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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 15 things to do in Madeira

#1
Sé Cathedral of Funchal

Sé Cathedral of Funchal

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The Sé Cathedral of Funchal (Sé Catedral do Funchal, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, is Madeira’s key religious landmark. Built in the late 15th century, the cathedral is one of the island’s longest-standing buildings, and features classically Madeiran design elements, including volcanic rocks.More
#2
Madeira Botanical Gardens

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

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

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Dating back to 1741, the Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte is the most important pilgrimage site on the island of Madeira. Notable relics inside the church include the tomb of Charles I of Hapsburg, an Austrian emperor exiled to Madeira, and a silver sculpture of the Virgin Mary.More
#4
Santana

Santana

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Located on the north coast of Madeira, Santana is a small town famous for its traditional-style whitewashed A-Frame houses with thatched roofs, painted blue window frames, and red shutters. The town is also home to the Madeira Theme Park, a popular family-friendly attraction.More
#5
Cabo Girão

Cabo Girão

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With its dramatic sea cliffs soaring more than 1,903 feet (580 meters) above Madeira’s south coast, Cabo Girão is the highest promontory in Europe. The clifftop is one of the island’s most-visited attractions, with a glass-floor skywalk lookout point affording spectacular panoramic views.More
#6
Machico

Machico

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As the landing point for the discoverers of Madeira in the 15th century, the town of Machico boasts a rich history. It’s home to Capela dos Milagres—one of the island’s oldest churches, the historic fortresses of São João Baptista and Nossa Senhora do Amparo; and a beach that’s backed by a fountain-flanked promenade.More
#7
Porto Moniz

Porto Moniz

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Built against a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the charming seaside village of Porto Moniz on the north-west tip of Madeira is known for its natural salt-water swimming pools surrounded by volcanic rock formations. Life here revolves around the outdoors; the village started out as a fishing and farming outpost and you’ll see the tropical fruit plantations along the hillside as you walk around.More
#8
Pico do Arieiro

Pico do Arieiro

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Pico do Arieiro is a mountain on the island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal. At 5,965 feet (1,818 meters), it’s the island’s third highest peak and one of its most popular tourist attractions, thanks to incredible views from the summit and challenging hiking trails.More
#9
Paul da Serra Plateau

Paul da Serra Plateau

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Located 5,000 feet (1,500 meters above sea level, the Paul da Serra Plateau is the flattest part of Madeira and offers panoramic views of emerald valleys and mountains. On a clear day you can see as far as the North Atlantic Ocean.More
#10
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

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Poised on a hilltop overlooking the city of Funchal, the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens are home to thousands of rare plant species, water features, and sculptures. The gardens are spread out across some 17 acres (seven hectares and also comprise the Monte Palace Museum.More
#11
Santa Maria de Colombo

Santa Maria de Colombo

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When Columbus set sail for the New World in 1492, he did so on the Niña, the Pinta, and his flagship vessel, the Santa Maria. While the original Santa Maria did not survive the voyage, this recreation, built by Robert Wijntje, has been a highlight of Madeira since its debut in 1998, and welcomes visitors aboard for sailing trips.More
#12
Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras)

Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras)

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Surrounded by steep mountains, the village of Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns) seems like an impossible place to access when viewed from the Eira do Serrado lookout point. But its remote location is exactly why it was embraced by the escaped slaves and nuns who fled from pirates in Funchal.More
#13
Sao Vicente Caves & Volcanism Centre

Sao Vicente Caves & Volcanism Centre

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Formed by volcanic eruptions more than 890,000 years ago, the Sao Vicente Caves are a network of underground lava tubes beneath the north coast town of Sao Vicente on Madeira island. Follow pathways around the caverns, rocks, and lakes before exploring the Volcanism Centre with explanatory audio-visual displays.More
#14
Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint (Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos)

Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint (Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos)

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As one of Madeira’s most-accessible viewpoints, Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint (Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos promises panoramic island views without the strenuous hike required to reach most Madeiran miradouros. From this 1,200-foot (355-meter vantage point, you can enjoy 360-degree views of Funchal Bay and the Ilhas Desertas.More
#15
Portela Viewpoint (Miradouro da Portela)

Portela Viewpoint (Miradouro da Portela)

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The Portela Viewpoint (Miradouro da Portela), situated between Porto da Cruz and Machico, allows visitors to observe one of the most beautiful landscapes in Madeira. The coastal lookout point boasts a panorama of mountains, villages and the sea as well. Time spent here is worthwhile, especially with a lunch at Restaurante Miradouro da Portela right on the road.Many choose to take the bus or to drive to Portela from Funchal, while others take the hiking trail from Ribeiro Frio in Santana. In fact, the Ribeiro-Frio-to-Portela walk is one of the most popular levada routes, and in fact can be quite crowded in the high season as its medium level of difficulty is attractive to a wider variety of hikers.More

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

Top activities in Madeira

Madeira Best of the West Day Tour

Madeira Best of the West Day Tour

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VipDolphins Luxury Whale Watching
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Around The Island - Two Days Tour From 9am to 5pm (each Day)
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Dolphin and Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise from Funchal
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Full-Day Madeira North West Coast Safari from Funchal
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Private Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour in Madeira
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Madeira Food & Cultural Tour
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Madeira Food & Cultural Tour

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Skywalk, Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools and more...Full day Tour in Open Roof 4x4
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Madeira Top Sunrise

Madeira Top Sunrise

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Full Day Jeep Safari East - Pico do Areeiro - Santana - Ponta de são Lourenço
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Dolphin & Whale Watching

