Are you preparing a trip to Madeira and would like to discover the points of interest of this amazing island? If that’s the case, find out below my suggestions with the best Madeira activities and walks, in this island also known as the “Pearl of the Atlantic”.
Best Madeira activities and walks
Whale and dolphin watching cruises
Departing from the marinas of Funchal or Calheta, this 2 to 3-hour tour will take you through the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean in search of some of the most beautiful mammal species you can find: dolphins and whales.
After getting to the basics of what awaits you, the time has come to board a boat and set out in search of the beautiful marine animals. Know that the boat will be piloted by an experienced captain and has a team ready to assist you whenever necessary.
In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, know that you can also admire the beautiful landscape including the cape Cabo Girão, one of the highest sea cliffs in the world. In the warmer months, you may have the opportunity to make a stop for a swim in the waters of the Atlantic. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to consider this activity one of the best Madeira activities.
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Jeep tours in Madeira
Do you have little time to discover Madeira? If that’s the case, don’t hesitate and opt for a jeep tour that will take you to some of the most touristy and most beautiful spots. Below, discover the various possibilities.
My first suggestion is one that will take you to the east side of Madeira. In this 8-hour activity, you will have the possibility to visit fantastic places and admire stunning landscapes. One of the highlights of this tour is literally at the top, at Pico do Areeiro; the other will be a visit to the beautiful location of Santana, where you can admire the typical houses of Madeira.
In the west side of the island you will have other surprises and you will also be amazed by what you will find there. Know that you will start by exploring the coast, passing by the locations of Ribeira Brava and Ponta do Sol. One of the highlights on this tour will be the passage through Paul da Serra, the most extensive plateau on the island, which is at an altitude of 1500 metres.
If you prefer to explore the north of Madeira, know that you have a perfect activity here. With an approximate duration of 8 hours, you will have the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful locations on the island, such as São Vicente and Santana.
To complete the cardinal points, there is nothing like exploring the south of Madeira. In this adventure, you will have the possibility to visit the aforementioned Paul da Serra plateau as well as the fantastic typical landscape of the south of the island, where the coastal locations of Câmara de Lobos
In addition to visiting the various areas of Madeira, know that you can also enjoy special moments during your jeep tour around the island. These Madeira activities are shorter, but no less fantastic!
Start the day early and in an original way going by jeep to Pico do Areeiro where you can watch the best sunrise in Madeira. At an altitude of more than 1800 metres and weather permitting, make the most of this experience that will undoubtedly be unforgettable!
At the end of the day you can enjoy a unique moment. You will go by car to a point of your choosing (Fajã dos Padres, Cabo Girão or Cristo Rei) where you can admire a fantastic sunset over the Atlantic waters. The colours are enhanced at this time of day and make these perfect places for romantics, photographers and more.
Make the most of your stay on the island and discover some of the points of interest in Madeira and go out to the high sea to watch whales, dolphins and even turtles! In this activity, with an approximate duration of 8 hours, you will start your day in the beautiful Boca dos Namorados viewpoint, located 1000 metres of altitude.
From here, resume your tour and go to Cabo Girão where you can admire the best views over the ocean and Câmara de Lobos. Afterwards, you will go to the marina where you will board a catamaran and set out in search of the beautiful cetaceans that inhabit the waters of the Atlantic.
Do you want to combine a little bit of everything and personalise your visit to Madeira? If that’s the case, don’t wait any longer and opt for a private jeep tour, ideal for families or romantic moments. Choose this option and decide if you want to visit the beautiful Laurissilva forest, walk by the sea, discover some of the highest peaks in Madeira, among many other things, always in the company of an experienced guide.
Hiking through the most beautiful levadas in Madeira
Before I tell you a little more about these fantastic hikes, it is better to clarify the meaning of “levadas”. If you have never visited Madeira, this term is probably unknown to you.
Built since the 16th century, the levadas are irrigation canals flanked by walking paths that transport water to the southern part of the island where the most suitable land for plantations is found.
There are several options for experiencing the levadas, with different levels of difficulty, duration and distance, but always in the company of an experienced guide. Next, I will show you the most beautiful ones.
One of the easiest hikes you can take is the Levada of Referta. Just 6 km long, this walk crosses several agricultural properties and ends in Porto de Cruz, in the northeast of Madeira.
Follow the beautiful Levada do Norte in a 6 km long but easy trail. On this tour you will be guaranteed to enjoy fantastic views over the Atlantic Ocean, Ribeira Brava and much more!
On the south coast of Madeira, you can discover Levada dos Prazeres. This hike is also easy and takes about 4 hours to complete in which you can admire the fantastic Laurissilva Forest, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Place in 1999.
