I spent one week in Madeira island and in this Madeira travel blog I will share with you my top 10 things to do in Madeira.
Madeira is an Island that belongs to Portugal but fun fact, it is situated closer to the African continent than to Portugal. Indeed, it is 580 km west of Morocco and 980 km southwest of Lisbon, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.
Flights to Madeira from Portugal
To get there, I flew with Tap Portugal and had a stopover in Lisbon. Actually Tap Portugal offers a very good opportunity to stay up to 3 days in Lisbon or Porto on your way to Madeira.
Now back to Madeira. I spent one week in Madeira and here comes my top 10 things to do while on the Island.
During our trip we didn’t take any tour. It is much better to rent a car and visit the Island on your own.
Things to do in Madeira
Madeira wine tasting
First I would suggest you to taste Madeira wine. It is fortified wine and a speciality from the island. It is deliciously sweet and is perfect as an aperitif or for dessert. The Belmond is definitely a good address to do a Madeira wine tasting. A good idea would also be to take a wine tour and enjoy wine tasting.
Go see the typical Santana houses
In Santana you will find Madeira’s typical triangular houses built of wood and thatched with straw. Those houses are only kept as a museum in Santana now but used to be everywhere on the island.
As you will see those houses only in one street it is best to combine this visit with something else that is in the area.
Swim in one of the natural pools in Porto Moniz
Unfortunately it was too cold the day we have been in Porto Moniz so we didn’t swim in the natural swimming pools but it is definitely one of the top things to do while in Madeira if the weather is good.
Whale watching in Madeira
Because of it geographic situation, Madeira is perfect to observe cetaceans. Indeed, at a distance of 5 km from the coast, the sea already reaches a depth of 3000 meters. Therefore you don’t need to go far with the beat to see dolphins and other species. We took a 2,5 hours tour at the Rota dos Cetaceos. We saw many dolphins and 3 sperm whales. Depending on the season you might be lucky to see even more species.
Unfortunately I don’t dive yet but diving is also supposed to be great in Madeira. Again, because of the sea depth, you are able to sea many fishes and other sea animals.
Madeira is very green, so most people go hiking in Madaira. It is free and it allows to enjoy the nature. I went on 3 different hikes during my stay in Madeira, to me those are the most beautiful hikes in Madeira.
Outdoor activities in Madeira
As you will understand, Madeira is a very green island and is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking is the main activity on Madeira because it’s free, but there are many other things you can do if your budget allows. The famous Levadas, for example, can not only be explored on foot but also by mountain bike! It is also possible to go rock climbing, canyoning and diving among others. Madeira is indeed a privileged place in Europe for diving !!
Go to the beach
Although Madeira is not a seaside destination, it does have a few beaches: Calheta, an artificial beach, Machico, next to the airport, Prainha in the south east and Seixal, the black sand beach.
Go to Porto Santo
Porto santo is the second island of Madeira. It even has an airport that connects Lisbon and Porto. From Madeira Island, it’s about two hours by ferry. Porto Santo is the ideal destination for spa enthusiasts. In fact, the sand found on the island is therapeutic.
It is also the ideal destination for those who want to enjoy the beach. Unlike Madeira, it has 9km of beaches and the water is transparent !! Why not spend a few active days in Madeira and then go to rest in Porto Santo ?!
Take a walk in the laurel forest of Madeira, Unesco world heritage
The laurel forest is located in the north of the island of Madeira particularly and it is because of its age: 20 million years and its specificity of a Unesco world heritage since 1999. For the discover, here are some nice places: Queimadas forest park in Santana, Paúl da Serra that you can combine with the 25 cast hikes, Chão dos Louros and Chão da Ribeira.
Funchal is the main city of Madeira. It’s a small city but there are plenty of things to do. Between the famous CR7 museum of Christiano Ronaldo, the famous Mercado dos Lavradores market, strolling on the very lively Santa Maria street or the famous toboggan which descends from Monte, there is a lot to do in Funchal! To visit in Madeira absolutely!
Where to eat in Madeira – restaurants tips in Madeira
For food I can share with you two good restaurant tips. One in Funchal at Chalet Vicente where we ate the typical bolo do caco, a garlic bread, as well as mussels, tuna and espetada, a typical Portuguese dish made of large chunks of beef rubbed in garlic and salt, and skewered onto a bay leaf stick cooked over hot coals or wood chips. SO GOOD!!
Another good tips is Atrio hotel, for lunch or dinner in a romantic setting. There we ate espada (black scabbard fish) with banana.
Where to sleep on Madeira Island?
While in Madeira I slept at 3 different hotels. I first stayed at the Belmond in Funchal, that is the most beautiful hotel in Madeira. Then I spent 2 nights in a design hotel called Estaladem Ponta do Sol set on the top of a cliff with views over the ocean. Finally I slept at Estalagem Quinta da Casa Branca, an historic vineyard transformed into a modern and luxury hotel.
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* Unpaid advertisement – This trip was organized by Visit Madeira