7 Day Madeira Itinerary – Epic Week on The Island

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Last updated Feb 5, 2023

Created five million years ago by volcanic explosion Madeira Island is in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. It feels like it should be remote and hard to get to, but it is not. There are many flights from continental Europe and recently direct flights from JFK to Funchal as well as cruise ships that stop here. This 7 day Madeira itinerary explores all different things to do in Madeira and can be combined with another week in Portugal mainland.

This 7 day Madeira Itinerary is perfect for hikers and adventure lovers. Madeira, the small island in the middle of nowhere has a lot to offer. Beautiful landscapes and viewpoints that can be reached by hiking or driving, or a combination of both.

Despite its location, it is not a beach island. There are some sandy beaches, but most of the miles of shoreline are rocks and cliffs. Which are great for hiking and photography, but not as much of a beach destination.

7-Day Madeira Itinerary

As some of you may already know, we make a point to celebrate a New Year in a different location every year and Funchal has one of the best fireworks displays worth checking out if you get a chance.

Before your first visit to Madeira make sure you check out our post Things To Know Before Visiting Madeira.



THIS 7 day MADEIRA ITINERARY IS PERFECT FOR:

Outdoors Explorers
Epic Scenic Drives
City Explorers
Quaint Costal Towns

7 DAY MADEIRA ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrive in Funchal
Day 2: Pico Do Arieiro To Pico Ruivo Hike
Day 3: Ponta De Sao Lourenço
Day 4: Lavada Das 25 Fontes/ Levada Do Caldeirão Verde
Day 5: Explore Funchal
Day 6: Road Trip Around the Madeira Island
Day 7: Fly Back Home

Day 1: Arrive in Funchal

Arrive in Funchal, pick up a rental car as that is the best way to get around the island and settle in your accommodations. Funchal will be your home base for the entire 7-Days in Madeira.

Depending on the time of the day you arrive, you may have some daylight left for a walk by the water.

Portugal Itinerary

Celebrate your arrival to this beautiful island with dinner at Kampo where you can watch chef Julio Pereire prepare every dish in front of his customers. The food and wine were excellent.

WHERE DID WE STAY IN FUNCHAL: We rented a house on the east side of town with breathtaking views of the ocean and Funchal. Wonderful place to watch fireworks from.



Day 2: Pico Do Arieiro To Pico Ruivo Hike

Madeira is a hiker’s wonderland. There are endless numbers of hikes to do on this island for every fitness ability.

The weather is going to play a crucial role in the hikes you decided to do on what day. Madeira has a lot of live webcams all over the island, so make sure you check them out to better understand the weather in the location you are going to.

Pico to Pico is one of the more popular and more challenging hikes on the island. It is a hike from Pico do Arieiro at 5965 ft. down some stairs, valleys, and tunnels to Pico do Ruivo at elevation 6106 ft.

The wind and sun can be brutal. I would recommend a wind/waterproof jacket, plenty of sunscreen, and water.

Starting the hike as the sun rises offers magnificent views from Miradouro do Pico do Arieiro and a peaceful beginning to the hike as not that many people start the hike this early. However, the café and bathroom facilities will be closed that early.

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Starting Point: Miradouro do Pico do Arieiro Parking Lot – 30–40-minute drive from Funchal
Facilities: Cafes and restrooms are available at both Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. Restrooms are €0.50 each use and may not be open early in the morning.
Difficulty: The trail is well maintained and most of the way has a safety cable around it. However, there are some very steep staircases, some stone some metal. There are multiple tunnels where headlamps are recommended. And the wind can be brutal. I would rate this hike as difficult.
Length: an 8.7-mile hike, out and back.
Elevation: 3250 ft.
Alternative Routes:
Option 1: To avoid the elevation gain with out and back hike from peak to peak, you can take an alternative route Achada do Teixeira from Pico Ruivo that takes you to the parking lot from which you can call a cab to take you back to Miradouro do Pico do Arieiro. This shortens the hike to 6.0-miles.
Option 2: You can just hike out and back to Pico Ruivo from Achada do Teixeira parking lot. This is a 3.5-mile hike with minimal elevation gain, but still with some amazing views.

7 Day Madeira Itinerary

TIP: If you decide to drive to Achada do Teixeira it is a great opportunity to drive through Ribeiro Frio natural park and stop at Balcões Viewpoint.

We rewarded ourselves with a delicious dinner at Basmati Indian & Nepali Restaurant with refreshing and crisp Vinho Verde.



Day 3: Ponta De Sao Lourenço

Ponta De Sao Lourenço (Drago Tail) was our favorite hike as far as the views are concerned. This is a coastal hike where the entire time you are surrounded by breathtaking views. However, the famous ‘Dragon Tail’ is a remarkably busy trail.

Portugal Itinerary

TIP: If you climb all the way to Pico do Furando you will be able to see Pico do Arieiro.

The trail is well maintained, and you will come across many viewpoints of the cliffs, colorful rocks, and sea stacks.

