Food, Accommodations, Hiking + more! And why I fell in love with Madeira!
If you have any questions about Madeira/traveling, just drop a comment below and I will do my best to answer!
I knew I would love the island of Madeira but I didn't know I would be so IN LOVE! They have the most intense nature, the most beautiful weather, kind people, amazing food/produce and room to BREATHE! I cried several times when leaving and I already can't wait to go back someday!
We stayed in the countryside/mountain side which was ideal for us! .. the awesome thing is that which ever way you sway, there is a spot for you! Loud and busy city, in the middle suburbs, beach side, mountains etc.
If you plan to stay put near the city, you might not need a vehicle! There is taxis (not sure on the pricing), there is buses and stores are walking distance in Funchal - you would be safe without a vehicle if you stayed directly in the city!
But if you are planning to stay outwards towards the mountains and more rural towns, get yourself a rental car! It was the best decision for us and we got to see EVERY side of the island with ease! Make sure (if you can) to get a manual/diesel - as the roads are windy and hilly!
Now.. onto the good stuff!
The Mercado dos Lavradores
This is a massive building in Funchal overflowing with local produce stalls.
Each stall has similar foods and we would just shop equally from each (although we had 1 guy who we loved and bought most of our goods from!). This is where the bulk of our shopping was done!
Be mindful that the stalls upstairs are OVER PRICED! These are the tourist spots and you can tell (they are set up beautifully and attractive and organized and they will follow you around asking you if you want to try this and that - downstairs in the middle/towards the entrance is where the real stuff is!) We accidentally paid $20+ for a fruit that was maybe $1-2 downstairs haha :P Rookie mistake!
Other Farmer’s Markets
Of course, there is several other farmer’s markets all around the island! You can usually ask a local or google search depending on where you are staying. There is even trucks that drive around the smaller/mountain towns that sell produce.
There is a few “stores” that are set up with local produce as well.
Pingo Doce is the grocery store chain on Madeira.
There is about 5-6 of them (I believe) all around the island!
This is where you can get your pre-packaged items (breads, milks, oats, rice, pasta, sauces, spices etc etc etc)
This is a small health food store located in Funchal.
They have things like: chia seeds, flax seeds, clean nut butters, cacao nibs etc! This is a good place to get your more specific health food items and check out some of the funky stuff they have!
They also have a yummy cafe downstairs that sells very wholesome food and has several vegan options!
Coracao Vegano (Vegan Hearts)
An all vegan restaurant in Funchal serving a Japanese/Caribbean fusion!
Sounds wacky? It is! But in a good way. Jam packed with so many flavors.
Pay mind, this is not healthy food (lots of fried items/oils) but it is delicious and I 100% recommend having dinner or lunch there!
Restaurante O’ Forno
A veg friendly restaurant in Ponta Da Pargo (about 10 min from there we stayed on the island)
The people are amazing, the food is amazing, the prices are AMAZING! We ate here several times.
Several pasta dishes, a Morrocan rice dish, carrot coriander soup, delicious garlic bread and a BBQ stuffed potato are on the menu currently (all are amazing).
There is also a vegan dessert - a fruit crumble!
This is what we used! We always love using airBNB as it tends to be a lot more cost effective and you get a lot more! (full kitchen/a real HOME!)
We stayed more towards the rural parts of Madeira (out of preference) .. farms, land, mountains and farther from the city!