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Check out all there is to do on the island of Madeira

Posted by Luci Ackers on 23 July 2019
Related property: Encosta Cabo Girao
Check out all there is to do on the island of Madeira

The island of Madeira is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations, with many people choosing to visit time after time. This is not only because of the stunning scenery and year-round pleasant climate… there’s also no shortage of attractions to visit, whether you’re discovering delicious cuisine or hiking up mountains. To help you plan your holiday at Encosta Cabo Girao, we’ve asked holidaymakers to share some of their favourites….

Explore traditional Santana

The charming village of Santana can be found on the north coast of the island. Named after the chapel dedicated to Santa ‘Ana, it’s a small, traditional region which today survives mostly on agriculture, crafts and tourism.

Santana is a must-see on many visitors’ list during their holiday. This is in no small part due to the thatched triangular houses, known as “casinhas de Santana” (little houses of Santana), which have been used by the locals for centuries. There are only around 90 of these houses on the island, kept and maintained by families who received subsidies from the council to keep them in perfect condition. It is thought they have a Dutch influence, taken when a Dutch ship was wrecked nearby, leading people to settle and build their distinctive homes in this unlikely location.

Surrounded by the lush green that’s so characteristic of the Laurissilva Forest, the village almost looks like something from a story book. The forest was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011, and the the nearby Madeira Theme Park is also bound to be a hit with younger guests.

Ride the cable car

A trip to Madeira wouldn't be complete without a ride on the cable car to the heights of Funchal. Fly over the stunning landscapes and experience the city from above. 

From the old town of Funchal you’ll find the cable car station in the Parque Almirante Reis. From here the cable car zips you upwards to the civil parish of Monte, up in the mountains. As you’re flying up over the island you’ll be greeted with excellent views out over the city of Funchal below you, and the rugged landscape surrounding it.

There are 39 cars in total and each one has the capacity for seven passengers. The journey will take around 15 minutes and you’ll be travelling around 3,200 metres upwards to Monte. The little village is home to a large 18th century church, Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte, and also to the beautiful Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

Discover the Botanical Gardens

The area was once a beautiful estate and the palace-like residence was built at the end of the 19th century by Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues. In time this became a hotel and was eventually donated to a foundation that turned the site into botanical gardens. The pretty palace building still stands at the centre.

There is now also a museum, which you are welcome to explore. It can be reached through the gardens and is set out over three floors.

The gardens themselves are a wonderful collection of exotic plants, interesting art and statues, wandering peacocks and koi carp. As you explore the gardens you will come across a range of colours and themed areas as well as picturesque ponds and incredible views over Funchal. There is a little café onsite as well, so you can always stop for a pick-me-up.

Toboggan run

A sled system down the mountain was first initiated at in the 19th century. And not much has changed since then! The wicker baskets have seats in them, and are still operated by two ‘drivers’ who steer from the back and have specially adapted shoes that act as brakes. The drivers, or carreiros, wear traditional white uniforms and straw hats. You’ll pick up quite a bit of speed as you hurtle down the slopes of Monte roughly 2km to Livramento. It’s great fun, and definitely worth a go while you’re in the area.

Find out how to stay at  Cabo Girão and discover all that Madeira has to offer. Enter your details for a free brochure.

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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