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Things to do in Madeira

Things to do in  Madeira

Welcome to Madeira

The Portuguese archipelago Madeira features wild coastal landscapes and tranquil charm, and delights outdoor adventurers with a wealth of activities. Known affectionately as the Pearl of the Atlantic, Madeira island offers thrill seekers the chance to take a canyoneering tour in Ribeira das Cales or a hiking tour through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Queimadas Forest Park, whose fairy-tale forests boast emerald green lagoons and waterfalls. The island’s relatively small size means even travelers short on time can enjoy most of its delights: take a hop-on hop-off tour of Funchal, the archipelago’s picturesque capital, to discover colonial monuments at your own pace; or tick off top attractions such as the Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras), Pico do Arieiro, which affords spectacular island views, and Nossa Senhora do Monte Church on a full-day sightseeing tour by Jeep or minibus. From Funchal, day trips to southwestern shores reveal the natural pools of Porto Moniz, the volcanic caves of São Vicente, and Cabo Girão, one of Europe’s highest promontories. Go whale or dolphin watching on a boat tour; or excite your palate on a vineyard tour where you’ll taste famous Madeira wine. Take in the region’s spectacular natural landscapes on a hiking excursion, or walk through the “levadas” (canal ways) in the Laurissilva Forest.

Top 10 attractions in Madeira

#1

Sé Cathedral of Funchal

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One of only a handful of late fifteenth century structures to survive the test of time, this Gothic-style cathedral is evidence of an impressive history and rich architectural past. Its impressive exterior gives way to an understated, spiritual gathering space and altar that make Sé Cathedral Funchal a perfect spot for quiet reflection or contemplative prayer. Visitors can marvel at the detailed ceiling and beautiful side altars while attending morning mass at 8 a.m. The church’s unique bell can be heard throughout the town just before services start.More
#2

Madeira Botanical Gardens

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One of Madeira’s loveliest green spaces, the island’s Botanical Gardens (Jardins Botânicos da Madeira) debuted in 1960. Stretching across 20 acres (9 hectares) and home to more than 2,000 species of exotic plants, the oasis is best known for its colorful geometric flower beds and carefully groomed topiary gardens.More
#3

Santana

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Most visitors come to winsome farming village of Santana for famed Madeira Theme Park, seven sprawling hectares of family fun. Most activities and exhibits, appealingly presented in rolling country gardens, showcase traditional Madeira culture, from rowboats in a gentle lake and traditional hedge mazes, to pirate-themed rides and live shows. The winsome farming village of Santana, however, is also worth exploring. Most famously, the rolling wheat and rye fields are studded with traditional triangular bungalows, topped with distinctive straw-thatch roofs. Santana is also a good base for hikers, with trails through laurel forests, along the rugged coast, and through Navio Nature Reserve.More
#4

Paul da Serra Plateau

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To the south of the Laurel Forest lies the Paúl da Serra Plateau, a favorite destination for hikers, nature lovers, and those wishing to seek out the famous levadas of Madeira, several of which are located in nearby Rabaçal, at the western tip of the plateau. Levadas are a network of manmade waterways that bring water across and down from the mountains; alongside them run narrow but sturdy walkways that hikers have come to call their own. But the plateau itself is also a worthy destination that is easy enough to navigate while providing thrilling views and plenty of fresh air.More
#5

Cabo Girão

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In 2012 a glass-floored viewing platform was installed in this already-popular lofty sea cliff on the southern coast of Madeira, making it an even more popular destination for visitors to this scenic island. While the glass observation ledge can be unnerving for those afraid of heights, visitors who don’t fear vertigo will experience unobstructed views of crystal clear water, rolling hills and emerald green farm land. Bring a picnic and admire the coastline away from the crowds, then climb the 289 steps that lead to Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Fatima before heading back into town.More
#6

Machico

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Belonging to Portugal and lying in the Atlantic more than 550 miles west off the coast of Morocco, the archipelago of Madeira is not exactly a place one stumbles upon while traveling. But visitors soon realize it is a destination worth planning for, and the town of Machico is its shining star. Along with the island's largest city, Funchal, Machico quickly became a full-fledged town shortly after the discovery of the island in the early 15th century. In fact, it was the first place where explorers landed and as such, is the historical heart of the island. Sights include Franciscan chapels, defensive forts, and the original fire beacon to warn of intruders. There are also beautiful vistas, modern beach clubs, world-class diving spots, and the town itself, with its welcoming locals.More
#7

Pico do Arieiro

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For being so small, Madeira is mountainous, which means that for many a lot of the island is off limits, whether because of vertigo or poor health. But visitors who simply must get that bird's eye view, Pico do Arieiro is the place to go. It's the third-highest peak in Madeira and best of all, it's completely accessible by car. The view Pico do Arieiro affords depends on the weather. On a clear day it's possible to see as far as 30 miles, and the views are tremendous. But even on a cloudy day – at least, when it's cloudy down below – visitors will be above the clouds and feel as though they're flying without wings. Add in a lunch at the nearby restaurant, and it's a fantastic day trip from Funchal that will provide lifelong memories.More
#8

Porto Moniz

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#9

Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte)

