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Visit Zandvoort & SPA F1 Circuits

Visit Zandvoort & SPA F1 Circuits


So, you’re an F1 fan in central Europe? Well congratulations, you’ve come to the right place, because there is nowhere else on Earth with as many circuits in a relatively small area. This is because the juggernauts of the European motoring market all originate from this part of Europe, your VWs, Peugeots, and whatever Renault is pumping out these days all have roots in this region.

Belgium and the Netherlands are no different, sure they might not have a manufacturing giant like their neighbours, however, car culture is very much present around those parts, even if for different reasons.

Let’s start with the Netherlands first. Now this country is an absolute joke of a place (in a good way, please don’t come after me dutchies). This reflects in the approach they have to car racing: full balls to the wall, pedal to the metal, Collin McRae style, straight out of Dukes of Hazard (they like the colour orange after all). The circuit I visited there was Zandvoort, around an hour’s drive away from Amsterdam, and I think the best way to describe it is by delving into the mind of a Dutchman since the track was designed by one. Picture this: our good track designer friend goes down the street to the pub with his mates and says “Lads, how should I make this track?”. Now the one guy in the corner, who got there earlier and has already had some extra beers says “Uhm just give it like banked corners kinda like the Americans do.” Then the short fella on the left side of the table stands up and says “Nonono, you should give it elevation changes and fast corners, that’s what drivers like the most.” “Then the one guy who’s just there to run away from his wife says, “Oh and you should make it near the beach, so that after the race is over you can just go for a sunbath.”. Finally the bartender, who was, as usual, eavesdropping the conversation adds, “You gotta make a BTT track around it as well, just for the laughs.” After this, our designer friend goes home and after about 5 seconds thinks to himself. “Why not add all of those?”. And thus, Zandvoort was born, a track so insane it was an instant hit.

It was the host for the Dutch GP from the 60s to the late 70s until it became obsolete due to the lack of updates and maintenance. Fortunately, it was recently renovated and brought back to its full glory. It is the Gen Z incarnate of racetracks, the iPhone X of the motoring world. It is ideal for new motorsport fans to get the daily adrenaline rush, and you don’t even have to drive around it! I was lucky enough to visit it on a day when cars were being raced around it and it looked like the most fun thing in the world. You can rent the whole thing for a day and take part in activities such as slalom, drag racing and karting, but most importantly driving a supercar around of the best tracks in Europe, sign me up! Even if your funds are somewhat lacking you can enter the track itself ( obviously not the asphalt) and visit the pitlane and take a short break at the bar ( who else but the Dutch to build a bar on a race track), or you can take a walk around it through the dirt tracks that surround it, just beware of bikes, these people will NOT slow down if you’re in their path. All in all, a very entertaining experience and most definitely recommend it.

Now onto Belgium, and this is a country which is the home to, in my opinion, the most historic racetrack in the world. If you’re willing to make the hour-and-a-half journey from Brussels to the humble village of Stavelot, you will find the great, the wonderful, the unrivalled, the iconic and the intimidating Spa-Francorchamps. I can only describe this circuit by comparing it to others. If going to Zandvoort is going to your local all-you-can-eat fast food restaurant, visiting Spa is going to a 5-star Michelin meal. It is unforgettable, it is the ethos of a racetrack.

If Zandvoort was designed by a Dutchman and his mates, Spa is the work of a renowned mathematician who calculated every corner’s angle to the millimeter. It is perfect, if you go into it thinking “Oh it’s just another track like the others” you will come out saying “That is art.”

I went on a guided tour but to be completely honest, words are unnecessary, all you need to do is take a trek around the track and witness all its greatness. If you’re lucky enough there’ll be cars doing laps around it, if so then you will ascend to a new plan of existence, and your soul will raise to the Heavens, if only for a few seconds as you hear the engines echo through the mountains. Spa is a track for the gentlemen, the refined racer or the long-time racing enthusiast. Of course, even if you are new to this motoring world, you are still more than welcome to visit this omen to racing, the cathedral of the motorcar, the pontifex of speed. Honestly, it is life-changing, and I highly recommend it, in fact, if you visit Belgium and you choose not to visit Spa, it is like choosing Dave from around the corner over Bruce Springsteen for a karaoke party.

Long story short, eastern Europe is rich in racing culture, and whether you’re an F1 fan or a drag racing enthusiast, there is always something for you around these parts, so knock yourself out.

