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. It is probably the most underrated island in all of Europe. Madeira is located in the Atlantic Ocean closer to Morocco than it is in Portugal. But make no mistake, the Portuguese culture runs proud throughout Madeira.
Madeira is an exceptional place for all adventurous souls. Amazingly and unusual there are 4 different micro-climates on one island. Picture this, start your day with a hike up to the tallest point of the island breaking through the ice in the soft morning light. Then by lunchtime, you could be relaxing on one of the many beaches in Madeira. Laying in the bright sunshine with your bikini on, or hey it’s Europe you could always go topless.
The climate, landscape, hiking, forests, waterfalls, and levadas are just some of the best things to do in Madeira. Throughout this list, you will find all the best things to do in Madeira during any season. This beautiful island in Madeira is one of a kind and is guaranteed to make you fall in love with Portugal.
The Top 10 Best Things to do in Madeira Portugal for Everyone 2022
Chase the Waterfalls in Madeira
Don’t listen to TLC, you should spend a day chasing the waterfalls in Madeira. There are so many different ones to choose from. You will not go a day without seeing a waterfall in Madeira. Most are visible without even having to get your hiking boots dirty.
The best waterfalls in Madeira are all over the island and they are the prettiest in the fall and autumn but are fantastic any time of the year. One of the most popular waterfalls is the Anjos waterfall, located in the town of Ponta do Sol. Anjos Waterfall is truly a unique experience. 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 just take photos behind the water.
The next waterfall in Maderia 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.
Take a Levada Walk in Madeira
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 in any season.
First on the list of best Levadas in Madeira is the the Levada Ribeira de Janela. This Levada is located near Porto Moniz and is actually about a 20-minute drive from Ribeira de 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 next to the best things to do in Madeira. Hiking this Levada in the Laurissilva Forest 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, the succulents and aloe plants pop up in the most unexpected places.
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 this place.
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 are 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 Fanal there is a tiny shelter with a place to make a fire and plenty of picnic tables to take a break.
Spend Time Above the Clouds
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 Maderia, there is a cafe at home base where you can enjoy a coffee and snack. You deserve a treat after all.
Drink the Poncha in Madeira
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 fruits, tangerine, or oranges. Poncha in Madeira is very inexpensive ranging from less than a euro up to 1-2, depending on where you go.
Ride a Cable Car Down a Mountain in Madeira
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. 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.
Take a Drive to View the Miradouros
The miradouros are some of the best things to do in Madeira this is where you will find all the famous Instagram spots. Driving around Madeira is an adventure 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 it 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 around Madeira.
Visit Porto Moniz
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 best natural pools and poncha. There is the cutest town center where you can find all different kinds of Portuguese food.
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. Swimming in a natural pool is one of the best things to do in Madeira.
The best little poncha bar, Santa Maria, is located in Porto Moniz. You can find it in the town of Lamacerios on top of the mountain. Please do yourself the favor and order a glass of the best homemade poncha in Madeira. It will cost you about 50 cents and is owned by the sweetest Madeiran couple.
Get Up Early
If you could do one thing for yourself when visiting Madeira, please get up early because you will beat the crowds. One of the best things to do in Madeira is to watch the sunrise. When you experience a sunrise in Madeira it is the real magic of the island, the first light of the day always puts life into a new perspective.
Getting up early and beating the crowds won’t cost you anything but a few hours of sleep, and who needs to sleep in Madeira anyway? Most tour buses run between 11-4 so try to rearrange your day to visit all the best places in Maderia in your own time in the best light. You will not regret it.
Go for a Toboggan Ride in Funchal
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 the 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.
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 it makes for the perfect day in Funchal.
Funchal is the capital and is home to so many things to do in Madeira. There is a fun art vibe and excellent restaurants to try. Big cities are fun to explore on any trip, but you should get out and see the real magic in the countryside of Madeira.
Any day spent in here is one to remember, but hopefully, this list of the best things to do in Madeira will help you on your trip. If you give yourself a week to ten days in Madeira you should be able to do all of these things easily. Let us know if you have ever been to this magical island and tried any of these things. Comment down below your favorite thing to do in Maderia.