Madeira

June 10, 2018

The most spectacular view in Madeira was of the Ponta de São Lourenço.

Like the Azores, the Madeira archipelago is an Autonomous Region in Portugal and also has fewer than 300,000 residents. Almost all are concentrated on the main island, the only one most people ever visit.

The Azores have cows and Madeira has tourists. As a popular year-round resort for English, Germans, Scandinavians, and of course fellow Portuguese, Madeira gets some 1,500,000 tourists a year.

The little island of Madeira is roughly just 36 miles by 14 miles but it is packed with high mountains, deep valleys and ravines ― plus over 900 hotels!


Flying into the island we got to see the unusual runway extension that had to be added for big jets. Flat land is in short supply.

Flying in we saw the dramatic cliffs, plus efforts to harness wind and solar power.

Rua de Santa Maria is the cool, narrow, cobblestone, key street of old town Funchal.


After storm damage in 2010, artists were invited to paint doors and walls in the old town. Here are three of my favorites.

A long-time, endemic Madeira specialty is the long, black scabbardfish (aphanopus cargo) honored with blue tiles from the 1940s at the old Funchal farmer's market.

Riding the Teleferico do Funchal (cable car) up the mountain... It is usually sunny so you can dry your laundry on the roof and put solar panels up there.

Above Funchal is the old Church of Our Lady of the Monte
is case you were wondering where Charles I, the last
emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was buried.

Good climate that's ideal for flowers and gardens...
Top: Palheiro Gardens; Middle: Madeira Botanical Gardens; Bottom:
Along the roadside is the endemic "Pride of Madeira" flower (echium candicans)

Click to enlarge the panorama shot of Madeira's tallest peaks (plus Marianne).

On Pico do Arieiro viewing Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest point (6,106ft, 1,861m).

While a Peruvian pan flute band played "Amazing Grace" in the background. 

The EU has showered Madeira with billions of dollars for infrastructure. One nice result is over 150 tunnels (eight are over a mile long) that cut through high mountain ridges and smooth out the chaotic topography.

Cabo Girão, one of Europe's highest sea cliffs, drops 1,900 feet to the Atlantic. Also amazing is that the glass viewing platform can hold mobs of hefty tourists.

Traditional fishing village of Camara de Lobos viewed from Pico da Torre.

Decorations for Camara de Lobos's festival honoring St. Peter, protector of fishermen.

Our floating Funchal hotel was designed by famed Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer.

Madeira's most famous products are its wines, with vineyards on steep terraces around the island, even in residential areas as shown above.

Short on people pics, so why not some schoolkids on a field trip?

For an overview of our trip through all four of the North Atlantic's Macaronesia archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Canaries, Cabo Verde), go here.