Ribeira Brava (Madeira): The Complete Guide

Madeira - Ribeira Brava
CC BY-SA 2.0 / muffinn

This well-known tourist spot boasts a variety of shops, cafes, and restaurants, particularly close to the beach area. You can take in the scenic views from a terrace or stroll along the promenade. For those interested in learning about the archipelago, the Ethnographic Museum of Madeira is a must-visit, showcasing a collection of ethnographic artifacts that reflect the region’s economic, social, and cultural dimensions. Other notable attractions include the Lighthouse, which provides stunning views of Ribeira Brava, Campanário, and Ponta do Sol, and the Fort of São Bento, home to the tourism office.

TIP: If you want to visit Ribeira Brava (Madeira) for just a day and want to make the most of your visit, you may want to consider taking a Full-Day Jeep Tour with Guide. This is one of the most complete and best-rated jeep tours that covers the main, must-see attractions in Madeira in about 9 hours. If you have your own transport and prefer exploring at your own pace read our
Ultimate guide to touring the South West Coast of Madeira!.

History of Ribeira Brava (Madeira)

Founded in 1440, the municipality of Ribeira Brava was once among the most economically prosperous regions on Madeira Island, primarily due to its flourishing sugar cane cultivation. Nowadays, its economic focus has shifted to banana plantations and the cultivation of other fruits. Ribeira Brava also serves as a crucial junction, connecting various roads from the north, east, and west of the island.

The name of the municipality originates from its river, known as the “angry river.” During rainy seasons, this river becomes notably fierce and turbulent, with a strong current that has historically caused destruction along its entire eight-kilometre stretch.

Visiting Ribeira Brava (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 Ribeira Brava (Madeira) on the first visit. To help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

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5 Best places to See in Ribeira Brava (Madeira)

This complete guide to Ribeira Brava (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 Ribeira Brava (Madeira) and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Madeira Ethnographic Museum

Museu Etnografico Da Madeira, Ribeira Brava, Madeira
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Paulo SP/ Wikimedia
The Madeira Ethnographic Museum, situated in the Ribeira Brava Municipality, is housed in a historic 17th-century manor. Originally located on old Rua da Bagaceira, this manor was part of the Convent of Santa Clara do Funchal’s extensive properties outside the city of Funchal. Luís Gonçalves da Silva, a captain in the Ribeira Brava ordinances, acquired […]
Location: Museum of Ethnography, Ribeira Brava, Portugal | Hours: Tuesday - Friday 09:30 to 17:00; Sunday - 10:00 to 12:30; 13:30 to 17:30; Closed Sunday, Monday and Public holidays | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Madeira Ethnographic Museum

São Bento Church, Ribeira Brava

Igreja De São Bento, Ribeira Brava (Madeira, Portugal)
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Joãofcf
The São Bento Church, located in the parish of Ribeira Brava, is not only one of the oldest rural temples in the Diocese of Funchal but also among the most visited religious sites in Madeira. This revered church, a monument classified as Property of Public Interest, is a must-visit on the island’s west coast. Dating […]
Location: Igreja Matriz da Ribeira Brava / Igreja de São Bento, Ribeira Brava, Portugal | Distance: 1.30km
Visiting São Bento Church, Ribeira Brava

Fort of São Bento

Ribeira Brava, Madeira
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Karelj
The Fort of São Bento or Fort of Saint Benedict, dating back to the 18th century, was constructed under the governance of Duarte Pereira Sodré in 1708 to safeguard the coastline and harbour, primarily against pirate invasions. Historical records from 1815 mention the fort being in a state of disrepair. Restoration and beautification efforts began […]
Location: Fort of São Bento, Rua Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral, Ribeira Brava, Portugal | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Fort of São Bento

