If you weren’t aware, the glorious Portuguese island of Madeira is also known as the Garden Island. Just one of its affectionate nicknames, this moniker highlights the fact that natural beauty bursts from every direction and delights visitors with a memorable display of colour and wild fascination.
If you like to indulge in various green-fingered activities or simply enjoy the majesty of floral blooms, here are some great attractions to check out whilst in Funchal or the surrounding area.
Monte Palace Gardens
Attached to the Monte Palace Museum, which hosts wonderful exhibitions on minerals and Zimbabwean sculpture, these gardens sweep across 70,000 square metres and offer a romantic setting to all guests. Various different areas showcase flora from across the world, including cycads from South Africa that would have been around at the same time as the dinosaurs, whilst a separate garden highlights endemic species that flourish at the diverse altitudes Madeira provides.
Amongst the blooms, you’ll find fascinating artworks dating back as far as the second century; a peaceful lake that’s home to strutting swans, peacock, chickens and ducks; and intricate tile panels collected by José Berardo and laid into the walkways.
Madeira Botanical Garden
Reached via a cable car from Monte, Madeira Botanical Garden is situated in a beautiful hillside setting that provides spectacular views over Funchal. Originally owned and created by the Reid family, it is now in the hands of the government and is open to the public. It features a range of flowers and plants that have been cultivated from around the world, as well as many that are native to the island. An important section is also specifically designated for scientific research and protection.
Other sections are dedicated to South American succulents, aromatic and medicinal species, and trees from contrasting climates. There’s also space for numerous rare, exotic birds.
Quinta da Boa Vista
Of all the botanical gardens and ‘Quintas’ (private gardens), the Quinta da Boa Vista is the best choice for orchid lovers. As well as a staggering array of these flowers, a visit to this former working estate will allow you to peer into the past and learn about wine production and how the gardens of the 19th century were traditionally laid out with walled stairs terracing.
Alongside the fragrant local orchids, you’ll be able to see show varieties such as Cattleyas, Cymbidiums and Paphiopedilums. This is the largest collection of its kind in Madeira and, therefore, you can visit at any time of the year and be sure to find large numbers of the resident orchids in bloom. If you think you can get them home safely, you can even purchase cut flowers.
Madeira is famous for the levadas that run through the land like veins. These narrow channels were historically used to help transfer water from the north and west of the island to the drier areas in the south and east, but nowadays they act as running balustrades that guide hikers on a series of breathtaking walks.
Surrounding these aqueducts is usually a serene setting of stunning flora and so levada walks have become a popular way to explore the countryside. Walks range from the simple Vereda dos Balcões (perfect for beginners) to the strenuous Vereda do Areeiro, which takes you high above the clouds. One of the most picturesque options, though, has to be the Levada das 25 Fontes. Enjoy the flowers and wildlife of the Laurissilva Forest as you go in search of the Lagoon of 25 Fountains.
If you would like to know more about visiting Madeira, you can contact our team on 0800 988 3369. Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you with a tailor-made quote.