Machico (Madeira): The Complete Guide
Madeira’s second town, Machico, is conveniently located just a ten-minute drive east of the airport, nestled in a picturesque natural bay. The town is surrounded by steep, terraced slopes and boasts its own stony beach. Despite its relatively modest size, Machico offers a laid-back atmosphere, a variety of restaurants, and a modest nightlife scene. This makes it an excellent choice for a holiday base, providing a tranquil setting for exploration. Whether for an extended vacation or a brief stopover of a night or two, Machico offers a welcoming and relaxed environment for visitors.
The focal point of the town is Largo Dr. António Jardim d’Oliveira, a cobbled main square where taxi drivers converse by their yellow cars, shaded by tall oak trees. The northern section of the square is dominated by the fifteenth-century Igreja Matriz, commissioned by Tristão Vaz Teixeira’s wife, Branco. Its most notable feature is an elegantly arched Manueline door adorned with three small marble columns.
To the east of the narrow Ribeira do Machico lies an area of old fishermen’s houses known as Banda de Alén. Centered on the peaceful Largo Senhor dos Milagres, this quiet square hosts elderly men playing cards beneath shady trees. On the southern side of the square stands the unassuming, whitewashed Capela dos Milagres (Chapel of Miracles). Erected in 1815, it replaced an earlier chapel believed to have been built on the site where Anne d’Arfet and possibly Robert Machin was buried. The original chapel was destroyed in a flood in 1803, but miraculously, a wooden crucifix survived. Swept out to sea, it was rescued by a passing ship. The “miraculous” recovery of the crucifix is commemorated every October 8 with a torchlit procession and a local public holiday the following day. Further along the sea promenade, the Chapel of São Roque stands, showcasing exquisite baroque-style architecture commissioned by Teixeira in 1489 to fulfill a vow made during a plague.
Machico’s strategic location makes it ideal for exploring Ponta de São Lourenço, the easternmost point of the island, known for its dramatic cliffs and fossil-rich terrain. Additionally, the nearby village of Caniçal, once a hub for Madeira’s whaling industry, invites exploration, with scenes from the 1956 film “Moby Dick” shot in its serene surroundings.
The area is renowned for its beautiful beaches, with two prominent ones situated in the town center: São Roque and Praia da Banda Além. São Roque, positioned to the right of the stream dividing the town, features a pebble beach with some black sand, stretching across most of Machico’s bay. This beach is accompanied by a small pier and a spacious esplanade connecting Forum Machico and Nossa Senhora do Amparo fort. Various tourist services and facilities, including restaurants, bars, and a children’s playground, adorn the area.
Praia da Banda Além, located to the left of the stream, boasts approximately 125 meters in length and 70 meters in width. Strikingly, the beach has yellow sand imported from Morocco and is protected by the breakwaters of Machico’s small marina. Equipped with essential services such as showers, parking, restaurants, and lifeguards, it offers an ideal setting for a relaxing swim and an enjoyable day at the beach.
Beyond its sandy shores, Machico is a hub for diverse water activities. Visitors can engage in activities such as windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), sport fishing, diving, and boat trips, allowing them to explore the captivating coastline of the area.
Visiting Machico (Madeira) for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Machico (Madeira) on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!
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Legend has it that the name Machico traces its origins to Robert Machin, an English merchant who, in 1346, eloped from Bristol with his affluent lover Anne d’Arfet. Their intended journey to Spain went awry when their boat was diverted off course and crashed against the rocks near Machico. While they, along with other crew members, managed to swim ashore, Anne succumbed to illness later on. Different versions of the legend suggest that Machin may have also perished on the island, while others propose that the grief-stricken Machin buried Anne before escaping on a makeshift raft, only to be captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Morocco. Allegedly, Machin shared his tale of woe with a Spanish slave, who, upon returning to Iberia, spread the story. Eventually, news of this Atlantic island reached the Portuguese court, prompting Zarco to embark on a quest for Madeira. Upon his first landing, Zarco is said to have discovered Anne’s grave, leading to the naming of the place after Machin. Another explanation is less romantic, suggesting that Machico is named after Monchique, Zarco’s hometown in Portugal.
In any case, Machico was the initial settlement on the island, serving as Madeira’s capital from 1440 to 1496 under Tristão Vaz Teixeira, whose statue now graces the main square. With the unification of the island in 1497, the capital shifted to Funchal, and Machico evolved into a hub for sugar production and fishing.
This complete guide to Machico (Madeira) not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.
This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Machico (Madeira) and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!
Solar do Ribeirinho
Location: Solar do Ribeirinho, Rua do Ribeirinho, Machico, Portugal | Hours: Open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays. | Price: Adults: 1.50 Euros (Combined ticket, with entry to the Machico Museum Center - Solar do Ribeirinho and Parish Council Archaeological Center) | Distance: 1.00km
Visiting Solar do Ribeirinho
Matriz de Machico (Nossa Senhora da Conceição) Church
Location: Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição Alameda Dr. António Teixeira de Oliveira nº1 9200-107 Machico Portugal | Hours: 09:00 to 19:00 | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Matriz de Machico (Nossa Senhora da Conceição) Church
Câmara Municipal de Machico (Machico Town Hall)
Location: Câmara Municipal de Machico, Rua da Árvore, Machico, Portugal | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Câmara Municipal de Machico (Machico Town Hall)
Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo
Location: Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo, Machico, Portugal | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo
Capela dos Milagres
Location: Capela Do Senhor Dos Milagres, Rua do Senhor Dos Milagres, Machico, Portugal | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Capela dos Milagres
Pico do Facho Viewpoint
Location: Miradouro do Pico do Facho ER109 Caniçal Portugal | Distance: 1.60km
Visiting Pico do Facho Viewpoint
Museu da Baleia (Madeira)
Location: Museu da Baleia da Madeira, Rua Garcia Moniz, Caniçal, Madeira, Portugal | Hours: Daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Closed Mondays | Price: Adults: €10,00 | Website | Madeira Whale Museum Entry Ticket and Private Tour | Distance: 3.60km
Visiting Museu da Baleia (Madeira)
Location: Prainha beach Caniçal, Portugal | Distance: 6.00km
Visiting Prainha Beach
Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco (PR8)
Location: Ponta de São Lourenço, Estr. de São Lourenço, Caniçal, Portugal | From Funchal: Ponta de São Lourenço/Caniçal Full-Day Hike | Distance: 7.30km
Visiting Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco (PR8)
Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)
Visiting Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)
While Madeira typically experiences sunny and dry weather year-round, the optimal time to visit the island is in May or June. This period precedes the influx of European summer holidaymakers, ensuring a more serene atmosphere and fewer crowds. Additionally, temperatures during these months are pleasantly cool, creating ideal conditions for enjoying outdoor activities like hiking. Choosing to visit in May or June allows you to fully appreciate Madeira’s natural beauty without the intensity of the summer heat and the heightened tourist activity that follows later in the season.
Average Temperatures in Machico (Madeira)
- January 19°C 67°F 7
- February 19°C 66°F 8
- March 20°C 68°F 6
- April 20°C 69°F 6
- May 21°C 70°F 3
- June 23°C 73°F 3
- July 24°C 76°F 0
- August 26°C 78°F 1
- September 25°C 77°F 3
- October 24°C 75°F 7
- November 21°C 71°F 8
- December 20°C 69°F 10