- Feel the breeze at the top of Cape Girão, Europe's highest sea cliff
- Wander through the mist of the ancient Fanal Forest
- Soak in the healing properties of Porto Santo's beaches
- Marvel at the variety of colors in the Monte Palace Tropical Garden
|Day 1||Arrive in Funchal & Discover the City||Funchal|
|Day 2||Explore Funchal at Your Leisure||Funchal|
|Day 3||Journey through Western Madeira||Funchal|
|Day 4||Experience Eastern Madeira||Funchal|
|Day 5||Mountain Hike from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo||Funchal|
|Days 6-7||Take Ferry to Porto Santo Island & Enjoy Beach Time||Funchal|
|Day 8||Depart from Funchal|
Day 1: Arrive in Funchal & Discover the City
Welcome to Madeira! First discovered by Portuguese sailors in the 15th century, this volcanic island is part of the Madeira archipelago and derives its name—meaning "wood" in Portuguese—from its abundance of trees and forests. Madeira stands out for its natural beauty and resources, like the fennel or funcho, which gives the capital city Funchal its name.
Once you land at the Funchal Airport, pick up your rental car and head to your accommodations. Settle in and get to know Funchal, a city rich in history, cuisine, and nature. Many believe that the fresh air of Funchal and the island has healing properties. Enjoy a glass of Madeira's famous wine—one of its biggest exports—along with a bite of bolo de mel, a honey cake believed to be the island's oldest dessert.
Day 2: Explore Funchal at Your Leisure
Discover Funchal today on your own time, starting with a visit to its Old Town. Here you'll find the Mercado dos Lavradores or Farmer's Market, the most colorful in Portugal since Madeira is a semi-tropical island. Afterward, wander through the Botanical Garden, which opened in 1960. Rare birds, healing plants, and a museum for those that are curious about the history of the island's landscape fill the Botanical Garden.
Ride a cable car to the hilltop area of Monte and wander through the Monte Palace Tropical Garden to experience its sweeping views over Funchal, as well as a variety of native and exotic plants from around the world. If you're feeling adventurous, return to the city in a carro de cesto or traditional wicker sled, drawn by two carreiros (drivers dressed in white with straw hats). Locals have used these sleds to travel down to the center of Funchal since the mid-19th century, so feel the rush of history as you enjoy the ride.
Day 3: Journey through Western Madeira
Explore the western part of Madeira by driving along its coast and checking out its must-see highlights. Consider stopping at Cape Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe at a staggering 1,900 feet (580 m). Visit the picturesque coastal village of Ponta do Sol before continuing to the mysterious Fanal Forest, filled with ancient til and laurel trees. Drive to the Garganta Funda viewpoint and waterfall, then head north to Porto Moniz to take a dip in its natural pools formed by volcanic lava.
During today's exploration, make sure to visit at least one fajã. Fajã is flat land formed by flowing lava at the foot of a cliff, bordered by land on one side and water on the other. These beautiful and secluded places are quite common on Madeira, and each fajã is different with its own charm. For those interested in visiting one on the island's west side, start with the Fajã dos Padres, which you can access by cable car.
Day 4: Experience Eastern Madeira
Spend today exploring the eastern side of Madeira. Visit the traditional houses of Santana and then head to the Curral das Freiras viewpoint nestled in the mountains. Drive to the dramatic cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço on the easternmost tip of the island to see some of the best coastal views Madeira has to offer. Visit the beautiful Fajã da Rocha do Navio, which you can access by cable car.
Venture to the village of Ribeiro Frio, known for its small brooks and trout farms. This area is also home to one of the easiest hiking trails in Madeira, which also happens to be one of the best. The trail ends at the Levada dos Balcões, a fantastic viewpoint/balcony that overlooks the valley of the Ribeira da Metade.
Day 5: Mountain Hike from Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.