As holidays in Portugal go, they don’t come much more scenic than a trip to Madeira. This compact island in the Atlantic Ocean packs quite a visual punch thanks to its rugged coastline, mountainous interior and lush, tree-lined landscapes – making it the ideal place for an active walking getaway with Monarch.co.uk.
Being a mountainous island, sweeping views are plentiful so you won’t have to search hard for a jaw dropping vista to capture on camera. Let’s take a look at the five best lookouts on the whole island:
1. Pico Ruivo
The most obvious place to go for the best view of a place is its highest point – after all, if there’s nothing taller, you can enjoy an unobstructed 360-degree view.
On Madeira, this title goes to Pico Ruivo, a more than 6,000ft tall peak located in the centre of the island. There are three trails up to the summit, of varying difficulty, but the sensational views to every corner of the island from the top are worth the effort.
Hikers should be aware that weather conditions can change rapidly at such altitudes and the presence of cloud could obstruct your view, although seeing the cloud base far below the summit is breathtaking in its own right – creating an otherworldly feeling.
2. Funchal cable car
A less strenuous way to see a good panorama in Madeira is by riding the Funchal cable car from the capital city up the steep hillside behind it. As you gain height, you’ll see the whole town spread out beneath you with the sparkling ocean beyond, where giant cruise ships cut through the water.
Once at the top, you can enjoy a stroll around the beautiful botanical gardens, which have some pretty impressive panoramas in their own right.
One of the most popular ways to take in Madeira’s natural beauty is by hiking along one of its many levadas, or irrigation channels. Cut through the mountainous landscape several hundred years ago for practical rather than tourism reasons, these channels and the narrow paths running alongside them pass through some stunning sections of countryside, where trees and wildflowers thrive in the shadow of jagged mountains.
Varying in length and difficulty, you should easily be able to find a walk to suit you and your family’s preferences.
4. Valley of the Nuns
Hidden away between the mountain summits, the village of Curral das Freiras (the Corral of the Nuns) enjoys an isolated but spectacular position. Looking down from the viewpoint above the town, one gets a stunning contrast between the tiny white buildings and the rugged green peaks.
By all accounts, the drive to the head of the valley is quite hair raising along narrow, twisting roads, but if you put your faith in the driver and keep your eyes open you’ll enjoy some amazing scenes during the journey.
5. Santo da Serra golf course
Even if you’re not an avid golfer, it’s worth playing a round at Santo da Serra near Machico for the scenery alone. This undulating championship course in the north-east of the island enjoys a fabulous hilltop location with stunning views of the ocean, although the winds that whip across the mountain add to the challenge posed by the narrow fairways.