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The 'Garden of the Atlantic', Madeira, Portugal

Updated: May 3, 2019

..."And if you are hungry for a local tradition, Madeira has just the right adventure for you to satisfy your appetite, Carreiros Do Monte. This is a 100 year old tradition of wicker toboggan sledding where you go on a ride down the streets of Funchal for over 2 km."...
Madeira, Portugal, Astonishing Views from the Reid's Palace, Funchal, Madeira

Madeira was discovered by Portuguese sailors under the command of Prince Henry the Navigator in the early 15th century. The Portuguese crown claimed possession of the island in 1420, however, as a result of the democratic revolution of 1974, Madeira received its autonomy shortly after. The island is located 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent and this is exactly why Madeira is also known by the sailors as the ‘Garden of the Atlantic’. After spending days at sea, Madeira was always a preferred resting and provision stop for the sailors crossing from Europe to the Americas or to Africa and the other way around. This ‘Garden of the Atlantic’ with its sub-tropical island weather is a major attraction till today and together with its beautiful beaches, dramatic mountains, evergreen vegetation, bright flowers and nowadays, first class hotels and restaurants, Madeira is one of the Europe’s finest vacation destination.

..."The island is located 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent and this is exactly why Madeira is also known by the sailors as the ‘Garden of the Atlantic’..."

My time in Madeira is always energized. There is so much to do there: from exploring downtown Funchal, the capital city, to enjoying a 'high tea' at the Belmond Reid’s Palace, from taking a drive to Cabo Girao, the highest ocean cliff in Europe, to walking on glass floors over the very same cliff over the Atlantic, from visiting the volcanic caves of Sao Vincente, to taking a ride on the Teleferico do Funchal, a cable car over the capital city, from sliding down in a wicker toboggan sled, a 100 year old local tradition, to admiring the breath taking views from the local botanical garden, Jardim Botanico da Madeira.


Exploring downtown the capital city, Funchal is an attraction itself. This city literary covers the slope of an ancient volcano, with many of its narrow streets reminiscent of those of a mediaeval town. With a population of about 100,000 inhabitants, Funchal is successfully preserving its local charm and unique traditions.



My most favorite thing to do in Madeira is admiring the breath taking views. One of the best places to do so in comfort is the 'High Tea' experience at the Reid's Palace where feeling special is an understatement. You are immediately taken by the royal atmosphere of the Palace but also by the breath taking romantic views of the Palace's garden and ocean front vicinity of playful waves. And if you wish to continue your journey of exploring the views of the island, I suggest you make Cabo Girao your very next stop. Cabo Girao is the European highest Ocean cliff and to make your experience even more dramatic, you will be stepping over glass floors in order to admire it. It is a one of a kind experience where the skies dive into the Ocean only to leave you breathless once again. With an elevation of 580 m (1,900 ft), Cabo Girao attracts nearly 2,000 tourist a day.



Another natural attraction located across the island from Funchal is The Sao Vicente Caves. About 890 years ago a volcanic eruption occurred that led to the formation of these caves. They were first reported by the locals in 1885, but only opened to the public 100 years later. These were one of the first volcanic caves to be open to the public in Portugal. The Sao Vicente Caves offer over 1000 meters of underground route with an average height of the caves of 5.5 meters. At the end of your exploration you will be invited to watch a simulation of the birth of Madeira.



Teleferico do Funchal is another local attraction, a cable car that takes you from the brilliant blue waters of the island to the brilliant blue skies of the island. It is a unique and sustainable way to see the capital city, Funchal from above, while flying over traditional homes, local kitchen gardens, mediaeval squares and evergreen mountain vegetation. While riding the cable car you will have the chance to witness the dance of colors from blue, to orange, to green, and back to blue in the most playful way.



And if you are hungry for a local tradition, Madeira has just the right adventure for you to satisfy your appetite, Carreiros Do Monte. This is a 100 year old tradition of wicker toboggan sledding where you go on a ride down the streets of Funchal for over 2 km. Your sled is pulled and pushed by two experienced Madeiran men that will take you safely from the top to the bottom on a very slippery streets wearing even more slippery shoes just like locals did it 100 years ago.


Carreiros Do Monte, Madeira, Portugal
..."And if you are hungry for a local tradition, Madeira has just the right adventure for you to satisfy your appetite, Carreiros Do Monte. This is a100 year old tradition of wicker toboggan sledding where you go on a ride down the streets of Funchal for over 2 km."...

Madeira is a home of a flower festival each year in May, where the main street in front of the port in Funchal is covered with flowers and transformed to a state of the art carpet creation made out of fresh local flowers together with a carnival and blissful celebration.


Small part of the Flower Carpet of the Flower Festival


Jardim Botanico da Madeira

However, this is not the only time to see the beautiful flowers of the island. You can see them year around at the botanical garden overlooking the Atlantic, tacked in the mountains just minutes from the city center. You have the option to drive there or taking a second cable car after Teleferico do Funchal.

That second cable car will take you straight to the terraces of Jardim Botanico da Madeira, a blooming cliffs with striking sceneries.


Every time I visit Madeira I find something new. I never spent too much time there so perhaps this is the reason why I always feel I leave a big part of Madeira completely undiscovered. I have been there about six time. Each time for a day visit and I spent completely different six days. It is almost hard to comprehend that all these experiences come from the very same island, the beautiful island of Madeira. Till we meet again 'Garden of the Atlantic'. You will be missed!


~ Lady Captain


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