Discover the charming seaside town of Camara de Lobos in Madeira:
Colorful fishing boats, cobbled streets, seafront promenade, beach...
Below is my guide to visit Camara de Lobos with map, things to do, tips and pictures.
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Why visit the town of Camara de Lobos in Madeira?
About Camara de Lobos
Camara de Lobos is a "large" town for the island.
However, the old town part around the water feels more like a charming fishing village.
It is one of the top destinations in Madeira because of its colorful boats, white houses, cobbled streets, green hills, restaurants...
It has been built around a long natural harbor created by the black basalt rock contrasting with the turquoise waters.
It is a very picturesque place.
Top things to do in Camara de Lobos
- Watch the colorful boats rock in the harbor
- Stroll around the cobbled streets and soak in the relaxing atmosphere
- Walk along the seafront to admire the old town from different perspectives
- Eat fresh fish and drink Poncha at one of the many restaurants
- Head to the pebble beach
- Go up to the garden, Jardim do Ilheu, for even more perspectives
- Visit the museum of printing presses
- Check out Churchill's viewpoint where he painted
About the name
The name Camara de Lobos literally translates to "Chamber of the wolves".
Why, you may ask? There are no wolves. It refers to the sea lions that used to relax on the rocks here when João Gonçalves Zarco discovered Madeira.
Today, there are no sea lions. The monk seals live in a marine reserve around the Desertas islands.
Note that it is Camara de Lobos. I know it is very tempting to say Camara dos Lobos, but it is wrong.
More photos after the planning tips.
Planning Tips & Map - Camara de Lobos, Madeira
How to get to Camara de Lobos - Map
- South coast of Madeira
- Easy to drive to the town and seafront.
- Funchal to Camara de Lobos = 15min drive
- Also accessible via the Hop-on Hop-off bus from Funchal - get your ticket
- Below is a map to locate it and get oriented:
This highlight (with GPS coordinates and practical tips) is included in my travel Guide eBook that helps you easily plan your Madeira trip:
Plan your perfect trip around Madeira!
- Large carpark by the harbor (for a fee - bring coins)
- Plan at least half a day to explore the village
- Free to explore
- There are many restaurants in the cobbled streets by the harbor - great spot for lunch
- Some staircases and steep slopes around town to explore (apart from around the harbor)
- You can check the weather before going, by looking at the Camara de Lobos webcam here
Need to rent a car in Madeira?
- Compare car rental prices on Discovercars.com - one of the best customer-rated comparison sites!
- Choose the car and company you prefer (remember you need enough power for the steep roads)
- Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind!
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Where to stay in Camara de Lobos - hotels
- LUXURY - Pestana Churchill Bay, with panoramic views of the bay - Check out photos and availability
- APARTMENTS - Casa da Praia, with a lot of light - Check out photos and availability
- RENTAL - Above the Sea Apartment - in Camara dos Lobos with amazing sea views - check out photos and availability
- APARTMENTS - Sonho dos Avos, higher above Camara, with swimming pool - check out pictures and availability
- or see best rated accommodations in Camara de Lobos
More tips on my article about where to stay in Madeira.
Fishing port & lighthouse
As you park, the first thing you will see is the natural cove with:
- crystal clean waters,
- colorful boats,
- black basalt rocks,
- a small white lighthouse,
- and a giant mural...
Note that there is a small pebble beach by the harbor. However, if you are planning on swimming or sunbathing, I recommend the other beach Praia de Vigaro (details further in the article).
Walk around the harbor (flat walkways) to appreciate the enchanting scene.
Have a look at the small fishing boats. It is still quite an active port.
As you head to the lighthouse area, look back towards the town and see the terraces covered with banana plantations.
The true Camara de Lobos fishing boats are distinctive, they are called "Xavelhas". Proud fishermen were painting them. A few very old traditional boats are still in the harbor.
The sea lion mural (not a wolf!)
One of the most photographed places in Camara de Lobos is the sea lion mural.
It is very fitting because of the name of the town, and it is a stunning mural.
It is massive and is made from recycling material. It was created by Portuguese artist Bordallo II, as part of a project for World Oceans Day. According to him, he creates images of the victims of pollution, using what destroys them.
Old center & churches
Short History of Camara de Lobos
It is believed to be the original landing point for the Portuguese discoverer João Gonçalves Zarco, the area where he disembarked in 1419.
And this is where the first settlement was established. It became a parish in 1430 with an economy around fishing, agriculture and wine production.
The municipality was created in 1835.
In 1994, it became a town rather than a village.
Cobbled streets & restaurants
The few streets around the harbor have a lot of charm.
They have cobbled stones, colorful decors and plants to add to the picture perfect scenes.
Take the time to stroll through them.
If you are there around a festival, you may even see colorful decors around.
Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição
Right by the harbor is a small chapel.
Don't confuse it with the church. This is the fisherman’s chapel, Capela de Nossa Senhora da Concelcao.
The outside is quite neutral, with white walls and brown rocks.
But step inside and discover rich ornaments, including paintings and a painted ceiling.
It was founded in the 15th century and rebuilt in the 18th century.
Camara de Lobos church - Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião
Camara de Lobos’s main church is Igreja Matriz de Sao Sebastiao.
From the outside, it is a typical black and white Madeiran church, built in the 17th and 18th century.
Inside the style is Baroque with 3 naves, gold chandeliers and wood carvings.
Garden - Jardim do Ilheu
Between the harbor side of Camara and the beach side of Camara, you can see what is refered to as the "Islet of Camara".
This is a rocky promontory, that would be an islet if surrounded by water.
It has been transformed to add to the touristic interest of town.
