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Santa Cruz is a charming resort set on the east coast of Madeira, only a few kilometres from the airport and a 15 minute drive into the capital; Funchal, which is well worth a visit. This area is pretty and unspoilt, and ideally positioned right by the ocean. For fun-filled days out, there is a water park nearby, and wonderful flora and fauna to explore on the many Levada walks.
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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.
Often referred to as the heart of Madeira; Funchal is a bustling, vibrant city, full of bars and a great variety of restaurants and entertainment. There really is something for everyone here, from family friendly bars with live music, to a handful of late night bars with fantastic DJ sets to be enjoyed.
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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