PORTO SANTO, Madeira – 20 TOP Sites on the Magic Island! (2022)

The island of Porto Santo is a piece of land where you can breathe calm and tranquility! An authentic center of relaxation and relaxation! It is 11 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide.

PORTO SANTO
PORTO SANTO

PORTO SANTO

Porto Santo is also called the Golden Island! It owes its name to the 9 kilometers of beach and the blue-green waters. The temperatures and climate of the island vary very little throughout the year. You can beach all year round, since the climate is dry and stable! If you like to take a dip in the sea, you will be pleased to know that the sea temperature varies between 17 and 22 degrees throughout the year. Between May and November the water is consistently above 21 degrees. The region’s economy is based on commerce, services, and a tourism industry that is growing in importance. The natural conditions of the island are not favorable for agriculture. Vila Baleira is the only town on the island. In Porto Santo the attractions are scenic, natural and also geomorphologic. For those who like to take pictures, the island is a paradise!

PORTO SANTO BEACH
PORTO SANTO BEACH

Porto Santo’s sand has therapeutic properties and is sought after by those who suffer from eczema and other skin problems. On the beach, you often see people buried up to their necks precisely so that their skin comes into direct contact with the healing elements of the island’s sand.

WHERE IS PORTO SANTO ISLAND?

It is 75 kilometers from the island of Madeira. If you leave from the capital, it takes 1h40 minutes by plane. The air connection between the island of Madeira and the island of Porto Santo takes 25 minutes. It is 500 kilometers from the African coast and about 1000 from the European continent.

Here is a map that gives you a top-level perspective of the main locations on the island of Porto Santo.

WHAT TO VISIT IN PORTO SANTO?

There are many attractions in Porto Santo. So that you can enjoy and discover all the attractions that the island has to offer, we suggest a minimum stay of 5 days. Here is a map that will help you plan your visits.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HOUSE

It is one of the great attractions of the island. It is a house-museum that exhibits objects that were once used by Don Cristobal Colon. It was here that Christopher Columbus lived and married Filipa de Moniz (before he discovered the American continent in 1492).  

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HOUSE
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HOUSE

PONTA DA CALHETA

Ponta da Calheta is one of the most beautiful places you can visit on the island of Porto Santo. At Calheta beach you can take a dip in the greenish blue water. You can also enjoy a magnificent view of the ilhéu da cal (where lime was once extracted).

PONTA DA CALHETA
PONTA DA CALHETA

PICO CASTELO VIEWPOINT

Here you will find the most beautiful viewpoint on the island. From there you can see the islets that surround Porto Santo and the beauty of the island in all its splendor. The elevation reaches 430 meters and at the top a bust was erected in honor of Schiappa de Azevedo, a personality who contributed a lot to the flora of the mountain. At the top of Pico do Castelo a small fortress was erected to support the locals against invasions by pirates and corsairs (corsairs were armed groups that, at the behest of different governments, plundered ships and coastal lands). Today, the viewpoint is a tourist attraction and offers visitors a magnificent view of the island of Porto Santo.

 PICO CASTELO VIEWPOINT
PICO CASTELO VIEWPOINT

PICO DO FACHO

It is the highest elevation on the island. In the past it was here that flares were lit to warn the people of approaching enemy vessels. If you like to discover and enjoy unique landscapes, don’t miss the eastern slope of Pico do Facho. Magic bays (of small dimensions), diverse flora and fauna form a trilogy that you can’t miss!

PICO DO FACHO
PICO DO FACHO

BOAT TOUR IN PORTO SANTO

The boat trip around the island is an experience you shouldn’t miss. You will see the island from a different perspective and will be guided by people who know it perfectly. If you like diving and snorkeling, then bring your goggles and get ready! The boat stops at places with crystal clear water so you can take a few dives and you can see the fish that will swim near you. If you are lucky you might see dolphins and you are almost guaranteed to see turtles. You will also have the opportunity to see the lime islet and the lighthouse from a very short distance.

BOAT TOUR IN PORTO SANTO
BOAT TOUR IN PORTO SANTO

PORTELA VIEWPOINT

Portela viewpoint is located 1.6 kilometers from the capital of Porto Salto (Vila Baleira). If you visit it, you will have the opportunity to see the Porto Santo beach (to the west) and the Pico da Ana Ferreira (to the east). On the way to this location you will find the chapel of Nossa Senhora da graça (1851).

If you visit Porto Santo on New Year’s Eve, go up to this viewpoint to see the famous fireworks, a trademark of the islands in the Madeira archipelago. Nestor’s bar has a list that includes 10 different types of poncha (lemon, passion fruit, kiwi, tangerine, strawberry, and others). The one that is closest to the original poncha is, in Nestor’s opinion, the fisherman’s poncha. The bar is located at 147 Rua da Alfândega.

