You haven't been to Madeira yet? Guys, it's about time! In October 2013 we decided to fly to Madeira and explore this small marvellous portuguese island. First, we thought it's is going to be a calm vacation to relax but hey, once we were there, it was no time for being lazy.
I want you to know the great things Madeira has to offer, so I made a short list with 5 things what to do in Madeira. Enjoy and promise me to book a flight there ASAP :P
SEE ALSO: Madeira's Highlights
1. Enjoy swimming in turquoise water.
This photo was taken 5 min away from our hotel "Four Views Oasis" - the nearest city is called Canico de Baixo. The water here is so tempting. Go for a swim and be amazed by the turquoise water.. And if you're asking yourself what's the sea temperature in October, I can tell - it's about 21°C, very pleasant.
2. Rent a car and explore the island.
You can rent a car from up to 30 euros per day. The roads in Madeira are pretty narrow and also very steep. Make sure you rent a car with enough power (don't take the cheapest car if possible). We got the car at our hotel (which is the basically the easiest way) and paid 40 euros per day. Once you got the car, you're free to explore the whole island.
We received a pretty awesome map of Madeira with suggested daily routes on it. The main attractions were divided into 5 routes (and some more but these are combined routes):
- Northeast tour (Volcanic caves, Ponta Delgada, Arco Sao Jorge, Cabanas, Porto da Cruz, Pico do Facho, Santa Cruz)
- East tour (Camacha, Pico de Areiro, Ribeiro Frio, Faial, Santana, Portela, Ponta de Sao Lourenco, Machico)
- Southwest tour (Ponta do Sol, Moledos, Calheta, Prazeres, Ponta do Pargo, Paúl do Mar, Jardim do Mar, Madalena do Mar)
- Nuns Valley (Pico dos Barcelos, Eira do Serrado, Curral das Freiras)
- West tour (Camara de Lobos, Cabo Girao, Ribeira Brava, Encumeada, Paúl da Serra, Porto Moniz, Seixal, Sao Vicente)
If you do the West tour, you will visit the famous Porto Moniz. Enjoy the swimming pools carved out of the volcanic rock (no entrance fee!). Take your swimming suit and have fun swimming in the green water..
A peaceful ride on 1600 m but still with views of the sea is what the West tour offers too. It was soooo beautiful here. Stop to get some fresh air and enjoy your meal in this calm area. You will like it!
One of our favourite routes was the Northeast tour. The road along the coastline offers many stunning views of the sea and some great beaches to spend your day. Machico is a small romantic city worth visiting. This route offers also the famous and not to be missed Ponta de S. Lorenco with picturesque cliffs.
The East tour wasn't as promising as we expected but still - you don't want to miss the traditional straw-roofed houses called "casinhas de Santana". Also the
curvy roads from Ribeiro Frio to Camacha through the picturesque forrests are an experience worth.
3. Go hiking.
Hiking is a must do in Madeira. One of the most beautiful hiking tours in Europe can be found here - Pico do Arieiro (1810 m). Unfortunately, we had bad luck with the weather. Exactly on the day we've planned to see Pico do Arieiro we were surprised by heavy fog and rain. However, we took a photo at the beginning of the tour path :)
Ponta de Sao Lourenco was one of our most memorable hiking tours we've ever been so far. Oh man, it was soo beautiful. It can't be described in words. It took us about 2 hours to hike in one way. But this fact should not stop you to take this path. You can go for a 20-minutes walk and you will already enjoy the stunning sea views upon the cliffs. My recommendation - go in the morning hours since it can get pretty hot out there. A sunburn is not out of the question :) Therefore, take the sun block and a lot of water with you!
Just have a look at our photos below:
There are so many hiking possibilities in Madeira. Here are some suggestions for half and full day hiking tours:
- Vale da Serra de Água (duration: 2h, difficulty: easy)
- Vale do Paraíso (duration: 2h, difficulty: easy)
- Marocos (duration: 2h, difficulty: easy)
- Referta (duration 2h, difficulty: easy)
- Rabacal (duration: 3h 30m, difficulty: moderate)
- Ribeiro Frio (duration: 3h 30m, difficulty: moderate)
- Pico Areiro - Pico Ruivo (duration: 3h 30m, difficulty: difficult)
- Queimadas (duration: 3h 30m, difficulty: easy)
- Lakes of Madeira (duration: 3h, difficulty: moderate)
- Levada do Rei (duration: 3h 30m, difficulty: easy)
4. Go canyoning.
Canyoning was the highlight of our tour! It can be done in Ribeiro Frio (we did that), in Ribeira das Cales or do Rochao. Expect to pay approx. 60 euros per person. Our tour was booked straight at our hotel. The following local agencies offer canyoning tours, have a look:
5. Try local food and wine in Funchal.
Have a stop at the famous market "Mercado dos Lavradores" in Funchal and get amazed by the huge offer of various exotic fruits: anona, guava, passion fruit, papaya, maracuya etc.