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The Nossa Senhora do Monte Church is the most important pilgrimage site on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The original church was built in 1741 on top of the foundations of an old chapel that was said to be built by the son of the settler of the island, but it was soon destroyed by an earthquake. The church that stands today dates to 1818. The interior features elegant chandeliers, a statue of Our Lady of the Mountain and the tomb of Charles I of Habsburg, the last emperor of Austria who lived in exile on Madeira until his death in 1922. Also inside the church is a silver Pieta that was the only relic saved from the earthquake. Every year in mid-August the surrounding village of Monte is home to a large festival that includes a procession to the church in honor of Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of Monte).More
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Trip ideas

Top Hiking Trails on Madeira

Top Hiking Trails on Madeira

How to Spend 3 Days in Madeira

How to Spend 3 Days in Madeira

Levada Walks in Madeira

Levada Walks in Madeira

Recent reviews from experiences in Madeira

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Excellent - We will come back for more!
Carlos_M, Nov 2020
West of Madeira Tour. Full Day Minimum 2 People
We started the day around Funchal, heading after to Porto Muniz, stopping on the way to see the beautiful cascades.
star-5
Would do it again!
Alina_T, Nov 2020
Dolphin & Whale Watching
Even though we did this tour off-season, we still managed to see two different types of dolphins.
star-5
Pleasant walk in the woods
Ksenia_Alekseeva, Jul 2019
Levada Rabaçal and 25 Fountains Walking Tour
We have seen several waterfalls, although it was quite misty on that day (it was in July).
star-4
Well worth it!
Departure11373430615, Jun 2019
Full-Day Madeira North West Coast Safari from Funchal
We saw so many amazing viewpoints and got to visit all the main attractions we were interested in which would have been too far for us to go alone.
star-5
Seabourn Trip
Linda H, May 2019
3-Hour Madeira Scenic Island Tour (Price per Sidecar - 1 or 2 passengers)
Our guide was very knowledgeable and we saw all the important spots to see in the short time we were there.
star-4
Best of the West Day Tour
278angeliquer, Nov 2018
Madeira Best of the West Day Tour
It would have been nice to have had some more time at Cabo Girao and Ribeira Brava, otherwise it was a great day to see what Madeira has to offer.
star-5
Nice tour to the mountains
Scenic66612178780, Feb 2019
Small Group Madeira Half Day Tour from Funchal
We had 4-5 stops during the tour to visit local attractions and had good time to take photos too.
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This tour was a wonderful orientation...
LeRoy H, Jun 2007
Grand Madeira Island Tour - Porto Moniz and Santana
Our tour guide was a very friendly Madeiran man who spoke English quite fluently.
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Full day trip round Madeira.Great to...
Gerdi C, Dec 2015
Grand Madeira Island Tour - Porto Moniz and Santana
Great to get your bearings and for things to see and do during your stay.
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Filipo was an excellent guide, you...
Chris P, Oct 2017
Amazing Skywalk and more... Half day Tour in Open Roof 4x4
Filipo was an excellent guide, you get more of a sense of the real Madeira and get to see some of the parts that are of the tourist map which is excellent!
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The 3/1 Hopon/Hopoff ticket was a...
esuperior, May 2017
Funchal Hop-On Hop-Off Tour 3 in 1
The 3/1 Hopon/Hopoff ticket was a fabulous way to see all of Madeira on a cloudy day when inland and high were engulfed in clouds This is a good compliment to an tour inland
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An excellent experience being able...
Michael. T. H, Sep 2016
Full Day Jeep Safari East - Pico do Areeiro - Santana - Ponta de são Lourenço
An excellent experience being able to see areas of Madeira that would otherwise have passed us by.
star-5
Good way to see Madeira. However...
Kuluhunjan, Mar 2017
Funchal Hop-On Hop-Off Tour 3 in 1
Good way to see Madeira.
star-5
Fantastic trip!
AnaCosta, Aug 2020
Around The Island - Two Days Tour From 9am to 5pm (each Day)
My tour guides: Duarte, Barros and Dinarte Sousa (at Summer anatomy), were super friendly and knowledgeable making the day such a pleasure.
star-5
My most favourite part of Maderia trip! THe highlight!
Niina_G, Mar 2020
Sunrise Transfer To Pico Do Arieiro And Hike To Pico Ruivo
Wss ahppy to see some wildife there- some local birds and lizzards of course :) WHile walking, you're going into silent monologue with yourself.
star-5
Very nice day out! professional organisers. Enjoyable!
Niina_G, Mar 2020
Madeira Best of the West Day Tour
Lots oto see and enjoy!
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Magnificent overview of Madeira! Great guide!
Wander698074, Jan 2020
South West and North West Island Day Tour from Funchal
In just a few hours, we managed to see a great variety of sights and learned quite a lot about the island and its inhabitants.
star-5
A Fantastic Experience
ianmW7519KN, Dec 2019
Madeira - 4 Hour tour as passenger, our driver (1 to 2 people - price per Trike)
We were told that some routes were closed but we still managed to make it up to one viewpoint experiencing hail and strong winds as well as falling branches on the way.
star-5
Great Day in Madeira
LorrieJ47, Dec 2019
Private Waterfalls and Peaks Tour
We visited seaside villages, mountains and waterfalls.
star-5
Infinitely more interesting than a lavada walk
ptarr2019, Nov 2019
Morning Transfer To Pico Do Arieiro And Hike To Pico Ruivo
It is not a morning hike when you start quite late in the morning and plan to see the sunset!

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in Madeira?
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