With a bulky beach, charming squares and a perfect-for-sunsets pier, Vila Baleira holidays fall right into the chill-out bracket.

Mini but mighty

Shy, but with a lot to offer – if Vila Baleira had a dating profile that’s what it’d say. It’s the capital of the island of Porto Santo – Madeira’s little sister. But as cities go, it’s a real slow-mover. Things revolve around the pretty cobblestone streets and long, sandy beach. And it’s picked up a solid fan base, with admirers including Christopher Columbus and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Squares and gardens

Largo do Pelourinho is where it’s at in Vila Baleira. The triangular-shaped town square is a hive of cafés and bars. South of this, you’ve got the Infante Gardens, where kids can play while grown-ups inspect the statue of Christopher Columbus. There’s even a museum dedicated to the famous explorer – it’s found inside what’s thought to be his former digs.

Legendary sands

Nearby Madeira might fall short in the sand department, but this place picks up the slack. The toffee-tinted sweep rattles on for more than five miles. There’s a fistful of seafood joints plonked right on the sand. And a palm-studded prom stalks the beach for a few hundred metres, but then you’re left to your own devices.

At a Glance

  • Pull up a chair with the locals in the main square
  • Step inside Christopher Columbus’ former home
  • Head up the Miradouro do Pico Castelo viewpoint

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