Depot Rotterdam

Easter holidays in Belgium & Netherlands: One Week Road Trip

One-week Road Trip: Easter holidays in Belgium & Netherlands

This Easter holidays I was looking to take my two teenage sons on a one-week trip somewhere in Europe. I was looking for direct flights from Madeira to a destination that was reasonable for a family on a small budget and where they wouldn’t get bored, and then…I found Ryanair’s direct flights from Madeira to Brussels!

What really marked Brussels out for this trip, was the close proximity to several cities like Ghent, Rotterdam and Amsterdam while being able to make one of their dreams come true…visiting the F1 Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps.
See, this is how we planned our road trip from Brussels:

Road Trip from Brussels

road trip from Brussels

Ps- We had also planned to visit Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or Anne Frank’s house but it was sold out, so book as soon as possible!

In terms of accommodation, we were so blessed staying in a cousin’s home in Brussels, while getting to experience life as a local. This is for sure one of the most sustainable and authentic ways of traveling. 

“La Cycliste” by Alain Séchas

Brussels was a surprise for me, so much to see and do!! It’s got a little bit of the best cities in Europe, with beautiful architecture, parks, cafes, restaurants, and culture, except for the weather…it rains a lot. If you’re lucky like us and get to see the city under a beautiful sun shining light, it’s just perfect!



In Rotterdam we stayed in The Social Hub , a great choice if you’re a family with teens, as the whole concept is based on community life, with ping-pong tables, co-working spaces, nice affordable food, rental bicycles, and stylish bedrooms, in very close walking distance to the city’s action.

Rotterdam is one of my favorite cities in Europe. It feels like she’s always one step ahead in time…interesting architecture, full embrace of diversity and sustainability, art at unexpected places and rotterdammer’s easy going hospitality. Click here to know more about Rotterdam.


Amsterdam looked different this time, sunnier, less crowds, always romantic…Nothing like a Canal Tour to get to know this city. Fun & interesting facts about the old houses by the canal, one in particular had a seagull and that meant a midwife used to live in that house. No elevators, and a hook on the top to carry the furniture to each floor (you have to measure the window first…). We booked this boat tour online and got our tickets in advance (no waiting lines), plus it included some nice snacks and drinks.

Canal Tour Amsterdam

Ghent, is so beautiful…you get a romantic city with medieval buildings mixed up with a bunch of students, craft beer bars, cute shops and urban art. We used this map to walk us around the highlights of the city.

The memories made while driving from one country to another provides a memorable adventure in itself. Plus we got to visit not one, but two F1 circuits, Zandvoort (Netherlands) and SPA-Francorchamps (Belgium) which is a must for any F1 fans out there…

About the F1 experience in SPA and Zandvoort, I’ll leave it for another postpost, but both were amazing locations, but if we could only choose one, I must say that the guided tour around the Circuit of SPA- Francorchamps was unforgettable.

Conclusion: There is no doubt that exploring Brussels is on itself sure to keep teenagers engaged (wished we had more days to explore this location…) but within 1-2 hours drive you can easily visit fabulous attractions while getting to know the local lifestyle, my favorite thing about traveling.

If you’re following me on instagram, you’ve probably seen stories & tips about this trip, however here I leave you with extra tips and locations we liked:

Restaurants in Brussels: Wolf Market, Pizza Saco, Le Char D'or,

Restaurants in Rotterdam: Bazar, Prachtig, Aloha, Stockholm, Markthall

Restaurants in Amsterdam: Cafe@droog, Blue Amsterdam

Restaurants in Antwerp: Ristorante Pizzeria Nicoletta

Restaurants/Pubs in Ghent: Balls & Glory/ Dulle Griet

Museums: Magritte Museum

Shops: Le Boutique Tintin , Leonidas, Feyenoord FanShop Stadion, 
       Waterstones Amsterdam, Shop of Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium 

Tours: Free Walking Tour Rotterdam, Canal Tour Amsterdam, Walking map in Ghent,
       F1 Circuit SPA-Francorchamps
I hope this post inspires you to plan a road trip from Brussels with your teens.
♥ Sofia


Lanzarote itinerary

3 day Itineray + map in Lanzarote, Canary Islands

3 days in Lanzarote, Canary Islands – Itinerary and Map

Lanzarote, you either love it or leave it…

The first time I went there I was surprised by its landscapes. They looked apparently lifeless, too arid and wild. But as the days passed, the lunar views punctuated by small white houses with green windows (they’re all similar in their own way), with their cactuses and palm trees, became a passion.


