There are so many things to do in Madeira, like levada hikes, waterfalls, mountains or beaches. Actually too much to accommodate them in a normal 2 week vacation. You have to make a selection so that you don’t miss the most beautiful highlights. But what are the most beautiful things to do in Madeira? And which Madeira must sees should not be missed? We have made a list of the rather inconspicuous and unknown Madeira highlights and want to present you here our selection of the most beautiful Madeira must sees.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Levada Hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
The hike from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo in Madeira (PR1) is one of the most spectacular hikes you can do in Madeira. The hike to Pico Ruivo takes you over and through mountains, along gorges and offers fantastic views of the surrounding valleys for almost 12 km.
The Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is one of the most popular hikes in Madeira and also one of the most physically demanding. You start from Pico do Ariero, with 1818 meters one of the highest mountains of Madeira and hike almost 12 km to the really highest peak of Madeira, the Pico Ruivo. You will need 4-6 hours for the route and probably be completely exhausted at the end.
On the 12 kilometers you will overcome an incredible 1000 meters of altitude. It goes very steeply downhill and shortly before the finish again very steeply uphill. This makes the hike quite strenuous. Also, that it can be very slippery and slippery at times, does not make it easier.
Nevertheless, the landscapes you will have during the hike are incredibly beautiful and definitely worth the effort.
Things to do in Madeira: Sunrise at Pico do Arieiro
One of the most beautiful Madeira must sees you can experience on Madeira is a sunrise on the Pico do Ariero. Many people go to the summit just for that and don’t even want to do the hike to the Ruivo. If you are lucky and the weather cooperates, then you drive early in the morning through the fog up to the mountain, break through the cloud cover at some point and are then above the clouds.
When the sun rises around 07:30, it really is an incredible spectacle. You see the sun rise above the clouds, something you can usually only see from an airplane. Simply indescribably beautiful!
Hike to the Ponta de São Lourenço
The Ponta de São Lourenço in Madeira’s east impressed and surprised us with its barrenness and desert-like landscape. After Madeira welcomed us as a lush green landscape, we realized how diverse this small island is. The hike at Ponta de São Lourenço is well developed and relatively easy to walk. Still, there are some inclines along the way and the uneven nature of the path is also a bit of a challenge.
There are no trees growing on the whole peninsula (except for the oasis restaurant) and no bigger bushes. Therefore, it can be very hot with cloudless skies and no shade. During the hike you will always have different views of the clay-colored cliffs and the restless sea. Behind every corner it looks different, but always spectacular.
Since this hike is very popular, you will not be alone here, but always accompanied by many other tourists. Nevertheless, the hike is worth it because you won’t get such views anywhere else on Madeira. Especially the view from the hill, which is located at the end of the hike, is incredibly beautiful and reaches to the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.
Sunrise at Ponta do Rosto
If you already do the hike to Sao Lourenco, then you have to go there for the sunrise, which is extremely spectacular at this dust-dry headland. You don’t have to drive to the official parking lot, but turn left at the last traffic circle to get to the radar station (Google Maps).
There you simply park your car and look for a nice free place. Either you go left up the small hill, then you see the sunrise first. Or you go downhill at the small parking lot (no official way!) and use the various rocks to look for a great photo spot.
If the sun rises you have of course only a few minutes for the perfect photo. And of course you won’t be alone, many people come here in the morning to take one of the most beautiful sunrise photos in Madeira.
But getting up early is definitely worth it. And if you feel like it – and you’re already in the area, you can take the hike to the tip of the headland Ponta de São Lourenço, which is right next door.
Madeira Must See: Seixal
Seixal in the north of Madeira is a special highlight for two reasons. Firstly, there is one of the few natural sandy beaches on Madeira and secondly, there is one of the most beautiful natural pools right by the sea.
