Looking for free things to do in Madeira or maybe romantic and unusual things to do in Funchal? There are endless attractions on this stunning island. And with so many stuff to explore, Madeira is one of the best islands in Europe! From romantic to alternative things to do, Madeira has it all! Madeira is for sure one of the most romantic places in Europe.
So, what to do in Madeira Portugal? We have prepared our pick of the best things to do and see in Madeira Island.
Top Things to do in Madeira: At a Glance
- Cabo Girão
- Pico Ruivo
- Levada das 25 Fontes
- Ponta de Sao Lourenco
- Pico do Arieiro
- Porto Moniz
- Ribeira da Janela
Madeira is still kind of unattached by mass tourism – which is obviously great news for you! Despite having spectacular hiking trails and many phenomenal coastline views, Madeira is definitely less popular than Lisbon or Algarve.
But, if you are looking for a perfect winter destination, Madeira – the Island of Eternal Spring – will be a perfect place to go!
Top 11 Things to do in Madeira Portugal:
1. Look down from Cabo Girão Skywalk
This glass skywalk is nearly vertically dropped above amazing cliffs (just only around 580m 😉 ) and it offers an incredible view of the fajãs of Rancho. You can even take a cable car to admire the cliffs from the bottom.
Don’t panic! You don’t have to be very brave to add this to your bucket list of things to do in Madeira – the views are definitely worth to go there!
And most importantly… it’s absolutely FREE! What a starting point with your adventurer in Madeira, Portugal!
(TIP: the best time to go there is during… a part-cloudy day! You will see how the view is quickly changing once the clouds are gone. With or without (clouds), you will definitely love the panorama from the suspended glass platform!
2. Pico Ruivo – amazing hiking trail
You can reach the peak (1,861 meters) following one of two amazing hiking trials:
1. from Achada do Teixeira village
2. from the summit of Pico do Arieiro
The first hike will take you around 1.5 hours compared to 5 hours from Pico do Arieiro. Pick one suiting you better depending on the time you have.
You can park your car at both of the starting points.
We recommend taking the trial from Achada do Teixeira – as we did.
During your hike, the landscape will change dramatically as you will have to climb over 300m. From its 2,8km long route, the last few 100s meters of this hike are a bit challenging – massive stone-made stairs are not what you wish to have after 2kms of hiking 😉
But keep going!
The awesome views and phenomenal landscape from Pick Ruivo are worth few drops of sweat! This hike is one of the best free things you can do on the Portuguese Island of Madeira.
(TIP: be aware that the weather can change very rapidly. As always in the mountains – be prepared for the worse)
3. Enjoy remarkable coastline view
Some people say that Madeira is the most enviable island on earth.
It’s hard to disagree!
But this European island doesn’t have amazing beaches like in Algarve or a very intensive night life.
It’s rather quiet and sleepy. You can notice that time goes much slower there – just no-one is rushing.
So, what makes it so special?
The answer is VIEWS!
Spectacular, breathtaking and sometimes even thrilling views!
No matter where you go: east of the island to the Ponta de Sao Lourenco, south – to have dizziness from looking down from Cabo Girão or you climb one of the highest peaks – you can be sure:
The spectacular views will be there! And you will LOVE them!
4. Visit Funchal
Whether you are visiting Botanical Garden, Cristiano Ronaldo Museum or you try Sledge Ride you will not be bored in the capital of Madeira.
We visited Madeira in December – winter time is just perfect to visit Madeira!
Who wouldn’t like to escape from cold Europe to 20 Celsius degrees in the Island of Eternal Spring?!
Yes! You will love Madeira Island! 🙂
5. Levada das 25 Fontes
You will have to park your car in Rabaçal on the E.R. 105 and from there you can start an amazing day 🙂
Please note that the “real” hike starts at The Rabaçal Forestry House which is about 2km from the place you left your car.
You can take a bus, which will take you to the Forestry House – we would recommend taking it if you don’t start your hike early morning. You will be able to overtake a few tourists on the way 😉
If you are an early bird, as we are, you will be better off by going down by foot – the scenery is worth it!
After 4.5km and two hours hike, you will finally see the spectacular waterfall.
But be careful! A rumour says that whoever is to dive there will never come back up to the surface again…
Ups… Have you seen Gosia?! 😉
(TIP: This is one of the most visited levadas on the Island. With its narrow path, it is very easy to be stuck in “traffic” – there will be many tourists willing to see the spectacular waterfall. Make sure you start the hike as early as possible)
6. Feel like a 16th-century farmer in Casas Típicas de Santana
Make sure you visit Santana to take a picture in front of the thatched triangular small houses – there are just cute!
Just don’t understand how in 16th-century farmers could live there?! I guess, there were not as tall as I am 🙂
Just head to the north side of Madeira and you will be able to visit some of the houses – many are operating as tourist attractions.
7. Ponta de Sao Lourenco – one of the best things to do in Madeira
Mother Nature has spent a bit of time there – creating this phenomenal landscape.
A combination of basalt rock formations and the rough sea is just breathtaking!
This is the most eastern part of Madeira and it is a nature reserve since 1982 – hence, it’s probably the most untouched area in Madeira.
A dream for all hike-lovers!
(TIP: This part of Madeira island is often very windy – make sure this doesn’t surprise you)
8. Porto Moniz Natural Pools
The highlight of the village of Porto Moniz!
The natural lava-made salt water pools are one of the main attractions in this part of the island.
Just jump in and enjoy the swim! 🙂
9. Driving above the clouds – a free thing to do in Madeira 😉
Have you ever dreamt to be above the clouds? Is this on your BUCKET LIST? A picture like that would be amazing, right?
This is possible in Madeira!
If you love our pictures, we can share with you the secret location.
It’s the ER110 road – you can take it after your hike to Levada das 25 Fontes and on the way to Porto Moniz.
But, please keep this secret to yourself! 😉
10. Visit Balcoes
This is a very easy levada walk in Madeira. It’s totally flat so no climbing is needed 🙂
Your starting point will be at Ribeiro Frio where you can park your car and start the hike.
In less than 60 minutes you will get to the Vereda dos Balcões – Fab! Is that not right?!
On a sunny day, you will be able to admire Madeira’s highest peaks Pico do Areeiro (1817m) and Pico Ruivo (1861m).
Look right and you will also see the Penha D’águia – a stunning rock formation.
(TIP: highly recommended for a family hike with children)
11. Go to Ribeira da Janela – unusual thing to see in Madeira
Not far from Porto Moniz is home to the Ribeira da Janela – one of the longest valleys in Madeira.
Make sure you take a picture of the bottle-shaped rock through a nature-made window.
Up for a challenge? I bet you can’t build that formation from the stones! 😉
Any other things to do in Madeira?
There are definitely many more which we haven’t explored.
If you know any interesting, please DO let us know!
Where to stay in Madeira?
Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is a good choice if you prefer to be in a city.
We stayed in Sao Vicente region, in the northern Madeira – make sure you rent a car if you prefer your hotel to be in a more quiet area.
Wherever you stay, we hope you will love your time on the Island of Eternal Spring! 🙂
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