Updated: Jun 15, 2021
The best way to discover this part of the island is going by car. Unfortunatly public transportation will not operate some parts of the island. Having a car rental or going on a Tour with a guide are the best options. If you do not have any of those, you can reach me out and I can provide you all the local contacts for car hire and tour guiding.
Please check the highlights of this tour, to make it easy to go to the right spot, I connected google maps to the headlines. So if you click on "1- Câmara De Lobos" a link to google maps will be activated and will help you reaching the destination on the guide.
1 - Câmara De Lobos
Câmara de Lobos is a municipality, parish and town, situated five kilometers from Funchal, It was this traditional fishing village which inspired Sir Winston Churchill make most of his paintings. He setup all his painting kit on a small view point near to the small bay which still makes the perfect spot for artist to draw or to make a selfie. You can visit this view point and find information about Sir Winston Churchill there.
The village was given its name by the explorers João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira because of the shape of its bay and the presence of Mediterranean monk seal "Monachus Monachus" also known as Lobos Marinhos living there at the time. Nowadays we can find most of the Mediterranean monk seal "Monachus Monachus" in Desertas islands which these Islands are visible from the south of our island.
This place is perfect for a small walk between the boats in the bay and through the old streets of Câmara de Lobos. It is very common to see some of the boats on the dry land with some fish being dried by the sun. This fish is known as "A Gata" (Dalatias Licha) from the same family as the shark and is one of the traditional fish from this area.
Closer to the boats there is a small chapel of Nossa Senhora Da Conceição, when open it worth the visit. On the side of the chapel is the meeting point of most of the fisherman, mostly in the mornings you will see them socializing, playing cards, domino and having some drinks. One of the favorite drinks of the area is Poncha, which is one of the traditional drinks, you can have a taste in any of the bars of the area. (If you are driving, please be responsible as this drink is very strong.)
Use the old road to go to Cabo Girão, on the way to Cabo Girão you will have an amazing view of Câmara de Lobos, you will be able to see all the agriculture terraces going from the seaside all the way up to the mountain, it is amazing. You have a view point in Ribeira Da Alforra which is the perfect place to take a picture of all of this terraces.
After the selfies stop at the Ribeira Da Alforra View Point continue driving to Cabo Girão.
The Cabo Girão viewpoint, is considered the highest promontory in Europe, with an elevation of 580m, It offers an astonishing view of the fajãs of Rancho and all the small terraces cultivated land at the foot of the cliff, as well as magnificent panoramic views over Câmara de Lobos, Funchal and the Atlantic Ocean.
According to history, this cape was baptized by João Gonçalves Zarco when the island was discovered in 1419. This cape consisted of a cliff that served the discoverers as a reference point, when they gave a complete turn (Giro) to the island on the first day of their arrival.
After Cabo Girão you will take the fast access in direction to Ribeira Brava. Ribeira Brava is a municipality on the southwest coast of the island and the name of this Municipality Means "wild stream". The origin of the name comes from its stream (Ribeira Brava), that in rainy seasons has a very strong flow, that comes from the mountains straight to the sea.
You can make a nice walk in Ribeira Brava, visit the main church dated from the XVI century. This church has Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque features and is one of the most visited churches on the island. After you can visit São Bento Fort (Saint Benedict) which dates the eighteenth century. The Fort of Saint Benedict was built with the purpose to defend Ribeira Brava coast and their small harbor from pirate attacks. Nowadays this fort is a Tourist Information Centre.
4- Ponta Do Sol
After your stop at Ribeira Brava, continue driving along the coast, you will have to use "Via Expresso" (newer roads) as most of the old roads are closed due land sliding's. As soon you arrive to Ponta do Sol, go to the sea shore and find a place to park.
The settlement of Ponta do Sol was founded around 1425, shortly after the discovery of the island by Portuguese settlers coming mostly from the north and South of Portugal. Ponta do Sol has always been an active agricultural production center in Madeira, especially with sugarcane and Banana plantation.
While driving on this coast you will notice a lot of Banana plantation, specially in this side of the island, as the weather is perfect for the production.
While you are in Ponta Do Sol, visit the church Matriz de São Bento, which also has a beautiful clock on the external tower. Walk on the direction of the Yellow bar on the left side of the mountain and behind it it ha s a pier that gives you a nice view from the coast and mountains.
5- Waterfall "Cascata dos Anjos":
The next stop is an exciting one as a lot of bloggers take pictures on it, which is the Cascata dos Anjos (Angels Waterfall).
