16 Do’s and Don’ts in Madeira
1. Do bring your best walking shoes. Madeira is a volcanic island with many hills, you will walk better in flats or sneakers.
2. Do bring a jacket. We are known as the Island of the “eternal Spring”, which means it’s mostly sunny here and you can certainly get 16ºC in Winter. However, we cannot guarantee that the week you’re here it will never rain or get chilly (specially at night or at 500 meters of altitude).
3. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Yes, please! Even if it’s cloudy, we’re in close distance to Africa so sun really ‘gets under your skin’.
4. Do join good guided tours. I have joined many amazing tours in Madeira and the insight and knowledge of some of these guides are well worth the investment. My advice is: start your holiday with a tour and then discover it at your own rhythm, knowing where you’d like to explore further.
5. Do hire a car, but only if you enjoy driving and like to enjoy the holiday at your own pace. Although public transportation is not bad, to get to hidden spots or ‘levada’ walks, it’s sometimes easier if you rent a car in Madeira.
6. Do learn a few Portuguese words and greeting habits. ‘Thank you’ translates to ‘Obrigado’ (if you’re a male) and ‘Obrigada’ (if you’re a female). ‘Hello’ is ‘Olá’. When greeting someone, one is supposed to shake hands and you might notice that sometimes women friends kiss both cheeks.
7. Do ask the locals. We are generally friendly people that like to welcome you and make you feel at home. If you want to know any tips or directions, just ask! Most locals speak English, specially young people.
8. Do wear shoes on pebble beaches. Our beaches are made of slippery pebbles and black sand, so entering and leaving water can be a challenge, unless you plunge right from the pier (which is what I usually do). If you have diving shoes or even plastic ones, wear it – it’s much more comfortable. Embrace the difference, unless you go to Porto Santo Island where the sand is soft and golden, or to Calheta and Machico beaches with artificial sand.
9. Don’t rush your visit. Take your time to explore the Island: it’s bigger than it looks.
10. Don’t forget to ask for prices. When in restaurants ask for the dish of the day – in Portuguese we say ‘Prato do dia’ which is usually cheaper. When you ride on taxis, make sure the taximeter is turned on once you get in.
11.Don’t expect British punctuality. Although we’ll try to arrive no later than 15 minutes after the stipulated time, there will be times when you just have to enjoy the slow pace here. Breath in and relax, you’re on holiday after all, no rush ;).
12. Don’t wear flip flops on a levada walk.
Please, take care. It can be slippery and wet so take your best mountain boots for that activity and follow the instructions given.
13. Don’t forget to explore the ocean
We’re surrounded by a beautiful ocean, which can offer you a truly magnificent experience. Whether its diving or simply swimming or even joining a boat tour, enjoy it.
14. Don’t forget to smell the flowers:
Madeira has several species of endemic flowers. Go and admire them in one of the many beautiful gardens Madeira has to offer.
15. Don’t be on a diet here – Madeira offers amazing food. Taste the limpets, the tropical fruits, the bread with garlic butter, the Madeira cake, the Madeira Wine, the ‘poncha’, the fennel sweets, the ‘espetada’, the fried corn cubes, the sword fish, the ‘queijadas’, etc etc…We love our food!
16. Don’t forget to come back: leave something for next time 😉