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.

Machico’s beaches

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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History of Machico (Madeira)

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.

10 Best places to See in Machico (Madeira)

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

Solar Do Ribeirinho, Madeira
CC BY-SA 4.0 / PESP/ Wikimedia
The Solar do Ribeirinho stands as a splendid example of classical civil architecture, representing a rural Madeiran landlady mansion constructed at the end of the 17th century. Commissioned by Captain Matias de Mendonça e Vasconcelos, a wealthy Morgado and ombudsman at Machico’s City Hall, the property boasts masonry stone and lime walls. It is a […]
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

Nossa-Senhora-da-Conceição-Church Machico Madeira
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Oldřich Čepelka
The main church of Machico, Matriz de Machico church, dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição, has a rich history dating back to the first quarter of the 15th century. By 1460, it had already been established as a parish church with its first pastor, João Garcia. The church’s construction is believed to have been initiated […]
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)

Câmara Municipal De Machico
CC BY-SA 2.0 / jad99
The Machico Town Hall building, constructed in 1929 and situated in Largo do Município / ER 212, is a two-storey property with a quadrangular plan. Displaying erudite and neoclassical influences, the building is constructed using plastered stone masonry painted white. Dark grey paint accents the mouldings of the openings, basement, cymbal, balcony console, and balustrade. […]
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

Forte De Nossa Senhora Do Amparo, Machico, Portugal
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Alberto-g-rovi
The Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo, situated at Largo Dr. José António d’Almeida / Rua do Mercado / Alameda dos Plátanos, is a distinctive structure of military architecture. Designated as Property of Public Interest (Dec.30/762 of 9/26/40), this isolated building holds historical significance. The fort was erected in 1706 by Captain Francisco Dias Franco, […]
Location: Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo, Machico, Portugal | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Forte de Nossa Senhora do Amparo

Capela dos Milagres

Capela Do Senhor Dos Milagres - Machico
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Llez
The Capela dos Milagres or Chapel of Miracles, is one of the earliest chapels built on the island of Madeira. This historic site holds significant importance as it hosted the first mass in Madeira, conducted on the day following the discovery of the island. A vow was made at that time to construct a chapel […]
Location: Capela Do Senhor Dos Milagres, Rua do Senhor Dos Milagres, Machico, Portugal | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Capela dos Milagres

Pico do Facho Viewpoint

Machico And The Nearby Airport On Madeira
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Donar Reiskoffer
The Pico do Facho Viewpoint, situated above the Machico valley, provides visitors with a stunning panoramic view, making it one of the most privileged locations for observing Madeira’s east coast. Positioned along a pathway that ascends to the summit of Pico do Facho before reaching the Caniçal tunnel, this observatory holds historical significance for the […]
Location: Miradouro do Pico do Facho ER109 Caniçal Portugal | Distance: 1.60km
Visiting Pico do Facho Viewpoint

Museu da Baleia (Madeira)

Museu Da Baleia Da Madeira
Reserved / Museu da Baleia da Madeira
The permanent exhibitions at the Madeira Whale Museum span over 1,000m2 across two rooms, inviting visitors to explore the waters surrounding Madeira and learn about the diverse marine life, including whales, dolphins, and other inhabitants of these seas. Open to the public since September 2011, the museum provides insights into the history of whaling in […]
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)

Prainha Beach

Prainha Beach, Ponta De São Lourenço, Madeira, Portugal
CC BY-SA / Diego Delso
A few kilometres east of Caniçal, identifiable by a gathering of parked cars, a staircase descends the cliffs leading to Prainha beach. Uncommon for Madeira, this beach features remarkably soft, dark-grey sand, offering an inviting setting. The crystalline waters make for an excellent swimming experience. Prainha’s allure attracts day-trippers, particularly on summer weekends, resulting in […]
Location: Prainha beach Caniçal, Portugal | Distance: 6.00km
Visiting Prainha Beach

Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco (PR8)

Ponta De São Lourenço, Madeira, Portugal
CC-BY-SA / Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco
The PR8 Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco offers a captivating hike to the eastern end of Madeira, providing a unique perspective on the peninsulas. Distinguished from other levada walks on the island, Sao Lourenco boasts a distinct and more “barren” vegetation due to its exposure to strong winds, resulting in lower vegetation cover. Distance: […]
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)

Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Holger Uwe Schmitt
Situated in close proximity to Funchal, Ponta do Garajau in Madeira offers a diverse array of attractions within its confines. Among these are a staircase leading to a scenic viewpoint, the imposing Cristo Rei statue, the Teleferico do Garajau cable car, and the picturesque Garajau beach. Cristo Rei Viewpoint The name “Cristo Rei Viewpoint” is […]
Visiting Ponta do Garajau & Cristo Rei Viewpoint (Madeira)

Best Time to Visit Machico (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 7
  • February 19°C 8
  • March 20°C 6
  • April 20°C 6
  • May 21°C 3
  • June 23°C 3
  • July 24°C 0
  • August 26°C 1
  • September 25°C 3
  • October 24°C 7
  • November 21°C 8
  • December 20°C 10

Tours and Activities from Machico (Madeira)