Destination guide

Laying footprints on Porto Santo sands

Diminutive but darn gorgeous, Porto Santo manages to pack one hefty punch into its 42 square kilometres. The north coast, wild and untouched, is the province of chiselled cliffs that hulk like petrified giants from the ocean. The middle is taken by 500-metre picos that eventually roll down to a wide plain on the southern side. That's where the real draw lies – a long and uninterrupted sliver of saffron-tinted sand that goes on for miles. It's hardly ever busy and has countless Porto Santo holiday rentals, with Portuguese tavernas clustered alongside.

Things to do

Views and explorers call in Porto Santo

For the moments when you do manage to pull yourself away from the gold-flecked beachfront and the seaside bars, Porto Santo offers up a duo of interesting attractions. The first soars high on the plateaus of Pico Castelo. Set over 400 metres up, it's a viewpoint that provides sweeping panoramas of the whole island and the Atlantic Ocean, not to mention glimpses of a ruined 16th-century castle whose inhabitants once did battle with Barbary pirates. Next is the Christopher Columbus House Museum, where the famous explorer himself once resided. Exhibits include Spanish coins and navigation maps used during his great voyages.


Porto Santo is a place to chill

There's really not that much to do in Porto Santo, which is precisely why people love it so. Laid-back and never rushing, the locals here prefer to chinwag over long seafood lunches than hawk souvenirs. The towns – if you can even call them that – are mainly given over to rustic cantinas and Porto Santo holiday rentals that spill onto the beachfront. Talking of the beachfront, it's likely that's where you'll while away most of your days. Yoga to the sunset, meditation sessions at midday and good old sunbathing are about as active as it gets there.


Finding beach time in Porto Santo

Unlike its big brother, the island of Madeira, Porto Santo is primarily a beach destination. That means that while folk head to the rugged volcanic peaks to make the most of cooler hiking conditions in one, the sands are the draw in the other. Rains and storms can cross the Atlantic in the winter, between November and March, but pleasant weather dominates the rest of the year. That leaves the late spring and summer to explore the gorgeous sands and seas, with Porto Santo holiday rentals at their most popular between May and August.

Natural features

Porto Santo – from cliffs to shimmering seashells

Porto Santo is a swatch of dramatic natural features. It all begins with the most rugged part of the island in the north, where the great cliffs of Ilheu de Baixo are washed by an ocean inhabited by whales and dolphins. As you move south, the mountains get smaller and the plains begin. That's where all the cantinas and accommodations sit, just back from a long stretch of yellow-hued sand and light surf. There are still moments of drama by the shore, though, like the splintered cliffs of Pico de Ana Ferreira – a wonder of geology.

How to get there

Travelling to and around Porto Santo

Fly into Porto Santo (PXO), the closest airport, located 1.3 mi (2.2 km) from the city centre. If you can't find a flight that works for your travel itinerary, you could book a flight to Funchal (FNC-Cristiano Ronaldo), which is 36 mi (58 km) away.

Can I find a vacation rental around Porto Santo?

Yes, our 2021 property listings offer a large selection of 54 vacation rentals near Porto Santo. From 42 houses to 10 flats & apartments, find a unique house rental for you to enjoy a memorable stay with your family and friends. The best places to stay near Porto Santo for a holiday or a weekend are on Vrbo.

What are the most popular destinations to visit in Porto Santo?

There are many lovely places to stay for a holiday trip or just for a weekend in Porto Santo. From Vrbo UK travelers, the most popular destinations to visit are:

  • Pedras Pretas: 53 vacation rentals
  • Vila Baleira: 53 vacation rentals
  • Campo de Baixo: 53 vacation rentals
  • Portas Novas: 53 vacation rentals
  • Serra de Fora: 53 vacation rentals

And Vrbo UK offers you the chance to discover many other popular destinations in Porto Santo! Please use our search bar to access the selection of vacation rentals available in other popular destinations.