ZIMBRALINHO BEACH

Save an afternoon or a morning to get to know the Zimbralinho beach. A crystal clear water in shades of greenish blue awaits you. A small sandy beach embraced by towering cliffs. Perfect for sunbathing or taking a dip in the sea. In case you are a photography lover, you should know that the place is magnificent for that purpose. A small beach for great memories.

ZIMBRALINHO BEACH
ZIMBRALINHO BEACH

ROCHAS DE MORENOS

It is at Pico de Ana Ferreira that you will find these beautiful columns made of magma (technically called prismatic disjunctions). The rock is called Mugearite and is the result of consolidated magma. The shapes that we can see are the result of the progressive loss of temperature of the rock inside the volcano. Very interesting.

 ROCHAS DE MORENOS
ROCHAS DE MORENOS

FLORES VIEWPOINT

Flores viewpoint offers a fantastic perspective of the beach and the island of Porto Santo itself. Also the small islets of Ferro, Cima and Cal can be admired from this elevation.  

FLORES VIEWPOINT
FLORES VIEWPOINT

PORTELA MILLS

Vila Baleira is the only town on the island and its capital. The old pier is very popular for evening walks. A walk that gives you the opportunity to see the main square, the square where the pillory and the town hall are located.

PORTELA MILLS
PORTELA MILLS

THERAPEUTIC SANDS OF PORTO SANTO BEACH

The healing powers of the sands of the island of Porto Santo are famous. The story goes that skin ailments such as eczema cannot resist contact with this sand rich in calcium, iodine and strontium minerals. The direct contact of the sand with the skin facilitates the fixation of calcium in the body. If you take a walk along the beach, you are likely to see some people buried up to their necks. An image that will remain in your memory.

THERAPEUTIC SANDS OF PORTO SANTO BEACH
THERAPEUTIC SANDS OF PORTO SANTO BEACH

TRANSPARENT WATERS (IN THE SOUTH OF PORTO SANTO ISLAND)

Going to Porto Santo and not taking a dip in the beach is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. The island’s beaches are, for me, its main tourist attraction. There are many beaches to choose from, but it is in the south of the island that you will find the most transparent and crystalline waters. Sunbathe, relax, and of course, take a few dips. The water temperature between June and October is very inviting – 24 degrees in September – equivalent to the sea temperature on the best days in the Algarve.

TRANSPARENT WATERS (IN THE SOUTH OF PORTO SANTO ISLAND)
TRANSPARENT WATERS (IN THE SOUTH OF PORTO SANTO ISLAND)

BALEIRA TALASSO SPA

Do you like massages and spa treatments? Who doesn’t, right? If the goal of your trip to Porto Santo is to relax and treat yourself, then be sure to try the Spa at Vila Baleira resort. We recommend the vitapool program that lasts 90 minutes. An experience led by a therapist who will show you the way to relax every muscle in your body.

 BALEIRA TALASSO SPA
BALEIRA TALASSO SPA

Don’t forget to walk along the Vila Baleira pier, which offers idyllic views of the ocean.

VILA BALEIRA PIER
VILA BALEIRA PIER

FONTE DA AREIA

It is in the north of the island and there you will find a magnificent view (miradouro) to the Fonte da Areia islet. The name of the place is due to the immense portion of sand that exists there. If you visit this place, be sure to see the fountain that exists there and was built in the eighteenth century.

 FONTE DA AREIA
FONTE DA AREIA

CABEÇO DAS LARANJAS

Next to the top islet, we find a large concentration of limestone called “Oranges”. It has an irregular and fairly spherical shape. The exterior is golden in color and the interior is white.

CABEÇO DAS LARANJAS

PONTA DA CANAVEIRA

Ponta da Canaveira is a viewpoint overlooking the Ilhéu de Ferro and the western tip of the island.

 PONTA DA CANAVEIRA
PONTA DA CANAVEIRA

PORTELA VIEWPOINT

This viewpoint, which is 1.6 km from Vila Baleira, is marked by an avenue of palm trees and a windmill. From here you can see Porto Santo beach to the west and the conical shape of Pico de Baixo and Ilhéu de Cima to the east. On the way to this viewpoint be sure to notice the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Graça, built in 1851.

PORTELA VIEWPOINT
PORTELA VIEWPOINT

NOSSA SENHORA DA GRAÇA CHAPEL

This monument was built in the 16th century and is one of the oldest on the island. It is there, on August 15th of each year, that the festivities of Our Lady of Graça take place. It was liquidated in 1812 and re-erected in 1951. It is a chapel that is deeply connected with the history of Porto Santo. It was there that the inhabitants used to hide to escape the invasions of pirates and corsairs.

