TRAVEL SERIES || 3 Days on Madeira Island, Portugal
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Our vision is to take you on day trips to cities around the world. Featuring the best local hangouts so you can experience life like a local on your adventures. Join us for A Day In Funchal, Madeira Island, a vacation paradise surrounded by expansive blue waters stretching to the horizon.

Travellers come to Madeira Island for its exquisite natural beauty, an island made of volcanic rock rich in minerals, nurturing plants and vegetation species from around the world. The calmer waves of the Southern shores make for a relaxing nighttime lullaby, whereas the fierce waves of the Northern shores are perfect for experienced swimmers and surfers. Whichever camp you are in, Madeira Island offers an unforgettable getaway.

STAY || Pestana Carlton Madeira

Largo António Nobre, nº1, 9004-531 Funchal, Portugal

A 5-star oceanfront premium resort, a stay at the Pestana Carlton Madeira is a real treat. An ocean-view room offers breathtaking views of the surrounding ocean. The ocean extends far off to the horizon, where the clear blue skies meet the sparkling blue waters. Wake up to the sound of chirping birds and fall asleep to the calming sound of the waves gently rolling onto shore. Guests can also enjoy the indoor and outdoor pool on the premises as well as the pool bar and restaurant where you can soak up the sun’s rays whilst enjoying a cocktail or meal.

View from an ocean view room located on the 17th floor.

SANTA CATERINA PARK || Picnic in the Park

Av. Sá Carneiro 3, 9000-015 Funchal

This expansive park provides paved walkways for guests to enjoy a stroll during the day. A large water fountain also adds a sense of calm and quiet. As we walked along the path, we saw couples settling in for a picnic in the park, the perfect activity on a bright summer day.


Rua Ivens, Funchal, Madeira 9000-046, Portugal

As part of our food and wine walking tour, we passed through the Municipal Gardens located in the middle of the bustling Funchal city center. Here, exotic trees transplanted from all around the world from the days of ‘world exploration and discovery’ have each claimed a spot in this dense and lush garden, from Japanese Ginkgo trees, African Tulip Trees, to Sago Palms with ‘flying seeds’ producing babies next to them. These exotic plants and trees from all around the world may have been introduced to Madeira Island when travelling ships carrying explorers and naturalists were replenishing items on their journey back home.

A lush jungle in the middle of the city.

KAMPO || Tapas for the Whole Party

R. Dos Murcas, 9000-059 Funchal, Portugal

While this cozy restaurant just off the main road offers a selection of entries, we recommend trying all of their appetizers - ordering all of it for the table to share. This way you get to try their famous sardines, which have a slightly smokey taste to them and are prepared differently than what you would usually expect. The house-made bread lets you experience freshly-baked bread and the foie gras is served with the island’s infamous passionfruit banana sauce.

Buttery foie gras on top of a passionfruit and banana sauce.

BLANDY’S WINE LODGE || Madeiran Wine Tasting

Av. Arriaga 28, 9000-064 Funchal, Portugal

Blandy’s Wine Lodge has been a house of wine on Madeira Island since 1840. The space it occupies today started as a Francescan monastery. This location is an aging facility and wines in the aging caskss here have been in storage for at least 20 years. The oldest wine still aging on site is a 1948 medium sweet wine. If you stop by for wine tasting, you will sample three-year-old sweet Madeira wine.

There are 4 common types of Madeiran Wine - sweet, medium sweet, sweet dry and dry. These wines require heat to age, resulting in lots of evaporation - up to 2 to 5% of the product. Another thing to note is that the fortifying agent for Madeiran wines is 96% strong, which kills the yeast. This means Madeiran wines are highly oxidized wines, so you can open the bottle and have a whole year to drink it because it is a stable wine. This is different from other wines where aging still happens after it’s been bottled. You won’t need to wait another 20 years after you buy the bottle to consume it.

The tasting room.

UAUCACAU || Artisanal Chocolates

Rua Queimada de Baixo n 11, Funchal, Madeira 9000-068

Who wouldn’t love artisanal chocolates?! This small shop serves artisan chocolates along with freshly brewed coffee (perfect for a morning pick me up!). A few small tables line the outside of the shop, where locals are gathered with friends and family to satisfy their sweet tooth.

Imaginative chocolates made in-house.

FABRICA SANTO ANTONIO || Cookies and Souvenirs

351 Saint-Paul St W, Montreal

The shop was already busy in the morning when we popped by on our food and wine tasting tour to sample some of their signature creations. Whether it’s their honey cakes, sugar cane or ginger cookies you are after, we recommend you ask for the designed, vintage-style boxes that showcase the history of the shop.

Tasty cookies that make for great souvenirs.

MERCADO DOS LAVRADORES || Farmer’s Market of Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, Fish and Live Performances

R. Latino Coelho 38, 9060-155 Funchal

You know you are in someplace exotic when the first thing you hear whilst stepping into the food market is…a harp. Yes, in the center of the courtyard a young woman casually strums the harp as tourists rummage through the fruit stands and barter with fishermen for the day’s fresh catch.

