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Insider's Guide to Islands of Portugal

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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Islands of Portugal RECOMMENDATIONS See all

Islands of Portugal Suggested Itineraries

By Viator, December 2013

4 25 Reviews | Add your review

South of Portugal, 320 mi (515 km) off the coast of North Africa, lies one of the jewels of the Portuguese Islands – Madeira. Famous for its wine, it also has year-round mild temperatures and spectacular volcanic landscapes. Take your walking shoes, your camera and a willingness to relax.

Day 1 – Getting to Know Madeira
You’ve landed on this small island in the Atlantic – now it’s time to have a look around. Funchal has been the capital of Madeira for five centuries; it’s also the largest city on the island with a population of 100,000. Have a wander around, get a feel for the leisurely pace of life, and visit the 15th century Se Cathedral. Don’t be surprised if you see lots of kids practicing their soccer skills – after all this is Portugal’s team captain Ronaldo’s birthplace. Then head out for a grand tour of the island. Travel to the peak of the island on the Encumeada summit, stand on top of the world’s second highest seacliff at Cabo Girao (1,900 ft/580 m high!), visit volcanic swimming pools at Porto Moniz, and the villages of Sao Vincente and Santana. In the evening, see the island from a different angle on an evening cruise along the coast.

Day 2 – Getting a Taste for the Towns
Now that you’ve gotten a taste for the beauty of Madeira, get to know it in a bit more depth. Head out to the village of Camacha  famous for its wickerwork artisans. The islands are also known for their embroidery artisans and the town of Santana is famous for its pointed thatched roof cottages. Or taste another famous product of the island, Madeira Wine. In the evening, learn more about the history and folklore of the islands with a night of traditional food and dance.

Day 3 – Watching the Wildlife
Given its unspoilt, wild beauty, it’s not surprising that Madeira teems with wildlife. Go whale-watching and dolphin-spotting, or head out to the untouched Desertas Islands, a European Biogenetic Reserve where you can see turtles and seabirds. If you prefer to stay on dry land, head out for some birdwatching or for a hike in Laurel Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site full of birds and butterflies.

Further out, 900 mi (1,450 km) off the coast of Portugal, in the North Atlantic, lies another little piece of paradise: the Azores. A chain of nine islands, these are tranquil places of natural beauty, off the beaten tourist track and with birds, whales, waterfalls and volcanoes. If you ever tire of Madeira, make the Azores your next stop.

Tours & Tickets

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Private Tour: Dolphin Swim Adventure in Madeira

Mingle with the wild dolphins of Madeira on an unforgettable 2.5-hour dolphin swim, near Quinta do Lorde Marina! The private experience starts with a cruise ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $73.62

Full Day East Madeira - Camacha, Pico do Ariero, Ribeiro Frio, Portela, Santana

4 star rating: Recommended 9 Reviews

This full day tour gives you the opportunity to see artisans at work, a town famous for its cottages and to enjoy picture perfect scenery. Visiting Camacha, ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $46.28

Half Day Traditions and Enchanting Valleys - Eira do Serrado, Curral das Freiras, Monte, Madeira Wine Tasting

3 star rating: Worth doing 3 Reviews

Stop at Pico dos Barcelos, viewpoint from where you can admire a beautiful view over Funchal. Journey to Eira do Serrado, viewpoint (1,094 meters) overlooking ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $39.26

Grand Madeira Island Tour - Porto Moniz and Santana

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 5 Reviews

Spend a day admiring the picturesque scenery of Madeira. Start today with a beautiful view over Camara de Lobos from Pico da Torre followed by stunning views ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $84.14

Madeira Nights Tour - Dinner and Show

3.5 star rating: Worth doing 7 Reviews

Enjoy dinner at a typical Madeiran restaurant where you will be served Espetada and other delicacies of Madeiran cookery. Coffee and wine is included and a ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $46.28

Full Day Birdwatching Tour - West Madeira Island

If you want to learn about Madeira Island's natural treasures, don't join a crowded tour, join this full day Birdwatching tour with up to only eight ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $112.19

Dolphin, Whale and Seabird Cruise in Madeira

Watch out for dolphins, whales, seabirds and more on a 2.5-hour marine-wildlife adventure by RHIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat)! Taking place in the waters ...  Read more

Location: Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $63.10

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