NOSSA SENHORA DA GRAÇA CHAPEL
NOSSA SENHORA DA GRAÇA CHAPEL

PORTO DOS FRADES

It is a very quiet place located in the north of the island. It has a wild beach, practically deserted and with clear waters. It is an area of paradisiacal landscapes, shaped by the erosion that the winds, the ocean and time have inflicted on them.  If you go there, also visit the old salt pans and the old lime factory.

 PORTO DOS FRADES
PORTO DOS FRADES

VIRTUAL TOUR TO PORTO SANTO

SUGGESTED HIKING TRAIL IN PORTO SANTO

If you enjoy walking and a good hike, we suggest a walk of approximately 1 hour and 23 minutes that connects Christopher Columbus’ house to Ponta da Calheta, passing by the Dourada sand and Porto Santo beach. Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes and water.

HISTORY OF PORTO SANTO

The discovery of the island of Porto Santo is still an unsolved mystery. The most famous version refers to a storm in 1418. This would have pushed João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz off their route. After some drifting they would have arrived at an island they named Porto Santo.  Another version states that the island was already inhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese and that it was already called Porto Santo. Another ship is also said to have come to the island as the result of a storm. This is a version referred to in the so-called “Atlas Medicis” in the year 1370.

WHEN TO VISIT PORTO SANTO?

Temperatures in Porto Santo are mild in any month of the year. It rains little (and almost always between October and March) and dry winds are frequent. Although it is very close to the island of Madeira (75 kilometers), the climate in Porto Santo is drier because it is a flatter island with few mountainous elevations. The temperature range throughout the year is low. In summer, the maximum air temperature rises to 25 degrees and in summer it does not go below 18. As for the minimum values, they vary between 20 degrees (in summer) and 13 (in winter). Very close to the Miradouro da Portela, you will find the windmills that once operated and produced flour for the ships that went to the American continent. Some of these mills have been restored and are now a tourist attraction on the island.

SEA WATER TEMPERATURE IN PORTO SANTO

If you like to take a few dips in warmer waters, then take a close look at the table below:

 SEA WATER TEMPERATURE IN PORTO SANTO
SEA WATER TEMPERATURE IN PORTO SANTO

GASTRONOMY IN PORTO SANTO

The food in Porto Santo is, as elsewhere in our country, magnificent. The island of Porto Santo shares some of its gastronomic specialties with its neighbor island of Madeira. We suggest you not to miss the meat kebab (grilled cubes on a skewer) and the swordfish with banana (the swordfish is a fish from the bottom of the ocean). Because we are on an island, fresh fish and seafood are abundant. Other highlights are bolo do caco, passion fruit mousse, and pudding. If you like wine, try the typical wine of the island that has the particularity of coming from grapes that grow on the sand and give a unique flavor to the wine (similar in color to rosé).

Espada with banana - Porto Santo
Espada with banana – Porto Santo

RESTAURANTS IN PORTO SANTO

CASA DO VELHO DRAGOEIRO

It has a 4.6 rating (maximum of 5 stars) and has over 220 reviews on Google. It is located on a somewhat hidden street but is worth discovering. The most positive reviews mention the friendliness of the staff and the quality of the food as strong points. The sea cataplana is mentioned a lot in the comments. The price-quality ratio is also a strong point.

 CASA DO VELHO DRAGOEIRO
CASA DO VELHO DRAGOEIRO

REI DA PONCHA

Do you like Poncha? If so, then you are in the right place! On the island of Porto Santo you will find a Venezuelan (Nestor Vicente) who they call the King of Pocha!

 REI DA PONCHA
REI DA PONCHA

HOTELS IN PORTO SANTO

PARAÍSO DOURADO TOURIST APARTMENTS

It is a 3-star hotel. It has an overall rating of 4.1 stars (out of a maximum rating of 5 stars) and over 90 reviews. Don’t expect luxuries (if you want them you should go for another option that will cost you twice the price). The reviews praise the friendliness of the staff and an adequate price/quality ratio.

PARAÍSO DOURADO TOURIST APARTMENTS
PARAÍSO DOURADO TOURIST APARTMENTS

WHAT TO VISIT NEAR PORTO SANTO?

If you visit the island of Porto Santo, you might also consider a stay on the island of Madeira. The plane trip takes only 25 minutes.

The island of Madeira offers countless tourist attractions. If you visit the island of Madeira reserve at least 1 week to visit this magical place!

MADEIRA ISLAND
MADEIRA ISLAND (click on the image)

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