Madeira is an archipelago wonderland, which has been visited by everyone who wants to delve themselves in the arms of nature for a long time. Just situated off the coast of Portugal, Madeira is a collection of 4 islands, with a total population of over a hundred thousand people. This island is a tropical land, with laurel forests and soil where every fauna can thrive. The scenic beauty and perfect weather encourage you to experience all the top things to do in Madeira.
The weather here is always spring-like, with a bit of rain during the monsoon. With awe-inspiring landscapes and many exciting local attractions, Madeira is one place everyone visiting Europe should go to.
12 Best Things To Do In Madeira
Madeira may be a small collection of islands, but that doesn’t mean it only offers its visitors the cliché experience of an island. The islands have a cluster of things to do around and if you’re visiting here for a short period of time, you need to be concise in your planning to take in all of the beauty of Madeira. So we have made a list of best things to do in Madeira, Portugal which is an amazing archipelago heaven.
1. Levada Walking: Laurel Forest
If there’s one natural wonder on this island that has amused the tourists and the scientists around the world, it’s the Levadas. Levadas are the water channels that run throughout the island, providing the lands with fresh water from the mountains. The levadas are particularly more scenic in the Laurel Forest, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk the trails here, following the water channels and taking in some of the best natural sceneries around the world.
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2. Botanical Gardens
Madeira has an amazing weather all year long. The flora and fauna thrive on this land easily, with the tropical setting and firm soil that is unharmed by the humans. So naturally, the fauna here is a big attraction, as there are many rare species that grow here which is preserved by the botanical gardens. You can also see the most radiant flowers around, which are celebrated by the community all year long by the means of flower shows and festival. The biggest of it is the annual Flower Festival, that happens in May and turns the place into a flower heaven, with shows and presentations running for almost two weeks.
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3. Dolphins & Whale Watching
Madeira has become one of the best places in the Atlantic to interact with marine life in their natural habitat. You can head out off the bay with many local cruises and boats that run here for an exclusive Dolphin and whale viewing experience. You can see bottlenose, striped and spotted dolphins around along with sperm and beaked whales. Along with them, you can also see seals around if you’re lucky. This is something everyone visiting Madeira must do for a memorable marine life experience. For people with proper certification, snorkelling is also allowed.
4. Adventure Sporting
The climate and landscape of Madeira makes it a perfect spot for many adventure activities. The ideal conditions here makes it a place where you can go canyoning, mountain biking and abseiling. But the biggest adrenaline rush here comes in the form of paragliding, which has become a big attraction. There are many paragliding companies around the island, which intelligently use the breeze and the landscapes of the island to deliver one of the best paragliding experiences around the world, with a breath-taking aesthetic scenery to behold as you glide in the air.
5. Praia Formosa
Praia Formosa is the largest beach complex in Madeira. It is famous for its posh setting and the black sand beach, which is a sight to behold in itself. Head there for a day of fun with many things to do aroound, like parasailing, jet skiing, beach volleyball, spas, indoor pools in the complex, and much more. You can easily spend a whole day here relaxing after you’re done exploring the island to give yourself a much-needed rest. It’s the perfect spot to end your journey as it is very close to the capital city of Funchal. So, while you’re out and about, do try one of the above mentioned things to do in Madeira beach.
6. Cable Car Ride: Funchal
The capital doesn’t shy away from giving its visitors an experience of a lifetime either. The city of Funchal is known for many things, but the cable car ride is one of the biggest tourist attractions here. The cable car takes you up from Almirante Reis to Monte’s upper suburb. The ride takes 15 minutes to complete, during which you can admire the amazing landscape of the city, with the ocean in the background, as you keep getting higher. There’s always a queue here, but it moves very fast along with multiple cable cars running to accumulate everyone.
One of the many things Madeira has done for its visitors and locals alike for an amazing experience is the road system. Despite of its rough terrain and many mountains, the government successfully built a road system here that gives you some of the most scenic routes in Europe. You can rent a vehicle from Funchal and take a drive to São Vicente and Porto Moniz, to admire the ocean and a panoramic view of the amazing landscapes around. You will come across many waterfalls along the way and if you take a detour to Seixal, there are many natural rock pools where you can take a dip in.
8. Madeira Film: Know the history
You may be wondering why a film experience made this list. The Madeira Film experience introduces you to the history of the archipelago, about how it was formed, what it has endured and also familiarizes you with the most happening spots around the island. This is actually a pretty good way to start your trip, acquainting yourself with the history and culture of the island for a better and a wholesome experience here.
9. Palheiro Garden
One of the more tranquil experiences on this island, a stroll down the Palheiro Garden is a perfect way to spend your morning or afternoon on Madeira. The garden has been owned by the Blandy family, which also runs the biggest wine industry on the island. The garden is situated east of Funchal and is just beside the ocean at an elevation of 500 metres. You can sit back here and enjoy the amazing view of the ocean, surrounded by exquisite flowers and topiaries with a top-notch management.
You really cannot expect a better sea diving experience than in Madeira. It has become one of the top choices for diving in Europe. There are certified diving schools here, which take you to deep inside the water to explore the amazing underwater species hiding inside the rocks like octopuses, groupers, moray eels and much more. For people looking for something more hardcore, you can head to the Savage Islands to swim with dolphins, turtles and monk seals. Don’t forget to try this best thing to do in Madeira, Portugal.
11. Whale Museum
The Whale Museum in Canical is one of the hottest tourist spots on the island, which explores the history of the whaling industry of Madeira. The museum went through a renovation and was opened again in 2011, with many new additions to the already existing plethora of things in here. You can see a proper representation of the industry, with tools and first-hand accounts and even the vessels. There are giant models of whales and dolphins too, with the recent addition of 3D footage of the mammals.
If you didn’t drink the Madeira wine while you’re on the island, you can not say that your trip here was complete. The island is popular for its titular fortified wine, which is famous for its flavor and production on the island. Blandy’s Wine Lodge is the best place to start your wine experience on the island. The vintage wine sold here is properly ages in the special warm conditions, and some of them are even centuries old. You can book yourselves a premium tour, which will take you through the whole process of how the wine is made from the Negra mole grapes, how it is aged and how the barrels are made.
13. Palheiro Gardens
Also known as the garden isle, Madeira is famous for its scenic setting and a beautiful archipelago like this one is sure to have several species of flora on board. Many of these can be spotted in the Palheiro gardens and are more than a treat to your eyes. Out of these species, Bougainvillea and Hibiscus are blooming all throughout the year.
This flamboyant island has everything to offer to its visitors. From heavenly landscapes to amazing food, to thrilling activities and much more, there are many things you can do here. So, go through this list and plan a trip to Europe and head to the beautiful island of Madeira. Make sure you experience the best that this place has to offer and have an amazing time here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Madeira
If you’re still making plans about visiting this charming archipelago, and there’s some time, make sure you go through some of the commonly asked questions about the place to know it better.
Q. What to do in Madeira for a week?
A. You can try almost all the above mentioned things if you’re planning to stay in Madeira for a week.
Q. What to do in Madeira for a day?
A. You can visit the famous places on this tropical heaven like the Botanical gardens or any other place mentioned herein, if you’re staying for a day in Madeira.
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