Meet Madeira’s prettiest seaside villages

The island of Madeira has always been popular as a holiday destination, and rightly so. Not only is it very easy to grab a cheap holiday in Maderia, it’s known for its rugged landscape and gorgeous weather, it has a reputation as a veritable island paradise. But when the remoteness of the countryside or the beach becomes too much, it’s time to head to one of the port towns peppered around the edge of Madeira. There’s plenty going on, but here is our guide to some of the best locations.

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Santa Cruz

Whitewashed houses with terracotta rooftops. Cobbled streets bustling with restaurants and shops. A wide promenade with spectacular views of the sea. Let us introduce you to Santa Cruz, one of the most popular resort villages on Madeira. She’s very pleased to meet you.

Conveniently located next to Funchal airport, Santa Cruz offers a fantastic base to stay for those on the island for any length of time. There’s plenty to do, but as a first priority, you should head to the promenade and the indoor fish market where the catch of the day is displayed. Offering a rare chance to experience the island’s everyday culture on the island, it’s also a great opportunity to see the local scabbard fish known as Espada. These are fearsome-looking creatures armed with teeth that look like they belong in a shark’s mouth, but they’re utterly delicious to eat.

Talking of yummy eatables, it’s also worth paying a visit to the bakery near the Lido, which features a fantastic range of tarts, pastries and cakes. Santa Cruz is also extremely accessible with a reliable local bus service, although tourists are warned some aircraft noise may be experienced due to its proximity to the airport.


If you’re looking for a quieter village to enjoy your stay at, look no further than Machico. Not only will you have a gorgeous harbour sitting right on your doorstep but you’ll also have stretches of sandy and pebbly beach within walking distance. Take a stroll through the narrow streets and enjoy the atmosphere of this working town.

From a historic point of view, Machico is probably the most interesting spot on the island. Located on the southern coast, it is where the Portuguese initially discovered Madeira and as a result contains a historic village where many residents still choose to live. Due to its location and morphological characteristics, Machico’s climate is complex and often very different to other areas of Madeira. You can visit Santa Cruz in the rain and it’ll be sunny in Machico.


Last on our list of pretty villages on Madeira is Garajau, which is significantly smaller than both Santa Cruz and Machico. Despite its size, its tourist industry is served by a plethora of local cafes, a handful of bakeries and several restaurants offering mouthwatering food. Even so, it’s certainly the quietest option, and it benefits from utterly stunning views and easy accessibility to the island’s capital Funchal.