In this article I give some hints about the visited places and how the pictures were taken.
Parque Infantil “Pico dos Barcelos”
The Parque Infantil Pico dos Barcelos is a children’s playground with a small park and a restaurant. There is a parking lot directly in front of the entrance (but only about 20 parking spaces).
The park is fenced in and closes in the summer at 22 o’clock and thus the location is also no longer attainable then. Moreover, it does not open until 8 am. In the summer months you can therefore exclude sunrise shots.
Miradouro “Garganta Funda”
To the Miradouro Garganta Funda it is only a few hundred meters to walk. Here you once have the opportunity to see a waterfall (not a great one), but it is more worthwhile to walk the path further towards the coast and to look south-south-east at the lighthouse “Farol Ponta do Pargo” along the coastal section.
You can park your car at the end of the street “Caminho Velho”. There is a house there, but it is uninhabited. There is enough space for 3 to 4 cars. Then walk along the marked path towards the coast.
Ponta do Pargo
At the Farol Ponta do Pargo one – of course – has the opposite point of view to the previous contribution. The lighthouse itself is not so exciting now.
There is more than enough parking space. At the side of the lighthouse there is a very big turning place (see Google-Maps).
At the cliff, which is not closed off, you have to be a little careful, a warning sign indicates exactly this circumstance.
The Zona Velha (the Google Maps link shows a part of the route for pedestrians, here the side streets should also be included), thus the old town of Funchal offers beside restaurants and some nice places and buildings also the well-known painted doors. Unfortunately, in front of almost all restaurants there are so-called tugboats that try to talk people into their restaurant. No matter, some of the doors are really pretty, others are less skillfully painted. If you are in the area anyway, then it is worth to have a look at them.
Parking? I don’t know if there are any parking spaces, I have seen rarely some while walking in that area.
Mercado dos Lavradores
A visit to the market Mercado dos Lavradores is highly recommended.
On Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to about 1 p.m. there is a colourful collection of souvenirs, but especially fruit, vegetables (very nice sellers, you can try almost anything if you want) and fish in the back. But there are also many tourists there to see the hustle and bustle. There is also a lot of photography done by the tourists, so the traders are already used to it. You should avoid the visit, if at that time there is also a cruise ship in the harbour, then it gets fuller again.
Miradouro dos Neves
Another nice point to get an overview of Funchal is the Miradouro dos Neves. From the actual viewpoint it is rather moderate, because street lamps, houses or lines are in the way. That’s enough to look at, but not enough to photograph. In the Google link a short way to the ER204 is marked. Here is a staircase with a platform, where two tripods have enough space. Caution in the dark at the second house, there a dog already hurries to the lattice and yelps his soul out of his body (but he can’t get out, only you inevitably get scared).
At the Miradouro itself there are about 30 parking spaces.
Pico do Arieiro
Pico do Arieiro is almost impossible to get past. Since a military (?) radar dome was installed up here, the way there is easy, an asphalted road of sufficient width leads there. Contrary to the practice in other countries, everything that is secret to some extent is completely closed off, this is not the case here. Therefore it is often very crowded (from about 9 o’clock in the morning until the early evening hours). Even large coaches are to be found here at certain times in larger numbers. Next to the radar station there is also a snack bar and a souvenir shop.
From here, several hiking trails lead in different directions (among others also to the Pico Ruivo, the highest mountain on Madeira).
For the view to the south-east, one goes over the right side (see Google Maps) up to a fenced platform.
For the view in south-west direction, one can position oneself on the summit or at one of the positions below. You can also walk further east.
Parking is possible both on the designated parking lot in front of the summit and within the turning circle (if there are few or no buses up there anymore). Since the parking lots are very crowded during the day, many visitors park directly at the road.
Porto Moniz 1: The coastline (especially to the west) is quite attractive because of the lava rocks, but two swimming pools have been built in, which reduces the photographic possibilities. As far as I have seen, the first swimming pool (Piscinas Naturais do Porto Moniz) is free of charge. During the day there is sometimes hell going on when the daytrip buses enter the small village (similar to Santana). From the late afternoon it is very quiet and tranquil. But also most restaurants were closed at 8pm.
In the Google Maps link I have marked the parking lot where no fees are charged. Otherwise you can also find a parking place within the one-way street “Rue do Forte de S. João Baptista” to “Rua do llhéu Mole”.
Porto Moniz 2: Above Porto Moniz, if you take the road towards Ponta do Pargo, there is a nice vantage point. From Miradouro da Santa you can see the whole town.
There are enough parking spaces on the left side and a few on the right side (each in the direction of Ponta do Pargo).
Viewpoint at the ER110
On the way to the Leveada do Alecrim hike we made a short stop at this point. A nice view over the southern area around Ponta do Sol.
