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Madeira Guide: Perfect 7-Day Itinerary

We spent last 2 years exploring Madeira on our own. After hosting our friends and family on Madeira a few times, we've put together the perfect itinerary for a week on the island. Let's go to Madeira!


Madeira Perfect 7 Day Itinerary

Madeira is a Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It has got many names: "The Island of Eternal Spring", "The Hawaii of Europe" and "The Pearl of Atlantic", whatever you call it, this place always remains very special and unique. It's not for no reason Madeira has won the title of The Best Island Destination in the World 9 times in a row! And now we know for sure that title is well deserved!


Is Madeira good for photography? SEE OUR GALLERY FROM MADEIRA


Madeira is an amazing place to visit, and I still can't believe I've been able to call it home for the past two years. During our stay, we explored all the best spots on the island and tried all the most exciting activities, many of them more than once! After hosting our friends and family on Madeira a few times, we've put together the perfect itinerary for a week on the island.


Our E-Book Guide to Madeira Island

We've created a digital guidebook to Madeira Island. Discover all the best things that Madeira has to offer and find the precise locations of the places we visited. This guide is curated for photographers, but any visitor to Madeira will find great value in it. Check it out in our shop!



What's the best time to visit Madeira?

Madeira boasts a subtropical climate, which means it enjoys warm and agreeable weather all year long. However, due to its central mountain range, the weather can vary in different areas. This diversity is actually a significant advantage, as it means you can always find a spot on Madeira Island with pleasant weather for the day. I've personally experienced all the seasons on Madeira, and each one offered a unique and enjoyable experience. There's truly no wrong time to visit Madeira.



Pico do Arieiro
Pico do Arieiro


Madeira Top 10 Attractions

The top attractions on the island include beautiful viewpoints, black sand beaches, and striking mountains, such as Pico do Arieiro, Fanal Forest, Seixal Beach, and Angels Waterfall, to name a few.


Madeira is still an unknown destination and many people outside Europe have never even heard of it. That's why now it is the best time to travel to Madeira Island before the crowds arrive.



Hike PR8 Ponta do Sao Lourenco
Hike PR8 Ponta do Sao Lourenco

How to get to Madeira

The most convenient way to reach Madeira is undoubtedly by flying to Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport in Santa Cruz (FNC). Despite being an island, Madeira boasts an impressive network of connections with airports worldwide, including direct flights to far away destinations like New York City and Toronto with the Portuguese airline Sata Azores.


The best connections are between Portuguese mainland cities Lisbon and Porto, with over 10 daily flights from Lisbon, for around 50 to 100 Euros for a basic fare with Ryanair or EasyJet.



How to get around Madeira

While the public transportation on Madeira covers all areas of the island and could take you to most places you want to visit, it might not be very efficient for a traveler here for a short stay. We spent our first half-year on Madeira using only public transportation and occasionally renting a car for 2-3 days. Although we could get around well and travel to new places every week, it was only when we rented a car long-term that we truly experienced all the benefits of living on Madeira. This will be similar for you, if you're planing to stay on Madeira a week or so.



Flower Festival on Madeira
Flower Festival on Madeira

Carnival on Madeira
Carnival on Madeira

Just recently, a new business opened that provides transportation to the two main hiking areas on the island - Rabacal and Pico do Arieiro. This can be a fine addition to your trip or a way to save some money on a few days of car rental, but if you plan to efficiently explore the island, getting your own four wheels is still advisable.


How many days is enough for Madeira

The perfect length of a trip to Madeira will vary among travelers, depending on the attractions you're interested in. There are dozens of incredible day hikes available on Madeira, so if you're interested in actively spending your time hiking, I'd suggest visiting Madeira for about 2 weeks to fully explore the best hikes and also have time for recovery.



The trail PR1 on Madeira
The trail PR1 on Madeira

If you're only interested in leisure activities and attractions that are just a few steps away from where you park your car, you might be able to visit all the recommended locations even in 5 days. To have the best experience and mix your time with exciting activities and leisurely rest, I suggest spending 7 days on Madeira to get the most out of your trip.


Where to stay on Madeira

If you're visiting for less than 7 days, staying in Funchal would be the most convenient for you. If you're taking a tour, the pick ups always start from Funchal. Anyway, most of the little towns tend to die out after 6PM, but by staying in the capital you'll still have a chance to enjoy the city after an adventurous day on Madeira. If you still thinking of booking in other towns, consider staying in Machico, Ponta do Sol, Sao Vicente or Porto da Cruz.


Madeira Perfect 7 Day Itinerary

We spent last two years exploring Madeira on our own. After hosting our friends and family on Madeira a few times, we've put together the perfect itinerary for a week on the island. Let's go travel Madeira together!


Madeira Perfect 7-Day Itinerary

Madeira Itinerary - Day 1

The following morning after your arrival start from sunrise. The best place to do it will be Ponta do Sao Lourenco. Considering that you probably booked your hotel in Funchal, Ponta do Sao Lourenco is just a 30 minute drive away. Visit the Ponta do Rosto viewpoint and later head off to hike the famous PR8 trail along the Dragon's Tail. It's a short and not very demanding hike which is best to be done early.



