40+ Best Things to do in Madeira: An Ultimate Guide


You are in the perfect place — this is the ULTIMATE guide to the best things to do in Madeira. Living in Portugal since 2020, I’ve explored many hidden gems in the country, but this was the first time that I was truly blown away.

So why Madeira? Madeira is a captivating archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, renowned for its rugged landscape, lush gardens, and world-famous Madeira wine. It’s a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a mild climate year-round, spectacular hiking trails, and scenic ocean views.

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If you are looking for intense natural beauty, gorgeous blue waters, green lush landscapes, and a delicious food scene, then you need to start planning your vacation to this tropical paradise.

And this article is here to help — from what to do, where to stay, and even what you should order when eating out, it’s all here. This is the ULTIMATE guide to Madeira, offering insights on Madeira what to see and highlighting Madeira best places. Ready to explore the best of Madeira? Let’s dive in

Why Visit Madeira Island? 

Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago, is situated about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southwest of mainland Portugal, near the coast of northwest Africa. This unique location in the North Atlantic Ocean offers a blend of European charm and exotic landscapes.

So why visit Madeira Island? You should come to explore its stunning natural beauty, scenic hiking trails, and outdoor adventures like whale watching or snorkeling with dolphins. The island’s delicious cuisine and famous Madeira wine make it a haven for foodies and nature lovers alike.

The island is also very important maritimely. It is a refuge for sea life, and its cultural identity is as unique as its landscape. There are so many things to do in Madeira Island. Ready to experience the best of Madeira Portugal? Here are my top picks on the 40 things to do in Madeira Portugal.

40+ Best Things to do in Madeira

1. Hike from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo 

One of the most amazing experiences on Madeira is the hike from Pico do Areeiro (the third-highest peak on the island) to Pico Ruivo. This is a very challenging hike, but it promises breathtaking views of the island. 

best things to do in Madeira includes hiking from Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruivo
The view on the hiken between Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo 

The hike takes a total of around four hours. It is classed as a difficult hike. There are steep inclines throughout. Despite its challenges, the trail is safe. It is well maintained and has a clear track and railings where needed. 

You could wait at Pico do Areeiro to see the sunrise and then set off on the hike. This will lead to a more crowded trail. If you bring a headlamp, you can easily set off a bit before sunrise and enjoy the sky filling with light while hiking. 

Your best bet is to book a tour that will drop you off and pick you up. If you choose to drive, you will need to make the journey out and back again.


2. Watch the Sunset at Pico do Areeiro

If you’re looking for an easier option, you can watch the sunrise at Pico do Areeiro and skip the hike. This will still allow you to catch some extraordinary views at the best time of day. The best way to get here is via car or via a tour, like this Sunrise Tour with Coffee/Tea and Breakfast.

If you are coming by car 🚘, make sure to arrive early, as parking spaces at the car park are limited and fill up quickly. We left at around 5h30 in the morning and arrived at 6h30. The parking was almost full.

You’ll need to walk about 15 minutes from the parking area to the viewpoint. Make sure to have a flashlight with you, as it will be pitch dark. Head to the entrance of the PR1 Vereda do Areeiro. You’ll walk around 10 minutes before you get to the spot where you’ll see people setting up shop to wait for the sunset.

One of the best things to do in Madeira Portugal is to watch the sunrise over the incredible Pico do Areeiro.

If you are driving, make sure to check the route ahead of time, and don’t blindly trust Google Maps, as it may lead you in a strange way. 

Why book a tour? Pico do Areeiro is one of the top attractions in Madeira, and while a taxi or Bolt might be able to get you there, you’re likely to find yourself stranded when you’re ready to head back.

☀️ Make sure to dress warmly. With the wind and no sun, you can expect quite cold temperatures. Also, pack snacks and drinks. Pico do Areeiro is Madeira’s third highest peak, so weather changes are to be expected.


3. Do At Least One Levada Walk 

One of the most popular attractions in Madeira Island is the many levadas scattered across the island.

Levada walks follow what are essentially old gutters. These walks are unique to Madeira Island. The levadas were historically used to transport water from different parts of the island for farming. 

The Levada walks are generally well-marked. They are marked with a PR followed by a number. PR stands for pequena ruta, which means short route. 

There are many different types of hiking options in Madeira that cater to every type of hiker, from the more seasoned to the beginner. But it can be hard to find the one perfect for you, that is why the WalkMe app was created. This app gives you maps and directions for more than 50 walks around the island. Be aware it is not free, you’ll have to pay a small fee.

So, for example, if you want a full day hike, check out the Caminho Do Pináculo e Folhadal (PR 17). This is one of the most difficult Levada walks, but it is also one of the most stunning. For an easier levada walk, head to Levada Do Barreiro (PR 4), which is just 5.2 km (about 3 miles).

Levada’s are popular Madeira tourist attractions. They are marked with signs like these with the name of the specific Levada.

So, if you are wondering what to do on Madeira island if you are into hiking, here are some of the most famous levada walks.