The last easy route you will find here is the Levada dos Maroços. Only 6.5 km long, on this walking trail you will have the opportunity to admire the beautiful city of Machico, where the Portuguese disembarked when they discovered this island in 1419.
Also with moderate difficulty and with an approximate duration of 4h30, the Levada do Caldeirão Verde is another possibility to consider. Beginning and ending at the forest park Parque Florestal das Queimadas, this hike will reach its peak when it reaches the Caldeirão Verde lake, formed by the 100 metre-high waterfall.
Levada do Rei is another possibility that you should consider. In this trail of moderate difficulty and that takes about 3h30 to complete, you will have the opportunity to go around the valley Vale de São Jorge and admire all the surrounding nature.
Being 13 km long and a moderate difficulty, the Levada das 25 Fontes is undoubtedly one of the most known and most beautiful levadas! Enjoy the fantastic biodiversity that the Laurissilva forest has to offer and be amazed with the beautiful waterfall and lagoon that you will find there.
For people more accustomed to hiking, who enjoy difficult trails and who do not have vertigo, Levada da Vereda do Larano is the ideal walk! Throughout this levada you will have the opportunity to notice the differences between the south coast and the north coast of the island, passing by the Boca da Corrida viewpoint where you can enjoy the fantastic views over part of the island and the Atlantic Ocean.
Other amazing hikes in Madeira
As it is not just along the levadas that hikes are made on the island of Madeira, discover other fantastic hikes that will take you to other parts of the island.
The first suggestion I have for you is the discovery of Rabaçal waterfalls, located in the western part of the island. This 8-hour activity will take you to cross the levadas, but with other destinations in mind like the lagoons Lagoa da Fonte do Lajeado and Lagoa do Vento with the water that falls from a 100-metre high waterfall. Amazing!
Do you want to start the day with a trail that will take you to the eastern side of Madeira? Wait no more and book a walk to Ponta de São Lourenço! Discover in this activity one of the most popular points of interest on the island and be dazzled by the unique landscape and the fauna and flora that you will find there.
The next tour that I recommend lasts about 8 hours on a difficult trail that will test your limits and your courage as it will take you to the highest point of the Madeira archipelago. Know that this experience is done in a walking trail that connects Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo, passing by some of the most vertiginous paths that you’ll find across the island.
If you really want to know the highest point on the island, but want to venture on an easier walking trail than the previous one, then choose the walking trail between Achada do Teixeira and Pico Ruivo. Know that the hike takes only 3 hours and has a total length of 6 km and is the perfect alternative to the previous route.
Other activities in Madeira
In addition to cruises to admire cetaceans, jeep tours or hikes, there are other activities you can do in Madeira! Here are some of the ones you can’t miss.
In a short 2 hour ride on a sidecar, you will get the opportunity to admire the historic centre of Funchal and then go on the old roads of the island to one of the most beautiful places in Madeira, the Garajau Partial Nature Reserve, where you will find a statue of Cristo Rei.
What do you think about contemplating a sunset on the high seas? By booking this 3-hour activity, you will board a catamaran and head to the waters of the Atlantic where you only have nature to admire as well as the magnificent colours of the sunset. Breathtaking!
Without having to worry about the typical ups and downs of the island, do the Fajãs Route aboard a catamaran. On this 9-hour tour, you will get to know part of Madeira’s coastline and will make some stops in wonderful places where you can do stand up paddle, snorkelling or simply explore the surroundings.
You already know the island of Madeira, but want to see other parts of the archipelago? Then go aboard a catamaran towards the Desertas Islands, an authentic paradise on Earth. Despite the name, know that there is a great biodiversity there and you can take the opportunity to go for a swim, go hiking and more in 9 hours of pure pleasure.
Are you going to spend the New Year in Madeira? If that’s the case, book this activity and enjoy the amazing fireworks from one of the best places: the sea! Enjoy 3 hours of heaven aboard a boat with a privileged view of the Funchal bay and other parts of the island. Simply a must see!
Information: all the links to these Madeira activities are affiliate links to local companies, which means that, if you book one of the mentioned activities, I will receive a small commission. You won’t pay more for accessing these links.
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What will also interest you:
- Top 40 of the places to visit in the Madeira and Porto Santo islands
- What to do in funchal, Madeira – The seven places you must visit
- Pico Ruivo: discover the most beautiful place in Madeira
- Visit to Porto Moniz, Levada das 25 Fontes and Paul da Serra
- Visit to Câmara de Lobos, Cabo Girão and Fajã dos Padres