Congrats if you finished the hike! You're surely tired and hungry. Head to Porto da Cruz to grab lunch with a view! Porto da Cruz is the top surfing spot on Madeira. If you're interested in surfing, visit Porto da Cruz during low tide when the surf conditions are the best. You can rent surfboards on the beach or sign up for a class. You can find more recommendations for services on Madeira in our Madeira Guide.


Crane Viewpoint on Madeira
Crane Viewpoint on Madeira

In the afternoon, head to the neighbour town of Faial to see a classic Madeira view - Miradouro do Guindaste. The Crane viewpoint is an exceptionally unique lookout spot that offers a vast panorama of the Atlantic Ocean and the entire Ponta do Sao Lourenco. You can test your bravery by walking on the new glass skywalk. Experiencing the water splashing the rocks under your feet is a very cool encounter!



From Faial, you're just a few minutes away from the green town of Santana, where you can see the popular Santana Traditional Houses. With their cute triangular shape, striking colors, and the beautiful garden around them, these houses have already become a famous Instagram hotspot. From here, you'll head back to grab dinner in Funchal, where you probably stay.




Madeira itinerary - Day 2

Today, we'll continue exploring Madeira's northern coast. Start your day early and head to São Cristovão Viewpoint. It's a long journey, almost an hour, but there aren't too many better places to start the day than São Cristovão. There's a nice family restaurant from which the viewpoint took its name, but it's open only from 10AM.


São Cristovão Viewpoint on Madeira
São Cristovão Viewpoint on Madeira

Town of São Vicente on Madeira
Town of São Vicente on Madeira

From Boaventura, we head west to Sao Vicente - a small town on the northern coast, right at the beach. If you haven't had your breakfast yet, here's a good place to have it. You should also visit the local pastry shop and try the Portuguese specialty - Pastel de Nata. From São Vicente, we continue to the west. As you drive, you'll notice a tall waterfall just next to the road; you can stop to take some pictures or continue to Seixal - a town with one of the most beautiful beach in Europe. If you're coming to Madeira, the black sand beach in Seixal must be on your itinerary.


Seixal Black sand beach
Seixal Black sand beach


When you go to Seixal Beach, get ready to be amazed by the beautiful views all around. You'll feel like you're in a special place for sure. So take your time and enjoy the most beautiful beach on Madeira.


Ribeira da Janela
Ribeira da Janela

Our next stop is Ribeira da Janela; here on the beach, you can see a very impressive rock formation. This place feels like it's out of this world, maybe that's why it ended up as a movie set for one of the recent Star Wars movies.


I hope you haven't had enough swimming yet because we're heading next to the charming town of Porto Moniz, where you'll discover a truly special attraction - The Natural Swimming Pools. These pools are created by volcanic rocks, securing the entire bathing area. This setup allows visitors to swim in calm ocean water without worrying about strong waves or currents. The way these natural pools are formed ensures that the ocean water continuously mixes with the water inside the pools, keeping it clean and fresh. From here, it's a long way back to Funchal, but don't worry, the road is mostly flat and doesn't require any special driving skills.




Madeira itinerary - Day 3

The goal of yesterday's itinerary was to let you rest and recover before today's big day, for which we planned a major hike - from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. A popular way to approach this hike is by first visiting Pico do Arieiro to witness the sunrise, which has become a tradition on Madeira. Later, many visitors embark on the PR1 hike to Pico Ruivo. If you don't mind the crowds and want to experience the morning spectacle, you can do the same.



Stairway to Heaven on Madeira
Stairway to Heaven on Madeira

Views from Pico do Arieiro
Views from Pico do Arieiro

I visit Pico do Arieiro every week to do photoshoots for couples or to go hiking. Whenever I plan to do the PR1 hike, I never start it at sunrise because that's when everyone shows up on the trail. In my opinion, the perfect time to start the hike would be just before noon, so you can return to Pico do Arieiro at sunset. I prefer visiting Madeira's mountains in the evening hours because I can check the weather conditions on the webcams and enjoy the viewpoints without the crowds.




Madeira itinerary - Day 4

Today, we explore west Madeira. First, let's head to Fanal Forest. Fanal Forest is one of those places you could easily showcase on a postcard from Madeira. It is not just unique in appearance but also holds the distinction of being one of the few remaining laurel forests worldwide. This enchanting location is a must-visit during your trip to Madeira.



Fanal Forest on Madeira
Fanal Forest

Next stop Levada 25 Fontes and Risco - one of the most popular and accessible hikes on Madeira, Levada 25 Fontes, is located in the Rabaçal area. It is a 8.6 km walk that will take you through the stunning laurel forest to a waterfall of 30 meters cascading down surrounded by 25 natural springs. From there, you can go to a viewing platform from which you can see one of the tallest waterfall on Madeira - Risco Waterfall.