The natural black (lava) sand beach is just under 100 meters long and only a little more than 10 meters wide. So it’s not a huge beach, but here it’s less about lying on the beach than experiencing the awesome panorama and walking on the black sand, which is of volcanic origin. The beach is located directly at a large parking lot (Google Maps) and can not be missed.
On the other side of the small town is the Piscinas Naturais do Seixal (Google Maps), a series of several small pools built directly into the sea. So you swim here in seawater, but you are not exposed to the strong Atlantic waves or the current. It is never crowded and free of charge. You should pack swimming shoes because of the sharp rocks.
Riding a cable car in Funchal
Actually, we don’t like cities that much and prefer to stay in nature. But of course we made an exception for Funchal. The capital of Madeira is really beautiful and can be explored wonderfully by foot. You can walk along the harbor promenade or stroll through the pedestrian zone.
There are exciting buildings to discover here, delicious and damn cheap ice cream and a visit to the market hall Mercado dos Lavradores you can stock up on souvenirs and fruit. You see, the city is really worth seeing. But the best view of such a hilly city is from above. And since I couldn’t unpack my drone here, of course, we looked for another way to hover over the city: the cable car!
The cable car to Monte (Teleférico Funchal-Monte) starts right at the harbor near the bus station and takes you several hundred meters up to the Monte district. If you travel by car, then you should park in this parking garage (Google Maps) within walking distance, it is cheap and from here you can also explore the city on foot.
The cable car goes over the entire city and you have wonderful views of the sea, the mountains and the architecture of this special city. The ride takes about 15 minutes and costs about 13 Euro per person there and back. The cable car runs every day between 09:30 and 16:30. If you are unlucky, then the town of Monte is in the fog when you get there and it is also a few degrees cooler.
If you are lucky and you want to go further in nice weather, you will have to take another cable car to get to the famous Madeira Botanical Garden. At our partner GetYourGuide you can get cheap combined tickets*.
Funchal Cable Car Tickets | Check Prices*
Sunset at Ponta do Tristao
The Ponta do Tristão is a small and inconspicuous place to watch the sunset on Madeira. There is no real parking lot but you can park your car on the side of the road (Google Maps link).
Just a few meters away is the place where you can watch the sun sink into the sea. Bring a beer and a blanket and the romance is pre-programmed. This is not a place to travel to from the other end of the island, but if you’re nearby, it’s a great sport to end the day.
Viewpoint Miradouro da Raposeira
The Miradouro da Raposeira viewpoint is small and unassuming, yet it offers wonderful views of the rocky coastline and the sea. If you parked your car at the parking lot (Google Maps link), you have to walk a few hundred meters steeply downhill to get here. A round viewing platform awaits you, which you will probably have all to yourself.
The view of the sea and the small town of Paúl do Mar down at sea level is really great. This spot is also highly recommended for sunset.
Hike Levada do Moinho & Levada Nova
Our next Madeira must see is one of the coolest levada hikes in Madeira. The Madeira hike along the two trails Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova (PR7) is a connection of 2 almost parallel running levadas, which offer you unbelievable beautiful views of the coast and the mountains. The Levada do Moinho starts in the small village of Lombada da Ponta do Sol in the south of Madeira.
From there it goes completely flat further and further into the valley and you enjoy a wonderful panoramic view all the time. At the end of the Levada do Moinho you change to the Levada Nova, which leads back the same way. But a lot higher. At the end of this wonderful hike you will arrive back in the village where you started.
For us, this was one of the most beautiful levada hikes in Madeira. This levada hike in Madeira combines 2 almost parallel running levadas. So you do not have to walk the same way back, but still have a phenomenal view of the valley and the nearby sea from both ways.
The Levada do Moinho is the lower of the two levadas and leads you to a picnic area where you have to cross a river twice to get to the somewhat higher Levada Nova.
There you will go back about 100 meters of altitude above the Levada do Moinho towards the start of the hike. The highlight on the Levada Nova, besides the great view, is the waterfall that awaits you behind a corner of the levada and that is really very special. In total, you walk 9 kilometers for which we needed just under 4 hours.
