Thursday, 27 July 2017

A Day Trip to Vila Baleira, Porto Santo

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote all about our recent travels to the beautiful island of Porto Santo, which is a little fairly undiscovered gem just north of Madeira. We travelled here two years ago and enjoyed it so much we thought we'd visit again. We stayed in the Pestana Porto Santo resort, which is all inclusive, and as such, we wanted to make sure we planned a day trip away from the resort for one of the days. The island isn't big at all, and although there are many planned excursions and boat trips you can find, we wanted to keep it fairly simple and low key this year with two young children. The capital of the island is a town called Vila Baleira. I wanted to do a post all about our day trip there as it gives you a little idea of what you can do with young children, should you ever visit the island.

From the hotel, you can get a free open top bus (it's a limited service which runs a couple of times a day). It takes around 7 minutes from the Pestana hotel reception and drops you off by the main shopping precinct in the town. The bus times gave us a couple of hours to explore the town, get an ice cream and a coffee, and visit a museum and a couple of shops. Luckily the weather was sunny but not too hot, and it made a nice change of scene from being in the resort all week. 

 This is the main square in the town. It is pedestrianised and lined with little coffee shops and pretty white washed buildings.

 The week we were there, the Sao Jao festivities were just coming to an end. This is a festival around June 23rd and 24th in honour of the patron saint of the island. We didn't get to see any of the festivities unfortunately (which includes floats, traditional dancing in the streets and traditional costumes) but it sounds like it would be a really good time to visit the island to get to take part in the celebrations.

We enjoyed spending a few hours pottering around the town and exploring the old cobbled streets with the boys. While I love the pool and beach, I'm also a bit of an explorer at heart and I do get a little stir crazy staying within a resort for a week, so for me, it is really important to get out and explore the local area, even if just for a few hours. Vila Baleira isn't packed with things to do but it's small and a good place to take young children for a couple of hours, a little wander and an ice cream.

Right in the centre of the town is another square which is where the local government buildings are located. While the town appears quiet and a little sparse in terms of things to do, there's always something unusual to find, like this outdoor artwork display which the boys enjoyed exploring.

 There are some really beautiful old buildings and well as a few more contemporary buildings too in the town centre and quite a few water features dotted around too, which of course the boys were obsessed with.

 These two got on so well on holiday and it was really sweet watching Little L totter around after his brother. I can remember sitting on this bench with LO last time we went when I was expecting Little L.

Looking back at old photos from when we last went to Porto Santo, LO seems to tall and grown up now. It almost feels like a lifetime ago that we were there as a family of three.

There is a beautiful church just off the main square in Vila Baleira. We didn't get chance to visit this time (we did last time and it's well worth a visit). You can see the white tower just poking about the yellow buildings in this photo above. We did however manage to locate the Casa Museu Cristovao Colombo (Christopher Columbus museum) It's down a narrow cobbled street and it was 2€ to enter per adult. The museum is said to be the house he occupied with his wife Filipa Moniz, who was the daughter of the founder of Porto Santo. It's in a beautiful building and contains artefacts, copies of 15th and 16th century maps and models of ships he would have sailed too. It cost around 2€ per adult and was well worth a visit as LO found the ships fascinating to look at.

I love these two photos of my and my biggest boy. He was so grown up the whole holiday and was just an absolute pleasure to be around. This felt like a really special holiday as it was our last one before he starts at big school in September. I wanted to absorb every second of it and bottle it up.

After we explored the town and the museum, we headed down towards the sea front and let the boys have a little play. There's a couple of little playgrounds and a little precinct of coffee shops and gift shops. They loved climbing up on the old canon.

Obligatory seaside ice creams before we set off to catch the bus back to the hotel.

I am going to be doing one final part to our holiday to Porto Santo and also sharing a video too, which I'll be posting on here in the coming week I hope.


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