Viewpoints in Madeira

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Things to do


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May, 2019

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Madeira is mountainous with very steep sided wooded valleys. Once above the tree line, on clear days there are superb views across the mountains. Cloud can build up in the valleys and obscure views. In May, the tops were gold with broom and gorse.

There is parking at all of the viewpoints and many also have small tourist shops.

All trips to Madeira involve visiting several viewpoints.

“Pico dos Barcelos “: is the nearest viewpoint to Funchal and the easiest to get to, as it is on the red HOHO bus route. The views are good, but lack the impact of say of Cabo Girao and they can be quite hazy. There is a large car park as well as cafe and tourist shop. This one can be missed…

“Cabo Girao”: is a short drive from Funchal, and possibly the most popular viewpoint with its sky walk. But it does get very busy especially in the mornings as this is usually the first stop for coach tours of Western Madeira. If possible it is best to plan a visit for late afternoon, when not only is it a lot quieter, the sun is behind you for views across to Funchal. It can be reached by bus from Camara dos Lobos. It is geared up for tourists with a complex of tourist shops and cafes. The car park is surprisingly small considering how busy this gets.

“Ponta do Rosta”: is at the far eastern tip of Madeira, this has a very different feel to the rest of the island. It isn’t as high and isn’t wooded. There are dramatic views of the cliffs plunging nearly 600’ into the sea, although depending what time of day you visit, the angle of the sun can make taking pictures difficult. This is all about views and is still uncommercialized with no cafe of tourist shops There is plenty of parking on the rough open ground off the road. It is worth spending a bit of time here to walk and enjoy the views.

“Eira do Serrado”: is a very popular view point over looking Curral das Freiras, the Valley of the Nuns, and is a popular half day trip from Funchal. Although there are good views from the cafe looking back towards the sea, it is worth following the well marked and easy trail for even better views down down to Curral das Freiras 2600’ feet below. Even at 10.30 much of the settlement was still in deep shade. Again allow plenty of time here and be prepared to walk, not only for the views but also to lose the crowds. There is a large cafe with outside seating and large and expensive tourist shop. This is one of the few places you will get charged to use the toilets. It is 50c and no-one escapes as there is someone taking your money before letting you in. There were plenty of toilets and they were clean and pleasant to use.

“Pico do Arieiro”: is possibly the best viewpoint on the island and the drive up is pretty dramatic too but not for the faint hearted as the road climbs up the side of the mountain on a narrow ledge.

There is quite a small parking area along the road and a short walk uphill to the cafe, tourist shop and views. The views are astounding, looking across the jagged mountain tops and down into deep steep valleys catching the clouds. These can gradually build up and shroud the top in mist. The tiny settlement of Curral das Freiras, which is the only one in the centre of the island, can be glimpsed far in the valley below. There are a series of well marked walking trails from here and again allow plenty of time to explore away from the cafe and radar dome. This was one of the few places I saw a lot of wild flowers.

“Paul da Serra”: at an altitude of 5000’ is the largest area of flat land in Madeira. On a clear day, there are 360 views across the bare mountain tops and down sea. There is plenty of parking on bare rough ground off the road. This is all about views and is still uncommercialised with no cafe or tourist shop.

“The Bridal Veil Viewpoint “: or Véu da Noiva, on the north coast features in all the tourist itineraries and guide books, and is very much a ‘must see’. The waterfall falls 350’ down a sheer cliff face and is viewed from a distance. In May there wasn’t a lot of water, so the description of ‘bridal veil’ was a bit of an exaggeration. Actually I was rather more impressed by the general view rather than the waterfall itself with Agapanthus growing wild in the verges. Again there is some parking in a lay by with a tourist stall. Prices looked very competitive, especially for the goatskin slippers.

All my pictures of Madeira are “here.”:


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