  • Levada do Caldeirão Verde: This stunning trail winds through the lush Laurisilva forest, leading to the impressive Caldeirão Verde waterfall. It’s known for its scenic beauty and the tunnels along the path.
  • Levada das 25 Fontes: This 25 fountains walk Madeira takes you to a beautiful waterfall and the 25 Fountains, a collection of spring-fed pools. The diverse vegetation and mountain views make it a memorable hike.
  • Levada do Rei: Starting in São Jorge, this walk offers a more tranquil experience. It takes you through rich green landscapes and provides a glimpse into the island’s unique ecosystem.
  • Levada dos Balcoes: An easier and shorter walk leading to a panoramic view overlooking the Ribeira da Metade and Ribeiro Frio Valley. It’s perfect for bird watching and enjoying spectacular mountain views.
  • Levada do Risco: This route showcases the dramatic Risco waterfall. It can be combined with the 25 Fontes walk for a longer hiking day.

3. Visit The Fishing Village of Camara dos Lobos 

One of the best things to do in Madeira at night is to have dinner and a poncha (or two) at Câmara dos Lobos.

Câmara dos Lobos is a picturesque fishing village on Madeira’s coastline. It is located about nine km (around six miles) west of Funchal and was reportedly one of Winston Churchill’s favorite places in the world. 

Câmara dos Lobos has a small, vibrant harbor full of colorful fishing boats. The charming village still manages to retain some elements of authentic Madeiran coastal life. Fishermen come in daily with their fresh catches. 

You can wander through the narrow, cobblestone streets. And of course, get some fresh seafood. Try the grilled scabbard at Gavião do Ilhéu. If you are looking for things to do in Madeira beach at night, then make sure to head to this quaint beach town.

☀️ When you are finished with all your Madeira activities of the day, staying at the perfect accommodation in Madeira can be the cherry on top of your experience. Câmara dos Lobos is home to two picturesque hotels, both of which have rooms facing the oceans, The Pestana Churchill Bay and the Pestana Fisherman Village.


4. Visit at least one Fajā  

One of the best Madeira attractions are fajãs. Fajãs are coastal plains spread out at the foot of coastal cliffs. These were formed when the cliffs fell during volcanic activity.

The unique landscape of these plains offers stunning natural beauty. Some call it a natural Eden. 

One of the best Madeira Portugal things to do is to visit one of the many fajãs on the island.

Among the must-visit Fajãs on Madeira is Fajã dos Padres. The land on Fajãs is full of lush greenery and fruit trees. But there is also a perfect little pebbly beach. The water here is a very pleasant 24C (about 75F) in summer. This makes it an ideal place to go for a dip. 


5. Take One of the Many Cable Cars

Wondering about Madeira what to do? Take a cable car down to the many Madeira beaches..

Generally, the easiest way to reach the Fajās, including Fajã dos Padres, is by cable car. 

The Fajã dos Padres cable car descends 300 meters up the cliffside. The journey takes less than three minutes, and passengers ride in a fully enclosed car.

There are seven cable cars in total around Madeira. The Madeira Botanical Garden Cable Car is another option. I personally loved the Garajau Cable Car, as it took you to one of the most beautiful spots around Madeira, the Garajau Partial Nature Reserve.


6. See The Valley of the Nuns from Above and Below 

One of the more interesting places to visit in Madeira Portugal is the gorgeous Valley of the Nuns

The Valley of the Nuns, or Curral das Freiras, is a village in the center of the island. It is located inside a volcanic crater. You can see the village both from above and below. 

The best spots to get views from above are at viewpoints like Eira do Serrado. You can drive to the viewing deck there. It’s a particularly impressive spot at sunset. The drama of the mountains and the valley is incredible from this vantage point.

But equally as impressive as being inside of it all. Once you’re inside the village, you’ll be surrounded by the dramatic cliffs. You can actually walk from the viewpoint down into the village. The hike takes about one to two hours. 

There are many tours that can take you to the Valley Nuns, including this 4×4 tour Madeira tour of the Valley — if you are going to take a tour, 4X4 tours Madeira are the best as you can get a 360 view of the island’s beauty.

Note: Although one of the best Madeira places to visit, there are sheer drops near the trails, so it’s not advisable if you have a fear of heights or if you’re traveling with small children. 


7. Go Scuba Diving  

Madeira is a seriously underrated diving destination. There are definitely great hikes on the island, but if you don’t get under the water, you are missing out on a gem. 

Garaju is a popular diving spot with several dive sites (this is where I went diving). You can opt to do a shore dive or take a boat to other spots farther out. The spot even has resident groupers who are curious and tend to swim up close. Plus the price is pretty amazing, 40 euros ($43 USD) per dive with all equipment included.

Other dive spots include the artificial reef at the Afonso Cerqueira wreck and the Blue Tunnel, another excellent choice. There, you’ll swim through a tunnel surrounded by fish. 

