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Fajã dos Padres
Hop on a boat and swim to shore to reach the Fajã, or you can arrive by car and then take the elevator or cable car down. It’s a tropical paradise with an isolated pebbled beach and pier, where palm trees line the shore and vineyards grow alongside mango and exotic fruit plantations. There are houses to stay if you relish the Robinson Crusoe vibe or, if you’re visiting for lunch, try the fresh tapas, cold beer and sangria.
- +351 291 944 538
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Swimming with Dolphins
Nothing beats a close-up encounter with a dolphin for sheer beauty, and swimming with them is the ultimate experience. The Gulf Stream warms Madeira´s surrounding ocean and the dolphins love to play around the boats, so you don’t have to travel very far from Funchal harbour to join them for a frolic in the sea. Different boat sizes are available – choose according to how radical you want the ride.
- +351 291 280600
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Levada walk in the ancient forest
Driving to the central plateau in Rabaçal you can walk on Madeira´s mountains. The peaceful Levada do Alecrim (an irrigation channel bringing water from the mountains to the agricultural lands below) is a great hike to start off with – you can swim in the ice-cold fountains and natural pools, with century old endemic plants framing your walk. If you want a hard-core walking day, you can also add the Levada das 25 Fontes to this itinerary.
Tuk tuk ride
This is a great way to get to know the different parts of this 600-year-old city. Travel past the Funchal Cathedral, through the São Pedro museum district, past the City Hall and along the winding streets of the old town. Drivers can also show you the best viewpoints, such as Vila Guida. Catch a tuk tuk just by the Museu CR7 near the marina.
All hail footballer Ronaldo, who was born in Madeira and retains strong family ties here – the airport is named after him. Museu CR7 in a modern building on the harbour beside which you’ll find his famous caricature-like statue – it looks nothing like him. Here you can learn about his childhood and see all his major titles and trophies. Next door you can try a delicious pizza on the terrace of the Pestana CR7 Hotel and raise a toast to Ronaldo´s fantastic career with a local Coral beer.
- +351 291 639 880
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Coastal hike and swim
The walk along the Ponta de São Lourenço peninsula in Caniçal is an absolute stunner that takes about 2.5 hours – 4km there and back along the same route. Afterwards, go for a dip in the sea at Cais do Sardinha beach, have a picnic or even pitch a tent and stay the night. The black sandy Prainha Beach is also a fantastic place for a swim.
Cable Car to Monte Gardens
For a bird’s-eye view over Funchal, take the cable car from Funchal’s shore and glide up over the gardens and houses that multiply from the old town to Monte. Here you can visit several gardens, and the Igreja do Monte where the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is buried. If you fancy a different ride down the hill take the wicker toboggans, but first visit Monte Palace Tropical Garden for the superb restaurant Greenhouse Coffee Roaster which serves its natural juices.
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