I’ve been back to Lanzarote a few times, and it’s perhaps one of the most amazing places I know. On this island, declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, there is a happy coexistence between nature and human creation. It looks pristine though contrived. To give you an example, there are no advertising posters on the streets. One feels the respect for what nature imposes, however it is an island with lots of tourism.


The climate, the views, the art, the sculpture, the sea, the architecture… it all merges in a symbiotic way, thanks to the influence of famous local artist César Manrique, who advocated sustainable tourism development and whose work dictated a large part of our itinerary:

Day 1 – North

Teguise – the ancient capital of Lanzarote, famous for its street market on Sundays, picturesque alleys and tiny squares with tapas bars and live music. We left the market for last, and got lost in alleys and courtyards. There were three places that deserve my mention: the Hotel Boutique Palácio Ico, the El Patio café, and the shop as Marias en la Villa.

We continued to Haria to visit the César Manrique House Museum, which has one of the most spectacular bathrooms I have ever seen, difficult to describe… it is semi-open to a cactus garden and where natural plants cascade over a mirror that covers an entire wall and reflects the exterior. A studio is also located in an adjoining house and allows us to see some of the artist’s work materials.

We had lunch in a very nice square in Haria, where the famous Sociocultural Center La Tegala is located.

We also visited the iconic Mirador Del Rio. Although the view is basically the same as you get from the outside, it was worth paying €5 to get to know the details of its interior design, including an impressive balcony overlooking the neighboring island; a Graciosa.

We finished our day in Famara Beach, among surfers and kitesurfers. Yes, it’s a super windy beach whose surrounding mountains faint by the sea, in an unforgettable scenery.

Day 2 – South

Traffic was fully stopped on the most scenic road in Lanzarote, which cuts through lava fields in Timanfaya National Park. They result from volcanic eruptions that took place just 300 years ago, so everything is very untouched, in a landscape that extends over 5000 hectares, with many shades of red, making us dream of Mars. Worth the wait? Absolutely.

We continue to Playa Blanca, where there is a ferry-boat connection to Fuerteventura, but the day is already long and we chose to walk along the promenade where there are numerous fish and seafood restaurants, with signs pointing to “paella & sangria”.

Playa Flamingo

Playa Blanca

About 20 minutes’ drive from Playa Blanca, there is  a nature reserve with several beaches, including the famous Playa Del Papagayo, with crystal clear waters and fine sand in an idyllic setting. To enter this protected area you have to pay €3 and although the road is unpaved, it is possible to cross it even without an all terrain car. There are two beach bars nearby, or as they call it over there; “Chiringuitos”.

Day 3 – Nazaret and Arrecife

Nazaret, Lagomar Museum – The home of famous actor Omar Shariff. It is said that he bet it on a game of cards that he unfortunately lost, and never returned to Lanzarote. It was built in the heart of a volcanic quarry, following the shapes of the lava, leaving the rock visible inside. It’s full of nooks, caves, bars, stairs over the water, iron doors and huge sculptures, in addition to an abundance of green plants that seem to grow out of the rock. I imagine it must have been the scene for some pretty “crazy” parties. Some details reminded me of Dali’s House at Costa Brava.

Arrecife is not particularly beautiful, but it has interesting areas such as El Charco de San Gines. There is a large lake, with picturesque fishing boats, several restaurants all around, where you feel like lingering on an afternoon of tapas and beer. Arrecife has the typical Spanish pedestrian streets that lead to the beach and plenty of shops.

Papas arrugadas com mojo canário

Where did we stayed?

Barceló Teguise Beach. we really enjoyed the location, right in front of the beach, the soft but sophisticated decor, the friendliness of the staff, the food, and the different corners around the pool.


How did we get there?

At the moment there were no direct flights from Madeira, but 2 short flights in a row was an easy choice.

on the way out: Funchal- Tenerife – Lanzarote

and on the way back: Lanzarote – Gran Canaria – Funchal

What else?

