Holidays to Vila Baleira take you Porto Santo’s capital with its long beach, laid-back restaurants and lively waterfront bars. And you’ll get to know more about Christopher Columbus, too.
Vila Baleira is the capital of Porto Santo, a tiny island that lies off mainland Portugal. Whitewashed houses, cobbled streets and a quiet main square show off the small town’s peaceful side, while along at the port the trendy bars and clubs add a modern feel. As for the waterfront, it’s backed by a very long ribbon of sandy beach.
A sandy stretch
Vila Baleira may be small, but it comes with a very long beach – it stretches for 9 kilometres all the way to Ponta de Calheta in the south. It’s split into parcels of sand, and the nearest to town is backed by bars and restaurants. There’s a gentle shelf into the Atlantic, where the crystal-clear waters make for great snorkelling and diving.
The town square
The heart of Vila Baleira is the town square, or Largo do Pelourinho. Locals come here for a quiet coffee at one of the cafés before popping into the 16th-century town hall or the parish church of Nossa Senhora da Piedade. Close by is the Christopher Columbus Musuem, and a palm-lined avenue runs to the Infante Gardens, a small space dotted with sculptures and statues.
Daytrips near and far
A leisurely 20-minute walk inland takes you to the Tanque pond, a popular birding place where you’ll see the red-legged partridge and the spectacled warbler. Or you could take the 2-hour ferry across to Madeira’s capital, Funchal. Highlights here include the modern shopping malls and the beautiful gardens, especially the Madeira Botanical Gardens, where you can spot parakeets among the thousands of plants.
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