Last summer I visited one of the most beautiful islands in Portugal. It’s called Madeira. In this blog article, I would like to list some of my suggestion which places you should visit if travel there.
What to see in Madeira
I spent most of my time in the capital, in Funchal as the hostel I stayed was there. It is the biggest city in the island with the population of 110 000 people. In the summer when many people usually travel there, it might be the double of it.
On my first two days, I visited the following popular places with Hugo, who was my guide.
The first one I saw was the Christ the King Statue which is the same like Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro. Except for two things: it’s much smaller and was built 69 years earlier than the one in Brazil. From that place, the view is so amazing.
The botanical garden is one of the main tourist attraction. I’m not a fan of the flowers but it was impressed me as well.
On the way to the beach, there is a main road with painted house doors. Hugo told me that it’s organized by the government of Madeira and that’s why those people who want to move to those houses they cannot repaint the doors because it’s also a tourist attraction and based on the image of Funchal.
Christiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira. As one of the most famous footballers in the world, Madeira is so proud of him. That’s why they opened a museum in 2013 and a four-star hotel next to the Madeira Harbor. Some weeks ago I heard that the Madeiran airport was also renamed to Christiano Ronaldo International Airport and built a statue there. It also shows that he became the symbol of the island.
Monte Toboggan Run was a basic transportation form in the 19th century in Madeira. As continuing the tradition, guests still have a chance to try it. How does it look like? Two men (wearing white clothes and straw hats) pull you in a wooden sled in 4 km from Monte to Funchal. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it but if I have a chance in this life I will definitely do it.
The hazardous first day in Madeira things started to calm down. In the weekday evenings Hugo picked me up in the hostel and we went to the hidden beaches together that you would never find it as a tourist. We had a really good time together. If I just think about when I jumped from the rock or cannot get out from the heavy waves, it still makes me smile.
In the morning I always visited some more popular beaches, the market or just walked in the city to find some souvenirs. It was also nice to discover some places alone.
In the hostel, I met some really nice people like Iveta. One day we had decided to visit Porto Moniz which is on the other side of Funchal (the capital). It’s a very small town with the population of 2500 people. Our plan was to go there by bus, find a hostel to stay one night and then back on the next day. According to our plan, we caught the bus so early in the morning. It was three hours long journey, but we didn’t have time to get bored. On our way, we met a Brazilian musician guy who talked a lot. He was singing in a restaurant of Porto Moniz.
After we arrived there, we were looking for the hostel, but there was no more free bed there. That time we didn’t know where we are going to sleep but tried to not think of it, just enjoy the day. We stayed in the natural swimming pools. They are formed by volcanic lava and filled with crystal-clear sea water. It’s natural because the pools are made up of the rocks which the sea flows naturally. There we swam, sunbathed and took some pictures. When it was getting dark, we felt the time just came to find the solution where we are going to spend the night. I was telling some ideas to Iveta such as asking the police to provide a bed for us when we suddenly took a look at a camping. We entered inside in order to ask if we can stay there somehow. He was as solution-oriented as we were that’s why we got a mattress and a non-used toilet where we could sleep. However, it was not that we have planned before but it was an extremely adventurous journey so far.
Next day we went to Saint Vicente on foot, from where we hitchhiked back to Funchal. It was the first time when I tried hitchhiking. How was it? Weird, amazing and fearful. Weird to stand next to the road in order to wait for a car to slow down. It was like waiting for the helping anger. Amazing because after five minutes a nice woman picked us up and made us feel hitchhiking is the most natural thing ever. But nevertheless fearful because before the picking up there were some drivers who slowed down and showed something with their hands or laughed at us. I felt we were doing something bad. It was not that a good feeling.
On Saturday, three of us (Hugo, Iveta and I) made a trip. We visited Santana in the morning where the thatched-roof small houses are built what I have already mentioned in my last blog article.
Then in the afternoon, we hiked in the so-called ‘Levadas’. It’s used to be an irrigation system, developed since the 15th century by Portuguese settlers, to distribute water from the northern regions to the southern ones. Nowadays it’s one of the main tourist attraction. It’s especially good for people who like hiking and doing outdoor activities. There are more than 200 ‘levadas’ or paths. Some people came to the island just because of these paths.
For me, it was so relaxing to walk in nature without thinking of anything. There was nothing more than peace, fresh air and waterfall. In the rest point, we were eating our sandwiches while telling stories to each other. This place was made for me.
I loved the island and it was one of my best backpacking experience so far. I wish to go back again.