If you accomplished the levada, it's time for our next attraction. We're heading to Achadas da Cruz. Situated on the cliffs of the northwest tip of Madeira, Achadas da Cruz is one of the most visited locations on the island. Its popularity has grown, thanks to having the steepest cable car in Europe, which can take you to Fajã da Quebrada Nova - a traditional village where time feels like it stopped.


abandoned farmland of Fajã da Quebrada Nova
abandoned farmland of Fajã da Quebrada Nova

After a picturesque ride down in the cable car, which could already be one of the best things to try on Madeira, you'll enter a truly idyllic place. Surrounded by cliffs and at the edge of the ocean, the abandoned farmland of Fajã da Quebrada Nova is peaceful and quiet. You can walk along a scenic path along the ocean coast and simply immerse yourself in Madeira's nature.


Lighthouse Viewpoint Ponta do Pargo
Lighthouse Viewpoint Ponta do Pargo

We ending the day watching the sunset from the popular light house Ponta do Pargo. The views here are astonishing. With a 180 degrees panoramic view facing directly to the West, Ponta do Pargo is undoubtedly the best place to see the sunset on Madeira.




Madeira itinerary - Day 5

It's time for another classic hike! Levada Caldeirão Verde on Madeira is without doubts one of the top day hikes on the island. That's why lots of people visit it every day. But don't worry, it's not too hard – anyone can do it. I think it's the most interesting levada walk on Madeira Island, and it's definitely worth doing it when you're here.



Levada Caldeirão Verde on Madeira
Levada Caldeirão Verde on Madeira

Queimadas Forest Park
Queimadas Forest Park on Madeira

Miradouro Pico do Redondo on the route to Achada do Teixeira
Miradouro Pico do Redondo on the route to Achada do Teixeira

After the hike, you can explore the area around Queimadas Forest Park, which offers plenty of spots for picnics and a charming cafe. Since you're in Santana, you're very close to Madeira's highest peak, Pico Ruivo. Make your way to a unique viewpoint called Miradouro Pico do Redondo on the route to Achada do Teixeira. If you still have the energy for another hike, catch the sunset from Pico do Ruivo. The hike from Achada do Teixeira to the peak takes only 30 minutes and isn't too difficult.


Madeira itinerary - Day 6

It's time to explore Funchal! Take the cable car from Funchal center to the top of Monte, where you can visit Monte Tropical Gardens. You can stroll around and see lots of different plants, a waterfall, exhibitions, and some really interesting art. Just outside Monte Gardens is the start of Monte Toboggan.


Monte Tropical Gardens
Monte Tropical Gardens

Toboggan Ride is one of the most popular attractions on the island
Toboggan Ride is one of the most popular attractions on the island

The Toboggan Ride is one of the most popular attractions on the island. Two drivers take you on a ride in traditional wicker basket sledges down the narrow streets of Funchal.

The downhill journey takes about 10 minutes on a total course of 2 km, reaching speeds of up to 48 km/hour at times. Adventurous yet safe, an ‘old-fashioned’ toboggan ride down from Monte is one of the most enjoyable attractions on the island.


Don't forget to try Madeira's traditional food. You must taste dishes like espetada (meat on a stick), tuna steak, picado, or prego. Most of the restaurants offer these options on their menu, making it hard to miss.


Funchal
Funchal

Spend the afternoon getting lost among the streets of Funchal. Go for a walk in Funchal's old town called Zona Velha. Seeing all the colorful decorations, Portuguese tiles, painted doors, and cool street art feels like being taken back in time. Among the heritage, make sure to check out the old church - Se Cathedral at the main square, Sao Tiago Fort, and Rua Santa Maria – they're really special. End your day on Funchal promenade, sipping poncha or the typical Portuguese little coffee called Chinesa - a coffee with milk served in a larger teacup.





Madeira itinerary - Day 7

Spend your last morning on Madeira by visiting the charming little towns in the southwest. Take a stroll along the long promenade of Jardim do Mar or visit Ponta do Sol and stop by the popular Angels waterfall.



Ponta do Sol
Ponta do Sol

Waterfall of Angles
Waterfall of Angles

On your way back to Funchal, go to Cabo Girão viewpoint, known for its famous glass Skywalk, which is now one of the most popular tourist spots in on Madeira. From Cabo Girão, you get an incredible view of the cities of Câmara de Lobos and Funchal. Cabo Girão stands at 580 meters in height, making it the tallest cliff in Europe. End your itinerary in the charming fishing town of Câmara de Lobos. If you still have some time to spare, consider walking the promenade between Câmara de Lobos and Funchal. On your way, you'd pass by Formosa Beach, making it a perfect opportunity for one last dip in the ocean.


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Other Articles about Madeira you'd might like

Madeira is such an amazing place to visit, and we still can't believe we've been able to call it home for the past two years. During our stay, we explored all the best spots on the island and tried all the most exciting activities, many of them more than once! This helped us create these comprehensive guides that will help you plan your own trip to Madeira.











2 Comments


Guest
Apr 03

What an amazing itinerary!!! Thank you so much! Very useful!

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Guest
Apr 02

Perfect! Thanks for this itinerary! I'm visiting Madeira next June!

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