You are not going to imagine how excited we were to be invited on a press trip to Madeira thanks to Visit Madeira! A trip for two, surrounded with the most amazing views, the most delicious food, the most exhilarating activities, the best accommodation and last but certainly not least, meeting the most friendly and lovely people ever! Unsurprising then that it has been awarded the world’s leading island destination for the last 3 years. For so many reasons, it reminded me of back home! This trip was amazing and one of the highlights of my year!
Madeira is a stunning Portuguese island located approximately 1,000 km from the European mainland and just 500 km from Africa. It forms a group of four islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens, and only the two larger islands (Madeira and Porto Santo) are inhabited. The other islands are nature reserves.
TRAVELLING TO MADEIRA
Our stay in Madeira was for 3 nights (4 days), although we arrived quite late on the Thursday evening and our flight back on Sunday left late-morning so this meant only 2 full days of activities. However, let me tell you that we did so much in those two days that we really made the most of our stay!
One of the partnerships for the trip was with British Airways who managed our travel. We were so grateful to travel Business Class for our outbound journey, and not just that, this meant we were able to use the quiet, comfortable lounges whilst we waited for our flight from London as well as the connecting flight from Lisbon! The flight was about 2 hrs and 45 mins to Lisbon and then 1 hr 45 mins to Madeira but it didn’t feel long at all! It actually passed so quickly that I was surprised when we arrived.
DAY ONE – ARRIVAL TO MADEIRA AIRPORT
We arrived in Madeira at about 11 pm. I thought the airport was impressive and. I loved seeing the nearby city lights. It was all illuminated in such a beautiful way that it was a beautiful view! The new part of its runway has been built partially over the sea which is amazing. It is supported by 180 pillars constituting a monument to engineering. I only noticed this properly when we came back to the airport on Sunday because we arrived during the night so it was dark. There is a famous statue of Cristiano Ronaldo at the airport which Nick insisted on having a photo with, LOL!
DAY ONE – HOTEL BAIA AZUL
The deco inside this hotel was fantastic! I really like it!
A driver was waiting for us at the airport to take us to our hotel. He was going to be our driver for the time we were in Madeira. It was so nice to be treated so well!
We drove for about 20 minutes I think. The views were stunning! I loved it! I was so looking forward to seeing those views in the daylight too! We stayed at the Baia Azul Hotel, a 4-star hotel! It is a beautiful hotel with very high ceilings!
This hotel has the most amazing swimming pool! Just a shame we didn’t have time to enjoy it!
The hotel is located on the west side of Funchal, just 3 km from the city centre. It has 215 rooms, 3 restaurants, 1 spa and 2 outdoor heated swimming pools, as well as 1 heated indoor pool. There is also free Wi-Fi access available throughout the hotel.
Our Hotel Room!
View from our Balcony! Stunning right?
Our room, which felt very spacious, was on the third floor. We were so excited! It also had a balcony with the most amazing view! Waking up to this view was one of the highlights of the trip! Over 80% of the rooms in the hotel have a sea view. There are also several meeting and conference rooms at the hotel, for hosting events.
A welcome pack with all the leaflets and information we needed for the weekend had been left in our room too along with a lovely gift.
DAY TWO – BREAKFAST AT HOTEL BAIA AZUL
After our journey we were quite tired so we went to bed pretty much as soon as we arrived. We slept very well and it made a lovely change to not be waken up in the morning by two loud little girls, LOL! We felt rejuvenated and ready to explore Madeira!
OMG, having breakfast with such a view of the sea was a total dream! I enjoyed every minute of it! The buffet was excellent and it had a good variety of food to choose from. The hotel gardens include the Chef’s vegetable garden, with the most varied herbs which bring so much freshness to the cooking.
DAY TWO – FULL DAY OF ACTIVITIES IN FUNCHAL
Mercado Dos Lavradores
We had a number of activities arranged for the day. We were picked up by our driver accompanied by a lovely lady who was to be our tour guide for the day. She was going to show us around Funchal, the capital of Madeira. We stopped briefly at the CR7 Museum located at Praça do Mar, in front of the main port in Funchal, which tells the story of the Portuguese and Madeira born footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo. We only stopped briefly outside and didn’t go in. We continued on to the Mercado dos Lavradores, the Farmer’s Market, and one of the landmarks of Madeira’s capital.
Look how colourful this place is!
The variation of fruits, veggies and flowers is huge!
It is located right in the heart of Funchal’s historical city centre. You will be amazed by all the colours, aromas and tradition! With a combination of Art Deco and Modernism, the market has the best that the island has to offer: the freshest and most exotic fruits, gorgeous flowers, meats, seafood, vegetables and local spices. This place is overwhelming and we loved it! I found so many exotic fruits it really took me back home, as there were many that I have normally only found in Peru ! 🙂
Rua De Santa Maria
We then headed towards Rua De Santa Maria which is the Old Town. There was so much culture and art every where you looked. The doors are all painted beautifully. The “Painted Doors” community enhancement project was an invitation to local artists to upgrade doors and building façades, converting the streets into an outdoor art gallery. A number of restaurants and lots of night-life let you experience and feel this part of the city in a different way. This was such an amazing experience! Walking through this road really lifts you up allowing you to feel the spirit of the city!
Madeira (Monte) Cable Car
Following our walk through the Old Town, we headed towards the Madeira Cable Car station. This takes you up to the suburb of Monte. The journey is fantastic! The panoramic views of Funchal as you head towards Monte are magnificent! The cable car takes you from the old part of Funchal to Monte in around 15 minutes. We loved the views of Funchal’s bay and valleys. There are 39 seven-seater cars, so it can take a lot of people up in minutes! We definitely recommend doing this journey.
When we arrived in Monte, we took a short break to enjoy the stunning view in the cafe next to the cable car station!
The Church of Our lady of Monte is just a short walk away. It holds the tomb of the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor Charles I. This church was at the top of a hill so we had to climb a few steps. It is beautiful outside, and stunning inside. The views over Funchal are incredible from the vestibule of the church. It is certainly worth a look if you go up to Monte.
Toboggans (Carros de Cesto)
Once outside the church we were told that we would be going back down the hill on a sledge! I was like, ‘Down the hill on a what? Are you sure we are doing this? Is it safe?’. I am all for trying new things so I nervously agreed and we gave it ago! I am so happy we did because it was one of the best experiences ever! It was so much fun and an unmissable experience.
These sledges are made of wicker and wood, and have two seats. They are led and controlled by two drivers, dressed in white and with a straw hat on their heads.The drivers, with great skill and expertise, use thick rubber soles on their boots as brakes during an exhilarating trip of pure adrenaline and emotion. The trip lasts about 2 km taking around 10 minutes.
Cabo Girao View Point
After returning to Funchal via the sledges, our car took us onto Cabo Girao View Point. It is the highest cape in Europe, at an elevation of 580m, and is famous for its suspended glass platform, called a skywalk. The views from here are breathtaking! It offers a vertiginous view of the Fajãs (Wave cut platforms) of Rancho and Cabo Girãoas well as the magnificent panoramic views of the ocean and the municipalities of Câmara de Lobos and Funchal.
Have you visited Madeira? If so, which places did you visit? Have you done any of the attractions above? What do you think of our trip so far? Can you recommend any other places to visit in the area?
*Disclosure: We were invited by Visit Madeira for a press trip to visit the island. Everything was complimentary for the purpose of this blog post.
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