My Madeira Travel Guide features my personal recommendations for the best places to stay, where to eat and what to do in the Pearl of the Atlantic. This is the result of my Madeira journey in June 2015 as a guest of Discovering Madeira, the islands go-to portal for booking the best holidays in Madeira. It is a different way to see the island as last time, Maria Braga was given a luxury gourmet Michelin Star view of the island. This time, I got to experience a more wholesome perspective of Madeira.

Rita Galvão is the woman behind this project and my personal mentor during my stay in the island which undoubtedly calls the Garden of the Atlantic. Suppose you want to visit Madeira and has there a friend who sends you a list of valuable tips, made with the perspective of someone who knows the secrets the archipelago as the palm of their hands. This is what Rita and her team do on a day to day basis. They recommended the activities not to be missed, the restaurants where you will find genuine Portuguese and tropical flavours and accommodations that can make the stay even more memorable.

Madeira Travel Guide

The best hotels in Madeira

Belmond Reid’s Palace

Set in subtropical gardens overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Belmond Reid’s Palace has, for more than a century, been the ultimate place to stretch out in the sun and relax. Its subtropical gardens are internationally renowned and now feature a spa tucked in among the trees. Over the years, Reid’s has honed the art of pampering every single guest. Whether a young child or a centenarian, a fun-seeking teenager or a sports-mad 30-something, there are activities both within the hotel’s estate and beyond to keep you on the go year-round.


Porto Bay Porto Mare in Funchal

The Porto Mare Hotel occupies the centre of the Vila Porto Mare resort and benefits from the use of all its facilities. The rooms combine views over the ocean with tropical gardens. Four restaurants, six bars, five pools, SPA, sports and children’s facilities…The 13,400 sqm of gardens at the Vila Porto Mare resort have created one of the most interesting botanical oasis on Madeira island. The subtropical gardens, with over 500 unique and identified botanical species have turned this space into a real paradise… Discover our little secret… the orchid corner!


The Vine Hotel in Funchal

 A hotel with soul, just like a good wine. The Vine Hotel is sophisticated and luxurious. A Boutique Hotel awarded with the “World’s Leading Design Hotel”, with a touch of simplicity and discretion, just the way you like it. A dip in the panoramic pool, a vinotherapy session in the spa or a gourmet dinner with a view over the city: these are just a few of the pleasures awaiting you at The Vine.

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Best Madeira experiences

If you have chosen Madeira as your holiday destination be sure to explore the island the best way! I’ve selected the experiences which told me more about life in Madeira, but you can also have a look at other experiences here:

Wine and Food Walking Tour in Funchal

The beautiful city of Funchal hides an exciting past full of stories and flavours to unravel in its streets and alleys. Join us on a Madeira Wine Tour through the city, discovering our gastronomy, history, architecture and, of course, our wines! We’ll take you to taste the most traditional and authentic gastronomy from some restaurants, wine producers and the local market.


Diving in Madeira

You may also fancy going diving in warm and clear waters with a visibility range up to 50 meters to discover the marine life. Blankets, Bicudas, Groupers, Morays and Barracudas are some of the species that you might be able to observe. We also cater for the experienced divers who love to do deep-sea diving.  There are few marinas with good infrastructure here, so if you are sailing in the Atlantic, you will not regret to stop by for a few days and enjoy the island! We hope you will take advantage of all the experiences that our ocean has to offer!


Yacht charter in Madeira Island, with a very personalized service, and cut to the requirements of a élite market share. With a very stable sea, constant wind, crystal clear water and absolutely incredible views, Madeira is one of the most fabulous places in the World to sail, either as a sport or for pleasure.
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Best Madeira Food experiences

UVA restaurant – The Vine

Uva stands for grape in Portuguese, which as its name implies, tells you that this restaurant is all about wine. With a stunning panoramic view over the city of Funchal, UVA restaurant pays tribute to the pleasures of the table and offers to all its visitors a cuisine that exalts the authenticity of regional products. Chef Antoine Westermann, an internationally recognized 3 Michelin stars Chef, was responsible for the launch of the UVA’s excellence of cuisine. His faithful sidekick,  Chef Thomas Faudry always accompanied the “big Chef” and today he is the one responsible for UVA’s undisputed reputation. He is poised in bringing you the freshest and most delicious products of the regional Madeira market, which are then elegantly combined with French influences.