Lots to see and do… among which the neighboring island of Graciosa, Fuerteventura and a visit to Casa José Saramago in Tias, but you should always leave something left for your next visit to Lanzarote ;).



faja dos padres

A weekend in Fajã dos Padres, Madeira

A weekend in Fajã dos Padres, Madeira

A few days ago we spent a weekend in Fajã dos Padres. I already knew its charms and stunning views, through several  daytime visits over the years, but I had never stayed there overnight. I can now tell you; it is a privilege!


Because when the visitors leave, the Fajã becomes “ours”, it’s just us and the silence, interrupted by the sound of the waves, the sea birds, the dancing of the wind in the leaves of the trees – it’s our little paradise, our haven of peace and natural beauty.

And I still haven’t told you about the warm colors of sunrise and sunset…
…the cheerful colours of the papayas, the mangoes, the green walks under the vines and among the fruit trees, by the sea…


Another detail to mention are the breakfast with local fresh fruits by the sea – a delight for all senses!

How do you get to Fajã dos Padres?

We used the cable car to descend along the impressive 300 meter cliff. Cable car access costs €10 (free for children up to 11 years old, as well as for guests staying at Fajã dos Padres houses.)

What to do in Fajã dos Padres?

  • In addition to access to the beach, walks through the trees, the impressive cable car ride, and meals at the beachfront restaurant, you can also book the following activities:
  • Simple guided tours or with fruit tasting – cost €19.5 and €27, respectively, including access by cable car;
  • Visits to the Malvasia wine cellar tasting – are limited to small groups and guests only. They have a cost of €25 per person (in addition to access);
  • Rental of kayaks and paddle surfing on the beach – rental costs €5/half hour;
  • In summer, upon prior reservation, you can take a boat trip from Fajã to explore the surroundings, lasting about 1 hour. Occasionally, gastronomic events take place.
If you wish to stay overnight you can book it here.



In case you are looking for a retreat for your soul, nature and tranquility, Fajã dos Padres offers you a unique experience in Madeira. See you soon!




From Madeira to London

“From Madeira to London” by Duarte Câmara

I believe that the best way to discover a destination is through the eyes of those who live there. That is why I created this section on the blog “Meeting with the locals”. The objective is to show, through short interviews, the chosen destination.

This time, I suggest a trip to London, with tips from Duarte Câmara, who has lived there for six years.

I have known Duarte for about 30 years. Friends while teens, the quarantine got us in contact a few months ago and as some say, everything happens for a reason.
Allow me to introduce you to Duarte Câmara.

Your biography:

I was born in Madeira, where I lived until I studied architecture in Porto. I stayed there for 7 years and started my professional life. I keep fond memories of the “people of the North” and a very unique city, of well-rooted cultures and neighbourhoods.

For professional reasons and connection to my homeland, I returned to Madeira to work in a private architectural firm in Funchal. Later, I opened my own space/office there, but after nine years, I wanted a little more and went to the UK, looking for a new professional, international experience.

Currently, in London, I combine architecture and systems design, creating “smart homes”.

What made you go to London?

I’m not one to stand still and I like to be very busy professionally. During the years that I worked in Madeira, I did interesting projects in the residential and commercial areas. I invested in architecture, and at the same time I was designing, I did real estate evaluations and taught some classes. Despite all these activities, there were moments of stagnation, so I felt I needed more.

I saw some of my colleagues emigrate, and I felt that I could also find new professional opportunities in a big city. I got to know London as a teenager, on vacation, and since then it has stayed with me as a special place. Due to its proximity to Madeira, it was easy to choose this destination for a new professional adventure.

trafalgar square

Trafalgar Square

If a friend were to visit you in London, where would you take him for a walk?


Breakfast in Notting Hill, on Portobello Road, preferably in a cafe with outdoor seating, to see the vibe of Portobello Market. (Saturday is the main day). After wandering through the market, we descended towards Hyde Park, and crossed Kensington Gardens, towards Bankside. After a stroll along the river and to work up an appetite, the Anchor Bankside pub is a good option.

Kensignton Gardens

Kensignton Gardens


To Greenwich, by river boat from one of the Bankside or London Bridge City piers. Lunch at Greenwich Market, with many options for “street food”.

Chinese Street Food - Jian Bing

Chinese Street Food – Jian Bing


Back in the centre, and as it is almost mandatory to climb to a high point for the best views of the city, I would choose the Sky Garden, on top of the Walkie Talkie building – the highest public garden in London, with a 360-degree view ( Click here to view the view)! Please note that it is necessary to book in advance.


