Come to the second-largest town on the island after Funchal to wander through the old quarter, attractively situated in a crescent bay with a lovely, sheltered, sandy beach that’s popular for swimming. The squat Forte do Amparo, in the center of the town, was built in 1706 to defend against pirate attacks. Local folklore says the bay of Machico was discovered in 1346 by two English lovers, Robert Machin and Anne d'Arfet, who set sail from Bristol to escape Anne's disapproving parents. The couple's ship was thrown off course by a storm and wrecked in this bay. Anne died a few days after becoming ill, and Robert then died of a broken heart. But their crew, according to legend, escaped on a raft, and news of the island made its way back to Portugal. (Legend also has it that Shakespeare heard the tale before he wrote The Tempest.) When the explorer Zarco arrived in 1420, he found a wooden cross with the lovers' story and the church—the island's first—where they were buried. He named the place in memory of Machin. Today you can visit a replica of the old church.


Find a Hotel


Fodor's Essential Portugal

View Details

Plan Your Next Trip