Madeira, a paradise that’s so close!
I think every Portuguese person knows, or at least should know, about the paradise we live in. We have incredible landscapes, beautiful beaches, tropical temperatures in the summer and good weather in the spring and autumn, good food and friendly people, and many undiscovered places. All of this in mainland Portugal! As if that wasn't enough, we also have the islands: the Azores and Madeira, true paradises in the middle of the Ocean!
In the strange times we are living in, we don’t have the same freedom to travel that we used to. You have to plan even more, book Covid tests and think about how safe the destination is. And if Madeira was already a desirable destination, now it is even more so! A safe destination, with everything extremely well organised! To be able to travel, you need to present a negative test 72 hours before boarding, which is paid for by the Madeira Tourism Board. Tests are not obligatory for anyone under the age of 12! So, it was the destination we chose to fly to once lockdown ended! And it couldn't have been more exciting!
There was diving, sun, tropical storms, surfing and great food: including the famous laurel stick kebab, fried corn, the unique passion fruit Brisa and limpets! As if that wasn't enough, the island is full of friendly people, dream landscapes and the hotel life you've been missing! We stayed at the Vila Porto Mare for our last few days on the island and we loved it: the superbly manicured gardens, the birdlife, the pool, our apartment-size room perfect for families and the Il Basílico Restaurant, where we couldn't resist going every night to dine on pizza and pasta and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere!
Besides great weather and diving, the island of Madeira offers lots of possibilities for family outings! Here are some suggestions we loved: the Botanical Garden, the little houses at Santana, the incredible Anjos waterfall, the Sea Garden and Paúl do Mar where we went surfing, the famous Lavradores Market with its tropical flowers and fruits, the gorgeous gardens at Monte Palace, the MUDAS museum, the luxury swimming pools at Porto Moniz, the clifftops at Cabo Girão and Fajã dos Padres... there were the outings which we liked the most! Go down a hill in a cable car with wonderful views, and spend a few hours in a place that still seems lost in time! The best move is to rent a car and see just how much the island has to offer! Those who want to rest can skip the sightseeing and enjoy life at the hotel, where you can lounge in the sun, take a dip in the pool, eat well, listen to live music at the bar and catch up on your sleep!
We didn't get to do everything we wanted, but that way we have an excuse to come back, as if we needed one! But for those who are going soon, you can put these on the list too: walk along a levada (hillside irrigation channel) and ride down a hill in a wicker basket sledge, a type of transport I believe only exists in Madeira!
Madeira is really a small paradise that everyone should visit, and now that the world isn’t as accessible as it used to be, it makes even more sense to enjoy the best that Portugal has to offer!