Are you planning to travel to Madeira soon? Not sure how many days will be enough? The answer is: at least one week. Ideally, 10 days or more! Why, you might ask. Although Madeira is an island, it’s quite big compared to other European islands. And its biggest strenght, is without a doubt, the variety of landscape, places to visit, things to try out.
Here’s an overview of what you can visit in 7 days
After you’re settled in, you should walk around the city of Funchal and visit its main landmarks. In the downtown you can find the historic Funchal Sé Cathedral and explore the surrounding streets. Two gardens/parks will give you a glimpse of Madeira’s rich flora: Jardim Municipal and Parque Santa Catarina.
In the same area, there are some wine lodges that you can visit and try the famous Madeira Wine. There are also two historic fortresses that you must visit, the Forte São Lourenço and Forte São Tiago, the last one is in the Old Town, a place where you can admire amazing paintings done by local artists in the doors and walls of these historic buildings.
On the second day you should visit Madeira Story Center to find out more about the origins and culture of Madeira. Right in front this building, you will find the cable car that goes all the way to Monte. This is a unique experience, allowing you to see the capital from above.
In Monte you can visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden with lushfull and exotic plants and flowers, and the Churge of Nossa Senhora do Monte. To finish the visit you can’t miss the thrilling experience of going down in a Basket Car through the steep streets going down to Funchal.
Grab a rental car and drive to the west, to Ribeira Brava. From here, you can ‘cut’ through the middle of the island, from Serra d’Água until Encumeada. Surrounded by a mountain range on both sides, there are sights you will not forget.
From Encumeada you can reach São Vicente and visit the Volcanic Caves. An historic site that explains the volcanic origins of Madeira Island.
From São Vicente it’s a quick drive to Porto Moniz. On the way there you must visit Seixal and Ribeira da Janela.
In Porto Moniz, if it is a hot day, don’t miss out the change to have a swim in the natural swimming pools, formed in the rocks.
On this day you should visit Pico dos Barcelos, a viewpoint on your way to Nuns Valley that offers a panoramic view over Funchal. Before arriving Nuns Valley, you will find Eira do Serrado, with a breathtaking viewpoint over Nuns Valley.
Nuns Valley, a small village surrounded by high mountains, got its name from a group of nuns that escaped pirate invasions in the 16th century.
In the afternoon, a catamaran trip will allow you to see dolphins and whales that are very common in Madeira-s sea.
Driving through the East Coast you will visit interesting places. The first should be Cristo Rei statue in Garajau. A statue that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
From here you will visit Santa Cruz, and then Machico.
On the end of your journey, you will find Ponta de Sao Lourenço, with rock formations and landscape that you will find nowhere else in Madeira.
On the 6th day, you should head out to Camacha and visit its wickery factory. From here, you can easily reach Pico Areeiro, the second highest peak in Madeira. In some days you will be able to see a ‘sea’ of clouds beneath you, covering the mountains.
On your way to Santana, make sure to try out a Poncha in Ribeiro Frio. It’s a typical madeiran drink made of rum and honey.
Before reaching Santana, you will visit Faial and it’s imposing rock formation over the sea, called the Eagle’s Nest ( Penha d’Águia).
Finally in Santana, an historic town, you can see the typical triangular houses.
You shouldn’t leave without walking in one of the levadas. Madeira has a network of over 1400km of levadas, canals that carry water from the mountains to the villages and towns.
The most famous levada walk you can do is in Rabaçal – 25 Fontes.