My absolute favourite day trip from Funchal is to get the bus to the little seaside village of Porto Da Cruz, Madeira. We only discovered it on our second trip to the island, but I quickly fell in love with it and often picture myself sat there with a beer watching the waves crashing when I’m stuck in work.
So I thought I’d put together this very short guide on visiting Porto da Cruz (Port of the Cross) for anyone thinking of exploring the area…
Why visit Porto da Cruz, Madeira
While it’s only tiny, you can easily while away an afternoon relaxing/eating/drinking in Porto da Cruz surrounded by amazing scenery. Penha d’Águia, a massive and imposing rock, separates the village from its neighbour, Faial. This is what makes PDC such a striking place. Can I call it PDC? I’d say we’re close enough mates now after a few day trips there.
Anyway, you can actually walk/crawl up the rock if you’re feeling energetic. Getting up there might be a challenge but you could do it for the views, if not the exercise. If you can’t psyche yourself up to that, it’s just as good viewing it from the village.
I’ll go into things to do in Porto da Cruz a little further down, but the scenery/setting is probably the main draw for visiting it.
How to get to Porto da Cruz, Madeira by bus
- Buses you can get to Porto da Cruz from Funchal do vary, so check the SAM bus website like your life depends on it before you go. It’s usually the 53, 78 or 208. The expresso routes can be twice as quick but aren’t as pretty on the scenery front. You can also get any bus to Machico and change. This can mean fewer windy roads if you’re prone to a bit of a travel-vomit.
- A return ticket will set you back 7,20 euro if you buy on board. It’s cheaper if you get a SAM card, but that’s only worth it if you’re going to use that particular bus company a lot. We only tend to use them for one trip to Porto da Cruz so it isn’t worth it for us.
- The journey takes about an hour and 15 minutes each way.
- Remember that Madeiran bus drivers and bus routes are something else. Be prepared to feel sick and hold on to your proverbial hat (although the journey is nothing compared with the one to Curral das Freiras).
Things to do in Porto da Cruz
This is the best bit: there’s very little to do in Porto da Cruz. Regular readers might have seen my epic list of 40 things to do in Funchal. Well, I’m struggling to think of even 5 things to do here.
But that’s the beauty of it I suppose. You’re left to have a wander, eat, drink, soak up the view, dissect what other tourists are up to, and then get the bus back when you’ve had enough. You can easily do it in half a day, sandwiched between the usual copious amounts of eating and drinking that a trip to Funchal entails.
Of course, there are a few actual things to do in the village. They just won’t take very long. Here you go.
1. Watch the surfers
There’s a surf school, which is pretty entertaining to watch as people learn to surf. And by that I mean they spend a lot of time falling off. The best viewing area is where the below photo is taken, sat on the wall, which is just up by the rock. You’ll be able to work it out once you’re there.
2. Look out for people getting soaked in high winds
This is equally entertaining if it’s a windy day and the waves are really crashing.
So there’s a hill jutting out to sea that you can walk around to get from the bay to the rum factory and surf school. In this kind of weather, the waves can come up and crash right over the path.
If you’re lucky, you might see someone getting an unexpected soaking. If you’re less lucky, it might be you.
3. Visit the sugar cane factory
There’s the Engenho do Norte Sugar Cane and Rum Museum to visit, which is pretty interesting.
It’s open 9am (who does anything at 9am on holiday?) until 6pm every day apart from Sundays and it’s free.
After you’ve done the tour of all the steam-powered machinery, you can go and taste and/or buy some rum/poncha in the shop. If you go between March and May, when the harvest kicks off, you can see it all up and running. We’ve only been in January and February, but it’s still worth a visit.
4. Watch the waves
To the right of the bay, there’s a spectacular view of the cliffs meeting the sea. The rocky beach means you get really good crashing waves and there are plenty of places to sit and watch them along the front.
Who needs a mindfulness app?!
5. Spot the er, ‘unique’ sculpture by the cafés
While you’re sat on the sea front with a drink, cast your eyes to the left. Yes, they don’t deceive you. That is what you think it is…
A very ‘unique’ art sculpture.
No idea why.
If you enjoy this, you might also like the bum sculpture in Camara de Lobos.
6. Other stuff available to do that I’ve not done
I’ve not done these personally, but will update this if and when I do:
- Go and look round the Engenho Velho Museum – a small museum on the seafront full of antique tools and machinery.
- Walk up Penha d’Águia – this is the imposing rock that separates Porto da Cruz and it’s neighbour Faial. Getting up there looks steep and horrific, but I imagine the view would be really good.
Where to eat in Porto da Cruz
We always have lunch at Restaurante Praça do Engenho, on Rua da Praia, Casas Próximas. This is dead easy to find: you just need to walk down to the seafront and it’s right there.
We do our usual salad each with a portion of chips to share (if you’ve been to Madeira, you’ll know that you end up taking any opportunity to avoid more bread). There are plenty of pescetarian and vegetarian options. I always picture sitting there with a beer and an agua sem gas when I think about being in Madeira.
Anyway, it’s got simple-but-decent grub and clean toilets. You get a great view of the sea and the mountains… Usually a good people watch thrown in, too. You can read more about where to eat around Madeira here.
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If you found this little post about Porto da Cruz useful, why not hover over one of these images and pin to your Pinterest board? (Desktop only).
You might also like my other Madeira posts:
- 40 things to do in Funchal, Madeira
- Where to eat in Madeira – 14 of the best restaurants and cafés
- The best bars in Funchal, Madeira: in search of poncha and craft beer
- How to do a day trip to Camara de Lobos from Funchal
- Funchal, Madeira: a travel guide
- How to visit the Valley of the Nuns, Madeira (Curral das Freiras)
- How to spend a week in Madeira: a 7-day itinerary without a car.
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