The water temperature around Madeira is very pleasant. It’s much warmer than off the beaches of the mainland. This is thanks to the Gulf Stream, which keeps the ocean warm almost year-round.

🤿 Translation: leave that 8mm behind and opt for a nice 3mm wetsuit. 


8. Enjoy the views from Cabo Girão Skywalk

Cabo Girão Skywalk is an awe-inspiring vantage point that stands as one of the highest cliff skywalks in Europe. The glass-floored viewing platform is perched at 580 meters above sea level. From atop the platform, you can see a panorama of the Atlantic Ocean, Funchal, and the coastline below. 

The Skywalk is always open (24/7). To avoid huge crowds, you should arrive either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Luckily, these times both coincide with the best views. Sunrise and sunset across the mountains are both an extraordinary time to be up here. 


9. Go deep-sea fishing off the coast of Madeira 

A deep-sea fishing adventure off the coast of Madeira is an exciting and unique experience. These waters are considered to be some of the best in the world to catch an impressive bounty. Joining a fishing charter is a chance to try your hand at fishing, plus it’s a fun, immersive experience.

You won’t actually have to venture that far off the coast. Just a few miles from shore, and you can cast your reel. The fish you’ll likely catch include blue and white marlins and tuna. 

This is one of the best things to do in Madeira Islands for novice fishermen and is also great for seasoned anglers. 


10. Opt For a Private Whale and Dolphin Watching Experience 

The ultimate way to see all of Madeira’s marine life is on a private whale and dolphin watching experienceMadeira acts as a sanctuary in the ocean for whales and dolphins on their migratory routes, making whale and dolphin watching next level. 

In fact, the area around the island is the largest whale sanctuary in the North Atlantic. There are some 28 species of whales in the area. For dolphins, there are around 20 different types.

A private tour ensures a personalized journey with a dedicated guide. You’ll cruise for between two and four hours. You have the chance to get off the boat and snorkel. 

Besides whales and dolphins, you may also spot sea turtles and other marine life. 


11. Try Poncha

Poncha is a traditional Madeiran drink. It is made with aguardente (sugar cane liquor), honey, sugar, and fresh citrus juices. This can be described as a local take on a classic punch. Though it is likely inspired by pãnch, from India. It is one of the best alternatives to Madeira wine. 

Madeira island things to do? Why not try a poncha (or two)?

The drink is available just about anywhere on the island. But, it is said to have first been created by the fisherman of Câmara de Lobos. And trying it in its birthplace adds a special touch. Head to Bar Filhos do Mar in Câmara dos Lobos. Besides being in the birthplace of the drink, it is also a spot Cristiano Ronaldo visited not once but twice. 

Top Things to do in Madeira’s Capital: Funchal

11. Ride the Funchal-Monte Cable Car 

One of the top things to do in Funchal Madeira, this cable car takes you to one of the best places in Madeira for an epic view of the city.

The Funchal-Monte Cable Car is a quintessential experience in Madeira. It connects Funchal to the village of Monte. 

You’ll be able to see amazing panoramic views as you ascend. Below you is the city, lush countryside, and the stunning Atlantic Ocean. It is a true patchwork of the colors of nature. 

One of the unmissable places to see in Madeira, this trip takes 15 – 25 minutes each way. Each fully enclosed car can accommodate a maximum of six people. The cable car opens at 9h00, and the last boarding is at 15h45.


12. Visit the Church of Our Lady of Monte 

At the top of the Funchal-Monte Cable Car, you can visit the Church of Our Lady of Monte. The church dates back to the 18th century and has stunning Baroque and Rococo elements. Inside, you will find ornate wooden carvings and intricate tiles. 

One of the best things to see in Funchal Madeira Portugal, this site actually has a lot of significance. While the church dates back only to the 18th century, a previous chapel dates back to the 15th century. That chapel was actually built by the very first man to ever be born on Madeira. 


13. Go On a Madeira Toboggan Ride 

One of the most unusual things to do in Madeira is a toboggan ride down the winding streets toward Funchal

The gravity-propelled toboggan ride takes you on a 2 km (1.2 mile) ride down the streets. These baskets have a long history in Madeira. They were traditionally used to transport goods (and people) quickly down the mountain. 

The toboggans are now open to visitors. They are expertly guided through the windy streets by professional Carreiros. The baskets can hold up to three people. The ride is open throughout the day except on Sundays.

🌟 The ride does not bring you all the way back to Funchal. It drops you at Caminho do Monte, which is still part way up the hill. Taxis 🚖 will likely be waiting, but they may upcharge you as they know you will not want to walk. So be prepared for either a long walk or an expensive ride

This is why I recommend that you take a tour, like this Private Express Tuk Tuk Tour Funchal Old Town & Toboggans experience, which not only includes a toboggan ride but also a tour of the city of Funchal – this is one of the best things to do in Funchal Madeira.


14. Explore Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

What to do in Madeira Portugal? Explore the beautiful gardens at Monte Palace Tropical Gardens.

The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens showcases a collection of exotic plants. The property covers approximately 17 acres. The landscape is full of greenery and flowers from around the world. 

