Madeira is one of the best destinations in Europe for nature lovers. Its subtropical climate makes it a destination to visit throughout the year.
Explore the most beautiful landscapes of Madeira Island, wander over the most beautiful trails along the levadas, see dolphins, discover unique botanical gardens or refresh in a waterfall in the heart of the primary forest.
Madeira is an island full of surprises! Climb to the top of Cabo Girao and admire a breathtaking landscape from the highest cliff in Europe.
A promontory recently installed makes the experience even more unique because its transparent glass structure will give you the impression of being suspended in a vacuum, at 590 meters high.
From Cabo Girao go to Faja dos Padres to extend the experience and discover a hidden treasure of the island.
How to get there? Cabo Girao is 25 minutes drive from the centre of Funchal, you can get there by Hop-on Hop-off bus or in a more original way by booking a tour in a convertible VW with tasting of Poncha.
Levada das 25 Fontes
Step into the heart of the Madeira forest and discover a unique flora along the famous levadas that were built to carry water from the north to the south of the island.
There are many trails to the interior of the island; the Rabaçal Valley offers 25 natural waterfalls and many varieties of endemic plants.
How to get there? Plan your picnic and book a hike day from Funchal.
The natural pools of Porto Moniz are known to be among the most beautiful ones in Europe. The island of Madeira is a volcanic island with lots of hilly landscapes ; there are no natural beaches (except in Porto Santo, the neighbouring island) but the sea is marvellous!
The seawater pool of Porto Moniz marks the meeting point between the lava and the Atlantic Ocean and offers a magnificent landscape. The sea water is of very good quality and constantly renewed thanks to the tides.
The entrance fee (between 1 and 2 euros) ; children will also enjoy it.
Ribeiro Frio is a natural park located in the north of the island, in a deep valley surrounded by mountains. That place is well known by locals and tourists for its trouts and wonderful walks along its nature trails. For those who want to go on a trek without venturing for hours, the surroundings of Ribeiro Frio are a must with its walks along the Levada (Levada is the name of the gutters carved into the rock in order to carry water in the whole island). The walk will take you to beautiful promontories with views on the green and hilly landscape of the island.
Different types of laurels and endemic plants can be seen on the island as well as rare birds like the pigeon-tocaz, the smallest bird in Madeira.
How to get there? Park your car in Ribeiro Frio and go for a digestive hour’s walk towards Balcões. Doing that is essential for a better understanding of the island even for those who do not like walking. You will see its forests (Laurissilva forest / classified World Heritage by UNESCO), which are the heart of the island.
The sandy beaches are the treasure of Porto Santo. Porto Santo is also called the golden island in Portuguese “Ilha Dourada” because of its 7 miles of golden sandy beaches crossing the island.
Their sand has therapeutic virtues, so do not hesitate and immerse yourself in the sand of Porto Santo and then swim in the beautiful blue water that surrounds the small island of 5,000 inhabitants.
How to get to Porto Santo? One solution: the boat! It is not very fast (2 hours), the departure is at dawn (08:00 am).
Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
This hike is the link between two of the highest peaks of Madeira, Pico Ruivo (1862 m) and Pico do Arieiro (1817 m).
Depart from Pico do Arieiro, walk for a few metres, you are then in front of Ninho da Manta (nest of the buzzard) belvedere. From the top of it admire the Fajã da Nogueira valley and watch the puffins (Puffinus puffinus), São Roque do Faial and a large part of the central mountain range.
Avoid doing this hike (7km , 3h30 walking) if you are dizzy but you will miss the views : they are incredible.
How to get there? Access by public transport is complicated you will have to rent a car and park at the top of Pico do Arieiro to start the hike. You can also opt for an organized tour with pick-up at your hotel with a guide.
São Vicente Caves
The Volcanism Centre manages to convey culture and education in a very entertaining way by providing the visitors with audiovisual demonstrations of volcanic eruptions and the birth of an island.
Of Volcanic origin, the São Vicente Caves are composed of a series of lava tubes, result of an eruption that happened 400 thousand years ago.
How to get there? The caves are located on the north coast of the island, from Funchal; it takes 35 to 40 minutes by car. You can also opt for an organized tour of the caves with pickup at your hotel.
Paul da Serra
Getting to know Madeira is knowing more about its typography. The reason why the majority of Madeirans live in the South of the island is because it is much sunnier, while the North with its abundance of fruit and vegetables is wetter due to the fact that the clouds are blocked by mountains. Learning about the geography of the island will help you understand the ingenuity of its people who carved miles of “Levada” into the rock to carry water, essential for agriculture and for life, from one side to the other side of the island to take advantage of all the wonders of that wonderful island.
Paul da Serra is an in-between. A plateau between the south and the north of the island, a unique place, out of time, out of space, another face of that incredible island.
How to get there? If you chose to travel by rental car, do not let yourself be carried away by the first kilometers of straight roads. They are sinuous in Madeira and most of the time you will have to drive slowly.
Dolphin and cetacean observation
During your visit to Madeira it is practically required that you take a boat ride at sea for cetacean observation. Several companies offer sea trips, a great way to discover the island and its cliffs.
We recommend that you choose “The Pirate Ship” with its pirate crew and its pirate parrots and enjoy a traditional Madeira cake whilst being taken to the best places for dolphin watching. Experience a close encounter with some of the 28 species of cetaceans that inhabit or visit the waters of Madeira Islands.