The beautiful island of Madeira is part of the Portuguese Macaronesia archipelago, situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 600-miles southwest of the tip of southern Portugal. With a mild climate, extraordinary food, interesting history, and dramatic landscapes, it’s easy to fall in love with the island of Madeira. To maximize your time in Madeira, we compiled a list of the best things to do.
Nuns Valley Tour
Surrounded by the mountains and the sea, take the day to discover the central part of the island and experience the beauty of Nuns Valley. Walk through the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos or hike to the top of the island and take in the sights from the Arieiro and Ruivo summits. Make sure to treat yourself with some local drinks and traditional specialities in Câmara de Lobos on your trip!
Should be on your list if: you’re looking for a little adventure in a cute, rustic village.
Discover Porto Moniz
Soak up the sun and swim in the natural swimming pools of Porto Moniz. Hidden in the northwest corner of the island is this lesser known town. The natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz were formed by volcanic lava and naturally filled with seawater. There’s no better way to relax than floating through the crystal-clear water in Porto Moniz, so make sure to add this to your bucket list.
Once you are finished at the natural swimming pools, ride the cable car at the Achadas da Cruz. The cable car connects the village of Achadas da Cruz to the tiny village of Fajã da Quebrada Nova by the beach and provides breathtaking views of the ocean and coastline. With spectacular views and an amazing ocean, Porto Moniz is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Madeira.
Should be on your list if: you’re looking for a paradise with clear waters and rich history.
Experience the Food & Wine Scene
A visit to Madeira would not be complete without the local food and wine, and Madeira has some of the best! In a Food and Wine Walking Tour in the old town of Funchal, taste your way through Funchal’s restaurants and markets. Learn about Madeira’s rich gastronomic history while you admire its distinctive ambiance. As if that isn’t good enough, you will sample local wines and mingle with friendly locals.
Did someone say more wine? For wine enthusiasts, this small island is renowned for Madeira fortified wine. Explore vineyards and enjoy guided wine tastings as you also experience the natural beauty of Madeira.
Should be on your list if: you enjoy trying new food and wine (let’s be honest; it’s for everyone!).
Enjoy a Hike along a Levada
“Levada” is the Portuguese word for channel. The lush forests of Madeira are crisscrossed by these levadas that bring water from the rainy and wet north to the drier south. The levadas on the island have made Madeira one of the top places to discover in Europe because the trails are ideal for all fitness and experience levels.
Begin on Madeira’s largest plateau and continue down the levada in the island's biggest valley, the Rabaçal valley. From there, visit the Rabaçal house - a small shelter that used to house workers who repaired the levadas. Then head to the 25 Fountains Levada, where you will find 25 natural springs falling into a small crystal clear lake surrounded by dense vegetation.
Should be on your list if: you’re looking for a sense of adventure, the outdoors, and local history during your vacation.
Whale & Dolphin Watching Excursion
We couldn’t make a “best of” list without a whale and dolphin watching excursion on a catamaran. Departing from Funchal Marina, hit the waters near Cabo Girão in search of dolphins and whales on a guaranteed wild-life sightseeing tour. Relaxing on the southern coast of Madeira in a catamaran: what could be better?
In warmer weather, the boat will anchor under the Cabo Girão cliffs, where you can try a bit of snorkeling, swim in the warm Atlantic Ocean, or sit back and relax with a drink in the sun. After your whale and dolphin watching excursion, make sure to discover the city of Funchal on foot.
Should be on your list if: you’re looking for a relaxing day on the water.
Madeira has fantastic food, history, and offers activities for everyone. With so much to do in Madeira, book with the Atlantic Island Specialists: Quest Travel Adventures. Quest Travel Adventures has over 15-years of experience in customized travel to these destinations. Some of our most popular trips include our 5 Day Taste of the Madeira, 6 Day Madeira Adventure Seeker, 6 Day Madeira Discovery, and 8 Day Best of Madeira.