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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Calheta

Calheta, Portugal

If you're considering holidays to Madeira, then a trip to Calheta comes highly recommended. This small village boasts two sandy beaches and a surprising number of local attractions. Everyone's bound to have a great time on holidays to Calheta, whether checking out modern art is your thing, or whether it's sipping on local rum or hiking the trails that surround the town.

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Beaches with the Moroccan twist

Calheta is located on the southern coast of Madeira. It's a small town that sits in the middle of green hillsides of vineyards and forest. Its buildings are clustered around a picturesque marina lined with restaurants. You'll find some interesting attractions to visit here, but Calheta holidays are really all about the two beaches near the harbour. They're made with golden sand imported from Morocco, making them almost unique on an island that's generally characterised by pebbly beaches.

These two bays are sheltered by sea walls, and the calm waters mean children can swim here without difficulty. Soak up the sun as you lounge on the sand, or if you're feeling active, you can check out some of the many watersports on offer. Canoeing, water skiing and wind surfing are some of your choices.

Quick Tips

  • Roman Catholic
  • Euro
  • Portuguese
  • Approx 250,000
  • GMT - None

Do some whale-watching

Calheta has idyllic surroundings, just begging to be explored. If you head to the marina, you can book boat trips for a closer look around. Travel Madeira's rugged coastline and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, whales and loggerhead turtles.

Why not combine a boat trip with a snorkelling or scuba diving excursion, so you can explore Calheta's underwater world? Or if you're looking for romance, book a sunset cruise, with Prosecco included.

Madeira is a renowned hiking destination, and Calheta is no exception. The hillsides around the town are crossed with levadas, or mini-canals, with walking trails running alongside them. One of the most popular of these is the 25 Fountains walk, which passes through atmospheric tunnels, shady woodland, and runs right alongside the waterfalls. You'll be treated to spectacular mountain views from here. If you want something a little less energetic, there are lots of shorter levada walks to enjoy too.

If you're looking to try a unique activity, why not have a go at paragliding? You'll be rewarded with views of Madeira's dramatic mountain scenery and the surrounding ocean.

Lap up the local culture

If you're interested in a cultural holiday, Calheta won't disappoint. Head to Casa das Mudas, a cutting-edge art gallery perched on a clifftop. You'll marvel at the modern basalt structure and the stunning views. It exhibits 20th-century art, including pop art and modernism, by local and international artists such as Salvador Dali.

Another interesting attraction is the Sugar Cane Factory and museum. You'll learn about how the sugar cane is used to make molasses, Madeira cake and white rum – and there'll be a chance to taste them too!

Wining and dining

Calheta is not the most lively nightlife destination, but there are several bars and plenty of restaurants where you can kick back. Sample sweet Madeiran wine or the local drink 'poncha', a punch made with local rum, honey and citrus juice. There are even a couple of beach bars if you fancy a drink with a view, and Pukiki Tiki Bar is the place to go for late-night cocktails.

Calheta is also a great spot for a relaxed dinner with drinks. Most of the town's restaurants are clustered around the marina. Many serve popular European classics such as pizza and pasta, while others offer Madeiran treats. Look out for steamed limpets with butter and lemon, grilled swordfish steaks and marinated beef skewers. You'll love the tasty treats on offer here.

Discover fascinating villages

There are lots of fascinating villages and towns surrounding Calheta, each with its own unique atmosphere. Estreito da Calheta is in the hills above Calheta. This picturesque town boasts a 16th-century chapel, a bakery and a few shops selling local souvenirs. Jardim do Mar is another village in the vicinity, characterised by its colourful flowers and a beach with great waves for surfing.

If you're looking for something a little more lively, head 20-minutes along the coast to Ribeira Bravo. It's a quaint Madeiran town of cobbled squares, winding lanes and pretty churches. You'll find lots of interesting shops, cafés and restaurants here.

Meanwhile, the capital of Funchal is 40-minutes' drive away. You'll be captivated by its unique architecture, farmers' markets, and beautiful botanic gardens here.

Calheta holidays offer something for everyone. Beach bunnies will love spending time relaxing on the sand, swimming in the ocean, or checking out the watersports. Foodies will be delighted with the local cuisine and Madeiran wine on offer. More active groups will love hiking the nearby trails, or taking boat trips down the coast. It's safe to say that there's something about Calheta that will please everyone.