You can't go home without having a delicous dinner in Funchal, Ribeira Brava or Ponta do Sol. Try the typical Madeira dish "Espada com banana" (black scabbard with banana). The dish goes along well with a glass of some delicious local wine (it's not that cheap though..).
Madeira is a great destination for a week or two. If you like swimming, diving, hiking, canyoning and strolling along the coast it's a nice place to be. Madeira has to offer a lot more - you can go also horse riding, paragliding, kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking, on a ship cruise and even whale watching! Unfortunately, we didn't have the time to experience that..
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a strickly party island, you're in the wrong place. There are some clubs in the capital city, Funchal, which are probably great, but that's it. In general, the island is quite calm.
If you like to enjoy Madeira on its best, don't choose to go there in the peak season. It can get very crowded, expensive and touristy.
However, I've never seen so much beauty on such a small island. You won't regret going there, believe me.
Have I forgotten something very important? Have you ever been to Madeira? Yes? So, what would be your 5 things to do in Madeira? I am curious to hear it! Please let me know in the comments below.
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Now, that you know what are the 5 things to do in Madeira, let yourself gaze into photographies taken at our trip to this beautiful portuguese island! Enjoy!
Confidus Solutions (Thursday, 13 February 2020 09:25)
Great travel tips! Now I need to get myself to Madeira . I still have never been there. It is definitely on my bucket list. Such beautiful photos!
Albanian Coastline (Monday, 21 October 2019 11:47)
Brisani bay in southern Albania will surprise you with the beauty of its nature. You will find the peace that you are looking for.
Mary (Sunday, 06 May 2018 21:43)
When would be the best time of year to visit Madeira? Especially if you want to scuba dive and whale watch. Thank you.
Maja (Saturday, 17 March 2018 14:47)
Yes, you are right!! Madeira is well worth a visit. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for giving us nice tips. https://www.ocean-retreat.com
Marco Vieira (Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:56)
Visit the island of Madeira and discover why we are the most beautiful islands in the world, recently awarded by Tripadvisor! Choose us as your partner for your dream holiday and find on our website a panoply of services, programs and suggestions! Contact us, we all like to help!
Candida (Friday, 01 August 2014 02:22)
Are their tourist board/offices close to the old town of Funchal? Santa Maria area.
Are their tours that take off from here. It seems that they are mostly out towards the Lido area of Ajuda. Please let me know and let me know the most recognized for safety and information of all of them. Thank you.
Sonja (Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:26)
Thanks again for all the comments! I'd love to return one day. And it might happen soon!
Alexandre, I understand your concern. However, this was my perception..don't worry about it. The wine in the country we live in now is much more expensive indeed.
alexandre (Wednesday, 30 July 2014 01:05)
the wine: "it's not that cheap though..", you said. or is it "i haven't got enough money"? Is the beautiful things of doing tourism in a beautifull place all about thing beeing cheap ou expensive? in your home land is it cheaper? I really enjoyed reading what you said abaout my island but is very sad to see the tourism complaining about the prices when at their homelands its much much much more expensive, in all ways!!
Suzel (Tuesday, 29 July 2014 05:29)
I was born in Madeira left there when I was 9. I really enjoyed reading all you had to say and loved the pictures. Hope you will return. I know I will someday with my kids. Thank you again. Madeira Island my BirthHome
Fatima Goncalves (Tuesday, 29 July 2014 04:27)
I am also from Madeira and yes I miss the weather and the views, can't wait to get back
Elisabete Goncalves (Tuesday, 29 July 2014 01:19)
I am from Madeira and love the way you describe the island! Hope you plan a return soon!
Tobi (Monday, 28 July 2014 09:34)
Really enjoyed reading this. I live in Caniço de Baixo and live Madeira.
I hope you return again.
Sonja (Monday, 28 July 2014 07:19)
I'm glad you liked the blog post!
And thank you for taking the time to report errors. It is very appreciated! I'm going to correct it right now.
Have a nice day xx
Mary (Monday, 28 July 2014 03:20)
The espada is actually called black scabbard and not swordfish.
Ivan (Monday, 28 July 2014 00:24)
The traditional straw-roofed houses are called "casinhas de Santana" instead of "concelho da Calheta" as you mentioned. Enjoyed your fotos and advices a lot
Ron (Sunday, 27 July 2014 22:29)
Well done,it looks so beautiful