There are slopes and staircase to reach the top where you will find a garden: Jardim do Ilheu (the garden of the islet).
From the small garden you can enjoy beautiful views of
- the cliffs,
- the beach,
- the town,
- and the top of the church with its typical orange roof:
At the end of the garden, is the boat "Coroa do Ilheu".
It was placed here in 2019 to commemorate the 600 years of the discovery of Madeira.
Camara de Lobos Beach, Praia de Vigaro + Museum
On the West side of town, once you pass the lighthouse and continue along the seafront, you will reach the area of Praia de Vigaro where you will find a pebble beach and museum.
Praia de Vigaro - Camara de Lobos Beach
The main beach in Camara de Lobos is Praia do Vigário.
This pebble beach is free to access at the mouth of Ribeira do Vigaro.
Before this was used by fishermen to prepare their gear for black scabbardfish fishing and to dry clothes.
Now it is mostly a touristic beach.
- Beach bar
- No facilities,
- No lifeguards
Camara de Lobos Museum - Museu de Imprensa da Madeira
And just above the beach is the MIM, Museu de Imprensa da Madeira, a museum about the history of printing, full of printing presses.
This is quite a large museum, considering the niche subject.
See facebook page
Camara de Lobos Promenade - Caminho do Calhau
In the few sections above, we walked west from the harbor.
Now, we are back at the harbor and we will start the walk to the East, towards Funchal.
There is a staircase to reach the elevated promenade. Take the path Caminho do Calhau.
The path will offer beautiful views of the harbour, the boats, the town, the cliffs and hills.
I really enjoyed the perspectives from this side of town.
Once you have climbed the stairs, it is an easy cobbled path along the houses by the water.
Forno da Cal
Not far, you will reach a strange old building. It is Forno da Cal.
This Lime kiln was built in 1874 to produce lime. It was restored several times during the 20th century but stop activity in the 70s.
Locals were complaining about the odor and smoke. Processed lime started being imported.
Today, it is considered a local heritage.
Churchill viewpoint & stay
Winston Churchill is the most famous figure associated with Camara de Lobos.
Reopening after World War II, the Reid’s Palace Hotel of Madeira invited Mr. Churchill for a vacation in 1950. He accepted and visited with his wife and entourage.
He took a car from Funchal to Camara de Lobos and fell in love with the charming town.
He found his favorite place and started painting, a place that is now known as the Churchill viewpoint.
It is just above the harbor on the East side.
He was supposed to stay longer in Madeira but had to leave after only 12 days dur to general elections in England.
This is the view, from the viewpoint.
In my opinion, it is not the best view...
But after that, the local went all in with including Churchill in the marketing of Camara de Lobos.
By how much it is mentioned, I first thought he was a regular visitor for all his vacations... but no. He visited once.
Things to do nearby
Now that we have explored the town itself, let's have a look at other things there is to see around.
The entire island is easily accessible from Camara de Lobos. But I won't list all. You can see my Top 35 of the best things to do in Madeira.
Below I will focus on the closest attractions.
View over the town - Miradouro da Torre
First, you can drive just a couple of minute to higher ground.
The viewpoint Miradouro da Torre, offers beautiful views over the town with the orange roofs and harbor.
Even from here, you can see how colorful the boats are!
The Cabo Girao Skywalk is the most famous viewpoint in Madeira. Here the cliffs reach 589m (1932ft). They are the tallest in Europe.
The locals have built a transparent platform to appreciate the height.
It is quite impressive to see the height, but apart from that, I thought the views were very limited. I prefered its cable car.
En savoir plus
Location - West of Camara de Lobos, 10min drive
Faja do Padres
Faja do Padres is one of the 7 cable cars in Madeira (see my list).
This is one of the most touristy ones. It is privately operated to reach a gardena and restaurant.
You can book several tours including visits of the Gardens and fruit tasting.
Parking is complicated.
See official website
Location - West of Camara de Lobos, 15min drive
Doca do Cavacas
It is one of the few natural pools around Madeira (see my list), where you can swim in seawater surrounded by lava rocks.
They are located on a small tip next to the large beach of Praia Formosa.
The lava rocks have been modified to allow visitor to walk around and swim around.
Next to it is the tunnel Poças do Gomes, with windows inside the tunnel to see a sea cave!
Location - East of Camara de Lobos, 10min drive
Funchal old town, boat tours and many museums
And of course, you can head to Funchal to discover its charming alleys, gardens, historical buildings and more.
This is also the place to head on a boat to go dolphin and whale watching (learn more).
Location - East of Camara de Lobos, 15min drive
Hiking near Camara de Lobos - Levada do Norte
Madeira is famous for its hiking trails and levada walks. You can see my selection of the best ones in this article.
The main trail near Camara is the Levada do Norte. This is one of the most important levada on the island (traditional irrigation system).
The hike follows the levada. Different sections can be walked, or the whole length. However, it is not as well marked and maintained as other trails on the island.
And further away...
And you have so many more places to see. Others that are in the same area as Camara are:
- Curral das Frieiras, the valley of the nuns - beautiful mountain scenery, history and chestnuts
- The Monte area in Funchal - and its famous garden: the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, a must see
- The seaside town of Ponta do Sol and its old bridge - read article
Want to see more of the best Madeira offers?
- 42 Madeira travel tips to plan an unforgettable trip - read article
- Where to stay in Madeira - best areas - read article
- The best landscapes in Madeira in 40 pictures - read article
- Tips to rent a car and drive around Madeira - read article
- 12 Madeira Hidden Gems - read article
- 18 best beaches in Madeira - read article
- 7 best Madeira boat tours & trips - read article
Planning a trip to Madeira?
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