Porto Santo Travel Guide
Porto Santo Travel Guide
Last Summer I had planned to go to Italy to finally visit one of my top bucket list destinations, the Amalfi Coast. Due to covid-19 restrictions, my flights were canceled and I decided not to go abroad and take the opportunity to explore Porto Santo, a small Portuguese Island with less than 45km square that is part of Madeira archipelago. And I couldn’t be happier about my choice and to share with you my Porto Santo travel guide.
Porto Santo is located in the Atlantic Ocean, only 500km away from the African coast. You can get there flying (it is a 1h30 flight from Lisbon and there are direct connections from several European cities) or by ferry from Madeira.
The name of this island, Porto Santo, means Holly Harbour. There are several versions about how it was discovered, but it seems that in the 15th century some Portuguese sailors arrived in the island after a violent storm and they named it Holly Harbour.
Famous by its yellow sandy beach and a dry and stable climate all year round, it is the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway.
I will share in this blog post what to do in Porto Santo and how to make the most of your time there. Porto Santo is a small island so everything is nearby and easily accessible.
Regarding accommodation, you can choose a centric location near Vila Baleira, the capital of the island, or by the sea. There are several options from all inclusive resorts, to small hotels and local accommodation. I stayed in Porto Santo Hotel Resort and Spa, which was a great choice. Located at the beachside, it was also close to Vila Baleira and I could easily get there walking (approximately 2km).
I recommend to rent a car 1 or 2 days to explore what Porto Santo has to offer and believe me… it’s quite a lot. From scenic viewpoints to incredible geological sites, you won’t regret having chosen it as your holiday destination.
In the South part of the island you find Porto Santo sandy beach. The North is characterised by rough landscapes, majestical cliffs and small rocky beaches.
Porto Santo Beach
There are no doubts that Porto Santo has one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe with more than 9km of pristine and warm waters and golden sand. It runs along the southern part of the island from the harbour until Calheta beach.
One of my favourite activities in Porto Santo was to walk along the beach. There are plenty of restaurants and bars at the beachside where you can have a drink or try the tasty cuisine from the island.
Pico de Ana Ferreira
Even if Porto Santo is famous by its amazing beach, it has much more to offer. Pico de Ana Ferreira, located at the highest point on the west of the island, is a clear example.
It is easily accessible by car (just be aware that the last hundreds of meters before getting there are a bit bumpy).
This spectacular organ pipe array of pentagonal rock columns was caused by volcanic activity millions of years ago.
Porto de Salemas
I’ve read once that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Porto das Salemas is one of those places. Located at the north side of the island, it doesn’t have an easy access but it is worth a visit by its spectacular views and the natural pools.
When you get there, park your car near the cliff and be ready for a steep descent till the natural pools that will take you around 15 minutes. Don’t drive unless you have a 4X4 vehicle.
Be aware that the pools are only accessible with low tide, so check the sea level before heading there.
Portela Viewpoint & Windmills
Portela Viewpoint (miradouro in Portuguese) is one of my favourite places in Porto Santo. It is located less than 10 minutes driving from Vila Baleira and it is a must visit, rewarding visitors with beautiful views from the Southern part of the island.
Near the viewpoint there is a scenic avenue with palm trees and the famous Porto Santo Windmills.
In the road heading to Miradouro da Portela, stop stop to admire the views that are particularly beautiful at sunset.
This rocky and beautiful beach is located near Flores viewpoint and to get there you need to ride through a bumpy road and then walk until the beach. Usually it’s almost desert as it is not easily accessible and it is perfect for snorkelling or diving.
Ponta da Calheta
Located at the westernmost point of the island, Ponta da Calheta is one of the most beautiful spots of the island with turquoise waters beach and some rocky formations.
It is also known as one of the best places to see the sunset in Porto Santo
If I had to select my favourite spot in Porto Santo, it would be easily Flores Viewpoint.
Located at the western side of the island, it offers stunning views to the beach and also to the small islands of Ferro, Cal and Cima.
Not far away from Flores Viewpoint by car, you will get to Morenos Viewpoint, another great location to admire the wild rocky landscapes of the northern part of the island.
Vila Baleira is the capital of the island. This picturesque small town has great options of restaurants, coffees and bars offering visitors the tasty local gastronomy.
Porto Santo (as its sister island Madeira) is well-known by its gastronomy. When in Porto Santo don’t miss the opportunity to try specialties like fish, octopus, grilled lapas (limpets), bolo do coco bread and passion fruit desserts. Try the famous poncha, a typical alcoholic drink made from sugar cane liquor, honey sugar and fruit juice.
Walk around the village and head to the jetty by day and by night. One last tip: walking by the beach you will pass beside the jetty and I will only tell you that is totally worth it.
Most of the visitors to Madeira archipelago go to the main island and then take a day tour to Porto Santo.
If you have decided to discover Porto Santo for your holidays, you can do the opposite and take a ferry to Madeira to spend there a day or even to stay a few days exploring the amazing landscapes of that island.
I was in Madeira a long time ago and I definitely recommend it as well. If you can combine both islands, it will be the perfect getaway.
Day trip to Madeira
I only stayed in Singapore 3 days, so unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit Sentosa Island in the southern area of Singapore with beaches, shopping, dining places and parks like Universal Studios. Nevertheless I recommend you to stay one extra day and stay there for some relaxing and chill out time.