Maybe a good Argentine beef steak at Gaucho (a chain that has several restaurants in London). I know Chancery Lane in Holborn and enjoyed the experience. For nightlife, I like the bars in the Shoreditch area.

What is your meeting point in London?

Train stations are always interesting meeting points due to their strategic position. Besides bringing me good memories, there are always interesting pubs nearby for first conversations.

Vauxhall Train Station

Vauxhall Train Station

The Covent Garden area, with its square always full of street performers, pubs, restaurants and markets, is always a fantastic spot to start a late afternoon on a Friday.

Best quality/price suggestion to stay in London?

I advise staying out of the centre, for example in Wimbledon (Zone 3). This residential location has a fantastic transport network, which takes us to the centre in just 20-30 minutes. In addition to being picturesque, Wimbledon has its leafy area, which reminds us of the countryside. No wonder their motto is: “Wimbledon is where town meets country”.

Wimbledon Village

Wimbledon Village

In the centre of Wimbledon is the renovated Premier Inn Wimbledon (Broadway) – a good option.

For more Wimbledon options⇒ click here

Other areas of London, search here:


London transport tips

How to get from Gatwick/Heathrow Airport to central London?

London has a good public transport system, structured from Zone 1 to Zone 6, radially. We also have Zones 7, 8 and 9, outside of Greater London.

At major airports, such as Gatwick (outside of Greater London), we always have access to trains to the centre, in addition to taxis and buses. From Heathrow Airport (Zone 6) you can also take the underground, which stops inside the airport.

  • I take this opportunity to talk about the Oyster card, which is an electronic smartcard essential to travel in London. In addition to the options: daily, weekly, monthly pass, it can be used as a top-up card (minimum value of 5 pounds). You can purchase it at train/tube stations or outside newspaper/magazine shops (here called “newsagents”). It gives us access to the entire public transport network (Zones 1-9), buses, trains, tube, overground, trams, river bus, and even the Emirates Air Line, (a unique cable car, southwest of the city, that crosses the river). Generally, outside Greater London, the Oyster Card does not cover and other fares are required (but there are exceptions such as Gatwick Airport).

What is your favourite restaurant in London?

Of the countless restaurants that exist here, I will select two, different from each other, but both fantastic, which have been mandatory stopping points whenever I have visits from family or friends. They are always full, with that frenzy and dynamic characteristic of good restaurants. In London, table reservations are generally recommended.

Wright Brothers in Borough Market.



I came across this gem, by chance, during a visit from a friend, when we were walking near London Bridge looking for a seafood restaurant. This brand is a fish and seafood supplier to several restaurants.

There are 5 restaurants in this chain, but the first one (near the famous Borough Market) is my favourite. Small and always busy, eating seafood at cramped tables or over the counter is always a delicious experience.

The last one to open is close to the emblematic Battersea Power Station and has an outdoor seating area facing the river. It’s spacious, whether for larger groups or quiet meals. I suggest starting with some oysters, from the English or French coast, even for those who are not fond of it (like I used to be). Every time I go there now, I ask for a plate as part of the ritual. The mussels are the tastiest I’ve ever eaten, especially accompanied by a good French white wine.

Before lunch, I suggest trying a craft beer at Battersea Brewery, as a starter 😉

Battersea Brewery

Battersea Brewery

Another restaurant I like is called Mediterraneo.

It is located in Notting Hill, near Portobello Road, and is an Italian restaurant. Stylish, comfortable and homely, I got to know it through locals, and from then, it became an obligatory stop. I like Tonnarelli with cherry tomatoes, Italian bacon and pecorino Romano cheese, or Fettuccine with wild mushrooms, pine nuts and Italian bacon. For dessert, I suggest the strawberry cheesecake.

What is your favourite store in London?

carnaby street

Carnaby street

We built This City – For different and original souvenirs, like small pieces of art or illustrations. It’s a shop that resembles a small art gallery. It is located on Carnaby Street and sponsors young local artists.

Tate Modern has three stores inside. My favourite is in the Blavatnik Building. I can spend hours there, seeing/choosing art and architecture books.

London Graphics is essential for any visual artist, designer, and architect when it comes to technical and artistic material.

What is your “happy place” in London?

