7-Day Madeira Itinerary: How to See Madeira in One Week

7-Day Madeira Itinerary

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With a minimum of 7 days to spare in Madeira, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the island’s diverse beauty and culture. While it’s impossible to cover everything in a week, you can embark on a fantastic journey exploring various landscapes and engaging in a range of activities.

Here’s a suggested 7-day self-driving itinerary for first-time visitors to Madeira. Please note that this plan assumes you have your own car and is tailored for independent travelers looking for daily adventures, but you can adjust or extend it to include some relaxation days if you prefer.

Madeira’s road network can be challenging at times, but it’s generally manageable. You’ll encounter winding mountain roads and steep local streets, so it’s a good idea to have your most confident driver behind the wheel!

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Day 1: Explore Funchal & Monte

Fortress Of Sao Tiago

To ensure you get the most out of your day we have created a route that takes in all the sites in the shortest possible time in our 1 Day Self guided Walking Tour of Funchal & Monte (With Maps)! If walking is not your thing, or you plane arrives later in the day I can recommend this Funchal: Old Town Tour by Tuk Tuk with Traditional Toboggan. This guided tour takes you around all the important sites and includes the all important Monte toboggan ride!

Funchal, while predominantly modern, does have a charming historical core. Enjoy leisurely strolls along its cobblestone streets and take in the awe-inspiring sight of the hilltop fortress of St. John. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the historical area, and don’t forget to make a stop at the Mercado dos Lavradores, a market renowned for its numerous fruit vendors where you can sample a wide array of exotic fruits (just be cautious of the tourist prices).

Getting to Monte from the harbour is a breeze: simply hop on the cable car, and you’ll reach Monte in about 5 minutes. Here, you can immerse yourself in several impressive gardens, including the Asian-inspired Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Botanical Gardens of Madeira. Not only will you be treated to breath-taking views of the city, but the palace gardens offer a delightful exploration experience. With flamingos, koi fish, cascading waterfalls, and an abundance of exotic tropical plants, you may momentarily feel transported out of Europe. On-site, you’ll also find some small museums, including one featuring impressive mineral specimens and a collection of African art. It can take several hours to fully explore these gardens. Close to the palace gardens, you’ll encounter the renowned wicker basket cars, also known as the toboggan ride. Men dressed in traditional attire will pull you down steep roads while you sit in a wicker sled of sorts. It’s a bit pricey (€17.50 per person), and the experience lasts only a few minutes, but it’s a memorable and enjoyable activity.

Collectively, these sights form the quintessential Funchal itinerary. They are especially popular among cruise ship passengers making a day stop in Madeira, so during peak cruise arrival times, these attractions may be busier than usual.

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Day 2: Marvel at Madeira’s Peaks

Pico Do Arieiro To Pico Ruivo Hike
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

First, embark on an unforgettable hike to the highest point in Madeira, known as Pico Ruivo. If you’ve ever marveled at epic drone shots showcasing the island’s majestic mountains, rest assured they were captured either here or at the neighboring Pico do Areeiro. You have two options to reach Pico Ruivo: you can tackle a challenging trail starting from Pico do Areeiro, which offers a parking lot for convenience, or opt for a slightly easier hike starting from Achada do Teixeira.

Whichever path you choose, the journey to Pico Ruivo promises breathtaking vistas, an opportunity to connect with nature, and a chance to witness the island’s volcanic majesty up close. So, gear up, lace up your hiking boots, and prepare to be captivated by the rugged beauty of Madeira’s interior.

| Sunrise Tour @ Pico Do Areiro
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Day 3: Eastern Madeira Road Trip

Eastern Madeira Tour

As you embark on your Madeira adventure, set your sights on the easternmost point of the island, Ponta de São Lourenço. Here, you’ll encounter a landscape that seems plucked from another world, resembling a lunar-like expanse with its own unique charm.

This region stands in stark contrast to the lush green interior that defines much of Madeira. Instead, you’ll find open spaces and rugged seaside cliffs, with shrubs, thistles, and sunbathing lizards reigning supreme. To truly immerse yourself in this otherworldly setting, consider hiking at least up to Casa do Sardinha, a charming cafe nestled amidst swaying palm trees. The hike takes roughly an hour one way, and it’s a journey well worth embarking upon.

For the more adventurous souls, there’s the option to continue your hike further to the stunning Miradouro Ponta do Furado. From this vantage point, you’ll enjoy panoramic views that extend to two uninhabited islets, making it a photographer’s paradise.

To make the most of your day, we recommend starting this hike in the morning when temperatures are cooler, and the trail is less crowded. For additional hiking tips and insights, be sure to check out our São Lourenço hike guide.

As the afternoon rolls in, make your way to the nearby town of Machico, Madeira’s second-largest city. Nestled alongside a picturesque marina, Machico boasts one of the island’s few sandy beaches. While this golden stretch of sand has been artificially created, you’ll find it to be the perfect spot for unwinding and soaking up the sun, regardless of its origins.

Whether you’re in search of lunar landscapes, coastal hiking, or simply a relaxing day at the beach, this dynamic duo of Ponta de São Lourenço and Machico promises to offer an array of experiences to enrich your Madeira journey.

Read more about Madeira: Sightseeing Tour of the East Coast!
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Day 4: Explore North West Madeira!

Madeiras North East Coast-laurel-forest

The North West Coast of Madeira showcases some of the island’s most stunning landscapes, blending mountains, forests, cliffs, and the sea to create breath-taking views. From São Vicente to Porto Moniz, this region offers unforgettable coastal vistas. It also boasts intriguing volcanic caves in São Vicente and natural swimming pools, including the famous ones in Porto Moniz. The North Coast’s beauty is further enhanced by the Laurissilva Forest, covering 20% of Madeira’s territory and flourishing in this region thanks to abundant water sources, contributing to its lush and extraordinary landscape.

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Day 5: South West Madeira Road Trip

Tour Of Western Madeira

The southwestern corner of Madeira distinguishes itself as a unique island within an island, providing a peaceful respite from the vibrant eastern side and the bustling city of Funchal. This enchanting region seamlessly blends the verdant laurel forests with the boundless expanse of the deep blue Atlantic, creating a haven of serenity. It’s the perfect destination for revitalization, particularly following several days of exploration.

To embark on your adventure in the western part of Madeira, you have multiple routes to choose from. Whether you opt for the coastal road or two interior pathways that traverse the mountains and connect the northern and southern regions, you’ll be greeted by a landscape devoid of bustling cities. Instead, quaint villages dot your path, offering glimpses into the authentic charm of Madeira.

Start the day by hiking the Levada 25 Fontes and Levada do Alecrim, head to Port Moniz and take a dip in their natural pools.

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Day 6: Santana and the North Coast

Madeira Santana And The North Coast

Drive over the mountains, catching the early morning sun from one of the many viewing points, such as the Levada dos Balcões. Perched on the untamed northern coast of Madeira, the charming village of Santana stands as a world apart. Here, one can find an assortment of whimsical A-frame houses, untouched coastal splendour, and a tranquil rural atmosphere that defines its unique character. Parque das Queimadas and Levada do Caldeirão Verde (4 hours) provide yet another chance see the captivating waterfalls of Madeira. Climbs up to Madeira’s highest mountain along the Vereda do Pico Ruivo (PR1.2) (2 hours). Finally see the stunning Eagle Rock at Faial.

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