Also called the “Island of Eternal Spring and the pearl of the Atlantic, Madeira is a volcanic island with white sandy beaches, rough yet striking coastlines, and a stunning mountain landscape. Located in an autonomous region of Portugal, Madeira Island is the largest and most populated of the Madeira Archipelago. It is famous for its warm and subtropical climate. With many natural pools, adventurous hikes, lush rolling valleys, dramatic cloud-topped mountains, and a tropical atmosphere, the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira makes a dream destination. From visiting the city of Funchal to hiking through the countryside and enjoying delicious food, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy here. Over the years, Madeira has become one of the most sought-after destinations in Portugal.
Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Madeira Islands.
One of the best Madeira attractions, Funchal, is the capital city of the Madeira archipelago. It is a modern city with a unique mix of newness and history. Situated on the south coast of the island, Funchal is an old trading town popular among tourists for its glorious and blooming gardens. Here, the climate is subtropical, and the temperature remains mild throughout the year. The centuries-old Cathedral is the main landmark of Funchal that combines Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles and carved wooden ceilings. Owing to its high cultural and historical value, the capital city of Madeira is one of the most popular tourist attractions.
Ponta do Sol
Located on the southwestern coast of the Madeira Islands Portugal, Ponta do Sol is a beautiful sunny land known for its good climate throughout the year. Ponta do Sol is translated as the Point or centre of the Sun in English. It is the sunniest place on the island, perfect to click some amazing sunset pictures. With pastel buildings and a magnificent pebble beach, Ponta do Sol is one of the most beautiful coastal villages with unique charm. Ponta do Sol is home to many events and festivals, including L concert, Madeira Dig, Micro Film Festival, etc. You can relax on the beach, enjoy water sports activities, visit the church, the old centre, and the orange roof, and walk to the pier via the old bridge, admiring the many plantations on the routes.
Pico do Arieiro
One of the most interesting things to see in Madeira, Pico do Arieiro, is the third-highest peak on the island and is accessible from Funchal. You can hire a car or hike for about two or three hours to reach Pico do Arieiro. It offers striking sights of lush forested valleys, jagged mountains, magical sunrises, the sea of clouds (often), and the sea on both sides. Pico do Arieiro is mainly known for its sunrises as it is at a notable height above the clouds, you can easily spot the sun rising above the sea of clouds. During the winter, it is one of the few places that receive snowfall on the island. Undoubtedly, visiting Pico do Arieiro is one of the best things to do in Madeira for a memorable vacation.
A striking sea cliff nestled along the southern coast of Madeira, Cabo Girao is the next best thing to see in Madeira. The cliff is known to be one of the highest in Europe, having a near vertical drop of around 500 meters. So, if you are looking for some adventure and amazing sights, do visit Cabo Girao on your trip to Madeira Island. There is a glass skywalk to help you see through the floor and straight to the water below. Cabo Girao cliff boasts the highest cliff skywalk in Europe, creating an unparalleled experience for travellers. The entry fee to the skywalk is free. The striking view and adventure vibe are some key points that make Cabo Girao one of the most popular tourist attractions in Madeira.
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
One of the must-visit places in Madeira, Portugal, Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a big multi-level garden with many exotic trees and flowers, African sculptures, ponds, and a mineral museum. Set high in the hills above Funchal, the garden was first built in 1990 outside a former hotel named the Monte Palace. It is home to around 100,000 species of plants and rare varieties of flowers and trees. However, the highlight of this garden is the collection of living fossils known as cycads. Also, there are many species of birds roaming freely on the property, including ducks, swans, peacocks, geese, and more. You will find a museum with numerous floors dedicated to everything from minerals from across the world to African sculpture.
The Valley of the Nuns
Next on the list of the best places to visit in Madeira, the Valley of the Nuns is a small village built in the crater of an extinct volcano. It is known to be a place where nuns would hide when pirates attacked Funchal, capturing their convent in 1566. Situated in the heart of Madeira, the village can be visited from two highest viewpoints – Eira do Serrado and Paredão viewpoints. The Valley of the Nuns has a great annual celebration called the Chestnut Festival – initiated when the local community had an excess of chestnuts. They were used in a variety of dishes, from cakes to pudding, soup, and liqueur. The festival is still a big attraction among locals and tourists who want to enjoy music, dance, delicious food, wine, and a glimpse of the past.
Porto Moniz Natural Pools
Porto Moniz is a small coastal village situated on the northwest tip of Madeira. It is mainly famous for one of the natural wonders called lava pools. The Porto Moniz Natural Pools were created by volcanic lava and naturally filled with clear seawater. The key highlight of this small town is the natural swimming pools, elected as one of the 52 best beaches in the world by CNN in 2018. The pools are formed over several years through the cooling of volcanic lava. It is a great place to visit for adults and kids. People love to swim in this crystal clear water and click some striking pictures of a panoramic view of the landscape surrounding the pools and the beach of Madeira.
Laurisilva of Madeira
Located on the hill of Paul da Serra in Fanal, the Laurisilva of Madeira is a densely-wooded forest covering around 15,000 hectares of the area of the island. The name Laurisilva is derived from two Latin words Laurus which means Laurel and Silva that means Forest. The Laurissilva of Madeira received the status of a natural World Heritage site from UNESCO in 1999. This spectacular forest is home to many rare plants and trees related to the Lauraceae family, including Persea indica, the Laurel, the Madeira mahogany, the lily of the valley tree, and more. The Levada do Rei and the Levada do Caldeirao Verde in the north of Madeira Island are two famous points, offering the stunning sights of this forest. With lush greenery, lakes, waterfalls, and streams, the Laurissilva forests can take you back to the history of Madeira Island.
The second biggest city on Madeira Island, Portugal, Machico is a town with a rich history. Located on the east coast of Madeira Island, 22 km from Funchal, Machico, is home to many attractions, such as the historic fortresses of Nossa Senhora do Amparo and São João Baptista, the oldest church in Madeira called Capela dos Milagres and a beach with a fountain-flanked promenade. This Madeira beach is one of the most preferred beaches for swimming and sunbathing because of its gorgeous yellow sands and crescent shape. Machico also has a few viewpoints, including the Portela and Pico do Facho, from where you can witness the most amazing views of Madeira Island.
Now that you know about all attractions and things to do in Madeira, you should definitely include Madeira Island in your Portugal tours. Make sure you also enjoy Madeira trike tours, which is a great opportunity to explore the island of Madeira by trike.