The terraced landscape is full of palm trees, a variety of plants, sculptures, and pathways. Keep in mind that if you walk down through the gardens, you will have to make your way back up the hill to exit. 

In addition to all of the gardens, you can also visit ducks, swans, and koi fish at the central lake. There is also a small museum with a collection of sculptures on display. 

There is also a small cafe at the top of the gardens. 


15. Stroll through the Lavradores Market in Funchal

Funchal’s Lavradores Market is a huge, lively market. It is the main market in the city. It sells everything from fruit to fish to flowers. 

One of the best things to do in Madeira Funchal is to visit the Lacradoes Market.

You can see plenty of locals shopping here. This is a great place to try local produce. Look out for Madeira’s exotic fruits, such as passion fruit and figs, but also local specialties, such as tabaibo. Do be warned, though, that there have been reports of fraudulent fruit sales in this market. 

I always love to walk through the fish sections in these types of markets. In Madeira, you will find the freshest fish. The building is from the mid-1900s and is a mixture of Art Deco and Modernist architecture.


16. Explore the Santa Maria Street in Funchal 

Funchal’s Santa Maria Street has one main draw — the colorful, painted doors. There are shops, cafes, and boutiques here as well, but the doors are the real attraction. They create a sort of open-air art gallery. 

The street runs through the center of the old town of Funchal.

It’s usually a good idea to visit early in the morning. This is the best chance to see the full murals on the doors. During the day, they are sometimes open or blocked by chairs or tables. 


17. Go On a Wine Tasting 

Madeira sightseeing isn’t complete without a wine tour. One of the Madeira best things to do is to visit Blandy’s.

One of Madeira’s best products is its wine. You can try it on a wine tour in Funchal. There are actually only seven Madeira wine producers on the island. 

Blandy’s Wine Lodge is right in the center of the city and has been in operation for seven generations. You can visit for a guided tour and a tasting. The winery also hosts special events, which are listed on its website. 

Another option is H.M. Borges, founded at the end of the 19th century. On a visit, you can spend time in the beautiful tasting room which is built with wood from the 1800s. This winery is also centrally located in the city.


18. Experience a Funchal Food Tour 

Embark on a culinary journey through Madeira with a guided food walking tour. You’ll be led through the city and its food by a qualified local guide. You will visit a total of seven restaurants to try local dishes. 

Your guide will also make sure you understand everything you are eating. They will translate menus and answer any questions. Your guide will also tell you more about Madeira’s food history and culture. 

The tour includes all food and drink. Vegetarian options are available. If you are looking for what to do in Madeira when it rains, a food tour could be the perfect option.


19. Visit the CR7 Museum (dedicated to Cristiano Ronaldo) 

If you are a fan of football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, a trip to museums is a Madeira must see. It is hands-down one of the top Madeira Portugal things to do for football fans.

The CR7 Museum is dedicated to Football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who was born in Funchal. This museum is a must-visit for football enthusiasts and any Ronaldo admirers. 

The museum showcases Ronaldo’s career. It features memorabilia, trophies, and personal items, including cleats and balls from his career. The exhibits trace his journey from Funchal to stardom. 

You can also interact with Ronaldo in an AR exhibit. This is a great chance for any admirers to get a virtual photo with the star. 


20. Visit the Madeira Story Centre

The Story Centre is a museum that explores Madeira’s history. This immersive museum brings the island’s past to life and is a great option if you are traveling with kids. 

From the story of the island’s discovery to its history with pirates, interact with the past. The exhibits allow you to engage with the story of the island. The museum’s innovative approach combines technology and narrative to create a dynamic experience. The explanations are all translated into English. 

There is also a cafe in the museum building. 

Top Things to Do on Madeira’s West Coast 

21. Swim at the natural swimming pool in Porto Moniz 

One of the top activities in Madeira Island is a trip to the famous Porto Moniz natural swimming pools.

The Porto Moniz natural swimming pool is nestled along the volcanic coastline. It’s a gorgeous setting and a unique, inviting spot for a swim. The water is crystal-clear and sheltered. 

The pool is surrounded by dramatic, black basalt rock formations. All around is beautiful scenery of even more rock formations. 

One of the best places to visit in Madeira, it is also a great opportunity to swim safely in the ocean water. The entry fee to the pools is €3 per person. 


22. Visit the Piscinas Naturais Velhas 

Although often not on the Madeira top attractions list, these natural swimming pools offer a more rugged experience.

The Piscinas Naturais Velhas are just a 5-minute walk from the natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz. Unlike their more developed counterparts, these pools are totally rustic. They are undeveloped and unspoiled. Instead, this is simply a series of rocks that create natural protection. This keeps the waves down and provides a natural swimming pool-like atmosphere. 

One of the top things to do Madeira edition? Visit one (or both) of the swimming pools in Porto Moniz.

You can walk from one pool to the next, but the rocks are slippery and rough. You should definitely bring water shoes to navigate the rugged terrain. This is one of the best free things to do in Madeira if you are on a budget.