Starting Point: Ponta de Sao Lourenço Parking Lot – 35-minute drive from Funchal
Facilities: Food trucks are available in the parking lot. Sardinha café and restrooms are located at the trail’s end before the last climb to Pico do Furando. Restrooms are €1.00 each use.
Difficulty: The trail is well maintained and most of the way has a safety cable around it. However, there are some steep sections. It is an easy to moderate hike.
Length: a 5.0-mile hike, out and back.
Elevation: 1355 ft.

Complete this amazing day with simple and authentic dishes at Restaurante Casal de Penha.



Day 4: Lavada Das 25 Fontes/ Levada Do Caldeirão Verde

Today you get to choose between two Levada hikes. Unfortunately, they are about 1.5 hrs. drive from each other, and it would be hard to do them both on the same day. But if you start early in the morning, specifically during summer months when you have 14 hrs. of daylight, you may be able to complete both on the same day.

LAVADA DAS 25 FONTES – Loop

Lavada das 25 Fontes is one of the most popular levada walks in Madeira. We saw tour guides taking large and small groups out for this hike and if you do not like crowds, this would be one hike to skip. The waterfall and the weeping streams are beautiful, but you would not notice anything else much different on this hike than any other levada hike.

Portugal Itinerary

There are two ways to start this hike either by parking at the Rabaçal parking lot and walking down the paved road to the Rabaçal house and starting the loop there. Or by parking off the road ER211 at Parque estacionamento levada do Risco and using a long dark tunnel to get to the levada.

We opted for the tunnel, and it was a nice and peaceful part of the hike.

Rabaçal house has food and refreshments as well as bathrooms, we stopped here for soup and beers at the end of the hike.

Starting Point: Rabaçal parking lot or Parque estacionamento levada do Risco – 45-minute drive from Funchal
Facilities: Cafe and restrooms available at Rabaçal house. Restrooms are €0.50 each and may not be open early in the morning.
Difficulty: The trail is well maintained and most of the way has a safety cable around it. However, there are some stairs and, in our case, a long tunnel where the headlamp is needed to see. It is an easy to moderate hike.
Length: a 7.4-mile hike, loop.
Elevation: ~2000 ft.
Alternative Routes:
Option 1: If you are starting at the Rabaçal parking lot there is a shuttle you can take to the Rabaçal house and shorten the hike by 2.5-miles total.
Option 2: Add a short hike to Risco waterfalls which adds about a 1.0-miles to the total distance.

Portugal Itinerary

LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE – Out and Back

PRO TIP: Levadas are irrigation channels or aqueducts created to supply island with water for agriculture. The construction of levadas started in 16th century and is unique to Madeira Island.

This hike is an effortless walk through lush vegetation and weeping walls to a tall waterfall – Caldeirão Verde. There are also 4 tunnels on this hike, 3 in the last 1-mile of the hike, and some of them are very long, dark, and low – recommend bringing a headlamp.

7 day Madeira itinerary

Besides a headlamp, it is a good idea to bring a poncho, waterproof jacket with a hood, or an umbrella with you as the weeping walls rain quite a bit on you as you walk under them.

The path is very narrow in some areas, and it gets difficult when crossing paths with other hikers. We started this hike late in the afternoon and hardly came across anyone on our way back. I would recommend starting early in the morning or late in the afternoon to minimize encounter with other hikers.

You can add on a hike to Caldeirão do Inferno to this route which adds another 2.5-miles total.

Starting Point: Parque Florestal de Queimadas – 45-minute drive from Funchal
Facilities: Cafe and restrooms available at the parking lot. Restrooms are €0.50 for each use.
Difficulty: The trail is well maintained and most of the way has a safety cable around it. It is an easy hike by the levada.
Length: a 7.7-mile hike, out and back.
Elevation: ~500 ft.
Alternative Routes:
Option 1: Instead of returning after reaching the waterfall, you can continue to the Caldeirão do Inferno, an additional 2.5-miles total.

After an exhausting day, it is a good day to enjoy more casual eats at Mad Cuba with some Mojitos.



Day 5: Explore Funchal

Funchal, the capital city of Madeira is worth exploring. It has a beautiful harbor, many historic sites, museums, and botanical gardens worth exploring.

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Here is a list of some of the things to do in Funchal:

Take a stroll by the harbor – the waterfront area is beautiful and designed for walking. There may be a fair going on there, great for families. You will see a lot of docked boats there and this is where Whale and Dolphin Watching tours leave out.
Explore the Old Town – Old Town is a lively place full of restaurants and shops. You will be hackled by many restaurants to have a seat at their place as you are walking by. We usually try to look for a place without such practices.

Check Out Madeira Farmer’s Market – the Mercado dos Lavradores is not a big market and is mostly visited for colorful and unique fruits, flowers, and tons of different chili peppers. Be aware that the prices can be unreasonably high, but you will probably try some fruit you never even heard of before.
Ride Teleférico do Funchal – Taking the cable car gives you a magnificent view of the town and the harbor. The ride from the Old Town to Monte takes about 20 minutes and there are a ton of things to do up there. The church Our Lady of Monte is at the top standing tall looking over Funchal. You can also visit Monte Palace Tropical Garden, next to the cable car, or take another cable car to the Botanical Gardens of Madeira.

