Madeira, a Portuguese island located in the South East, is a popular holiday destination known as the “Hawaii of Europe.” With its 35-mile footprint, the island offers a range of attractions, including waterfalls, volcanic mountain peaks, seaside towns, and the city of Funchal, which is home to a cable car and two tropical gardens.
Funchal, the most populated region in Madeira, serves as a great base for exploring the island. The city has a rich history, dating back to the 1400s, when Portugal dominated world trade. Today, the local farmers market is a great place to experience the island’s heritage, with its fantastic atmosphere, colors, and smells. Friday mornings are the best time to visit, as every stall puts its best foot or fin forward.
The city is also home to a number of historical landmarks, including a fortress built in the 1600s in response to pirate attacks. The most notable attraction in Funchal is the cable car that dominates the city skyline. The 20-minute ride gains 540 meters in elevation, along 3000 meters of sloping steel, offering breathtaking views of the island’s lush green landscape.
The cable car takes visitors to the tropical gardens of Monte Palace, which was once a beautiful stately home, then a lavish hotel, and now a center for landscaped gardens. Monte Palace was a personal highlight for the vlogger, Suitcase Monkey, who spent four days exploring Madeira.
Suitcase Monkey stayed at a hotel near Funchal, which provided a free shuttle bus to the city and was just a 15-minute drive away. Alternatively, local buses run every 5 to 10 minutes. Suitcase Monkey rented a car and took a one-hour drive to go hiking and hunt for waterfalls. Madeira is a hiker’s paradise, with 30 official routes, all starting with the letters PR. One of the most popular hikes is PR6, but its popularity means that it can be busy at times.
The island’s narrow aqueducts, known as levadas, carry water across Madeira and have been integrated into the hiking paths, making them an attraction in themselves. The first hike was an easy to moderate trek, depending on the hiker’s level of fitness. The final destination was a beautiful waterfall, which proved to be a stunning surprise.
Suitcase Monkey took an early night in preparation for the next day’s adventure, which would be a full day of sea and sun. The video ends with a promise to cover more travel tips, including how to get around the island, in a future video.