Near the river, that’s always where I end up going. Bankside and Richmond, completely different from each other, are my favourite places. My passion for painting often takes me to the Bankside Gallery, the home of the Royal Watercolor Society. Small and comfortable, it has exhibitions of contemporary watercolours.


Richmond bridge

If a colleague of yours asked you for advice about going to work in London, what would you say?

Preparation and planning are the keywords.

First: study the city.

Preparation before arrival is essential. Understand how the city is organised: understand the main boroughs above and below the river, and understand how the postcodes are structured (essential to find out where we are and where we want to go).

London map

London map

Second: get as much information as possible on the post-Brexit era. Entry into the UK for residence/work purposes now requires a work visa. This can be obtained from the government website through a points system, depending on qualifications, type of work, etc. It is now necessary to obtain, in advance, a job offer from a certified company, with a stipulated annual salary, and an intermediate level of English. For more information, you can visit the Consulate General of Portugal website.

Third: search for the place to live

Seek offers to let a house/flat, search for the places, neighbourhoods and their differences. Most employing companies value proximity to the workplace.

Today there is a lot of information on the internet, and blogs such as Tuga in London and Londonist. To search for a house, I suggest sites like Rightmove and Zoopla.

What do you miss most about Madeira?

The lightness of the air you breathe there. The time we have there, which yields a lot and gives us the freedom to do a lot in one day. The visual immensity of the sea.

And of course, above all, family, friends, festivities and social events, to which I was so used to.

What is your dream trip?

Japan, for being a complex country, and full of contrasts – ancient cultures that coexist with one of the most technologically advanced societies. For what it brought to contemporary western architecture, simplicity, minimalism and the perfect symbiosis with natural elements.

What is your motto?

Never give up! In London, I learned that persisting and waiting for what we really believe and want, is an important part of the journey to get there.

Thank you, Duarte! 🙂

Estreito da Calheta

Getaway in Estreito da Calheta: what to see and do in a 3-day itinerary

Getaway in Estreito da Calheta: what to see and do in a 3-day itinerary

Estreito da Calheta, is about 40 km from Funchal. A short 45 minute drive allows us to reach this corner of the island. I have to confess that I had been dreaming about this getaway for some time now … An old flirt by the Hotel Átrio, was the perfect motivation to visit and I felt in love with this place.

hotel atrio

Day 1 | Estreito da Calheta | (Friday)

Hotel Atrio - book online

In addition to the tranquility of its location, there is great taste in decoration with special attention to details and the hospitality. The central courtyard is a meeting area and a highlight of the hotel. It is well lit by the sun, punctuated with small fruit trees and surrounded by walls of warm and enveloping colors that seem to say “welcome”. This patio gives access to the restaurant, and to a corridor that leads to the garden and the swimming pool. There are flowers everywhere, and paths lined with nature, where silence is king.


hotel atrio


We stayed in bungalow nº 11, which has a very nice bed, click here to see the video.

hotel átrio

We ended up spending the afternoon relaxing on the sun loungers by the pool… and we also became friends with a cat named Serrano.

At dinner, we went to a restaurant that we discovered by the road and it was a success! It is called Fontes do Horácio.

fontes do Horácio


Day 2 | Estreito da Calheta | Jardim do Mar | Paúl do Mar (Saturday)

After having breakfast by the pool, we asked for directions to go through the levadas around this location. Going up the asphalt road next to the hotel, we arrive at a white house from the Forest Guard, and if we go to the left side we will reach Prazeres and Ponta do Pargo, but if walk towards the right side we will reach Estrela da Calheta and there we have two options: 1) Get off at the indicator sign (Lombo / Estrela) towards the road to Estrela da Calheta or 2) keep walking straight towards Rabaçal.


We opted for option 2 (about 2h-3h walk to Estrela da Calheta) and then we took a taxi back to the hotel, where we had lunch and spent the afternoon in the sweet laziness of  doing absolutely nothing.

We also learned a cute curious fact, that Funchal locals are called here “Lanchas”, yes that is the name given to Funchalenses in this part of the island. Apparently, it had to do with the speedboat (translated to Portuguese as lanchas) connection between Funchal and Calheta, in the old days.

At night, we went to Jardim do Mar, to walk through its picturesque nooks and corners. There are two restaurants that I really like in this area, Joe’s Bar and Portinho, but for a change we ended up at Paúl do Mar, where we had a snack in one of the bars next to the pier.





