Madeira: Sightseeing Tour of the East Coast!

Eastern Madeira Tour

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The eastern part of Madeira is the most developed but it also has historic towns, untamed landscape and dramatic seascapes, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

The towns in the eastern region of Madeira, include Machico, the island’s inaugural capital and Caniçal, the entry point to Ponta de São Lourenço. Caniçal holds historical significance as a former hub for the whaling industry, with its Whale Museum delving into the island’s whaling history, showcasing artefacts and insights into this once-thriving trade.

Ponta de São Lourenço, a craggy headland, stands out for its dramatic cliffs, unique geological formations, and breath-taking coastal vistas. Exploring this rugged terrain offers an immersive experience in the natural beauty of Madeira’s easternmost point. Prainha, nestled within Ponta de São Lourenço, serves as the island’s sole naturally sandy beach, surrounded by picturesque cliffs, providing a serene escape.

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Hike along the Verada da Ponta de São Lourenço

Ponta De São Lourenço, Madeira, Portugal
CC-BY-SA / Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco

Drive to the Ponta de São Lourenço parking, it is worth arriving early in the Summer.

Ponta de São Lourenço is a stunning and rugged peninsula located on the eastern tip of Madeira, Portugal. Known for its dramatic landscapes and unique flora, it stands out as a distinct geological formation on the island.

Visitors to Ponta de São Lourenço can expect a stark and captivating landscape that contrasts with the verdant scenery found elsewhere on the island of Madeira. The area’s natural beauty and geological significance make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

Location: Ponta de São Lourenço, Estr. de São Lourenço, Caniçal, Portugal | From Funchal: Ponta de São Lourenço/Caniçal Full-Day Hike
Read more about Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco (PR8)

Take a Dip at Porto da Cruz

Porto Da Cruz Swiming Complex
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Alberto-g-rovi

Drive to the free parking Parque de estacionamento on the edge of the Porto da Cruz village.

Porto da Cruz is a small village well known for producing wine. The town is just a few hundred metres across so it is easy to explore. By the pebble beach, there is a cluster of cafes and restaurant together with s swimming complex with two pools. An ideal place to cool off. Walk out to the headland to the Miradouro do Pico do Fortim at the old fort which was built in 1708. With fascinating views from Ponta de S. Lourenço to Penha d’Águia.
The town has an old sugar cane factory which is a remarkable testament to history, operating today much in the same manner as it did when it commenced sugar production in 1927. This enduring facility features a towering structure standing at an impressive height of 26 meters. When the factory is in operation, there is a captivating visual element as steam emerges, creating an atmospheric and nostalgic scene that harks back to the era of traditional sugar production. The preservation of this operational process provides visitors with a unique opportunity to witness the historical methods and machinery that have been in use for nearly a century.

Location: Porto da Cruz, Santana, Portugal | From Funchal: North Coast Day Trip
Read more about Porto da Cruz
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Discover Machico the first capital of Madeira

Machico And The Nearby Airport On Madeira
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Donar Reiskoffer

Park in the Parking Forum Machico or Estacionamento Casa do Povo Machico

Machico, Madeira’s second-largest town, offers a delightful blend of attractions, from a beautiful swimming beach to a charming old quarter and a network of scenic walks. Nestled in a graceful crescent-shaped bay, Machico is surrounded by lush terraced slopes, creating a picturesque setting.

Head along the beach past the Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo, which dates back to 1706. Cross over the small river to Praia de Machico, one of Madeira’s popular beaches. Whether you choose to swim, arrange a diving excursion to the marine reserve, or simply relax on the warm sands, the beach provides a serene escape.

Head along the river to see the Capela dos Milagres (Chapel of the Miracles), originally founded in the 15th century on the purported site of the lovers’ graves. Though the original church succumbed to a flood, the current structure, built in 1815, features a captivating rose window on its façade and a nave adorned with frescoes. Cross back over the river to see the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição an impressive Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, constructed in 1499 during Machico’s tenure as Madeira’s capital.

Explore the Capela de São Roque, a small 16th-century chapel dedicated to St. Roch, credited with saving Machico from a plague. The chapel’s interior is adorned with beautiful blue-and-white tiling.

To soak in scenic vistas, visit Pico do Facho, a renowned viewpoint named after the historic beacon (facho) that once warned the city of approaching pirates. The viewpoint offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Read our Machico (Madeira) Travel Guide

Explore the seaside town of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz-Madeira
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Vitor Oliveira

Park on the seafront at Mercado Parking.

Situated adjacent to Cristiano Ronaldo Airport, the seaside resort of Santa Cruz beckons with its charming streets adorned with brightly colored buildings. A delightful exploration awaits as you stroll along the promenade of Praia das Palmeiras beach, where sunbathers bask under parasols and others take refreshing dips from jetties, creating a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.

Green spaces, playgrounds, and squares are interspersed with inviting cafes and restaurants, contributing to the town’s leisurely ambiance. The centrally located Mercado de Santa Cruz adds to the charm, providing a delightful market experience.

In the heart of the town, a picturesque municipal garden, nestled beside the São Salvador Church, offers a serene retreat. The seventeenth-century church boasts a captivating interior, featuring a painted wooden ceiling and a stunning altar, adding a touch of historical and aesthetic allure to this coastal gem.

Read our Santa Cruz (Madiera) Travel Guide

See the statue of Christ at the Cristo Rei viewpoint

Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Holger Uwe Schmitt

Heading towards the east on our Madeira tour, our initial destination is the Cristo Rei viewpoint, situated approximately 15 minutes away from Funchal. Positioned within the Garajau Partial Natural Reserve, this elevated viewpoint boasts a 1927-built statue of Christ. Standing at a height of 14 meters, the statue portrays Christ with outstretched arms, gazing towards the vast ocean. Adjacent to the clifftop parking area, a cable car descends to a well-liked pebble beach below. The rich biodiversity of the surroundings attracts scuba diving enthusiasts, drawn by the clear waters and diverse fish species inhabiting the area.

Read more about Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)

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