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(33 Posts)
BuggersMuddle Sun 11-May-14 18:38:57

We're early 30s, fit couple with no DC. Like hiking, cycling, nice scenery and good food. I'm towards the peely wally side of things, but neither of us are sun-worshipers.

We can enjoy a drink or five but not looking for wild nightlife on a holiday.

We often go to Austria or Switzerland for walking holidays but this year the flights we can get to Austria are frankly awful and decent Swiss resorts are £££. We're hoping to get away on a skiing holiday this year, so I don't want to blow the budget on a week in the summer.

So, I thought about Madeira. I think it looks lovely, albeit it will be warmer (July or August) so we'll probably do less strenuous walking than we might in the alps and a bit more swimming / pottering, but that's okay as long as we're not stuck in a hotel / on a beach.

Has anyone been to Funchal? Any thoughts as a walking destination? Any tips or recommendations? I seem to be spoiled for choice for good quality hotels.

Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 19:00:39

Yes. I was the same age when we went. We stayed in some apartments in the grounds of the Savoy Hotel in Funchal, but having googled it I think they don't exist any more. The location suited us beautifully and we absolutely loved Madeira. The food was fantastic - you must try the espetada and espada. And of course you must visit a bodega or two for the Madeira wine.

We hired a car because there is a lot to see and do. Also the island is a mountain so at high altitudes the weather will be a lot cooler.

I would love to go back.

BuggersMuddle Sun 11-May-14 19:28:49

Thanks Bunbaker - the food does look fantastic. Good point about the altitude, so walking might not be as sweltering as I thought it might be.

Some (actually retired) relatives said that it was 'too old for us' hmm which I thought was most odd. I don't really care what age my fellow travellers are to be frank!

foxdongle Sun 11-May-14 19:35:37

I went twenty odd years ago and it was lovely. It would be a good walking destination imo, one day we walked to see the christ the redeemer statue- smaller than the rio one.
we also had a bus trip around the island which was very interesting and worth doing.
the hotel was great (can't remember it's name), not far from the centre of funchal.
there were lots of gardens/flowers everywhere. we did the tourist tobbogan which was a bit of fun. It was a very hilly place and very scenic. we went July and it was hot - late 20s.

Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 19:45:43

I don't care either. OH and I seem to prefer "old people's" holidays as well grin

BuggersMuddle Sun 11-May-14 19:50:35

DP quite fancies the toboggan thing foxdongle It looks a bit mad, but good fun.

Late 20s is okay. My inlaws have this bizarre view that because I burn I can't stand heat...which is odd, given I've experienced Greece in a heatwave (40+ degrees) and been quite fine, although I prefer sub 30 degrees because I like to be very active but am not great at regulating my water / salt intake at high temperatures.

marshmallowpies Sun 11-May-14 19:56:03

We went at the height of the UK heat wave last summer and it was actually cooler than the UK - really pleasant and not too hot most of the time. And noticeably cooler the higher up you go.

Lots of walking trails along the levadas (irrigation canals) but I didn't do any as although the gradients are all gentle I was told some have sheer drops to the side (with no fence or parapet) and that would make me a bit antsy.

For us it was a lovely family holiday and service good everywhere - people are very friendly - but not my ideal holiday destination, I was in need of a bit more culture. But I'm sure we'll be back as the PILs go every year and are very keen we should return with them...

Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 19:59:14

We couldn't find the start of the toboggan ride so didn't get a chance to do it. I found the locals very friendly and hospitable as well. The same in Lisbon, but surprisingly, not in The Azores.

You have regenerated my interest in Madeira and think we might look at going there with DD.

marshmallowpies Sun 11-May-14 20:01:28

Ooh - Bunbaker - yes there is a big hole in the ground where the Savoy annexe used to be. Apparently a long running dispute over a will has meant it has never been redeveloped after the earlier building was demolished. (My MIL knows ALL the Madeira gossip...). The original Savoy hotel is a bit past its best these days, from what I could see.

No chance of getting stuck on a beach as there are none there! If you do like swimming in the sea make sure you find a hotel with a pier/pontoon you can jump off to swim, or take a boat trip which includes a stop for swimming.

Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 20:06:55

So that's why I couldn't find it. The apartments weren't luxurious, but were ideal for us, plus we could use the facilities at the Savoy. I couldn't even find the old Savoy on google map, but see that there is a new one.

coffeeinbed Sun 11-May-14 20:08:25

If you have the slightest hay fever type of complaints, then don't.

It's a lovely place but the air can be like soup.

Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 20:13:22

"It's a lovely place but the air can be like soup."

From the pollen?

coffeeinbed Sun 11-May-14 20:30:41

It probably depends what time you go, but there's always something in blossom and flowering.
I loved it, but had the hay fever from hell there, so haven't been since.
But, if you're fine with it and get right time of the year - yes.

And the honey cakes are worth it too.

BuggersMuddle Sun 11-May-14 20:42:36

No hayfever / allergies to speak of, but DP is asthmatic, although it's very mild.

loopsngeorge Sun 11-May-14 21:15:55

I loved Madeira and would thoroughly recommend the Porto Santa Maria hotel down in the centre of town. We can't go there any more as it's become adult only! It's right near the cable car to Monte.
The Sunflower Landscapes of Madeira guide is great for walks and car tours.

marshmallowpies Sun 11-May-14 21:17:46

Bunbaker - the Savoy I saw was next door to the Pestana Carlton where we stayed. A bit tired looking and the Saturday night entertainment, which we could hear from our balcony was a bit, um, interesting.

Only1scoop Sun 11-May-14 21:18:19

Loved our holiday there did lots of walking. Stated at The Cliff bay which was great.

Only1scoop Sun 11-May-14 21:18:40

That would be stayed confused

Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 21:23:32

It might have been that one, but it was 20 years ago when we went. I recall it was near the Carlton as we had to walk past it to get into Funchal town centre. It was also April so there wasn't any outdoor entertainment in the evening. We don't "do" entertainment as such as we prefer to go out for a drink and a meal and make an evening out of it. We then go back to the apartment and read.

BuggersMuddle Sun 11-May-14 21:24:55

Santa Maria was on our shortlist as well as the Pestana Carlton. There's a Melia Mare though that looks rather nice...spoiled for choice!

TheMoreItSnows Sun 11-May-14 21:25:14

My mum and I went last year and stayed at Quinta Belarus São Tiago - lovely, in the old town, an easy walk to the market, all the great restaurants - would really recommend it.

We also did some walking along the levadas - lots of tours in town to choose from in town and visited lots of gardens. A really lovely holiday destination, would go again tomorrow,

TheMoreItSnows Sun 11-May-14 21:26:09

Hmmm not sure what happened there! Quinta Bela São Tiago

BuggersMuddle Sun 11-May-14 21:26:41

We're the same Bunbaker. I can be temped out by a good folk / traditional band or with sufficient drink for a karaoke (I can sing and I don't have a decent outlet, so I go for indecent outlets instead grin ) but hotel 'entertainment' generally makes me shudder grin

TheMoreItSnows Sun 11-May-14 21:27:14


Bunbaker Sun 11-May-14 21:29:05

I think you will really like Madeira. It sounds like you like the same sort of holidays that we do (except that I can't bear karaoke smile)

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