Are you looking for the best things to do in Madeira? Well, this is a perfect place for you to start. Madeira, Portugal is home to the most dreamy landscape that brings thousands of visitors a year.
From the rugged coastline and towering mountains to the lush forests and colorful gardens, it is the most underrated island in all of Europe. The island is a hiker’s paradise, with an extensive network of trails that wind through the mountains and valleys, offering stunning views of the coastline and the Atlantic Ocean.
But Madeira isn’t just about natural beauty. The island is also rich in history and culture, with a unique blend of Portuguese and Madeiran traditions. Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, or a culture enthusiast, there is a tour for everyone to enjoy in Madeira.
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Don’t listen to TLC, chasing waterfalls is one of the top Madeira attractions. You will not go a day without seeing a waterfall in Madeira, and there are plenty where you do not even have to get your hiking boots dirty.
One of the best waterfalls in Madeira is Anjos Waterfall in Ponta do Sol. It is truly a unique experience and top things to see in Madeira.
The water starts from on top of a seaside cliff and comes raining down on the road below. Cars and people are waiting their turn to jump in and scream with delight. If you are brave enough to get under the waterfall it will be cold but the memories that are made are worth it. Many people just take photos behind the water.
The next waterfall in Madeira that you must see is Risco Waterfall. To reach the Risco Waterfall there is about a 300-meter walk down from the parking lot. When you reach the waterfall you forget all about your hike.
This beautiful waterfall comes pouring down from 100 meters in the air. There is an area to swim about and is so worth it on a hot summer day. Try and make a game of how many waterfalls you see in a day, the record is 25.
One of the most popular things to do is take a Levada walk in Madeira. These Levadas in Madeira have been around since the 15th century. Their original use was to bring running water from the northern part of the country to the south. Levadas are original to the island of Madeira and are a wonderful way to spend a day and day of the year.
First on the list of best Levadas in Madeira is the Levada Ribeira da Janela. This Levada is located near Porto Moniz and is actually about a 20-minute drive from Ribeira da Janela. This 10.90-mile Levada trail is an out-and-back hike that ends with a beautiful Madeira waterfall. This is a family-friendly and dog-friendly Levada.
The Levada do Alecrim Walk is in the Laurissilva Forest and is one of the prettiest walks on the island and is only about 4.5 miles long. You will experience waterfalls and lagoons while being 1200 meters above sea level.
All the levadas in Madeira are worth checking out, the ambient sounds of the water running are majestic and peaceful. You can expect the forests to be lush and green any time of the year. Plus, succulents and aloe plants pop up in the most unexpected places.
Taking a tour of the Madeira Botanical Garden is a treat in itself. Meet in the center of Funchal and meet your guide for the day. Sit back and relax as they scoot you around the grounds and show you the most beautiful plants on the island.
There are over 200 different species in the gardens, from all over the world. It is located at the Quinta do Bom Sucesso, which was originally built back in 1881 as a private residence. Luckily today it is open to the public for tours every day of the week. While on the grounds you will also be able to tour the History Museum and Herbarium.
Check for your tickets here: GetYourGuide.com
FAQS about Madeira Island, Portugal
Fanal forest or the creepy foggy forest in Madeira is a mysterious place. It is said to be over 20 million years old and has survived everything mother nature has thrown at it. You could spend hours immersed in the spooky vibes of Fanal.
The trees in Fanal forest are unlike any others in the world, are they dead, or are they alive? It is hard to tell, the branches grow in the most unexpected ways and no two are the same. Let yourself get lost in the magic of Madeira here, but be careful to not get lost. When the fog rolls in it is hard to tell which way is out.
Cows are roaming freely all around Madeira and Fanal Forest is no different, so watch your step. If you fancy overnight camping in Madeira there is a tiny shelter with a place to make a fire and plenty of picnic tables to take a break. Put Fanal high on your list of the most unusual things to do in Madeira, even if the fog doesn’t roll through it is an amazing place.
