Portugal’s Madeira Island sits amongst three smaller islands to make up the Portuguese archipelago Madeira. At its heart is the capital of Funchal on the south coast of the island. Don’t let Madeira’s island anatomy direct you to the beaches: the mountainous region has a rocky geography with cliffs and peaks making for the more interesting option for discovery. Away from its rugged shores, the island also offers a unique gastronomy and it’s very own Poncha wine.
There are many sides to Madeira: both physically and culturally, so whether you enjoy climbing into the valleys, taking rocky road trips or simply relaxing and enjoying the flavours of the island, there is plenty to experience. Below we’ve selected five of the best ways to experiences of Madeira taking into consideration time, budget and activity.
FROM: €25/per person
This full day tour takes guests across a number of key viewpoints on the island: Pico da Torre, Cabo Girão, and Encumeada. Departing from Funchal, the first stop is the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos on the south coast of the island. Heading into the heights of the inner island, the tour includes a stop at Cabo Girão, which takes the title for highest cape in Europe, with an altitude of 580 meters. The day is comprised of scenic routes, impressive panoramas and full absorption in nature, including a swim in a natural pool and finishing the day with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Laurissilva forest.
From €130/ per person
One of the best known exports of Madeira is its fortified wine. Throughout the day, guests will engage with stunning scenery, vast vineyards and plenty of wine. Begin the tour by learning about the original production process of the island’s very own fortified version of the drink. Moving along the coast, the tour will taste young white, rosé and red wines, navigating stretches of vineyard and cellars. Depending on guests schedule, this tour is available over both lunch and afternoon hours, where wine is paired with the complimentary flavours of local cuisine.
From €25/ per person
As an island, one of the best ways to view Madeira is from the sea. A luxury catamaran will be the transport over three hours, where guests get to see the island from onboard and then venture below the sea to explore the island’s other natural beauties. Departing from the Funchal Marina, watch out for dolphins and whales, as the crew are on hand to explain the ocean’s ecology and any other curiosities guests have.
From €45/ per person
Start the day early, and leave Funchal behind taking in the views from above the town. From here the tour will visit traditional villages, showcase local crafts and take in breathtaking views: a highlight being that from Pico do Arieiro. Explore the Ribeiro Frio: its trout farms and walks along the canal ways, or levadas. Stop at Santana for a three course lunch accompanied by locally produced wine, at the islands well-known restaurant Grutas do Faial. After lunch the tour will reach the most eastern point of the island: Ponta de São Lourenco, with cliff top views, and move up to a view point near Machico before returning the harbor and hotels in Funchal.
From €15/ per person
One of the most unique sites of the island: the Valley of the Nuns can be easy explored on this three hour tour. The village is nestled in the crater of an extinct volcano and takes its name from its history: it was the place where nuns would retreat to and hide when pirates attacked the island’s capital. Guests can opt to take this tour in either the morning or afternoon, and will stop off at the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos to try its famous local Poncha.