Parking is no problem there, as the viewpoint has a large gravel parking lot.
Levada do Alecrim
The following two locations are of course only accessible on the Levada do Alecrim hike.
Once you have parked your car, you have to walk down the asphalted road to the “Casa do Rabacal” for about 2 km. There the two ways go first together to divide then after approx. 700 meters. Left (down) towards 25 Fontes, straight ahead to the Risco waterfall.
The asphalted road area can also be covered with a minibus (recommended especially on the way back, as almost the entire area no longer provides shade, so depending on the time of day can be very sweaty). The bus ride costs 3€ per person.
At the beginning of the trail there is a large parking lot (see Google Maps link). From 10 a.m., it is as good as full, thus hardly any possibility for parking.
Ponta do Rosto
Ponta do Rosto is a viewpoint on the São Lourenço peninsula in the south-east of Madeira. From here, one has a view to the rougher eastern side of the peninsula.
The car park at the end of the street (see Google Maps) offers space for about 20 cars.
Ponta do Buraco
Ponta do Buraco is another viewpoint on the São Lourenço peninsula in the south-east of Madeira. From here, one has a view to the west side of the peninsula.
The parking lot at the end of the street (see Google Maps under “Ponta de São Lourenço”) actually offers space for enough vehicles, but most of them are already occupied in the morning. In the evening hours there is hardly anybody there (at least during our visits).
Ponte de Vista
Another viewpoint on the São Lourenço peninsula is the Ponte de Vista. If the sky is suitable, one has a beautiful view to the sunset.
Parking is again at the Ponta de São Lourenço and from there follow the marked path (see Google Maps).
The cloud forest Fanal is probably well known. It is worth waiting there for a while if there are no clouds. Usually something happens within 30 minutes.
In the Google-Maps link there is a parking place with enough space on the southern side of the area. The area is easy to reach from there.
Ribeira da Janela
In Ribeira da Janela there is the rock group, consisting of Ilheus da Rib (which is already a huge chunk) and Ilheus da Janela, which are also often shown on the Internet. We have been here a lot of times, but we were not very lucky with the light. Sunrise should be fantastic if you have the right weather conditions.
The waves of the Atlantic can get high on the beach here, so you should be careful with your equipment and observe the situation first.
Position right along the beach. The beach consists of very big pebbles and you have to be careful not to lie down for long.
Position at sunrise (here end of May, otherwise further left/right).
Parking is no problem at all, there is space for about 40 vehicles (see Google Maps link).
In Faial there is a viewpoint on the eastern coastline. From Miradouro do Guindaste one can look in the direction of São Lourenço along the bay.
The parking lot in the turning circle offers space for about 15 cars, there were hardly any visitors on site.
You should have been to Santana at least once. Then one can also see the completely overcrowded place beautifully at noon. Several big buses unload masses of tourists who then walk into the Casas Tipicas de Santana. Here there are 4 replicas of the typical Santana houses (postcard motive). If one is lucky, one also catches a house without tourists 🙂
But you can also find one or the other “typical” house, which is rather in its original condition (see Google-Maps link).
Opposite the Casas Tipicas de Santana area is a parking garage that is almost always full. At the roadside, with some luck, one can also find a parking possibility.
Moreover, the Restaurante e Hotel O Colmo (if one is there early enough, thus before the tourist buses arrive) offers the possibility to have a short break and if one then asks in a friendly way, can also leave the car there (at least this was the case with us). The hotel also offers a replica of the typical Santana house. Here with interior decoration. Whereby I think that this idyll probably also should be pretended, it was not so nice at that time probably.
Farol do São Jorge
In São Jorge I was actually a little excited about the lighthouse there, but that is rather a disappointment. It’s not that high and you can’t get in. The surroundings don’t really matter. The Farol do São Jorge is therefore only something for lighthouse enthusiasts.
We have not explored whether the section down at the beach offers anything, as the whole area at the lighthouse is a vineyard and I do not belong to those who simply fumble around on other people’s ground.
You can park your car at the end of the street, opposite the lighthouse on the side.
Grutas de São Vicente
You should have taken a guided tour through the Grutas de São Vicente. The tours are conducted in English and Portuguese and take place daily between 10 am and 6 pm. The entrance fee is 8€. The first half hour is explained with video and diagrams of Madeira’s development (the video quality, especially the 3D part, is quite bad), which is partly quite interesting. Afterwards there is a guided tour through several lava channels.
Photography is allowed, even with flash. The plants, which are partly visible, are pollen brought in by the visitors and the water, which grow with the artificial lighting.
