As an autonomous region of Portugal, Madeira is part of the European Union. That means: no currency exchange, no visa and a time difference of only one hour from Austria. Arrival is by direct flight, or in most cases with a change in Lisbon. My cycle tour, which should have started on a Tuesday (arrival) with cycling starting on Wednesday, is whirled into a jumble because I arrive too late on Madeira due to travel complications.
The first stages: from Caniço via Santana to São Vicente
Instead of leaving from Caniço, after a restful night at the Four Views Oasis Hotel, a Eurobike employee picks me up from the airport. We go directly to Porto da Cruz and the Hotel Vila Bela. The transfer bus then takes me to the vantage point of Portela, so that I can cycle the last section of the planned cycle tour at least. From there I start the cycle down the hilly island. To conclude my first day, there are typical Madeiran specialities for dinner, such as tomato soup with Bolo do Caco and the national drink Poncha – highly recommended!
In Santana, in front of the famous thatched-roof houses, the second day of cycling starts. While at first I cycle comfortably down the numerous hairpin bends through the landscape, the first climb wasn’t long in coming. At the highest point I talk to a fruit vendor for a while and taste delicious passion fruit, cherimoya and the philodendron fruit. With constant ups and downs, I travel first through countless villages in the ‘interior’, before the route leads me directly to the coast and the Hotel Estalagem do Mar in São Vicente.
From São Vicente via Porto Moniz to Funchal
The next day I am taken 12km, and over 1000 metres of altitude from São Vicente in the direction of a high plateau Paul da Serra. At the exit point, a high road leads me further up to the numerous wind turbines and the high plateau covered with yellow broom.
I start the long descent towards the sea. Over the already well-known up and downs I cycle the last kilometres to Porto Moniz and the hotel Moniz Sol. The naturally created lava ponds directly on the sea invite you to bathe. At the end of the day I don’t miss a cool dip!
The following day begins with a change: I decided to switch to an e-bike. I announced my wish the day before, and in the morning it was already fulfilled!
Without sweating and stopping for breaks to catch my breath, I manage to cover the first three long climbs of over 9km and 850 metres of altitude. I take a break nonetheless, after all there is a spectacular view of Porto Moniz and its lava ponds to the sea.
I spend the night in Calheta, where the next morning banana plantations decorate the beginning of the last cycling stage. In an already familiar way, the small coastal roads leads up and down along the bays, in sections along the sea and through cute little coastal villages. At Cabo Girão, a 600m cliff can be visited with a little detour, is still rather quiet in March. Then it’s very comfortable on the cycle path in Madeira to Funchal and the noble hotel Four Views Baía.
Time to explore in Funchal
Going to sleep, having breakfast, surfing the internet – I am fine and did not leave until around noon to explore Funchal, the capital of the island. After exploring the old town centre, the Rua de Santa Maria and the Mercados I find myself in front of the cable car station. Overlooking the bay of Funchal, it goes up to Monte.
A tour of the mountain, watching the famous wicker car ride, a short visit to the pilgrimage church and then it’s back to the sea. Along the harbour promenade I say goodbye to Funchal and return to the hotel.