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Matilde da Silva: Madeira Recommendations

Matilde, (who recently graduated in L3 with 'The 2023 Vintage' group), has lived in Madeira and has family there too, so she knows it very well. Take a look at her inside track on the best places to go that locals enjoy

I heard you are going to Madeira; you have chosen wisely!

Here are a few recs and tips that might make your trip even more enjoyable in the Pearl of the Atlantic.

I recommend having lots of fruits as this is a tropical island, covered in banana trees, passion fruit, pineapple, mangos etc. Seafood and fish are also excellent for obvious reasons. Finally, meat is also delicious. I have a theory that cows are happier on the island given the yearlong good weather and the stunning ocean views.

Housekeeping Info:

If you are not a confident driver, do not drive in Madeira. This is not a place to practice. The

roads are more often than not very steep, on cliffs, or narrow – it’s a very “sporty” place to

drive. If there’s a chance you could get panicked behind the wheel, better leave it to

someone else and just enjoy the views. I am assuming that you will be staying in Funchal. Although the capital is very lively, I suggest getting out as well, the following recs are scattered on the island, within a reasonable distance from Funchal – given you are not staying on the island for too long.



o Restaurante Santo Antonio: this is an institution ! Espetada – traditional dish, meat

is grilled on a laurel leaf wood skewer or iron one, you should try it with milho frito,

which are very satisfying fried corn cubes, that soak up the meat juices.

As a starter, I recommend bolo do caco – a local kind of flatbread, toasted with garlic

and parsley butter (you can have this bread at any restaurant, I always put on a few

kilos after I leave the island because of this, but it’s much too delicious to pass on).

Book in advance.

Other Espetada spots:

o Restaurante o Polar - (sensational meat)

o Restaurante o Lagar – this restaurant produces its own wine so if you sit on the

patio, you’ll be sitting under the vines (traditional trellising), and in front of their old

production machines

o Restaurante as Vides


o Beira Calhau – No frills shack with good seafood, it’s a very nice place right on the

beach, with wonderful views. I recommend having lapas, in English grilled limpets

(this is a traditional seafood dish), they also have good Espada fish, which is only

caught in the waters of Madeira or Japan. You can have a fish sandwich in the local

flatbread or as a dish.

o You should go to Paul do Mar area for nice seafood, any place there should be good

like Sabor a Mar

o Restaurante o Barqueiro – more pricey than other seafood places but excellent, I

highly recommend the king crab they make, with a creamy stuffing (in Portuguese

it’s called sapateira)

o Doca do Cavacas – also a bit pricier but good, coming from London it should not

shock you.


o Estalagem Ponta do Sol has a great bar with

great views and is trendy amongst the digital nomad community. Perfect for sunset


o Câmara de Lobos is a fishermen’s village, if you go down to the Harbour, choose any

bar and have a drink, great views ! I recommend having Passion fruit Poncha, a local

drink, delicious and deadly

o Flair Spot Bar – for cocktails, little bar area, right by the Madeira cable car

o Pereira d’Oliveira – one of the few Madeira wine houses that is still Portuguese

owned, 6 th or 7 th generation, they have free tastings of 3 different types. If you’re

looking to buy do not waste your time buying bottles which are less than 10 years

old, and if you’re looking to invest I recommend Boal 1968 a true nectar, which has

won multiple awards. I also recommend getting cookies here. They sell Broas de Mel

– cookies made with cane sugar molasses (it’s not too sweet, don’t worry). Aside

from the island being covered in banana trees, it’s also covered in sugar cane so a

few traditional foods and drinks are derived from it.

o Blandy’s – biggest Madeira wine house on the island, they have vertical and

horizontal tastings (these are not free, the Brits know how to do business), nice if

you’d like to find out more about the wine !

Things to do:

o Funchal Botanical Gardens – they are stunning ! They’re located higher up in the

city, with all of Madeira’s indigenous plants, all of this hanging over the ocean.

o Museu da Quinta das Cruzes – 17th century traditional Madeira house, with art and

furniture (there is a lot of british influence). Worth a tour.

o Cable Car

o Tomb of Habsburg Emperor – the Habsburgs really liked to relax in Madeira, the last

emperor chose Madeira as a place of exile once the empire fell and consequently

died there.

o I recommend strolling in downtown Funchal, going to the market (do not buy 6

passion fruits for 48 euros, there was a scandal with two Germans that were

scammed a few years back. It was on the news), you can have tea or coffee at Hotel

Castanheiro’s rooftop bar, Ritz café or Golden Gate Café.

o I highly recommend doing a Levada Walking trail, there are many to choose from

(see below) depending on how much of a hiker you are and what kind of nature

you’d like to see. I recommend PR 8 in Sao Lourenco – the far east end of the island,

or Levada do Furado, a walk in the jungle.

Here’s a list of all of the walks


A bit of background on why the Levadas are so cool:


o If you’d like you could go for a stroll to Machico, another picturesque fishermen’s


o If you had more time I’d recommend taking the 2h boat to Porto Santo, the adjacent

island where people from all over the world come to cure themselves of all ailments

by sticking their limbs in the medicinal sand. Barring the summer months when the

prices quadruple and you’re lucky to afford a slice of pizza, any other time of year is

great to go.

o If you’ve come to Madeira on a Cristiano Ronaldo pilgrimage you do not need my

recommendations, he is omnipresent. Cristiano Ronaldo airport, museum, hotel, bar,

statue – can all be easily found. His mother has also become a star and advertises for

an optometry chain as well as supermarkets. She can also easily be found on


One last thing:


o If you’re staying at an Airbnb and want to enjoy a good bottle of wine before retiring

to bed or other, I recommend sourcing it at Alpha wines. You could also stuff your

suitcase with bottles, you wouldn’t be disappointed and the prices are excellent.

Exceptional selection of Portuguese wine from all over the country. I have never had

a bad bottle from the place.


1. Pinot Noir from Obidos

2. Terras de Lava, white wine from the Azores

3. Colinas, Chardonnay from Bairrada

If you can, try grape varieties Tinto Cao and Baga.

That’s all for this trip, have fun and if you are ever in a jam you can always call me. Rebecca will pass on my number :-)



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