Note, our tour guide did warn us about the extravagant pricing of the fruit stands inside the market, so you are better off purchasing your fruits anywhere but here! Buy at your own risk!

A scene from the fish market.


Rua D. Carlos I 45A, 9060-051 Funchal

We ended our food and wine walking tour at this cozy little cafe on the second floor, located on a quieter street on the outskirts of the tourist area. If you want to sit back and relax in your own little world, this cute spot with vintage patterned yellow wallpaper, lush greenery hanging over the quaint patio, and a side of fennel tea and signature Madeiran cheesecake will hit the spot.

Aromatic fennel tea served in beautiful cups.

Slices of local cheesecake.


Estrada Monumental 139, 9000-098 Funchal

Rumoured to have been an afternoon tea spot frequented by none other than Winston Churchill, we highly recommend you make a reservation for this coveted experience. While we did have a reservation, we underestimated the portions and found it difficult to complete all the small bites. Our servers were extremely courteous and brought us different sandwiches when they thought the sandwiches weren’t to our liking. They also constantly prepared fresh pots of tea for us so that by the end of our stay, we had each had 3 pots of tea. The serve is immaculate and the scones were firm in texture (versus flakey) and delicious. Highly recommend this if you want to spend the afternoon relaxing on a beautiful patio.

The main lobby leading out onto the terrace where afternoon tea is served.

Triple tier presentation. Scones are served after you finish the sandwiches.

STREET MURALS || The Artists of Madeira

Every city has its own shady part of town, and Madeira Island is no exception. However, a long time ago, artists began knocking on doors and offering to paint the doors of the residences and shops in the area, transforming the streets into an art form and motivating the residents in the community to take better care of the streets. Here are a few murals you will come across, and there are plenty more all throughout the area, so invest some time to wander the narrow, winding, beautifully patterned cobblestone streets!

The beautiful patterned roads are found everywhere on the island.

TRUE SPIRIT JEEP TOUR || Experience Madeira’s Unique Topography and History

Warning - we enjoyed this full-day jeep tour so much that we started comparing our other tours with this one. The True Spirit Jeep Tour we signed up for took us on a full-day trip to see the Skywalk and Porto Moniz Lava Pools. Your start the day with a coffee break where you can grab your morning caffeine as you look out to the rolling waves coming onto shore. You then head to various scenic points and the lava pools, where guests have an option to take a dip in the lava pools. This jeep tour recommends that you swim in the first lava pool and not in Porto Moniz, as that one is frequently crowded with tourists.

WARNING: Do NOT underestimate the strength of the waves and the current here; though the lava pools are enclosed, a strong wave can sweep you out if you are close to the external sides. Stay close to the inner sides of the pool if you are not a strong swimmer.

After a morning swim, the drive will take you through some of the off-road trails in the jeep, where guests can stand up to take in the nature surroundings.

You will also drive up the steep inclines of Madeira Island, ascending to Cabo Girão, the highest Sea Cliff in Europe, where you can walk on the infamous Skywalk with a glass bottom - the highest in Europe and second highest in the world.

A quieter lava pool free of tourists. This was the first stop.

An unusually windy day made the Porto Moniz lava pools inaccessible.

Waves crashing to shore.

View from a midday break from climbing the steep inclines of the island in our jeep.

Wind mills along the driving route.

View from the Skywalk.

IL GALLO D’ORO || Michelin Star Dining

Estrada Monumental 147, 9004-532 Funchal

The service staff here pay attention to your every need, from observing whenever you leave and return to the table to help pull out your chair, to inquiring about your tastes beforehand and preparing unique dishes tailored for your tastes (and of course artfully avoiding any allergies).

This 2 Michelin Star restaurant lives up to the hype, with stellar service, jaw-dropping culinary creations, and a meticulously perfected presentation that makes every dish a work of art. Think foie gras served in varying textures in one dish topped with dollops of honey and vinegar that melds all the flavours together in scrumptious creamy bites. Or, Tuna Tataki served on a mesmerizing marble slab or smoked meat that makes an entry on a wooden log decorated with florals.

The chef and staff check in after every meal and share the rationale behind the design of each dish, so that you can understand the process behind the creation. Reservations are highly encouraged, as we saw couples literally begging for a seat at opening time, which is 7PM.

Mango appetizer.

Foie gras served in varying textures.

Tuna Tataki served on a marble plate.

Vegetarian pasta.

Trigger Fish - a delicacy native to Madeira Island.

CONFEITARIA || Pastel de Nata

Av. do Infante 28, 9000-015 Funchal

It’s early morning and Confetteria is already bustling with travellers and locals sipping their early morning coffee and enjoying a Pastel de Nata, Portugal’s infamous dessert. The display cases are brimming with delicious cakes and pastries you wish you had more time (and appetite) to try, and fresh loaves of bread line the other side of the wall. If you want to try several cakes, their mini cakes in flavours like Oreo Cake and Ferrero Roche will definitely not disappoint.

This was our breakfast on our final morning in Funchal before we grudgingly made our way to the airport for our flights back home. Who would ever willingly leave this paradise?!

You can’t leave the island without having one of these!