Tour of East Madeira

194 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

5/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

February, 2024

Product name

Tour of East Madeira

Product country

Madeira

Product city

Funchal

Travelled with

Couple

Reasons for trip

Culture/Sightseeing

We booked a tour of east Madeira and the coach picked us up from outside our hotel. Throughout the excursion the driver gave us a lot of information about the places on our trip. The first stop was overlooking Machico town – the area that was first discovered by early Portuguese settlers in the 15th century. The first colonists cultivated sugar cane here, which led to its prosperity. Today it is a popular destination for marine activities such as windsurfing, canoeing and sailing. To add to this attractive place there is a beach with imported golden sand.

From there we travelled to the North Mills Rum Distillery or Engenhos do Norte. We were able to see the steam driven machinery which is used in the process of sugar cane juice extraction. This is then fermented into rum products. As part of the tour we were given a coffee and a tot of rum. There was of course a gift shop. Outside the scenery was typically superb as we watched the surfers and canoeists enjoying their fun on the waves.

The next stop was Miradouro do Guinaste with a glass walkway to a stunning viewpoint. The observation deck hangs out over the cliff edge – so naturally it is a popular spot for selfies! From there we went to Santana, which is well known for its Casas Tipicas de Santana. These are traditional stone houses with steep triangular-shaped thatched roofs. The straw of the roofs is replaced every five years, although it has to be imported now because it is no longer grown on the island. Around the village there were a number of “scarecrows” – apparently they will form part of an exhibition later. Inside the baroque-style church there were beautiful gilded altarpieces – well worth a visit.

From there we travelled through the national park with its narrow winding roads. We stopped at Ribeiro Frio, where the guide suggested that we could go on a levada aqueduct walk. Some people did go on the walk but we chose to look at the Trout Farm instead. The farm has a cascade of pools with clear running cold water from a mountain stream. As the grow they are transferred from the topmost pool to the lowest pool. The fresh trout are served in the nearby restaurant. Because of the time factor we just opted for coffee and cakes. We then went to look at the tiny church before boarding the coach.

We were then taken to Pico do Arieiro, which is at an altitude of 1818 metres above sea level and the third highest peak on the island. The summit is accessible because there is a road directly from Funchal to a car park. The views were spectacular. At first, we were above the clouds, then they cleared to reveal a panorama of mountains and the sea beyond. At the top is the Air Defence Radar Station of the Portuguese Air Force, which was built in 2011. Next to the car park is a restaurant, visitor centre and souvenir shop.

This tour was very popluar as the coach was full. It is not hard to figure out why. Every tourist to Madeira should go on this trip!

Therese.Irving

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