Anyone been to Maderia?(8 Posts)
DH and DD want to go to Maderia, but it's not leaping out at me so am trying to get some inspiration. If anyone has been, what did you enjoy? Was it easy to get around by bus or car? DH wants to stay in a villa or apartment, but want somewhere with restaurants, shops nearby for days we don't want to drive - can anyone recommend anywhere to stay?
I've been it's beautiful, it's a very small island so it doesn't really matter where you stay but Funchal will be your best bet to be near everything. Getting around by car is okay so long as you're a confident driver. The runway is terrifyingly short, watch a YouTube video, it's quite amazing.
If you're a meat eater you should try the Espetada. It's delicious.
I was last year with DS.
We stayed in Funchal, where you can easily get around by walking/bus/cable car and there's quite a lot to visit.
Then we enrolled in a safari sort of day, in a 4x4 with a guide, which took us around one side of the island. We rented a car for a free day to the other side, but it's worth using a guide or looking out for what to see online.
The island is famous for its walk paths, which vary from easy to difficult and can take from a couple of hours to four. You can go by yourself, but best if you have a car or find transport, or join an organised walk. I found it nice to have someone explaining about history and the plants, etc.
Don't miss the natural swimming pools, the visit to a former lava underground river, and the village with typical houses in the north of the island.
We visited in December and had great weather, but narrowly missed a storm.
It's not difficult to drive, but keep in mind that there are narrow streets and steep hills.
We stayed in a room, more centrally in Funchal, so we could walk easily to the centre.
Oh and I forgot to say, Madeira doesn't have natural sand beaches but there are two artificial ones if you want a beach holiday. There are a few brilliant tidal pools too.
Yes, but you can have a nice beach holiday if you travel to Porto Santo, a smaller island northeast of Madeira, which has a huge sand beach.
Nice walks and some lovely restaurants. Quiet at night. TBH we found it a bit dull.
Went in June.
Stay in Funchal - really the only city on the island. A decent amount to do and see, old town is pretty with lots of little restaurants for the evening.
The island is small and VERY hilly. We rented a small car to get around (a bigger one would have been tricky) and that was fine as DP is a very confident driver. I wouldn't have been happy driving on some of the roads in the towns, although the new motorways are great.
It is not a beach place. Make sure you get a hotel with a pool if you want to do swim/sun stuff. There are natural rock pools and some artificial beaches which are fun, but it isn't a beach holiday place.
The walking paths (levadas) are great and a wonderful way to see the island. Bear in mind that some are steep depending on the path and that you might find it easier to join an organised group.
Bear i mind the fact that there were wild fires there last month (I think) that might have affected some places. Our hotel in the hills above Funchal was burnt to the ground! I'm sure most places weren't affected though.
Overall we had a lovely week, but felt that any longer might be too much as it is limited. People are great and friendly, landscape beautiful, food decent. You'll have a great time! Only caveat being that if any of you have mobility issues - I'd have a second think. As I said - it is steep!!
We had a timeshare at the Porto Mare Residence by the Lido.
If you want to avoid the commercialisation of the canaries and balearics then Madeira is the place to go.
There isn't much for youngsters to do if they aren't happy by their hotel pool but there is a small water park nearer the airport.
Porto Bay group and Pestana are the biggest hotel chains there and both are very good (although I am biased and say go with Porto Bay - Porto Mare Hotel and Eden Mare are connected to the Residence where the timeshare apartments are. There are 3 pools, 1 toddler pool, award winning gardens, creche and small play area/park and mini golf. But there is a large green outside the hotel next to the Lido that is popular with local youngsters to play (and never any bother - very polite and courteous).
Many people tend to go for relaxation, garden tours (cable car to Monte is a must with the ride down in the toboggans) and guided walks, which we have done plenty of and highly recommend. There is a small 'theme' park which is mainly a history museum about the island, trout farm, the outdoor pools at Porto Moniz, Curral das Freiras and various towns etc.
It is certainly a place to visit.
I miss it a lot and me and DH were talking about going back with the 'smalls'. We took DS aged 7 months and 19 months before out timeshare deal ran out. It was a good deal too and lots of hotels do them in madeira and very reputable especially porto bay group as Thomas Cook have about a 25% stake in it.
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