• We loved the
atmosphere in the Madeiran towns and (fishing) villages, which are
often so small that they amount to little more than a few houses and
a single narrow street. The mountain villages were interesting partly
for the view, and partly for their architecture, which has been
adapted to the extremely uneven, sloping terrain. The coastal towns,
meanwhile, offer the classic Mediterranean atmosphere, with a
harbor, colorful boats, and the smells and sounds of the sea.
• The island’s natural treasures and range of flora are simply breathtaking in their color and variety, since every single part of the island is a unique habitat, and the plants you encounter are always different: palm trees by the coast, tropical parks and gardens, banana plantations, mysterious laurel groves and a huge range of cacti and succulents, but also evergreen forests and even some desert areas.
• Madeira’s location and natural wonders are spectacular. The whole island is mountainous, with many high, remote towns and villages which afford wonderful views. You can take some great pictures from the terraces and viewpoints, out across the open ocean and the terrifyingly sheer, vertical cliffs which the waves crash against.
1. not many public toilets
2. We expected to see more traditional thatched roof houses.
• Because of the geography of the island, there aren’t many places where you can sunbathe or swim safely, so anyone looking for a classic beach the holiday might want to look elsewhere. In any case, the waters around Madeira is quite cold and almost always choppy, so a dip isn’t necessarily recommended.
• The opportunities to unwind and have fun will be substantially fewer for those who aren’t particularly interested in natural beauty. Even in Funchal, every time I ventured out of the small downtown core, I quickly came to deserted streets where every shop and restaurant closes early in the evening – a bit strange for a place that bills itself as the island’s capital. What made this lack all the more apparent were the vast hotel complexes they’re building on the hillsides behind the city. These will require huge numbers of tourists to be profitable, and that means the city will have to up its game a bit and offer more in the way of facilities and activities. The water-based activities (jet ski, canoe hire, diving, etc.) seemed pretty limited (Funchal’s port, for instance, is surprisingly small), so those who aren’t satisfied with a relaxing, wellness holiday, and who don’t find much of interest in hikes and natural beauty, may end up going home a little disappointed. (O.t., 2018)