23. Go Scuba Diving in An Aquarium

Scuba dive in an aquarium tank to experience the unique underwater world of Madeira. This small-group experience allows you to swim with rays, sharks, morays, and other fish species. 

All of this is in a safe and controlled environment. The tank is six meters deep at its deepest. Experts will guide you the entire time. 

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced diver, you can plan to take part in this activity. All diving equipment is provided.  The experience includes an introductory dive first. It also concludes with a backstage tour of the aquarium. 


24. Relax at the Black Sand Seixal Beach 

Madeira must see places? The black sand beach of Sexial is definitely a must see in Madeira.

Seixal Beach is renowned for its striking black sand. It is about 40 km (25 miles) from Funchal and is surrounded by dramatic cliffs. The deep blues of the sea next to the dark sand are stunning. 

Unlike many of the other beaches on the island, this beach is fully sand. It is comfortable to sit on and great for swimming or surfing. 

This is one of the places to visit in Madeira by car. There is easy parking right at the beach, but it does get busy, especially later in the day. The beach has convenient facilities, including showers, toilets, and a cafe.


25. Sun-Tan on Calheta Beach 

Looking for things to do on Madeira island? Spend the day at Calheta Beach.

Calheta Beach is known as one of the sunniest spots in Madeira. It may be raining in Funchal, but there will be clear skies in Calheta. It is also one of the island’s few sand beaches. This all means it is a consistently good bet for sunbathing.

This beach is artificially made and has a nice shelter, making it super family-friendly. Calheta Beach also has significantly easier accessibility than other Madeira beaches. There are sunbeams and umbrellas for rent. 

There are resorts surrounding the beach and a grocery store nearby. 


26. Visit the Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse Viewpoint 

Looking for one of the more romantic things to do in Madeira? Watch the sunset from the Ponta do Parto Lighthouse.

The Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse Viewpoint is an amazing vantage point with panoramic views of the Ocean. The lighthouse sits at the westernmost point of Madeira. It is perched atop rugged cliffs 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) above the ocean. The lighthouse has been functioning since the 19th century. It is still working today. 

There is easy parking nearby. You can walk around and explore the area. The lighthouse also has a small museum inside.


27. More Black Sand at Ribeira Brava 

Ribeira Brava is another black sand beach. It is very spacious and has a combination of smooth sand and pebbles. There is space for your towel, or you can rent a beach umbrella and recliner. 

This beach is also very accessible, as it has wooden walkways. On the pathways, you can reach the sand and even go directly to an umbrella. In the water, there is a small separate pool, which is great for kids to swim in.

Just behind the beach is a promenade and plenty of amenities. This is a very relaxing beach for a day in the sun.


28. Snorkel with Dolphins with Lobosonda

Snorkeling with dolphins in Madeira may be one of the most memorable experiences you have. Lobosonda whale watching day tour organizes this experience.

Hands down, one of Madeira top things to do; you’ll never forget the feeling of swimming alongside dolphins.

You’ll don your flippers and mask, and alongside a marine biologist, you’ll head out to find some dolphins. Although not guaranteed, if you do spot a pod, you’ll quickly jump in the water to spend some time swimming alongside these incredible creatures.

The activity is very controlled. You will be attached to the boat by a buoy. The boat will drive along slowly, allowing you to glide through the water with the dolphins. 

All equipment is included. Crew will be on board and in the water, helping you and keeping everyone safe. 


29. Swim Under the Lava Arch in Seixal 

Another epic Madeira what to do and see option is to head to the Seixal Natural Pools.

In the Seixal Natural Pools is an amazing lava arch nestled amidst dramatic coastal landscapes. On a trip to the pools, you can swim under the arch. 

The water here is crystal clear. The collection of pools is tidal — meaning they will change as the tides come in and out. Beyond the arch, there are caves you can swim into. 

One of Madeira top attractions, the natural pool area is free to enter. There are good facilities here, including toilets, changing rooms, and a spot for snacks.  Some of the pools are also accessible by stairs and pathways. 


30. Get Lost in the Mist at Fanal Forest

One of the top things to see in Madeira is the incredible Fanal Forest – a must see Madeira activity.

Fanal Forest, part of the indigenous Laurisilva Forest, is like a mystical foreign world. The branches of the laurel trees are thick and twisted. The area is often full of fog and moss is covering the trees, the ground, and the rocks. All of this creates an enchanting, ethereal atmosphere. 

The fog is the real kicker to create the perfect atmosphere here. While you can never be totally sure of when it will hit, early mornings are a good bet. 

You can make this a quick stop or go for a hike. There are several trails to explore for any level of hiker. 


31. Step under Waterfall of Angels 

The Waterfall of Angels (Cascata dos Anjos) is a waterfall that falls off a sheer cliff onto a roadway. The water empties down from a levada in the cliffs above. 