Another place, where one can eat good fish in Paul do Mar, is Maktub, also known for its famous for its mojitos and beautiful sunsets.

On the way back to the Hotel, we discovered a charming Wine Bar, called D’ALMA. Chocolate & a glass of Madeira Wine…gave me happy dreams.


Day 3 | Estreito da Calheta | Prazeres (Sunday)

We took option 2 of the Levada, towards Prazeres – about 1h / 1h30m depending on the pace and breaks for photos. In Prazeres, we went to XS Café, a place with a lot of style, famous for the apple pie and the chocolate brownie, which I can confirm is very tasty.

Then we visited the Prazeres Art Gallery, which had some interesting works from madeiran artists on display. We ended the visit with a glass of cider from Prazeres at the Gallery’s cafe, accompanied by a slice of homemade orange cake.

On the way back to the hotel, we took a different path along the main road, through eucalyptus and shadows that danced with the wind.

In the late afternoon, we went to PUKIKI, the only TIKI BAR in Madeira, which is a nice tip. The environment, the history of the Madeira-Hawai connection, its authenticity and cocktails are a delight. If you’ve never been there, try it one of these days.

It was a happy ending for a weekend that felt like a long break, and made us feel elsewhere, inside the island. Oh we were so in need of this …

Thank you ♥

Map created with Wanderlog, for itineraries on iOS and Android


caminhadas curtas na Madeira

3 half-day walks in Madeira (2-3 hours)

Last week, I took 3 days off from work. I wanted to spend some time with my kids and take them outdoors to spend sometime offline. In Madeira, at the moment, wearing a mask is compulsory. Restaurants, comercial activity and some walks are still open until 5 pm on weekends and 6 pm on weekdays – the COVID-19 restrictions are adjusted weekly.
We were looking for short walks (2-3 hours, depends on how fast you walk…) and planning to leave early morning and return home by lunchtime.
So I leave you with some photos.

Walk 1 – Ponta de São Lourenço – Caniçal

The route is well defined in its generality, with areas that require “good knees”, especially when going up and down. It has fabulous views over the sea, both to the north and south, and as the day was clear we even saw Porto Santo Island. There is a support bar at the end of the route and access to the sea, at the Cais do Sardinha. There are also boat trips as an alternative to reach Quinta do Lorde, but we decided to walk back to the starting point in Baía d’Abra.

short walks Madeira
short walks Madeira
short walks madeira
short walks in Madeira


Walk 2- Levada Nova – Caniçal


Also in Caniçal, this levada starts right next to the exit of the old tunnel of Caniçal (estrada regional 109). It follows the course of the levada to the cemetery and offers stunning views of this area. You can go back through the same route or head towards the sea in the centre of this lovely fishing vila. If you’re looking for accomodation in this area, check this blog post.

half day walks in madeira
half day walks in madeira
half day walks in madeira

Walk 3 – Levada do Moinho / Nova – Ponta do Sol

It took us a few minutes to find the start of the levada, but soon we saw the signpost just behind the Chapel of Lombada da Ponta do Sol. Next to the Chapel there is also a historic mill, easy to spot. The Levada do Moinho is very beautiful, and runs through the cutouts of a beautiful valley in Ponta do Sol, almost always on a flat route. Then there is a trail with several steps that we can climb to take us to the levada nova, where you can make the return path, (in the opposite direction). Beware that this trail has some more vertiginous areas, less protected, and goes through a beautiful waterfall and some tunnels. At the end of the trail, we arrive at the regional road that takes us back to the Chapel.


Capela da Lombada da Ponta do Sol

caminhadas curtas na Madeira

Acess to Levada do Moinho

levada do moinho

levada do moinho

Stairs that lead to Levada Nova




Stay safe while enjoying Madeira.

Take care ♥ Sofia

More Travel Tips to visit Madeira? Click here

24 Hours in Porto

24 Hours in Porto

Places to sleep, eat and visit while traveling solo in Porto

24 hours in porto

I recently visited Porto and I loved it. It was only a weekend getaway for a congress but I took an extra day for a little break. I had already been to Porto both with friends and my children, but this time I went solo and so I leave you with some more tips.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!♥


How to go from Porto Airporto to the city centre?

