Have a head for heights?
Holidays to Madeira are an intimate affair because of the island’s small size. The capital of Madeira, Funchal, is only 25 minutes away, so go there for your urban fix. If you’ve got a head for heights, hop on a cable car for a 15-minute ride up to Monte. The views from here are fantastic, and you’re guaranteed great holiday photos.
To get back down to Funchal quick-smart, take a wicker toboggan ride. You’ll feel the wind in your hair as you whizz down the hill at 40km an hour!
Once your feet are back on solid ground, Funchal Cathedral awaits. Built in the 16th century, it has a beautiful wooden ceiling and silver processional cross that’s well worth seeing.
Get out in the fresh air
Your Ponta do Sol holiday provides the opportunity to get stuck into some outdoor experiences you wouldn’t get at home. Go trekking along the Levada da Moinho, which was originally built to transport water around the island. You’ll get a real feel for the mountains as you walk through the forest following the irrigation channels constructed in the 15th century. If you’re a runner, why not try ultra trail running? The mountainous terrain and lush vegetation will challenge and thrill you as you explore the habitat around the village.
If you prefer your exercise to be of the two-wheel variety, hire a bike and hit the mountain trails. Unpaved roads and levadas (water ways) make for some exciting riding through the Laurisilva forest.
Sample succulent Madeiran cuisine
You’ll want to sample some delicious authentic Madeiran cuisine on your holiday in Ponta Do Sol. Both meat and fish feature heavily on restaurant menus. If fish is what you fancy, try bacalhau com natas – salted cod cooked with cream, onions and potatoes. Bife de atum, is tuna steak served with vegetables. Or opt for espetada, beef or chicken kebab cooked over a fire and served with bolo do caco (bread) or milho frito (fried corn).
For dessert, why not try a piece of bolo de mel (honey cake), accompanied by a glass of the famous Madeira wine? If you’re after something a little stronger, ask for a glass of Aguardente, a strong sugar cane rum.
The garden island
Fertile soils and a fantastic climate means flowers, flowers and more flowers in beautiful Madeira. You must visit one of the island’s botanical gardens on your Ponta do Sol holiday. The Madeira Botanical Garden in Funchal is home to over 2,000 tropical and subtropical plants and around 60 species of exotic birds. Catch the cable car up to the gardens and bag yourself some outstanding photos of the area at the same time.
If you want to throw some culture into the bouquet, head for Monte Palace Tropical Garden, which is also in Funchal. As well as a vast exotic plant collection, the gardens also have a Koi pond, black and white swans, and an oriental garden. You’ll also find the Monte Palace Museum and its exhibit of African sculptures situated in the garden.
Holidays to Ponta do Sol feed the body and the soul with enchanting scenery, tranquillity and magnificent sunrises worth getting up for. It’s easy to see why they call Madeira the garden island. The hot summers and rainy winters weave their magic through the lush vegetation of the surrounding vineyards and banana plantations, and flowers bloom in its botanical gardens. Lift a glass of Poncha (island rum with lemon and honey) and say cheers to this slice of Portuguese paradise.