Head here to find the magical Fanal, Porto Moniz, Portugal.
There are many different ways to have your head above the clouds in Madeira. And if you are lucky enough to experience it here you will never forget it. Hiking up to reach the highest points in Madeira you see unbelievable views and it gives you the feeling that you have been transported to another world.
Pico Ruivo is the highest point in Madeira at 6109 feet. The trail is known as PR1 Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. Along this trail you can you can visit the three tallest mountains in Madeira, Pico do Arieiro, Pico das Torres and Pico Ruivo. You will get in a good workout to reach the top, but the reward is so worth it.
On the PR1 trail, you can expect a 6.7 mile out and back mountain trail with some of the best views on Madeira. This is without a doubt the best hike on the island and if you catch it in the right light and conditions, it will stay with you forever.
Once you have finished your amazing hike above the clouds in Madeira, there is a cafe at your home base where you can enjoy a coffee and snack. You deserve a treat after spending your day at one of the best Madeira places to visit.
Poncha is the traditional drink from the island of Madeira, this yummy rum drink dates back over 500 years. Almost every restaurant or bar you go to in Madeira will have poncha ready and waiting for you.
This sweet sugarcane rum drink in Madeira is made from all different types of fruit. The fruit in Madeira is abundant all year round due to the tropical island climate. The most common poncha flavors are passion fruit, tangerine, and orange. Poncha in Madeira is very inexpensive ranging from less than a euro up to 1-2, depending on where you go.
Madeira is known to have the most dramatic landscapes in the world. There are 7 places on the island where you can jump on a cable car or telefericos and ride hundreds of feet down a side of the mountain. Being that high up in the air looking down below to the remarkable experience that you might just be holding you’re breath for.
The Rocha do Navio is the best cable car in Madeira, it is located on the north shore near Santana. The next best cable car in Madeira is Achadas da Cruz. This cable car takes you down to the cutest little self-staining town in Madeira. If you decide to take this route you will be greeted by a local woman selling her poncha and giving away bananas, make sure you stop for a break and say hello.
Beat the lines and grab a ticket here before you arrive.
The miradouros are some of the best things to do in Madeira. These spots are where you will find all the famous Instagram spots. Driving around Madeira is an adventure in itself, be ready to take wild turns and see stray bulls, yes bulls, in the middle of the road. The roads and tunnels have been built around the insane landscape in Madeira so be careful of surprises around every turn.
The Guindaste viewpoint in Madeira is the best place to watch the sun come up, it rises from behind the mountains and kisses the sky for a remarkable view. It is located near the town of Santana.
The next miradouros is das Cabanas which is also located on the northern side of the island and on a clear day you can see the beautiful island of Porto Santo. You cannot go wrong with an unplanned drive it is one of the most romantic things to do in Madeira.
About an hour away from Funchal, Portugal you will find the town of Porto Moniz. Located on the Northwest coast of Madeira; Porto Moniz is where you will find the famous natural pools. There is also a small aquarium if you are looking for what to do in Madeira when it rains. Plus there are plenty of restaurants with amazing views of the pools.
The natural pools in Porto Moniz are made up of volcanic lava walls where the ocean water has settled to form swimming pools. They are open for swimming year-round but be careful at high tide because the huge waves here come crashing in over the walls.
While in the area you can also visit the nearby walking levada and western towns. Take this guided tour to visit Porto Moniz and the rest of the west coast on an all-day tour. Or check it out before heading to Sexial Beach.
When visiting Madeira taking a whale and dolphin tour is one of the best things to do in Funchal Madeira. When booking this tour your day will be easy and already planned out for you. Meet your captain in the Funchal new marina and board your luxury cruise.
They cannot guarantee that you will spot any marine life, but they will take you to the best spots around the island. While you cruise around the clear waters the boat will anchor for you to snorkel with the fish.
