We spent an incredible five days on the magical Portuguese Island. So after hitting all of the hot spots, here are out top 12 Madeira things to do.
The Ultimate 12 Madeira Things To Do
Classic Car Trip Along The Coast
Cabo Girao Skywalk Viewpoint
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Pico Do Arieiro
Jeep Tour For Sunrise
Cable Car Experience To Monte
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Traditional Toboggan Experience
Try Local Poncha
Where To Stay In Madeira
Undoubtedly the highlight of this small Portuguese Island are it’s vast amount of Levada walks.
Dating back to the sixteenth century, these narrow channels were built to distribute water from the most northern parts of the island to the south.
The most recent were built in the 1940’s and Madeira is famous for being home to more than 200 levadas, stretching an impressive 1864 miles, whilst giving some beautiful scenic walks along the way.
Another thing Madeira prides itself on is its marine life!
With several types of whale known to hover around the coastline all year round, jumping on a boat and catching a glimpse of them is a must on your Madeira things to do list.
Pilot Whale and Sperm Whales are most commonly seen through the year but with species such as Sei Whale, Humpback Whale, Fin Whale, Bryde’s Whale, Minke Whale, and even Orcas.
By far the highlight of our Madeira trip was cruising along the coast at sunset in our 1973 Daimler Sovereign.
The guide couldn’t have been friendlier and it was as if we’d arrived on the set of an old movie. We took a tour through the mountains and around the vineyards before ending up at our restaurant for dinner.
In our opinion one of the top Madeira things to do!
The highest cape in Europe, at an elevation of 580m, is famous for its suspended glass platform.
This popular stopping point on many island tours gives magnificent panoramic views over the ocean and a fantastic look back at Funchal.
Not for the feint hearted, the sheer drop seen directly beneath your feet is definitely a big tick on your Madeira things to do list!
Water sports are another of the top Madeira things to do seeing as there’s so much coast.
We ventured out early one morning and jumped on SUP’s (or Stand Up Paddle boards) to test our balance in the ocean. Fair to say Lauren was much better than Charlie.
Honestly standing out in the ocean looking back at the island was an incredible memory we’ll always carry with us. The freedom that comes with stand up paddle boarding is something we’d never experienced. It was literally like walking on water!
Another ocean activity, and this time you can fly high above it!
Our first experience at parasailing was a hit as we launched off the back of a speedboat and cruised along the harbour front at around 600ft above sea level!
A truly unique way to see over the island of Madeira from the South coast.
If you’re looking for hiking in Madeira then this is your spot.
The third highest peak on the island, after Pico Ruivo (1862m) and Pico das Torres (1853m), Pico do Arieiro stand at 1818m and gives views of the neighbouring island of Porto Santo on a clear day.
We unfortunately visited for sunrise and took the risk of the clouds not clearing. You can see the result below…so make sure to check the weather forecast before heading up early, although it is still always a risk.
Taking a jeep tour around Madeira was another of our highlights on the island.
With so many mountains and off roading opportunities, it made sense to jump in a 4×4 and take off early one morning.
We spent a full 8 hours exploring every corner of Madeira we hadn’t yet touched, and João our driver couldn’t have been more helpful!
For a completely different experience compared to the classic car tour, add a jeep tour to your list of Madeira things to do.
Fancy seeing Funchal from above without having to parasail?
The cable car journey that starts at the old part of Funchal transcends up into the small suburb of Monte.
The Quinta Jardins do Imperador, Monte Palace Tropical Garden, the Church and the view over the bay are a handful of reasons to ride the cable car to the top.
And after all of that, coming back down in a basket car is an experience that MUST be on your list of Madeira things to do!
From the top of the cable car experience the natural first stop is Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
Covering over 70,000 square meters and home to a huge collection of exotic plants, the garden is an exhibition of worldly nature. With sections such as water features, a Japanese garden and African art there is plenty to entertain culture lovers within the grounds.
Don’t forget to check out the exhibition of gems and stones, and the indoor African sculptures.
To get down from the cable car experience there’s no better way than the traditional Madeira Toboggan experience.
Made from wicker and wood, these two seated sledges cruise down the narrow streets of Monte all the way back down to Funchal.
Powered by two carreiros, or sledge drivers, wearing white uniforms and straw hats, the 2km journey takes roughly 10 minutes as they use only their boots as brakes.
But don’t worry it’s completely safe, and a great form on income for locals thanks to tourism.
The most traditional drink of Madeira and one that can be found in almost every shop around the island, all year round.
The original recipe reads something like:
• 1/4L of brandy cane sugar
• 3-5 tablespoons of honey
• Juice of 2 lemons
Although it has been adapted and mixed over the years to suit different tastes, and the locals will argue which is the TRUE Poncha mix!
One thing’s for sure though, it’s said that ‘You haven’t truly been to Madeira, if you haven’t tried Poncha!’ So be sure to add this to your list of Madeira things to do.
Luxury – The Vine Hotel – Recently awarded as Europe’s Leading Design Hotel, the luxurious Vine Hotel is located in Funchal and offers a fusion restaurant with stunning views, a Wine Therapy Spa, access to the fitness centre and a rooftop infinity pool.
Mid-Budget – Hotel Baia Azul – We stayed 5 nights at Hotel Baia Azul and it couldn’t have been more suitable to our needs. Close enough to the old town of Funchal, with breakfast included, a beautiful balcony view and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
Budget – Funchal Apartments – City View – If it’s bang for your buck you’re looking for in Madeira then this has to be one of the cheapest and most central located properties in Funchal. The reviews seem ok, the location is ideal.
For more places to stay in Madeira you can check the latest prices here.
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