Their creativity under this waterfall is amazing. I am sure you get creative and take also amazing pictures here.
While driving to this waterfall make sure the road is open, sometimes is closed or has information advising to not drive on that main road. If it is open go and enjoy it.
This waterfall is on the same way to the next stop which is Paul Da Serra, so you will not need to go back, just continue driving in this road and enjoy the views.
You will drive from the sea level to 1500m, this location is called Paúl da Serra, the views are beautiful, and is a nice way to cross from the south to the north using the old roads. The plateau of Paúl da Serra is the flattest location on Madeira island, is a location where you will see cows wandering around and also is a location perfect for hunting wild rabbits and grouses.
Fanal is part of the Laurisilva forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its beauty and ecological importance. Incredibly, 15 to 40 million years ago, much of Southern Europe was covered in this type of laurel forest. Now, it can only be found in Madeira, the Azores, Canary Islands and Cape Verde.
No matters the weather that it makes here, it is always beautiful walking around this forest. The favorite weather for most of the people is actually during a foggy day as it gives a magical felling while walking around.
After walking and taking some pictures at Fanal drive down in the direction of Ribeira da Janela. Make a stop on this view point as it has a beautiful view of the northwest of the Island. You can see São Vicente, Seixal, Ribeira Da Janela and Porto Moniz. It is an amazing view point.
Next Stop will be Ribeira da Janela, The name given Ribeira da Janela, comes from the name of Madeira’s longest waterway, which runs about 15.7 km.
On the seaside you will find some rock formations just meters from the shore, most of the visitors love to take pictures on this place because of natural beauty of it.
This locations also has a camping site, for the camping lovers.
10- Porto Moniz
The next stop is Porto Moniz, this location is known for its natural lava swimming pools which are filled by the rising tide and provide safe waters for bathing.
Porto Moniz for many years was only reachable by boat or walking through the mountains, only after the World War 2 Porto Moniz got connected to the rest of the island, when the emblematic road connecting Porto Moniz to the municipality of São Vicente was built. This road was literally dug into the hillside, all hand made and is occasionally crossed by waterfalls that flow into the sea. This is considered one of the most beautiful roads in our island, but, for safety reasons, due to land sliding's on the past 15 years, today we can only use the "via Expresso" it is a newer road that gives safe passage to all the locals and visitors.
11.1 - Poça das Lesmas
The next stop will be in Seixal, the location has a few hidden gems for sea lovers.
The first location will be Poça das Lesmas this place has a Natural swimming pool made by volcanic lava rocks, this formation made a beautiful swimming pool, It worth checking it out.
The second location is the main black sand beach, this beach is searched by most of our locals and visitors during the year. The main reason of this beach being very popular is because of the contrast of views, mountain and sea.
On the other side of the harbor you will find a natural swimming pool, Depending the weather during the year, the water in this natural pool has a lush turquoise color or an amazing blue.
Not very far from here you can find
It is difficult not fall in love with this location.
12- São Vicente
This next location, is called São Vicente, the main center of this parish was built behind the mountains giving them the protection they need.
São Vicente region is a perfect location for vineyards and agriculture as the soil is very fertile and the weather is perfect for these.
Stop by the seaside (Calhau São Vicente) and admire all the north coast scenery, the sea tend to be more agitated on the north than in the south. Sometimes you can enjoy watching the big waves embracing the beach. Is is a relaxing feeling. After being on the sea side walk to the center, go up by the stream side until you will see the church (Igreja Matriz de Vila Franca da Serra), as soon you see it, walk in the church direction and check the old buildings around.
The next stop will be Encumeada, you will drive up to 1007m, on the way to this location, you will be driving very closely to the forest Laurissilva, this forest, as I mention before it can only be found in Madeira, the Azores, Canary Islands and Cape Verde.
As soon you reach the top of the hill in Encumeada, this viewpoint offers a superb landscape over the north and south coasts of the island (if the weather allows it). If you look to the south side you will have the superb views of the deep valleys of Ribeira Brava.
Before finishing your tour you have to stop in this place called Taberna da Poncha even if it is just for a picture. This place is very known and visited by the locals, they make the traditional drink here called Poncha, you can see them making fresh for you and it is one of the best Poncha places in this area. What I love the most of this place is that this bar is located in the deep valley of Serra de Agua and the views are amazing. Having a drink here and enjoying the big valley around you is breathtaking.
(Please be responsible, specially the drivers, if you drive please do not drink.)