Depending on what time of the day you book your tour in Madeira there will be a light snack provided. You are welcome to bring your own food and drinks. If you are looking to enjoy some of the best Madeira sightseeing from the sea, you will love this luxurious cruise, and most likely see dolphins playing in the waters.
Check for your dates here: GetYourGuide.com
Madeira Island is full of fun traditions, and one of the best things to do in Funchal is to take a toboggan ride. These rides started over 100 years ago as a way for wealthy citizens could make their way from the top of the mountain to the bottom. The good news though, is now everyone can enjoy this ride.
The Toboggan ride in Madeira is a popular tourist attraction where visitors ride in a wicker basket sled, called a “carro de cesto”, which is steered and controlled by two local guides known as “carreiros”.
The ride begins in Monte, a suburb of Funchal, and takes passengers on a thrilling downhill journey for approximately 1 mile (2 kilometers), ending in the heart of Funchal. The carreiros wear traditional Madeiran clothing and use their rubber-soled boots as brakes to slow down the sled. It’s a unique and exciting way to experience the beautiful scenery and history of Madeira, and a must-try for anyone visiting the island.
To get to the toboggan ride in Funchal you will have to first ride the cable cars from Funchal to Monte, which is a treat in itself. While over in Monte spend time exploring the gardens they are some of the best Funchal things to do.
To get away from the busy Madeira tourist attractions head to the stunning Sexial Beach on the west side of the island. This beach is famous for its black volcanic sand and dreamy blue color water. The contrast it creates is stunning.
You can swim here during the summertime, but be careful of the tide. Most people just relax and enjoy the views. Many surfers enjoy the break a bit farther down from sexial at the blah blah oceanfront. Go watch and enjoy it is about a five-minute drive away for the best things to do on Madeira Beach wise.
You can book a half-day tour here where a driver will pick you up from your hotel and bring you to the beach for 4 hours. This is an okay option if you are not renting a car. But the bus system is excellent in Madeira and you could spend way less than this.
This is the parking lot address to Seixal Beach and the area the bus will drop you off.
Ponta do Sol roughly translates to Point of the Sun, and they got it right because the sun always seems to be shining here. Remember that if you are experiencing rain at one of these other best places to visit in Madeira, you can always come here!
This charming small town is on the south coast of Madeira and is known for its stunning sunsets. The town is surrounded by lush green hills and overlooks the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, offering plenty of opportunities to relax and unwind.
For more active travelers there are two levadas here the Ribeira da Vagar and Ribeira da Madalena. And of course, the beautiful Ponto do Sol Beach is always popular during golden hour. The word is out and Digital Nomads love living in Ponta do Sol. And new hotspots are opening all the time!
Find this cute town here, and try to plan to see the sunset, seriously it is amazing.
You should plan for a least 5 days in Madeira. You could spend months exploring all the best things to do in Madeira, and never get enough.
It would take around a week to enjoy the island’s natural beauty like hiking or swimming. This would allow you enough time to visit the botanical gardens, walk a few levadas, and explore the mountains and valleys.
However, if you’re short on time, a 3-4 day trip can also provide a good taste of what Madeira has to offer. This would allow you to explore Funchal and a few of its surrounding areas.
Madeira is best known for its lush greenery, rugged coastline, and mild subtropical climate. The island is also renowned for its unique wine, Madeira wine, which is produced using a special heating and aging process.
Madeira is also known for its colorful festivals and fun events, such as Carnival and the Flower Festival. There is also local traditional cuisine, including Espetada, Black Scabbardfish, and the local Poncha drink.
The best time of the year to visit Madeira is the autumn or springtime. That is not to say that the summertime isn’t amazing, it is just peak tourist season. The prices for accommodation are a bit more expensive and the island will be crowded.
In the fall the leaves are turning and the whole island fades into muted browns and greens. And then the spring it all comes back to life with the seasonal flowers and wildlife bouncing back. There is no wrong time to visit Madeira!