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Take a Toboggan Sled Ride – When you are done exploring all the attractions at the Monte you can take a Wicker Toboggan Sled Ride, partway back. The toboggans are pushed and steered by two men dressed in traditional white costumes with straw hats. The ride is only 2 km down the road and the rest of the way back to town you either can get a cab or walk back.
Taste Madeira Wine – The Old Blandy Wine Lodge is the most popular place to go for Madeira Wine Tasting and to learn about how the wine is made and aged. However, most restaurants will have Madeira Wine on the menu if you would just like to try some.
Visit CR7 Museum – If you are a Cristiano Ronaldo fan this is a must-stop for you.

We ended the day at Tipografia with an excellent selection of wine.



Day 6: Road Trip Around the Madeira Island

This is the best way to see the island and requires having a car. Madeira is a tiny island, approximately 35 miles at the longest point and maximum width of 14 miles. The entire island can be driven in less than 4 hours. Which makes driving around and stopping at different viewpoints a great thing for someone visiting an island.

TIP: Warning, driving in Madeira can be nerve-wracking. The majority of the roads are paved, but not all of them are wide enough for two-way traffic, and inclines and switchbacks can be very steep. Oh, and a lot of tunnels! Which I learned to appreciate since I cannot see the road drop-offs when in the tunnel 😊

Starting from Funchal you can drive in either direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) around the island. I would dedicate a minimum of one full day to this or split it up into two days and tag on more attractions.

Below are some of the main attractions:
Miradouro Do Cabo Girão – A glass walkway over a 580 ft tall cliff with great views of Funchal bay.
Pont Do Sol – Past the city center on road ER101 you will drive through an old tunnel and come across an old stone bridge off the main road, now a walking bridge that leads to an open arch. It is a great location to watch the sunset from.

Portugal Itinerary

Pont Do Sol – Cascata dos Anjos – waterfall cascading onto the road ER101 which people drive on to pass through town. Many people find this attraction cool to us it seemed more of a hazard with people not paying any attention to the passing cars just to get a photo.
Paul Do Mar – A quiet and secluded fishing village that attracts surfers from all over the world. The drive into the village down a steep cliff full of switchbacks can be nerve-wracking. The restaurants here serve some of the freshest seafood – an octopus salad at Restaurante Sol e Mar is to die for.
Miradouro do Fio – On the western tip of the island, offers a viewpoint of the cliffs on the southwestern part of the island. There is a nice tea house next to the viewpoint if you would like to pop in for some tea and dessert.
Porto Moniz – Known for the lava pools that are popular with tourists and locals alike. A couple of miles down the road is a viewpoint for some unique rock formations in the water.

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Miradouro do Véu da Noiva – Is a viewpoint of a waterfall cascading into the ocean. Driving from this viewpoint to São Vicente you will continue to see waterfalls coming down every few hundred feet.

Portugal Itinerary

São Vicente – One of the main attractions in São Vicente is to visit caves on the guided tour. However, due to COVID-19, they are indefinitely closed. However, you can stop at Porto de Abrigo, an old traditional winehouse turned into a bar for some ponchas (traditional Madeiran cocktail) or Madeira wine.
Santana – Between São Vicente and Santana there are many amazing viewpoints: Miradouro das Quebradas, de São Cristovão, da Santinha, da Beira da Quinta and many more you can pick from. In Santana, the site of the traditional tiny houses is what brings a lot of tourists in.

Portugal Itinerary

Porto da Cruz – A popular town with surfers and hikers also has a sugar cane factory and the North Mill Distillery. East of the town is Penha d’Águia (Eagle’s Rock) one of the country’s geological symbols and a great hiking trail. A Pipa is a great place to stop for some food. You can skip stopping at Porto da Cruz if you are planning to do Verado do Larano hike.
Ponta de São Lourenço – A wonderful place to stop at if you are not planning to do the hike to the Pico do Furando. The views of the “dragon tail” are still good from here. However, if you are planning to hike out there skip this and head directly to Funchal.

If you would like to split this into a two-day adventure, make your way to São Vicente from Funchal and cross the island back to Funchal using road VE4. Then next day, head in the opposite direction back to São Vicente. You will not regret spending more time on the north side of the island. It is the quieter side of the island and more local, than touristy.



Day 7: Fly Back Home

This concludes 7-Day Madeira Itinerary.  Fly out of Funchal home or to your next destination. We spent two weeks in Portugal during this time and you can read our full itinerary here.

Other Options

We love hiking and find that to be the best way to explore the place we are visiting, but that may not be for everybody. Or the weather may not allow it. Some other things to do in Madeira:
Dolphine or Whale Watching Tour
Go snorkeling at Garajau Nature Reserve
Visit Fanal Pond in Mist
Visit Churches (Igreja) and Museums

Other helpful posts…
Things to Know Before Visiting Madeira
Perfect 2-Week Portugal Itinerary
How To Experience Fado in Lisbon
Tips for Renting a Car in Europe

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