Dolphin & Whale Watching

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Full-Day Madeira Wine Tasting Tour with Lunch
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Canyoning in Madeira Island
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Canyoning in Madeira Island

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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Madeira

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The Best Way to see Madeira at the start of your holiday!
Brian_R, Jul 2022
Around The Island - Two Days Tour From 9am to 5pm (each Day)
To see the highlights of Madeira and the hidden gems you may not know about or find by yourself.
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Our nice guide stopped at...
Nicolas_C, Jul 2022
Small Group West Tour Waterfalls and Peaks
A good way to visit Madeira without renting a car.
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Excellent tour!
Amina_T, Jul 2022
Porto Moniz 4WD Jeep Full Day Tour
Amazing tour with a full day worth of things to do and to see in and around North-West Madeira.
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Fantastic experience
Melissa_R, Jul 2022
Rum, Poncha, and Madeira Wine Tour
Lovely to see areas you cannot see in a minibus or bus.
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amazing experience
zada_d, Jul 2022
Skywalk, Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools and more...Full day Tour in Open Roof 4x4
had an amazing day with them and would recommend this experience to anyone looking to see the beautiful island of madeira.
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Luxury experience
Wendy_D, Jun 2022
VipDolphins Luxury Whale Watching
We were lucky enough to see whales and dolphins.
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Above and beyond!
Leigh_C, May 2022
Madeira Jeep 4x4: Amazing West Full-Day Tour to Natural Pools
He took us off road and we really got to see the real Madeira.
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Great way to spend a day in Madeira!
Nicholas_L, May 2022
Porto Moniz - Enchanted Terraces: Open 4x4 Full Day Tour
Amazing way to see more of the island of Madeira!
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Porto Moniz tour
Lesley_L, May 2022
Porto Moniz - Enchanted Terraces: Open 4x4 Full Day Tour
Excellent way to see some of the remoter parts of Madeira and learn more of the culture and history.
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Great travel
Linda_I, May 2022
Transfer Madeira Airport - Funchal
Ride was on time and the driver told about Madeira and things to do.
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Good trip! Good guide!
Randy_L, Apr 2022
East of Madeira Great guide, Great tour!
Got to see a good part of East Madeira.
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Unforgettable trip
Katharina_K, Apr 2022
Private Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour in Madeira
Even though we were not able to see whales, the friendly team made it a unique experience, showing us the beautiful coast of Madeira and made it an unforgettable trip.
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Brilliant trip
Churchfarm0603, Apr 2022
Dolphin - Whale - Turtle - Bird Watching
We were lucky enough to see dolphins and pilot whales in the first half hour.
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Amazing and breathtaking experience!
Evita_B, Apr 2022
Full-Day Madeira North West Coast Safari from Funchal
I advise taking the safari ride on the first days in Madeira because then you can choose what u want to see next.
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Excellent day
Beverly_D, Apr 2022
Skywalk, Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools and more...Full day Tour in Open Roof 4x4
Managed to see areas that we would not have accessed on a coach.
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Very enjoyable
Craig_W, Mar 2022
Laurisilva Forest & A-Framed Houses Tour
Lovely to see another part of Madeira.
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Fantastic tour
RoyTomkinson_T, Mar 2022
East of Madeira Great guide, Great tour!
Dino was excellent and very knowledgeable about all things to do with Madeira..............
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Great views of Madeira!
Kelvin_C, Mar 2022
West of Madeira Tour.. Highly Recommended !
Great way to see West Madeira with an excellent guide!
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East Coast adventure
Maria_L, Mar 2022
Madeira East Island Tour with Levada Walk and Lunch
Wonderful tour to see this east part of Madeira.
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I have always booked tours with Viator.
Marion_D, Mar 2022
All Madeira In 2 Days Tour
My only comment was that mixing English and Spanish people together causes dominance of the guide speaking more of one language.
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All about Madeira

Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
WEST (UTC +1)
Country Code
+351
Language(s)
Portuguese

People Also Ask

How many days do you need in Madeira?

A minimum of five days is needed to explore the island. The capital of Funchal takes one day. From there, rent a car or tour other parts of the island. Leave time for hiking in the levadas (irrigation channels), or, for the more adventurous, between the peaks of Ruivo and Areeiro.

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What is the best month to go to Madeira?

Madeira has some of Portugal's best year-round weather. If you’re looking for a warm escape in winter, it's perfect. You can walk around the island in a T-shirt or a light jacket, even in January. The island truly comes alive for New Year’s Eve, boasting a glimmering fireworks display.

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Do you need a car on Madeira Island?

Yes. To explore outside of Funchal a car, or a guided tour, is recommended. While public transport exists, it can take hours to reach other parts of the island, making a car the best solution for those wanting to make the most of their time on the island.

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Does Madeira have a rainy season?

Yes. The rainy season is typically from November to February. Rainstorms happen on most days in these months, but usually last for only an hour or two. December is often the rainiest month of the year with almost 5 inches (11.7 cm) of precipitation.

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Is Madeira expensive?

Yes. The rainy season is typically from November to February. Rainstorms happen on most days in these months, but usually last for only an hour or two. December is often the rainiest month of the year with almost 5 inches (11.7 cm) of precipitation.

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Is Madeira hotter than Portugal?

No. Madeira is very affordable and even cheaper than mainland Portugal. Accommodations are less expensive as well, while a meal at a local restaurant barely breaks double digits. Drinks are also cheap with an espresso costing less than a euro and a pint of beer just a couple of euros.

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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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What are the top activities in Madeira?
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What are the top things to do near Madeira?
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What do I need to know before visiting Madeira?