Our Apartment in Calheta
An accommodation as a highlight on Madeira? Yes definitely! We were so enthusiastic about our accommodation in Madeira that we don’t want to withhold it from you. If you like 180° views of the sea and a private terrace with pool and floor-to-ceiling windows, then this could be something for you.
Seasky Arco in Calheta
- large apartments up to 1-2 floors
- private bathroom
- fully equipped kitchen
- amazing view of the sea
- pool and private terrace
- private parking place
The apartment complex Seasky Arco* is located above the town of Calhete in the southwest of Madeira on a steep slope.
Thanks to the very steep access road, getting there is anything but easy, but you won’t be bothered by any traffic and you’ll have a direct view of the sunset on the Atlantic.
There are floor-to-ceiling windows, a private pool, a huge terrace and a huge bed from which you can watch the sun go down. Simply a wonderful place to come to rest and relax from the strenuous hikes. We felt super comfortable here!Seasky Arco | Check Availability*
Fanal Cloud Forest
The Fanal Cloud Forest is a forest in the north of Madeira that looks like something out of a fairy tale. The special thing about this forest are its centuries-old laurel trees and the often mystical fog hanging over the forest.
Therefore it is often called fairy forest or fairy tale forest. The Fanal Forest is located in an old volcanic crater and therefore the clouds and the fog are virtually trapped here and can only leave with great difficulty. Therefore, it is often much foggier here than in the surrounding area.
The twisted branches of the old trees are covered with moss and the laurel trees have such interesting and crazy shapes that you would think they were alive. The atmosphere in the Fanal Cloud Forest is totally different depending on the weather. When the sun is shining and you have blue skies, it is just a beautiful forest in a hilly area.
You can go for a walk or have a picnic here. But when the clouds hang so low that the forest is covered in thick fog – which, by the way, can be over as quickly as it came – then you feel like in the movie Silent Hill. Unfortunately, the fog here is very difficult to predict, but if it is cloudy on the coast, then the chance is already quite high that the Fanal forest is also in the fog.
Waterfall Cascata dos Anjos
A very touristy, but super cool road in Madeira is ER101 near Ponta do Sol. Here you will find the narrow, but quite high waterfall Cascata dos Anjos. This waterfall pours from 90 meters high directly onto the narrow coastal road and then on into the sea. We have not experienced such a cool waterfall even in Iceland, which is very spoiled by waterfalls.
This is really a special natural spectacle and you can even drive under the waterfall with your car and use the waterfall as a free car wash. But you should also get out here and look at the waterfall up close. During the day you should have no problems to take a nice picture, but in the afternoon and especially at the sunset, which is always very beautiful in Madeira, you will not be alone. Very many tourists run around here and try to take the perfect photo.
Hike to Caldeira da Verde
Sunrise in Cais da Ponta do Sol
In the wonderfully picturesque village of Ponta do Sol, there is a pier built in 1850 that leads to a small rocky island off the coast called Cais da Ponta do Sol. Here you can walk down a staircase to get directly to the sea. While fishermen try their luck around you, you can watch the sun rise due to the offshore position of the rocky island.
A wonderful place to listen to the sea and let your eyes wander along the cliff.
Teleférico das Achadas da Cruz
There are several cable cars on Madeira, but the Teleférico das Achadas da Cruz in the west of the island is a very special one. For just 3 Euro, you’ll ride almost 500 extremely steep meters down to the wonderfully quiet Fajã da Quebrada Nova. This is an agricultural headland directly on the coast.
There is not much down here, no stores or restaurants. However, the place knows how to shine with its wonderful panorama. You can have a wonderful view along the cliffs and while walking along the coast you always have the powerful lashing waves of the Atlantic in your ear.
If you are very sporty, then you can also use the Vereda do Calhau hiking trail instead of the cable car, which takes you in just under 1.5 hours over 1.8km down. The cable car runs daily from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 18:00.