Madeira, Portugal

The islands of Madeira, Portugal, also known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, are located 280 miles off the African coast, but more than 600 miles from Portugal. This cluster of four lush, green, tropical islands, two inhabited and two uninhabited, may remind you of Hawaii. Madeira and Porto Santo are the two inhabited islands in the archipelago, and offer great hiking, whale watching, water sports, volcanic cave expeditions, and much more. Founded in 1420 by three Portuguese explorers, they named the islands Madeira, meaning islands of wood, due to its dense forests. The capital of the islands is Funchal, located on Madeira.

The Botanical Gardens located high in the hills above Funchal, are exquisitely enticing. Established in 1960, this twenty acre garden has more 2,000 varieties of plants. Here you’ll find succulents, tropical and medicinal plants, fruit trees, stray cats, and expansive views of Funchal and beyond. You can reach the gardens via cable car or taxi. Admission is free, although a donation is greatly appreciated.

Another must see on Madeira is the small village of Monte where the famous toboggan ride originates. The term “toboggan” doesn’t really accurately describe the contraption you’ll ride in, it’s more like a glorified wicker basket.

Ernest Hemingway had this to say about the experience: “it was the most exhilarating ride of my life!” We opted to take the cable car instead of the toboggan, since it took us directly to where we wanted to go – the center of town for lunch.

There are loads of great restaurants in Funchal, and we picked a good one; Realmar. Everything was delicious and the waitstaff were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.

And as usual, just wandering and taking photos always appeals to me.

Have you been to Madeira? If so, what was a highlight for you?

As a side note, theTravelsketcher and I learned something interesting this week about WordPress. He posted a blog to a site he hasn’t used for several years, beenthereeatingthis, and I attempted to leave a comment, but my comment disappeared immediately after I hit “reply”. (I have had this happen on other occasions when I leave comments on other blog posts). He searched around a bit, and found my comment in the “pending” folder in the comments dashboard, waiting to be approved. Once he approved it, and it was then visible to all. I checked my “pending” folder, and found some comments that also needed to be approved.

Neville Update: this is a National Geographic moment, so if you’re at all squeamish, please accept my apology and skip the next photo. After being a house cat for many years, Neville loves being able to go outdoors now, and he has certainly channeled his inner hunter!

The mighty hunter! Photo curtesy of theTravelsketcher.

As always, I would love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment.

Wishing you grand adventures,


40 thoughts on “Madeira, Portugal

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  1. I have to start with the bonus picture of Neville. Beware French Mice–Neville is in town! Merde! Scrolling through all these photos is like flipping through the pages of a fancy coffee table book. Lovely. We have been doing so many puzzles that as I look at some of these photos, I imagine putting the pieces of a puzzle together–especially when looking at the the one taken at the Botanical Gardens. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed; French mice beware of Neville! He may be old, but he’s a mighty hunter. It’s so nice to hear that you enjoyed the photos. It truly is a stunningly beautiful place. Thanks, Shirley, for your support and comments!


  2. Your second picture literally looks like a painting! Its so great that you can savor your travels right now without feeling rushed or like you have to see everything!

    Love all the cats, especially Neville! He looks like he is getting younger!

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  3. Loved all the photos (and that shrimp dish looked like, “I want it now”). Cute one of Neville took. The mouse actually looks at peace (yikes).

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  4. wow, that looks like the wildest toboggan experience ever! I think I would be a little worried about not being able to stop before running into something (just like I feel with toboggan rides on the snow!). The whole place looks so lovely and I think I would love to visit it 🙂


  5. A slice of paradise for sure, Tricia. We are committed Botanical-garden-goers and there’s no doubt that the one on Madeira would make a fine addition to our collection. Especially with all those cats. How fascinating (and unexpected) to read about the origins of the toboggan, love the whicker baskets, what a hoot. Neville, what a beast! Is there any chance at all that the mouse survived?

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    1. I think you would love the gardens there, they’re so beautiful. Do you have a favorite one? You know, that’s a great idea for a blog post, favorite botanical gardens. Sadly, the mouse did not survive. In fact, Neville caught another one, in our house (!) last night. He’s a cat on a mission. Thanks for your comment and I hope you have a great day.

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      1. A favourite one would be hard to choose. Perhaps Singapore Botanic gardens for how incredibly pristine it is. In contrast, the rambling wildness of Batumi Botanic Garden in Georgia is another one we loved.

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  6. I really knew nothing about Madeira, but now I want to go! The views from the cable car are unbelievable, and the botanical gardens look gorgeous. The toboggans are interesting, I wonder why they use the word which is from indigenous in Canada. Do they push you down the hill?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too; and now I can’t wait to go back! I would like to spend more time exploring both islands. Hmm, that is interesting. Yes, they use a combination of pushing and riding on the back of the toboggan to get to the bottom. Those guys are in really good shape!

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  7. Wow, your first photo almost looks like a painting – I bet the Travelsketcher would love to make a drawing of this view (or maybe he already has) 😉. And the story of the toboggans is very interesting – I like the basket idea! Neville is quite the hunter … I probably would have given a light squeal if he showed up with the mouse in front of me 😅.

    Liked by 1 person

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