Upon arriving at Porto Airport, there is a direct connection with the Metro, Line E, with a direct route to Trindade station, one of the most central metro stations in Porto, with connections to other lines. The trip lasts about 30 minutes and the metro ticket costs 2 € + rechargeable walking card 0.60 €. (Attention, you have to validate the card when starting each trip, even when changing lines.)

Where to stay in Porto?

There are lots of cool places to stay in Porto, from luxury hotels to hostels, or Airbnb’s. I usually stay at the Gallery Hostel, on rua Miguel Bombarda.


Next on my wishlist are:

. Torel 1884 Suites & Apartments,

. PortoBay Hotel Teatro

. Mo House

. Baumhaus Serviced Apartments.

Where to eat in Porto?

Oh, so many options, endless really … locals gave me several tips but I can say that in 24 hours I just managed to try two classics, good old-fashioned restaurants, where we can sit at the counter while enjoying a fresh beer, also localy known as “fininho”.

. Casa Guedes and its famous ham sandwich with sauce (use several napkins …;)

. Marisqueira Madureira: preguinho, caldo verde, rissolzinho, francesinha, camarão … it’s all good.

I also went to Zenith to have a brunch; the music, the atmosphere, the service, the house beer… everything was lovely, although there was a huge line at the door.


What to visit in Porto?

Given the diversity of things to visit in Porto and its surroundings, 24 hours are far too little time, but here’s a Top 4.

  • Clérigos Tower

  • Boat trip in the Douro

  • Wine Tasting at Port Cellars

  • Serralves Foundation

And then, get lost…enjoy strolling down the alleys, staircases and sidewalks, look at the tiled facades and the attic windows, visit the local markets and listen to the street musicians. Go downtown to Ribeira to cross the bridge D. Luis over the river Douro; have a drink and soak up the view.

I want to go back…See you soon, my friends!


Madeira Tours

Madeira Tours & Levada Walks

Madeira Tours & Levada Walks

A friend of mine is coming to Madeira soon and asked me to put together some suggestions for tours and levada walks. Either you plan to rent a car in Madeira, or you prefer to be guided, in this post you’ll find a way to get the most of the island by booking tours and walks.

Madeira Tours

When I travel I usually book my tours online with Get Your Guide. To help you get organized, I’ve divided the following tours by location: The capital-Funchal, East & West of Madeira, plus Porto Santo Island. Enjoy 🙂


In Funchal there are lots of things to do, from guided walks through the history of Funchal to hop-in, hop-off Bus Tours or Dolphin Watching by boat, here’s what you can do:


By foot – Enjoy a slow pace walk in Funchal with a guide, listen, look & learn.
Walking Tour in Funchal centre


Walking Tour in Funchal + nice lunch in a historic building

By Tuk-Tuk – This is a fun way to get around! A 75 minutes ride will give you a nice perspective of the city

By Bus – Sit down, put your headphones on and stop at the points of interest. This is a good 3 in 1 option: 48 hours or 22 stops in Funchal+ Visit Câmara de Lobos City Bay + Shuttle bus to Cabo Girão

By Toboggan ride in Monte + Pico dos Barcelos & Nun’s Valley Yes, this toboggan ride in Monte is a must-do in Madeira! Besides that, you get to see one of the most beautiful valleys of Madeira- the Nun’s Valley and a 360º Sight of Funchal in Pico dos Barcelos

By Boat – Enjoy Dolphin watching in the comfort and the privacy of a luxury catamaran -Full review here.


Trekking lovers can walk the route PR8 – VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO and see the beautiful easternmost point of Madeira

Walk to the highest peak of Madeira PICO RUIVO. There are several options to get there – choose what suits you best.

Walk the route – PR18 – Levada do Rei and see the beautiful Laurel Forest.

Go Snorkeling in Ponta de São Lourenço and swim in crystal clear waters!

Walk in PR9 – LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE in Santana. One of the most famous levada walks in Madeira.


Walk in PR 6- LEVADA DAS 25 FONTES to see the beautiful Rabaçal waterfalls

Get a close look at the Laurel Forest, UNESCO Heritage through a Levada Walk

If you’re a wine lover, a wine tour is good way to discover the west of Madeira 😉


Porto Santo Island – ferry boat return ticket + Porto Santo tour

Madeira tours and walks

So either you’re travelling solo, as a couple or with a group of friends, I hope you make the most of your holiday. Please leave a comment below if you have other suggestions or tours that you have enjoyed in Madeira. Have fun 😉