This picturesque town is set within the hills of Madeira’s northern coast and is home to a fascinating underground cave complex and botanical garden.
São Vicente is a small town where you’ll find pleasant churches and an excellent surfing beach. Many visitors make the daytrip from Funchal to see the volcanic caves here, but this charming old town also deserves some attention.
Go for a stroll around São Vicente’s Old Town, where most of the cobbled alleys and streets are pedestrianized. Lined with palm trees, shops and cafés, the focal point of the Old Town is a beautiful 17th-century church. This Baroque church is dedicated to St. Vincent and topped with a distinctive checkered spire. Inside, you’ll find beautiful ceiling paintings, one of which depicts St. Vincent blessing the town.
Don’t miss the town’s Garden of Indigenous Plants, which is home to more than 60 different species of flora indigenous to Madeira. This expansive garden includes a number of different laurel species and other common coastal plants.
Walk to the town’s beach and watch surfers taking on the ocean waves. Although this pebbly beach isn’t particularly ideal for sunbathing, it is a fantastic spot for surfing. Its tall waves attract surfers from across Europe.
At the mouth of a stream running through the town you’ll find Capela de San Roque, a small chapel constructed in 1694. Surrounded by basalt rock, it is said the chapel was built on the exact spot where St. Vincent once appeared before the townspeople.
Be sure to see the popular São Vicente Caves & Volcanism Centre, which features a series of caves formed during the island’s last volcanic eruption. Take a walking tour through the mysterious caves and visit the neighboring Volcanism Centre to learn about the region’s geological formation.
Not far from the caves you’ll find Nossa Senhora de Fatima, a hillside chapel built in 1953. Notice how the chapel’s 45.9-foot (14-meter) high tower contrasts against the rolling mountain peaks that surround it.
São Vicente is located on the northern coast of Madeira. It can be reached by bus or car from Funchal.