Parking is available opposite the Information Centre and then through a tunnel under the road (see Google Maps link). The guides will stand there and tell you the time of the tour (waiting time about 20 minutes, depending on the persons).
Achadas da Cruz
Achadas da Cruz can probably only be reached by cable car or on foot. The trip with the Teleferico costs 3€ and takes place in a small 6 person cabin.
There are approx. 15 parking spaces at the cable car station.
In Seixal it has, as often in the north-western area, rough lava beaches that are easy to reach and photograph.
At the Cais Seixal beach you should take some care. Depending on the wind and flood conditions, the waves can already be flushed over the wall. From here you have a nice view towards Sao Vicente.
Am Cais Seixal Strand sollte man etwas Obacht geben. Je nach Wind- und Flutbedingungen kann es die Wellen schon man über die Mauer spülen. Von hier hat man einen schönen Blick in Richtung Sao Vicente.
Parking is directly at the turning point (see Google Maps link) or along the access road.
Praia da Laje also offers a small beach area and a natural swimming pool.
Here you can park your car at the end of Rue do Porto da Laje (see Google Maps link).
Curral das Freiras
The Curral das Freiras (valley of the nuns) is one of the most visited places in Madeira. Buses with many tourists visit at least the second point.
At Miradouros do Paredão there are not many people on the way (when we were there there was another car on the parking lot), although the platform is very well developed and one has a good view into the valley.
A small parking lot is at the beginning of the short paved road to the viewpoint (see Google Maps link) and offers space for about 10 vehicles.
The big tourist attraction Miradouro do Curral das Freiras offers of course the better view deep into the valley.
A parking lot is at the beginning of the paved road and can be very crowded, especially if there are several buses.
The Pico Ruivo is Madeira’s highest mountain. From a parking lot you can make the 3 km long hike to the summit or walk to Pico do Arieiro shortly before the summit (see Google Maps link).
The access to the parking lot is closed far below with a barrier and is only open between 8 am and 6 pm.
With good weather conditions a panoramic view is guaranteed.
Miradouro do Curral dos Romeiros
At Miradouro do Curral dos Romeiros you can make a nice stop and enjoy one of the highest viewpoints above Funchal.
The parking lot offers space for about 10 cars.
Jardim Botânico da Madeira
A visit to the Botanical Garden Jardim Botânico da Madeira should be included. Not quite our thing, but nevertheless. Entrance fee is 6€ per adult.
There are two parking areas, one directly at the entrance for about 20 cars and one below at the exit for about the same number (Google Maps shows the short way from the lower parking lot to the entrance). If possible, you should choose the lower one as there is the possibility to park the car in the shade (if you are lucky).
Photography makes you hungry and thirsty. So here are 4 short tips.
We had the best ice cream in Funchal in the Gelateria Mil Sabores. Everything homemade, even the configurable ice cream on a stick.
The Taberna do Poncha in Serra de Água is supposed to serve the best Poncha on the island (since I don’t drink alcohol, I rely on the statements of my fellow travellers). A nice bar, directly at the street, where to the Poncha a set of peanuts with are spent whose bowls one simply on the table leaves or on the ground throws. In the taproom hang hundreds of business cards from all over the world, the waitress is always in a good mood (like all people, by the way, during our stay). Always friendly and courteous.
Fantastic cakes, pastries and also hearty snacks are available in the Padaria do Calhau in São Vicente. The bakery is located directly at the coast road. The prices are so low that you first have to ask yourself if the service has really settled everything.
I can also recommend the Restaurant Londres in Funchal for dinner. A lot of Portuguese people also go here. Besides fish there are also excellent other dishes. Furthermore the restaurants which I mentioned in the section Miradouro dos Neves. But, especially at restaurants we were never disappointed (except at Ponta do Pargo).
This and that
Ein paar geplante Punkte haben wir nicht gemacht, oder waren nicht so, wie im Vorfeld erhofft. Dazu zählen:
Cristo Rei: Here the way downhill was closed and the photography possibilities were very limited.
Ponta do São Lourenço: Not enough seen from there. The peninsula is definitely worth a closer look.
Balcões: Tried twice, but unfortunately the whole area was completely in the clouds and therefore no visibility.
Cabo Girão Skywalk: I didn’t take pictures there, so I can’t show any examples. The Skywalk costs no entrance fee and who likes the thrill… It goes under the windows 580 meters into the depth. The entrance is free and only possible during the day (opening hours 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and in summer until 9 p.m.). The Skywalk itself is relatively small and always very crowded. Accordingly, the relatively large number of parking places are quite well frequented.
And maybe one or other Levada hike. But you should definitely arrive at the somewhat cooler seasons for such.
and always stay nicely behind the barriers 🙂 and take care of the streets there…