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Encosta Cabo Girão

Cabo Girão, Madeira
Encosta Cabo Girão Things To Do

Leisure options in Madeira are many and varied, from golf to game fishing, and getting around is easy. At any time of the year, the island has wonderful flora. In the summer, you'll drive past miles of blue and white agapanthus and colourful hydrangeas.

There are many fabulous gardens; a mild climate, fertile soil and plenty of clean water mean that the plants grow quickly and to remarkable sizes. Festivals throughout the year mark the harvest of grapes, chestnuts, cherries, sugar cane and flowers.

Madeira's traditional laurisilva (laurel) forest is a World Natural Heritage Site. It's home to species of fauna and flora found hardly anywhere else in the world, and is a must see.

'Chamber of wolves'

'Chamber of wolves'

Câmara do Lobos ('chamber of the wolves') sits between Encosta Cabo Girão and Funchal. It's named after the area's sea wolves (lobos-marinhos), otherwise known as monk seals.

It was where Madeira's discoverer, João Gonçalves Zarco, first landed. The area's known for its locally produced wine and the Cabo Girão, which at 580m is one of the highest cliffs in Europe.

From white gold to wine tasting

From white gold to wine tasting

Funchal, the capital, is only a short drive further east of Encosta Cabo Girão. Having historically made its money with Madeiran sugar ('white gold'), it's now known for its wine and crafts.

There's lots to see and do in this friendly, laid-back town. Places to visit include the Workers' Market (Mercado dos Lavradores), the Sacred Art Museum (Museu de Arte Sacra), the Santa Clara Monastery and the wicker Toboggan Sled Ride.

Wine buffs should visit the Old Blandy Wine Lodge. Try some Madeira, or take the great value and fascinating tour of the lodge, where you get to see parts of the building not open to the public followed by a wine tasting session.

Madeira's story in exhibits and plant life

Madeira's story in exhibits and plant life

Funchal's Frederico de Freitas Museum is a late 17th-century house and home to the vast collections of Dr Frederico de Freitas, a lawyer from the island. There's lots to see here, from furniture and Venetian glass through to artwork and antique instruments.

The Madeira Story Centre tells the 14 million year history of the archipelago, from its geological formation to the present day. The centre uses historical items and interactive exhibits to create an entertaining experience. There's also a multi-purpose panoramic terrace, a themed café and a souvenir shop.

Afterwards, head to Madeira's Botanical Gardens (Jardim Botânico da Madeira) located in Funchal's amphitheatre. Covering 80,000 square metres, the gardens are crammed with more than 2,500 plant species and have panoramic views of the mountains, the city and the bay.

Discover the island's wilder side

Discover the island's wilder side

Explore more of the island with a guided leisure walk from a company such as Madeira Levada Walks. Its tours include levada, mountain and ridge walks, led by local, qualified mountain guides.

Alternatively, try one of Madeira Wind Birds' wildlife tours. This ecotourism company places an emphasis on sustainable tourism. Observe birds, plants, butterflies and dragonflies, both endemic and indigenous species, in their natural environments.

Venture further afield

Venture further afield

Head to the north coast for the gardens of Quinta do Arco, which feature one of the largest collections of rosebushes in Europe, and the Madeira Theme Park (Parque Temático da Madeira) in Santana.

The park covers over 145,000 square metres, with an exhibition centre devoted to the history, science and culture of the archipelago. Its four multimedia pavilions explore different aspects of the area and its environment, educating and entertaining in equal measure.

Other attractions include gardens with local flora and walks, a typical Santana house, a windmill and traditional oxcarts and nets.

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