Madeira was everything I hoped for: a beautiful island full of incredible landscapes, hundreds of hikes, beautiful waterfalls, and lush mountains. However, for the beach lovers, think twice before going to Madeira because Madeira doesn’t have many beaches.
I wrote a complete guide about Madeira and everything you need to know (how long you should stay, where to stay, accommodation..etc) You can find it here : “Madeira : Your complete travel guide for your holidays“
Table of contents
Here is my list of 10 things to do in Madeira Island :
The hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
If there is ONE hike you have to do while in Madeira is the hike that goes from Pico do Arieiro (1 818meters) to Pico Ruivo (1 862meters).
The hike is approximately 7km long and goes through different mountains. The duration of this hike is between 5hours to 6 hours depending on your physical conditions.
From my personal point of view, the hike is incredibly stunning but really hard physically. Not only because of the altitude but mainly because the stairs: they can be stiff and hard to climb. If you are afraid of heights, I would not really recommend doing this hike. The path can be really narrow and scary.
After reading several blog posts before going to Madeira, most of the people were recommending to start this hike early morning to enjoy the sunrise and beat the crowd. However, I wouldn’t agree with that. We arrived around 3 pm and it was perfect. We didn’t meet that many people on the way (it seems like most of the tourists arrive around 10/11 am and come back early afternoon). Bonus: By doing the hike late afternoon, we got to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
Note : You don’t necessarily have to do the entire hike to enjoy the view. From the parking lot at Pico do Arieiro, there are many different areas where you can take nice pictures.
Watching the sunset from “Ninho Da Manta”
While hiking from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, we found this really cool spot called “Ninho da Manta”.
I would really recommend to go there on the way back and watch the sunset from this place. The view is absolutely incredible and the light is insane!
Note: don’t forget your lamp and a big blanket (because it is easily cold up there)
Explore Funchal and the old town
Our main base was in Funchal. We stayed for 5 nights in a small boutique hotel called ” Se Boutique Hotel“.
I think Funchal is definitely the perfect place if you want to explore the entire island. We drove only between 1-2h per day max to get to the spots we wanted to see
We loved to be close to the old city of Funchal and being able to walk to any restaurants without having to take the car all the time.
The only downside is finding a place to park the car. We had to pay every night 6 euros because we couldn’t an appropriate place near our hotel.
NOTE : You can get a 25euros discount in your next reservation with booking.com with this link HERE
Natural swimming pools at Porto Moniz.
After driving one hour from Funchal, we discovered those beautiful natural pools in Porto Moniz. Those pools are naturally filled by the ocean’s high tide and you can swim if you are courageous enough to do it (ps : yes the water is cold)
There are actually two sets of pools: one is overlooking Ilheu Mole Island and is completely free. The other set of pools is Lido Pools and the entrance fee is approx 1,50 euros. It opens at 9 and closes at 5 pm.
We personally only went to the first set of pools since we arrived quite late and didn’t want to lose time. It is completely free so you are welcome to stay as long as you want. The sunset from there was absolutely stunning.
However, be extremely cautious if you swim there. The rocks are very sharp and slippery. If you trip you might get hurt quite badly so be careful.
Visit a black sand beach : Praia do Porto Seixal.
One of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen in my life. This beach called “Praia do Porto Seixal” and has one particularity: the sand is completely black.
Bonus: there is a small waterfall which makes the place even prettier.
Another hike to do : Ponta de Sao Laourenco
This is actually the first hike we have done when we arrived in Madeira and is located on the East side of Madeira.
It is a 6 km hike which goes through many different landscapes. It took us 4 hours to do everything.
The hike was quite easy, the only hard part is the last leg of the trail.
We loved watching the sunset from Ponto do Furado.
The magic forest of Fanal:
Probably one of the most mysterious forests I have ever got the chance to see. This forest is actually part of the UNESCO world heritage.
When we arrived there, we were the only one. The place, those trees, the ambiance, you really have to see it with your own eyes to understand. I would advise coming here late afternoon when the fog comes up.
Definitely, a must-do if you are coming to Madeira.
Note: Please be very careful when you drive there, the fog can be really intense. We almost got into a car accident because of wild animals on the road.
Two waterfalls to visit: 25 Fontes and Risco Waterfall
The trail that goes from 25 fontes and Risco is one of the most popular on the island. That’s why I definitely recommend to get there early morning or start the hike mid-afternoon. Most of the tourists (and big buses of 40-50 people) usually arrives around 10/11am.
From the parking lot, it is a 9 km hike and you need at least 4h-5hours.
One option to consider: if you are tired and cannot walk too much, I would recommend taking the shuttle bus from the parking to Posto Florestal do Rabaçal (the real starting point of the hike). It can save you up to 2km. The way down is 2 euros and the way back is 3euros PER person.
When you arrive at Posto Florestal do Rabaçal, there is a very cute restaurant where you can get food, drinks, and free toilets are available.
The parking lot is at Parkplatz 25 Fontes (you can find the exact spot below on google maps.)
Scenic drive : The ER110 road.
If you are fond of scenic roads, I would definitely recommend going through the ER110 road. It is a stunning road, with an incredible view all the way.
Don’t forget to take some pictures at my favorite spot called “Lombo do Mouro viewpoint” you won’t regret it 🙂
The beach and the secret cave of Ribeira da Janal.
This found this spot randomly while we were on our way to the black sand beach in Seixal.
Tip : From the parking lot, take the stairs that lead to a dark cave. The view is absolutely stunning from there