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Restaurant Il Gallo d’Oro

Il Gallo d’Oro is the gourmet restaurant of the hotel five-star The Cliff Bay hotel the Porto Bay group. Since 2004, the kitchen is under the baton of French Chef Benoît Sinthon. In 2009, Il Gallo d’Oro receives the first and only Michelin star awarded in Madeira, a reward that it was been able to renew year after year until today. The quintessential Mediterranean cuisine and Iberian influences, along with the usage of key regional products and high-quality ingredients from other regions of the Iberian Peninsula define the essence of the Il Gallo d’Oro. The wine list, which features a list of about 300 references, was awarded in 2013 with an outstanding second place in the Portuguese National Wine Competition  It is one of the partners Wine Tours Madeira.

Il Gallo d’Oro was the stage for the 2015 Michelin Star Portuguese Route event and we were invited. Click here for more about the Madeira edition of Rota das Estrelas 

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Tea at Reid’s Hotel

Set in subtropical gardens overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel has, for more than a century, been the synonym of luxury hospitality of Madeira. Romantic, historical and also full of stories to tell, this secular hotel has an idyllic location on top of a beautiful cliff. Its guest goes without saying: Winston Churchill, Bernard Shaw, just to name a few. The hotel is surrounded by 4.05 hectares of subtropical gardens that include more than 500 species of trees and flowers from all over the world. Tea at Reid’s is always a special moment.

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Best Madeira Belvederes

Fanal – Laurissilva

Ever wondered what it would be like to walk through a forest that existed before the appearance of civilization on earth? Yes, such thing does exist, but you have to come to Madeira to see it.  The Laurissilva forest is over 15 million years old and Madeira is the largest stronghold of this type of forest. And it has stayed this way since its even before the first Australopithecus appeared on the face of the planet … And not only … The Laurissilva forest is an  extraordinary beauty!

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A Natural Heritage of Madeira, it was distinguished by its richness, diversity and conservation status. In 1999, UNESCO considered the Laurissilva Forest as Natural Heritage. The name Laurissilva comes from two Latin words, “laurus” and “silva”, which means laurel and forest. The area of Fanal is especially fascinating, as it is a small volcanic caldera, classified as “Rest and Silence Reserve ” by the Natural Park of Madeira. It is a fabulous place where once can find imposing and centuries old characteristic woods of this particular kind of tree.

Pico Ruivo

Pico Ruivo is a must visit place in Madeira, simply because it is the highest point on the island. It is the 3rd highest in Portugal, standing 1862 meters above sea level. It is located in the municipality of Santana, and for conservation reasons it is classified as a Nature Reserve so very little human presence is felt. For those seeking a scientific vacation, can not fail to take the necessary equipment for the sighting of birds that have the Pico Ruivo as their habitat. Species such as the chaffinch, the Bis Bis, the Blackbird, partridges and linnets are easy to spot.  As for Flora, as it is a rocky environment, where heather and mosses are the dominant species.


Fajã dos Padres

The Fajã dos Padres is an island within the island. Nestled at the base of a 250 meters high cliff, it is located on the south coast of Madeira, just over 10 minutes from Funchal by car. The Fajã (the local name for this kind of geological accident) has its main opening to the south, allowing easy access to the sea through a narrow rocky beach, which forms a small bay in the centre. This little paradise has a history dating back to the colonization of the island of Madeira.


Over time, it served as the Jesuits priests summer home. It was the flagship property for producing the famous Madeira Wine and it was the place where the first grapes of the famous Malvasia grape variety were planted.  Madeira Wine is still produced on this vineyard today, using the very same vines that were planted by the Jesuits. The Faja offers accommodation boutique villas s and has opened a restaurant serving local cuisine. It is one of the partners of the Discovery Madeira sister venture Wine Tours Madeira.



I was a guest of Discovering Madeira for a long weekend, where I had the idea for this  Madeira Travel Guide. All opinions are my own. 

Photo credits to Discovering Madeira and Maria Braga.

Nelson Carvalheiro

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I am an award-winning filmmaker and content creator that loves to create meaningful and inspiring films uniquely tailored for each client and their story. I am based in Lisbon and travel to destinations worldwide.
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