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Travel Story: Cycle Holiday on the Flower Island of Madeira

Bettina reports on her circular tour by bike on the Island of Madeira


I have been working for Eurofun Touristik for some time now, and I have decided to do my first “Team Member on Tour“ in 2022. My husband is my travel companion for it. The choice of the Madeira circular tour by bike was made relatively quickly, and the exact date was also found swiftly. 1st of March was the departure date, with a direct flight from Munich to Funchal.

Finally on site after a long period of anticipation

The anticipation grows with each day that we get closer to the travel date. Then, the time has come, and it is Monday.  In the morning, the suitcases are packed and in the afternoon we start. We first take the bus from Obertrum to Salzburg main train station, and from there we take the train to Munich. I booked us a room at the Hotel Hilton because the flight leaves relatively early on Tuesday.

Early in the morning, we make our way to the terminal, where the suitcases are quickly dropped. A few hours later we landed on the Flower Island.

We take a taxi to the Hotel Four Views Oasis in Cancio, where we arrive in the early afternoon.

Our first “route” takes us to the pool bar, where we treat ourselves to a late lunch and a Coral – this beer is brewed on Madeira. Then we walk along the promenade and enjoy the sea air and the sound of the ocean. We do not go to bed too late, after all, we want to be fit for the first tour.

Successful start from Camacha

The first order of the morning is breakfast, we enjoy an excellent buffet which leaves nothing to be desired. Since there is still enough time – we are not being picked up until 11 am – we then sit down by the pool to enjoy the morning atmosphere. It is just marvellous.

Right on time, Pedro turns up and takes us to the starting point of the tour to Camacha. Here at the Madeira Eurobike bike station, we get our bikes, which are adjusted and off we go. We cycle gently uphill and downhill in the sunshine until we are just before Santo Antonio da Serra, where it is now getting increasingly foggy. We decide to ride to the small town, where freshly baked “Bolo da Caco“, a sweet potato bread, is said to be available. And indeed, we soon spot the bakery and treat ourselves to this tasty snack.

Through dense fog to Porto da Cruz

After a short break we continue cycling in the still dense fog, now it is all downhill. The fog is slowly disappearing, and we have to stop again and again to enjoy the beautiful view. We reach the idyllic town of Porto da Cruz, where we are accommodated in the Hotel Costa Linda. Here, after the luggage transport, our suitcases are already waiting for us.

After freshening up, we explore the surrounding area, which is stunning.

We have dinner in the restaurant belonging to the hotel and reward ourselves with a glass of Madeiran wine.

Rustic straw houses in Santana

Punctually at 9 am, we are picked up by Pedro and taken to Santana. Here you find the well-known straw houses, which of course must be viewed and photographed first.   

Then we start, first of all about five kilometres only downhill. On an old road, we ride around a tunnel, it is almost a bit adventurous, but beautiful. After that, naturally, we ascend steadily again. At the top, we take a short break and enjoy the view. There is also a fruit stand here, where local fruit is on offer. After a short descent, we reach the viewpoint at São Jorge, where the view is simply breathtaking.

Now we proceed again until we discover a lonely little restaurant. Here we treat ourselves to a Bolo da Caco and a cool Coral. As we sit here, the sky is getting darker, and soon it starts to drizzle. We decide to leave quickly and put on our rain jackets. After a while, it really starts to rain heavily. You can read in our blog how best to behave in such a storm and how to interpret the weather correctly. Our goal is to reach São Vicente as quickly as possible, and so we continue cycling very fast until we are faced with a barrier. It is time to guess now, normally the coastal road should lead us to our Day Finish.

hrough *implacable weather conditions** to São Vicente

In a bus shelter, we shelter from the pouring rain and come to the conclusion that we probably have to ride back a bit to the main road and then follow it to São Vicente. There are also some tunnels to be passed through here, but thank goodness there isn’t too much traffic, and we are protected from the rain. Once we arrive in São Vicente, we cycle towards the sea, this is the location of the Hotel Estalagem do Mar. The final 400 – 500 metres turn out to be very challenging, the storm has properly set in and there is almost no movement forward. We finally arrive, soaked through to the bones. Once in our room, we head straight for a warm shower.

We have dinner in the hotel, because not even wild horses could drag us out of the house today.

Transfer to the start of the tour located amidst nature

The next morning, we are picked up again on time and taken to the Paul de Serra plateau. However, the road that normally takes you up, is closed. So we drive along the route, which we cycle back afterwards, and here we get an idea what awaits us. On the way up we meet a few cows, a calf is lying in the middle of the road and is not phased by cars. At the top of the plateau, it is really flat, the road seems to be endless. There are numerous windmills and heaps of yellow gorse. Before we start cycling, we put on warm layers, it feels like 0 degrees Celsius with drizzle and fog.

Downhill towards lava pools

Today’s tour is not strenuous, due to the roadblock Pedro let us get off at the highest point, and it is all downhill to Porto Moniz to the Hotel Aqua Natura Bay. In the afternoon we explore the place with its lava pools. Unfortunately, it is too windy and too cold for a swim.

In the evening, we search for a restaurant. We notice that almost no people are out and about anymore. Even in the restaurant, we are all by ourselves.

On the way back to the hotel, we take another look up the slope, where we have to cycle uphill the next day.

Ascending with breathtaking views

After our breakfast, we start again and cycle upwards in serpentines. Of course, we have to stop several times, the view of Porto Moniz with its lava pools is just stunning. Once at the top, we proceed through a few small towns and through a remote forest area, naturally always uphill and downhill as usual. Finally, we enjoy another longer descent, which takes us to Calheta and the chic Hotel Savoy Saccharum.

After a short rest, we make our way to the small harbour and have dinner there. Back at the hotel, we take the elevator to the 8th floor to view the infinity pool up there. It is really a pity we cannot spend more time here.

Best views from Cabo Girao

After an excellent breakfast, we tackle the final stage. In the usual up and down, we cycle along the coastal road through banana plantations. Many tunnels line our way. The highlight is a small waterfall which gushes directly onto the street. It is a bit of a challenge to get through this and staying reasonably dry. In Ribeira Brava for the first time there is a lot going on, it is Sunday, and a lot of people are out and about. We try to get through here quickly, which is not so easy given the narrow streets and the many cars.

From the end of the village, a long, steady climb awaits us, but it is really worth it. With a small detour we get to the most famous viewpoint on the island, the Cabo Girao, a glass platform about 600 metres above sea level. Here you have a brilliant view of the cliff coast. Before we continue cycling towards Funchal, we treat ourselves to a cool Coral. With a rapid descent, we approach the end of our tour and reach our hotel, the Four Views Baia. We end the day with dinner in a restaurant on the harbour promenade.

Day trip to Monte

After breakfast, we take the cable car to Monte. Here we visit the pilgrimage church where the last emperor of Austria – Emperor Charles I – is buried. After watching the wicker toboggan rides for a while, we take the cable car back to Funchal. We walk along the harbour promenade and stroll back to the hotel.

We spend the afternoon at the pool and end the evening with dinner at the hotel and a drink at the hotel bar afterwards.

Farewell and returning home

In the morning the suitcase is packed, after breakfast we take a taxi to the airport, the plane takes off on time and takes us home.

It turned out to be a very nice – however also exhausting week.

Sarah Salzlechner

"Bei der Planung Ihrer Reise auf Madeira stehe ich Ihnen gerne mit Rat und Tat zur Seite!"

Sarah Salzlechner
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