Are you looking to visit the pearl of the Atlantic, Madeira? Do you need a Madeira travel guide to help you get started? You’ve come to the right place! This lush paradise is frequently voted Europe’s best island and after traveling to Madeira for a week I can easily see why.
When I started to travel more, I wanted to improve my photography skills so I could create beautiful stories and photos of my travels. Nowadays, I’m always looking for the best photography locations and trying to take incredible pictures that can inspire other travelers.
Recently, I was looking for my next European destination and really wanted to find something exotic and tropical. I finally found this island in the middle of the sea called Madeira. I had never seen any photos of this island or even heard about it, but it’s beauty immediately caught my attention.
Madeira Travel Guide: The Perfect One Week Itinerary
I spent a week on the island and it was the perfect time to explore the best spots in Madeira. Here’s my one week itinerary for Madeira that I would recommend to everyone.
Day 1: Cabo Girão (cliff skywalk), Curral das Freiras (lookout point)
Day 2: Levada das 25 Fontes (waterfall), Levada do Risco (waterfall)
Day 3: Ponta de São Lourenço (hiking)
Day 4: Seixal – Black beach, natural pools
Day 5: Pico Arieiro (mountain)
Day 6: Vereda dos Balcões (lookout point), Casas típicas de Santana (original houses)
Day 7: Pico Ruivo (mountain)
Madeira Travel Guide Tip #1: Make Sure you Rent a Car!
My favorite memory from Madeira was definitely renting a car and driving all around the island. We rented a car for a whole week and the views during the trip were incredible. The landscapes changed all the time and we stopped to admire the views whenever possible.
The distances are short and you can drive almost the whole island around in one week. I don’t recommend booking a guided tour when driving your own car is so much more fun. Renting a car is also very affordable and easy.
Madeira Travel Guide: Best Things To Do & See
Pico do Arieiro
This majestic mountain is 1,818 m high and the third highest peak in Madeira. You can drive all the way up and admire the incredible views from there or you can make Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hiking trip which is about 8 km.
We didn’t make this hike because the fog was so intense and the visibility was poor. Visit here right in the morning or evening so the clouds are below the mountains creating the most stunning scenery you’ve ever seen.
This beautiful little town is located on the eastern frontier of Porto Moniz and is easily accessible by car from Funchal. The town is a real hidden gem. There are no tourists anywhere, so you can explore the town in peace.
Another place worth visiting in Seixal is The Natural Pools. These sea pools are filled with clean, crystal clear sea water and can be accessed free of charge. But be careful here, rocks can be very slippery and there are no lifeguards on duty.
Ponta de São Lourenço
This epic hiking trail is located in the eastern part of the island. It’s my favorite hiking route in Madeira. Hike this rocky road for about 7 km while admiring the bright blue sea with brown and red mountains.
The views are unbelievable and this is one of the last untouched parts of the island. This is the right place to take your epic travel photos.
The best time to visit here is in the afternoon as most tourists have already left and the weather is cooler. There is no shelter from the sun anywhere so remember to take your sunscreen with you.
Levada das 25 Fontes, Levada do Risco
This is an easy and beautiful hiking route in Madeira. One of the hardest decisions I had to make was choosing the most interesting levada route that I wanted to hike. There are so many levadas in Madeira so do your research before choosing one.
I decided to hike the 25 Fontes levada and levada do Risco. These hiking trails are about 10 km long in total and are located very close to each other. This is also one of the most popular levadas in Madeira, so if possible, hike in the afternoon when tourist groups have already left.
You’ll witness spectacular mountain landscapes during the hike and beautiful Laurisilva forests. These two waterfalls are completely different from each other. 25 fountains is a small little lagoon with a beautiful waterfall and Risco is a large strong waterfall in the middle of the rainforest.
Curral das Freiras
Stunning lookout point surrounded by spectacular mountains. You can admire this old little town named Curral das Freiras which is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. This lookout point is called Era do Serrado.
It’s important to remember this name because the road is divided into two directions, one leading to the town and the other to the lookout point. You can drive here in 30 minutes from Funchal, making it an easy and quick stop before your next adventure.
You can also check the weather webcam from this location so you know when is the best time to visit.
Madeira Travel Guide: What is the Food Like?
Most restaurants were pretty touristy and didn’t look local at all. We didn’t eat much at the restaurants, but cooked food for ourselves. However, the fruits were amazing here. Bananas, papayas, melons, pineapples and watermelons were super cheap and fresh.
I have never tasted as good bananas and papayas as in Madeira. I really recommend trying the local fruits and vegetables.
Tips for your Visit to Madeira
Locals were very helpful and nice all the time. They also speak good English as well so communication works great. One local also showed me all the must visit places, so don’t hesitate to ask about the best spots in Madeira. Locals know the best.
As mentioned before: rent a car and drive as much as you can. The gas is affordable and you get the best experience by car. The views are unbelievable while driving.
The only thing to avoid is driving inland. The roads are crazy. There are deep holes and narrow uphill roads everywhere. I recommend driving only on major roads, even if the navigator tells you otherwise.
Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. Check the weather webcam from Pico Arieiro before going there. You can find different web cams on Google. If you don’t check it, you may end up with a thick mist.
Finally, don’t underestimate the length of the hiking trails. Hiking in the rainforest can take a lot of time. All in all, explore this island as much as you can and enjoy one of the best islands in Europe.
Thanks for taking the time to read my Madeira travel guide 🙂