How to do a day trip to Camara de Lobos, Madeira

How to do a day trip to Camara de Lobos, Madeira | PACK THE SUITCASES

Camara de Lobos, Madeira, is a pretty little fishing village set in a peaceful cove just 9km outside the centre of Funchal. With its white-washed buildings with red-tiled roofs and idyllic sea views, it’s the stuff postcards are made of (or should that be Instagram photos now?). It’s so close to the city centre and easily reachable by bus, so it’s a popular day trip from Funchal for visitors to Madeira. 

Camara de Lobos translates literally as ‘chamber of wolves’. Quite a dramatic name for a quaint fishing village. Alas, there are no wolves there. The name comes from the gaggles of sea lions that used to hang out on the rocks in its cove. Madeira’s discoverer, João Gonçalves Zarco, spotted these lads on his second voyage to Madeira in 1420 and mistook them for wolves. Perhaps he was on his way to Specsavers. But the name stuck. Camara de Lobos even has some wolves sea lions on its municipal coat of arms. Keep a look out for that around and about as you explore the town.

Anyway, I thought I’d put together this short guide on visiting Camara de Lobos as I know it pretty well and have a good few tips for you. Hope it’s useful. Let me know if you’ve visited or used any of the tips down in the comments…

Continue Reading

How to spend a week in Madeira: a 7-day itinerary without a car

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

If you’re spending a week in Madeira, there are so many things you can do on the island that it can be a nightmare picking which ones to add to your plan and in what order. I’ve put together this one-week Madeira itinerary based on what I’ve done on past trips (there have been a lot of them and I secretly like to think of myself as some sort of Madeira expert) to help you decide.

Madeira is totally doable without a car, so if like me you don’t drive, you’re going to be pleased with how decent the bus system is for seeing plenty of the island. For the bits that are harder to achieve by bus, there are plenty of minibus private tours, but more on that later..

Anyway, here are my tips for how to use your days to explore Funchal and further afield, where to eat and drink and various stuff to do on each day if you’re spending a whole week in Madeira…

Continue Reading

A day trip to Porto da Cruz, Madeira

How to do a day trip to Porto da Cruz, Madeira | PACK THE SUITCASES

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…

Continue Reading

A day trip to the Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras), Madeira

A day trip to the Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras), Madeira | PACK THE SUITCASES

Getting the bus up to the Valley of the Nuns, Madeira (or Curral das Freiras in Portuguese) was one of the first short day trips we did from Funchal, back on our first ever visit to Madeira. Since then, we’ve been back to the valley several times and always enjoyed it. There’s not much there, but the views are spectacular.

So I thought I’d put together this little guide on visiting Curral das Freiras in case anyone else is thinking of exploring the area…

Continue Reading

40 things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here are 40 of my favourite things to do in Funchal, Madeira. I’ve been there enough times now that I feel I can give plenty of tips on how best to spend your time in this beautiful island city.

I’ve tried to avoid anything too obvious like the Monte toboggans and I’ve only focused on the city of Funchal itself and day trips you can easily do from it without a car rather than looking at the entire island of Madeira… Otherwise, this will turn into 40 million things to do and no one will have the patience to read it. I’ll be impressed if anyone actually reads all 40 things to be honest…

Anyway, read on if you want some tips from a self-confessed Funchal addict. Enjoy.

Continue Reading

The best bars in Funchal, Madeira: in search of poncha and craft beer

The best bars in Funchal, Madeira: in search of poncha and craft beer | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s my pick of the best bars in Funchal, Madeira. The city is full of bars serving delicious poncha and even has an emerging craft beer scene (craft beer as in the hoppy American hipster kind). So while Madeira isn’t your place for crazy nightlife, there’s somewhere to get ratarsed round every corner.

Obviously, while in Madeira you’ll be wanting to knock back a poncha or ten. Poncha is a unique and rather strong alcoholic drink from Madeira, made with boozy sugar cane rum, honey, sugar, orange/lemon juice and other fruit juices. The traditional lemon one is my favourite because I’m all about that sour life, but lesser beings might enjoy the maracuja (passion fruit) one, which also seems to be pretty popular. Apparently, they (they being the locals) say that if you drink three poncha, you’ll be able to speak fluent Portuguese. I can confirm this is very much not true, but you will be far too confident in giving it a go.

You might die if you only drink poncha for your entire trip in Madeira, so hunting out some craft beer should also be on the agenda. Madeira is awash with the generic Coral lager, a Heineken brand. It’s not vile but it isn’t something you’d seek out. We were stuck with it when we first started going to Madeira a few years ago, but things are looking up now as Madeira seems to be growing its own little hipster craft beer scene. V exciting. More on this later.

So here’s our selection of where to get your drink on in Funchal…

Continue Reading