern and embellished with dark natural textures and many of the design-led rooms overlooking the bay. They also have a beautiful, lighter exterior with an incredible horizon pool.
The newly opened Savoy Palace in Funchal was designed by local interior designer Nini Andrade Silva, from the bright and beautiful restaurants to the little nooks, this designer hotel was creatively put together, with no stone left unturned.
The Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club
This naturally formed swimming pool has been transformed into the most beautiful space on the side of a cliff and was nominated one of the best 109 in the world by Condé Nast.
A note on what to eat + Drink
The local alcoholic drink is Poncha and definitely packs a punch. It’s traditionally made up of Aguardente de Cana (distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juice), honey, sugar and lemon juice. As the saying goes “if you drink three, you’ll start speaking Portuguese”.
The locally caught fish was some of the best I’ve had and definitely round off your dinner with a pastel de nata!