The road under the waterfall is easily passed by car. But be careful as people are often in the middle of the road, and cars are stopping or going slowly under the water. Especially later in the day, you might encounter a line of cars and people — so early morning is better for a visit. 

Another great time to visit is during sunset, when the light filters through the water for an amazing ambiance. 

There is a small spot for parking just before (or after) the waterfall. 


32. Eat at Casa de Pedra

While we were on the boat with Lobosonda, the resident marine biologist we were chatting with started to mention one of the best places Madeira food options was Casa De Pedra.

She kept talking about how fresh the seafood was, so we decided to take her up on her recommendation — and boy, were we happy that we did.

The food was not only delicious, the location was superb (just beside the beach) and the price was incredible. Overall, this is definitely a hidden gem that needs to be talked about!

Top Things to do on Madeira’s North Coast

When driving to the North Coast of Madeira, one of the Madeira things to see are the cows grazing near levadas.

31. Visit São Vicente and the Volcanic Caves  

The São Vicente Caves were created from a volcanic eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago. No, you can visit the volcanic tunnels and make your way into the subterranean earth. 

You can walk through intricate tunnels and chambers. There are nearly a kilometer of pathways. The pathways are smooth and raised, made of metal, and easy to walk along. 

There is also an educational center at the sight of the Sao Vicente Caves. This is a small interactive museum where you can learn more about volcanoes. 


32. See the iconic Santana houses 

The Santana houses are an architectural treasure nestled amidst the lush Madeira landscape. These triangular-shaped thatched houses are known as palheiros. They are a great example of traditional Madeiran architecture. They date back to the time when the island was first discovered. 

The bottom half of the houses is made of wood, while the top roofs are made of heather, wicker, and thatch. The vibrant colors—usually red, blue, and white—of the houses and their distinctive design are extremely picturesque.


33. Head to Praia do Faial

Praia do Faial is a pristine beach offering a tranquil escape. The natural beauty and secluded ambiance make this an ideal spot for sunbathing. 

The beach is covered in pebbles. And just off the coast is a naturally protected pool. This makes the water quite calm and great to swim in. 

Good facilities, including a playground, make this a great beach choice for families traveling with kids. 

Top Things to Do on Madeira’s East Coast 

34. Have a Espetada at Talho de Canico  

Espetada is a traditional Portuguese dish, particularly popular in Madeira. It is skewered and grilled meats such as beef, chicken, or fish. This is usually combined with vegetables like bell peppers and onions. 

To have one of the best espetadas on the island, go first to Talho de Canico. This is a butcher where you can choose exactly what you want. From there, head next door to have your espetada grilled. 

This hidden gem offers a genuine and budget-friendly taste of Madeiran flavors. You’ll be eating with locals, so enjoy this off-the-beaten-path spot. Delicious food at a local price? Doesn’t get better than that.


35. See Christo Rei 

One of the top 10 things to do in Madeira? See the Christ statue in Madeira

The Cristo Rei (Jesus Christ) statue and viewpoint is located within the Garajau Partial Natural Reserve. From the viewpoint below the statue, you can see Garajau, part of Funchal Bay, and Caniço de Baixo. 

The Cristo Rei sculpture was built here in 1927. It stands 5 meters (49 feet) tall.

Parking is available near the statue. A pathway leads from the parking lot to the base of the statue, where the best views are. 


36. Visit Garajau Beach 

Below the Cristo Rei statues is Garajau Beach. This beach is at a marine reserve and is protected against fishing. 

This area is an amazing place to go diving or snorkeling. The marine life here is diverse, and you may encounter species such as manta rays or groupers. In addition to the exciting sea life, the waters here are very clear and calm. 

This beach can only be reached by cable car. It has changing rooms and toilets and one restaurant. It also have a place where you can rent scuba diving gear and go diving.


37. Explore Ponta de São Lourenço 

Ponta de São Lourenço is the easternmost point of Madeira island. The peninsula is nine kilometers (just under 6 miles) in length. One of the best ways to see the peninsula and all of the extraordinary views is to follow PR8. This short trail is 6 km (less than 4 miles) out and back. 

From the peninsula, you’ll have amazing panoramic views in all directions. The area is a haven for rare plants and diverse fauna. You’ll see birds such as Cory’s shearwater and Bulwer’s petrel. There is a €1 entry fee to the area, which supports the preservation of the reserve.


38. Visit the charming town of Ponta do Sol 

Ponta do Sol, meaning “Point of the Sun,” is known as the sunniest and warmest area of Madeira Portugal. The coastal village has breathtaking views from Cais da Ponta do Sol — the little jetty. From there, you can capture (or just take in) the pebble beach, town center, and the 16th-century church. 

There are several other small villages in the municipality worth visiting. The landscape and views here are definitely worth taking time to enjoy. 


39. Dig Your Toes in the Sand on Praia de Machico 

Praia de Machico is a long stretch (about 70 meters — 230 feet) of golden sands. It is an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming. Just behind the beach is a beautiful promenade. Facilities at the beach include changing rooms, showers, bathrooms, parking, and lifeguards in season.

