The Portuguese Island of Madeira was a perfect getaway for the wife's special birthday and to escape the English weather in February.
It's quite a small island but very mountainous and the only decent way to get around is to hire a car, although navigating Funchals windy and hilly streets was made easier thanks to GPS. We also took up an Airbnb about 10 minutes walk away from the main centre of Funchal which was ideal for the length of time we stayed.
Our first stop was Pico deAiero where you get some stunning views of the deep gorges. We were lucky to have gone that day as it was the only day where the peak was only partly covered in cloud. There are a few walks you can do from the top which link to other walks. I highly recommend these walks if you have clear days. There are plenty of different walks of all levels all around the island.
You can check live webcams of all areas around Madeira at www.netmadeira.com before setting out as it gives you a good sense of what the weather is like, especially up in the highest points. Why bother going
to a lookout if its going to be covered in cloud?
Our second stop was the walk near Canical. The weather always appeared to be sunnier there than on the rest of the island. It is also a completely different landscape where there are no trees but fantastic coastal views.
Another day we drove to the north side of the island and visited Sao Vicente which is a small village and had some lunch and tried the local Madeira Wine in a very nice looking wine cellar. We also drove along the quieter and less inhabited north coast road visiting places such as Porto Moniz's rock pools and Arco de Sao Jorge.
Another day we drove to Pico Ruivo via Sao Jorge and went for a walk in the cloud covered landscape. No views were seen and the temperature had definitely dropped so it was good to have something warm at hand. We continued back around to Eira do Serrado which had some amazing canyon views as well and is mostly situated below the cloud level.
We walked around Funchal and found that streets to the East had plenty of restaurants and bars and quite colorful
at night. I thought that most of the islands good areas were outside of Funchal. We really enjoyed our stay there and probably one of our favorite things was to get BIG pastel natals, much bigger than usual. Two of those for breakfast and you're set for a while, ha!
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