The small village of Prazeres sits in a rural southwest region of Madeira, one of the most picturesque villages, surrounded by mountains, green valleys and nature trails. Here you can really embrace local life, with a few traditional restaurants for you to sample, a bakery and a supermarket. For those who wish to explore further afield, the coastal town of Calheta can be found within a 10 minute drive, where you will find a golden sandy beach, and further amenities.
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In Madeira, it is famously known to try some traditional Madeira cake as well as this we suggest trying some egg tarts found locally in the many patisserie shops. Be sure to visit a poncha bar, Poncha is the drink of Madeira an alcoholic beverage made from sugar cane and mixed typically with lemon or orange juice, with your drink you are given peanuts and at the original Poncha bars you would chuck the peanut shells on the floor as traditional. Madeira offers a range of beautifully tasting fresh fish as the island is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
Calheta nightlife is all about a relaxing meal and a quiet drink. Madeiran specialties can be easily sought out, and these include delicious fortified wine, and a drink known as Poncha made from alcohol, lemons and the local sugar cane. There are some great fresh fish restaurants here, and small bars by the marina are a great place to enjoy a drink while the sun goes down.
A very popular attraction in Madeira is Dolphin and Whale watching. Catamaran trips are available from Funchal harbour and provide a wonderful family activity. Usually the trips last around three hours and there tends to be two trips every day during high season.
The stunning mountainous terrain and lush countryside makes Madeira a popular choice for keen walkers. Many refer to the island as the ‘floating garden’ due to abundance of beautiful wild flowers, and sprawling green countryside. Across the island is a maze of streams known as Levadas, normally full of water providing a very efficient irrigation system. These stretch over 2150 kilometres, and many walkers follow their route to locate the most spectacular scenery.
Located in Funchal with fantastic views of mountains in the north and the ocean in the south, the Botanical Garden which stretches over 35000 square metres is well worth a visit. With over 2500 exotic plant species, the gardens are brimming with plants of all colours, shapes and sizes. The garden is divided into five sections, with a combination of local and foreign plants, as well as a whole part devoted to exotic birds.
Located close to the airport in a town called Santa Cruz, Madeira’s Aquaparque provides a fun day out for all the family. From adrenalin pumping water chutes to lazy rivers, this is a fantastic facility, usually open between March and October.
For those looking to explore further afield, why not take a ferry from Madeira to the local island of Porto Santo. Blessed with wonderful beaches and some unusual wildlife to discover, this sleepy island is a wonderful place to visit. The ferry from Funchal takes approximately two hours.
Located close to Câmara de Lobos (about ten minutes from Funchal), Cabo Girão is one of Madeira’s most popular tourist attractions. It is a skywalk made out of transparent glass, offering spectacular 360 degree views. The second highest skywalk in the world, it is often assimilated to the USA’s Grand Canyon, and really is well worth a visit.
Madeira is famous for its delicious fortified wine, so why not take a tour through the cellars and museum of The Old Blandy's Wine Lodge. Situated in the centre of Funchal, the Wine Lodge comprises a beautiful old building, with various cellars. Of course, wine tasting is possible here and there are plenty of samples and souvenirs available to purchase.
Madeira Carnival ...national event
One of the biggest street parties in Europe, this is Madeira's answer to Rio! It starts off with a parade through Funchal with samba bands, dance troupes and sparkling costumes. The carnival ends on Shrove Tuesday with another parade when the streets are lined with locals in costumes.
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