Holidays to Santo da Serra split the focus between a famous golf course, amazing mountain scenery and panoramic hiking trails.
Head in the clouds
Santo da Serra's a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it village high up in the mountains of north-east Madeira. Its claim to fame is the 27-hole Santo da Serra Golf course, the spiritual home of the Madeira Island Open. But it’s also a great base to explore Madeira’s interior – an opinion shared by the wealthy islanders who built their quintas, or country estates, here.
Back to nature
In Santo da Serra, all roads lead to the village square – where you can tuck in to Madeiran cuisine or sip local cider in full view of a pretty whitewashed church. Parque do Santo da Serra's also within walking distance. It was once a huge family estate, but these days it’s a park with roaming deer and horses. And Santo da Serra has plenty of spectacular rambling paths, too. They all follow the course of the levadas – Madeira’s winding system of aqueducts.
On the outskirts of the village is Santo da Serra Golf, a championship course with 18 of its 27 holes designed by golfing legend Robert Trent Jones Sr. What really sets this place apart is the lofty location. The fairways gaze out to the Atlantic Ocean, far below. On a clear day, you can even see the Ilhas Desertas, a small Portuguese archipelago anchored 25 kilometres off the coast.
Close to Funchal
Madeira’s historic capital, Funchal, is 30 minutes away by car. Its old town lines up the 15th-century Cathedral of Funchal and the Mercado Dos Lavradores – a buzzing indoor market where cherry-red slabs of tuna and exotic fruits catch the eye. And if you hit the oceanfront promenade, Avenida Do Mar, you’ll find the best fish restaurants in town.
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