Named after St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, Santana is a village of hedgerows and flowers on the north coast of Madeira Island.
Complete with waterfalls, cobble-stoned streets, lush green meadows and plunging ravines, it is without doubt one of the prettiest villages in Portugal.
With their iconic thatched roofs protected with straw and wood-panelled interiors, the famous triangular-shaped houses of Santana are a must-see attraction in Madeira. They were mainly rural homes used by local farmers during the settlement of the island.
More than a hundred of these charming, rustic-style houses still exist thanks to a tourism initiative to reward the best-kept house in the town. Some open their doors to visitors who are always surprised by the amount of available space inside.
The town’s parish church built in 1698 features impressive retables to the two side altars, while 5 km up the coast from Santana lies São Jorge, a picturesque village most notable for its richly ornamented 17th century church.
Where to go in Madeira
Santana (indicated on the Google map below) is a great base from which to explore the island’s spectacular north coast and also within striking distance of many of Madeira top tourist destinations.
The capital, Funchal, is well worth a detour across the soaring green mountains that dominate the centre of the Floating Garden in the Atlantic. The city’s Old Town is a majestic quarter that overlooks the port area and features many magnificent 18th-century mansions.
If you’re visiting Funchal, don’t miss the botanical gardens in the city’s picture-book suburb of Monte from which you can ride the famous toboggan ride back into the heart of town.
West of Funchal lies Cabo Girão, which rises to 600 metres and is one of the world’s highest sea cliffs where visitors with a head for heights can brave the skywalk over the crashing Atlantic waves below.
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