Amazingly, the sand on this beach was actually Imported from North Africa. So it is distinctly bright gold and soft. 

The beach is nicely protected by stone walls, making the water very calm and pleasant to swim in. You can rent an umbrella, but there is also plenty of space to spread out a towel. 


40. Go to the Whaling Museum of Madeira

One of the best things to see in Madeira is to visit the Whaling Museum (© Visit Madeira)

The Whaling Museum is a great way to learn about Madeira’s maritime past as well as its history and culture. The Natural History Museum is located in Caniçal. It has life-size models of whales and dolphins and a vast collection of items from the history of whaling. 

There are interactive exhibits, such as 3D movies. You can also see old black-and-white films from this period of history. An audio guide is also available, which is a good way to learn more about what you are seeing. 

Where is Madeira Located?

Madeira is an archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal. Its main island is also called Madeira, and it is part of Portugal. The archipelago is situated about 400 km north of the Canary Islands and 520 km west of Morocco.

The Madeira Archipelago consists of several islands, divided into two groups: the main islands and the Desertas and Selvagens Islands.

The main group includes two inhabited islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and two groups of uninhabited islands, the Desertas and the Selvagens.

Madeira is the largest and most populous island, known for its lush landscapes, wine production, and cultural heritage. Porto Santo is smaller, with long sandy beaches and a quieter atmosphere.

The Desertas are a small group of three islands known for their natural reserves, and the Selvagens are a group of small islands with significant ecological value. Both serve as important sanctuaries for wildlife.



Madeira Weather

Madeira’s weather is pretty versatile, making it a year-round destination. Here’s the breakdown: it’s got a subtropical vibe, so expect warm summers and mild winters. Talking temperatures, you’re looking at lows around 13-15°C (55-59°F) in the cooler months and highs hitting 17-19°C (63-66°F) when it warms up.

But remember, if you’re exploring the levadas or hiking, it will be cooler, especially in the morning and evenings, so pack accordingly.

What is the best month to visit Madeira?

From July to September, temperatures in Madeira reach their highest, typically ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F), making these months the warmest time of the year. This period is ideal for anyone looking to enjoy the island’s outdoor activities and beaches.

view of the mountains from Seixal
The best part? Madeira is a year-round destination. Things to do in Madeira in January can include spending your days lounging on the beach.

You’ve got two main seasons to consider: a wetter, slightly cooler winter from October to April and a drier, warmer summer from May to September. Heads up, though, high season is when the weather’s hottest, and low season has more rain but still plenty of charm.


How do I get to Madeira?

Getting to Madeira primarily involves flying to Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC), located near the capital, Funchal. This airport serves as the archipelago’s main entry point.

Frequent and affordable flights are available from major European cities, including Lisbon, which is just a 90-minute flight away. Direct flights are also available from cities such as London, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool, and Newcastle upon Tyne through airlines like Jet2, easyJet, British Airways, and Ryanair.

airplane at the Funchal Airport in Madeira
Are there airports in madeira Island? Yes, the main airport at Madeira is called Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC).

If you are coming from North America, direct flights are limited, you’ll probably have to connect in Lisbon. Nevertheless, Azores Airlines offers flights from New York–JFK. An interesting route for travelers from the East Coast of North America involves connecting via Ponta Delgada in the Azores.


Madeira International Airport is known for its challenging conditions, which are caused by a relatively short runway and strong, unpredictable winds.

These factors occasionally cause flight delays, cancellations, or the need for diversions. It’s a good idea to have travel insurance just in case your flight changes. This makes visiting Madeira a bit of an adventure, so it’s smart to plan ahead.


How do I get around in Madeira?

Getting around Madeira is straightforward: public transport is great in Funchal but for exploring the island further, consider renting a car or joining a tour.

a car in Madeira Portugal
To get to the best places to visit madeira, you’ll need a car.

In Funchal, public buses are your go-to for getting around the city. They’re convenient and cover most areas well. But once you’re looking to step out beyond the city limits, that’s where you hit a snag with the buses.

There is no UBER on Madeira. Instead, you’ll find BOLT. But the problem with BOLT is that there aren’t nearly enough drivers on the island.

I found this the hard way when I arrived in Madiera at 11 pm. The initial plan was to rent a car at the airport, but the prices were insane. So I opened up my UBER app only to realize that there were no UBER drivers. I then downloaded the BOLT app and again found no drivers available.

Taxis were there, sure, but they wanted 45-50 euros ($48 USD) for a ride that BOLT listed at around 25 euros ($24 USD). Stuck at the airport and not keen on splurging for a taxi, I decided to wait. After about 45 minutes, luck finally swung my way—a BOLT driver became available.

🚗 So my recommendation? Rent a car. It’s your best bet for the freedom to roam Madeira’s breathtaking landscapes without the hassle of waiting for a ride. And for those moments when you’re not up for driving, tours are the way to go.


Do I need to rent a car in Madeira?

