I spent one week in Madeira island and here are the 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. read about this option here. And if you need tips, read my article about Porto and Lisbon.
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. We rented our car at Driving Madeira.
Things to do in Madeira – Madeira walks
With it’s lush mountains, Madeira is perfect to experience nature. One of the many things you can do on the island to enjoy the many different landscape is hiking. I went on 3 different hikes during my stay in Madeira.
A walk in Machico – Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco trail
On the very first day I went on a hike in Machico, on the east side of the Island. I took the Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco trail. It is a 3 hours walk (round trip – I walked quite slow and stopped many times to take pictures) that takes you through different kind of landscapes. From cliffs to more arid landscape with almost no trees and that are unique to this part of the Island. This trail was my favorite trail.
Madeira walks – Pico de Arieiro trail
My second favorite trail was Pico de Arieiro. I am not sure what was nicer the way up there. Driving through the cloud or once there where we took a walk above the clouds.
On the way don’t miss to stop at Eira de Serrado, it takes you a little out of your way but it is totally worth it. From there you have a view over Curral de Freiras a village in the mountains.
Levada walk Madeira – Levada do Risco & Levada das 25 fontes
Finally, we also went for hiking at Levada do Risco that took us to an impressive waterfall before going down to Levada das 25 fontes where you can admire a spring lagoon. More than the lagoon itself, I was impressed by the way going there through the laurel forest.
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.
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 taste madeira wine. A good idea would also be to take a wine tour and enjoy wine tasting.
Things to do in Madeira – 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.
Things to do in Madeira – 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 a thing to do if the weather is good.
Things to do in Madeira – 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 have a diving licence 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.
Things to do in Funchal, Madeira
Afternoon tea at the Belmond
I already wrote an article about the Belmond in Madeira. If you don’t stay there don’t be shy and go there for a tea or an evening drink. This is where I drunk the best Madeira wine on the island 😉
Eat in a Museum – dinner at the design center Nini Andrade Silva
On our last evening, Chloe and I went for dinner at the design center Nini Andrade Silva. Nini Andrade Silva is one of the most prestigious interior designers in the world and was born in madeira. In the design center, she created a space with a permanent exhibition showing her work but also telling the history and culture of Madeira Island and its strong connection to the history of the sea. The design center has also a store, a cafeteria-lounge and a restaurant with Chef Julio Pereira´s signature who has had a passion for many years of creating modern interpretations of classic regional and Atlantic cuisine.”
Go to Monte by cable car and go down by tobbogan
What is not to miss when in Funchal is to go up to Monte. To go up you can go either by car or by funicular. We were walking in the city so we decided to go by cable car to Monte. Since Madeira has go a lot of mountains, cable car are really a thing on the island but the mist popular one is the one going to Monte. To go dow you can walk (it is a very long way), you can take the cable car again or you can go down by toboggan. The monte toboggan are a real thing in Madeira, and believe it or not it use to be public transportation in the 19th century! How cool?!
Go to the market in Funchal – Mercado dos Lavradores
Wherever I go I love to visit markets. It is a good way to discover the culture of a country.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday. What not to miss are the women in traditional clothes selling flowers as well as the fish part of the market. There for example you see the black scabbard fish that I talked about above and that is a very common eat in Madeira. A good way to see what is all in the atlantic ocean 😉
Atlantic Festival Madeira
If you visit Madeira in June don’t miss the Atlantic Festival.
It is a set of initiatives spread throughout the month of June, with emphasis on the pyromusical shows. For example you can watch the fireworks directly from the port or from the bar of the Belmond (while sipping a Madeira wine :))
* Unpaid advertisement – This trip was organized by Visit Madeira