Yes – you definitely need to rent a car in Madeira if you want to see as much as possible of the island. Madeira is a place where having a car can transform your trip, offering the freedom to explore all the magical sights of the island.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Car Transmission: Most rental cars in Madeira are manual rather than automatic. If you’re not comfortable driving a manual car, make sure to book an automatic well in advance, as they are less available and can be more expensive.
  • Driving Terrain: The roads in Madeira are known for being very winding, with steep hills that can be a challenge, especially when parking uphill. The beauty of the island often comes with a side of adventurous driving conditions.
  • Parking and Roads: It’s common for people to park on the road, which can turn a two-lane street into a single lane that serves both directions.
  • Driver Awareness: The mix of local and tourist drivers means you’ll encounter varying levels of driving skill. Caution is advised, especially since some visitors might not be used to the local road conditions.
  • Navigation: While Google Maps is a helpful tool for getting around, it’s not always 100% reliable in Madeira. The directions may not be as accurate as you might hope due to the complex terrain and occasional lack of signal.

If you aren’t a confident driver, sticking to tours might be the better option. Staying in Funchal and taking organized tours to explore the island can provide a stress-free way to see Madeira’s highlights without the worries of driving.


Where to stay in Madeira 

Deciding where to stay in Madeira largely depends on two factors: whether you plan to rent a car and what you wish to explore.

If you have a car, splitting your stay between different locations can enhance your experience. When I visited Madeira, we decided to stay three nights in Cabo Girao, near Funchal, and then three days in Calheta. If you aren’t driving, I would advise booking a central spot in Funchal.

Most attractions are towards the west, so planning based on what you want to see is key. This strategy ensures you get the most out of your Madeira visit.


Which part of Madeira is most beautiful?

Beauty is everywhere in Madeira, but the northwestern part of the island stands out for many. Areas like Porto Moniz, with its natural swimming pools, and the Laurisilva forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offer breathtaking natural beauty.

I personally loved staying in Calheta, it’s one of my favourite spokts

The south coast, particularly around Funchal, combines stunning landscapes with cultural attractions. Ultimately, Madeira’s beauty is diverse, and its most beautiful part often depends on personal preference, whether you’re drawn to rugged coastlines, mountain views, or lush forests.

Things to do in Madeira: Frequently Asked Questions

How many days in Madeira is enough?

Spending at least a week in Madeira gives you enough time to explore the island’s main attractions, enjoy some hikes, and relax by the sea.

Things to do in Madeira? Eat local food, like Madeira bananas!

Within 7 days, you can visit Funchal’s gardens, explore the mountainous interior, and even spend a day in Porto Santo. If you’ve got more time, extending your stay allows for a deeper dive into local culture and more leisurely exploration.

What is Madeira best known for?

Madeira is famous for its stunning landscapes, from lush mountains to dramatic cliffs and pebble beaches. It’s also known for Madeira wine, embroidery, and its annual Flower Festival.

What to do Madeira edition? Why not go on a hike? The most famous is the 25 fountains madeira hike.

The island’s levadas (irrigation channels) offer unique hiking experiences, leading through beautiful scenery. Additionally, Madeira’s mild climate year-round makes it a favorite for those seeking outdoor adventures.

Is it worth going to Madeira?

Absolutely! Madeira is worth visiting for anyone who loves nature, hiking, and exploring diverse landscapes.

It offers a unique blend of cultural experiences, from tasting its famous wines to enjoying its local cuisine. The island’s natural beauty, with its mix of mountains and ocean views, provides a stunning backdrop for a memorable vacation. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or looking for relaxation, Madeira has something for everyone.

Which is better Azores or Madeira?

Choosing between Azores and Madeira depends on your preferences. The Azores are known for their rugged landscapes, volcanic activity, and outdoor adventures like whale watching and hiking. Madeira offers lush mountains and dramatic coastlines and is famous for its levadas walks, wine, and mild climate.

The Azores are just as beautiful as Madeira so I always recommend to try and visit both (on seperate occassions)

If you prefer a mix of nature and cultural experiences with more predictable weather, Madeira might be your pick. For a more off-the-beaten-path adventure with diverse natural wonders, consider the Azores.

Is Madeira cheap or expensive?

Madeira’s cost can vary depending on your travel style. It’s generally considered moderately priced. Dining out, accommodation, and activities can be found to suit a range of budgets.

Public transportation and local markets offer ways to save money, while luxury resorts and fine dining can cater to those looking to splurge. Overall, with some planning, Madeira can be a cost-effective destination.

Final Thoughts: Things to do in Madeira

we’ve journeyed through the Madeira top 10 must-visits, dived into the heart-pumping activities Madeira offers, and unveiled Madeira what to see for an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re wandering lush landscapes or tasting exquisite local cuisine, Madeira captivates at every turn. And for those wondering, are there beaches in Madeira? Yes, the island boasts stunning volcanic sand beaches, each offering a unique seaside escape.

Madeira awaits to amaze you with its beauty and adventures.

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