Ribeira Brava Lighthouse

Farol Da Ribeira Brava In Ribeira Brava, Madeira
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Ximonic
Madeira’s deep and unbreakable connection with the sea is evident in its history and daily life, particularly visible in its architectural heritage and enduring fishing traditions. The Ribeira Brava Lighthouse, located on the island’s west coast, stands as a symbol of this intimate bond with the Atlantic Ocean. Positioned on the right bank of the […]
Location: Ribeira Brava Lighthouse, Rua Comandante Camacho de Freitas, Ribeira Brava, Portugal | Distance: 1.40km
Visiting Ribeira Brava Lighthouse

Levada das 25 Fontes (PR6 & PR6.1)

Levada Das 25 Fontes-Madeira
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
The Levada das 25 Fontes hiking trail in Madeira is a popular destination, drawing tourists from around the world. The trail offers breath-taking views of the weeping wall with 25 streams cascading into a refreshing pool, and the impressive Risco Waterfall can be admired from a viewpoint along the route. How to get to Levada […]
Location: Rabaçal ER110 15 Portugal | Round trip transfer from Funchal, Caniço, Garajau to Rabaçal | Distance: 12.00km
Visiting Levada das 25 Fontes (PR6 & PR6.1)

Best Time to Visit Ribeira Brava (Madeira)

The best time to visit Ribeira Brava in Madeira largely depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons:

  1. Spring (March to May): Spring is a delightful time to visit Ribeira Brava as the weather is pleasantly warm, with temperatures gradually rising. The landscape is lush and vibrant with blooming flowers, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the natural beauty of Madeira. Additionally, spring sees fewer tourists compared to the peak summer months.
  2. Summer (June to August): Summer is peak tourist season in Madeira, including Ribeira Brava. The weather is warm and sunny, ideal for beach activities and water sports. However, the town can get quite crowded during this time, and accommodation prices may be higher. If you don’t mind the crowds and enjoy lively atmosphere, summer can still be a fantastic time to visit.
  3. Fall (September to November): Fall is another excellent time to visit Ribeira Brava, as the weather remains warm, and the summer crowds begin to thin out. This season is particularly ideal for outdoor adventures and exploring the island’s stunning landscapes. Additionally, fall is harvest season, so you may have the opportunity to experience local festivals and events celebrating Madeira’s agricultural bounty.
  4. Winter (December to February): Winter in Ribeira Brava is mild and relatively warm compared to many other destinations, making it an appealing choice for travelers seeking a winter escape. While you won’t find typical beach weather during this time, you can still enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing without the crowds. Plus, winter is a great time to experience Madeira’s festive celebrations, including Christmas markets and New Year’s festivities.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Ribeira Brava depends on your personal preferences and what you hope to experience during your trip. Whether you prefer the bustling atmosphere of summer or the quieter charm of the shoulder seasons, Ribeira Brava and Madeira offer something for every traveler throughout the year.

Average Temperatures in Ribeira Brava (Madeira)

  • January 17°C 6
  • February 17°C 7
  • March 19°C 6
  • April 19°C 6
  • May 19°C 3
  • June 21°C 3
  • July 23°C 0
  • August 26°C 1
  • September 23°C 3
  • October 22°C 7
  • November 19°C 8
  • December 18°C 9

How to get to Ribeira Brava (Madeira)

Traveling to Ribeira Brava by Air

The nearest major airport to Ribeira Brava is Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (FNC) in Madeira, located approximately 35 kilometers away. From the airport, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or use public transportation to reach Ribeira Brava.

Traveling to Ribeira Brava by Car

Driving to Ribeira Brava is a convenient option, especially if you want to explore the surrounding areas. From Funchal, the capital of Madeira, you can take the VE3 expressway, which connects directly to Ribeira Brava. The drive usually takes about 25 minutes, offering scenic views along the way.

Traveling to Ribeira Brava by Bus

Several bus companies operate routes to Ribeira Brava from Funchal and other towns on the island. The bus journey from Funchal to Ribeira Brava takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes. The bus station in Ribeira Brava is centrally located, making it easy to reach your accommodation or other destinations within the town.

Traveling to Ribeira Brava by Taxi

Taxis are readily available at Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport and in Funchal. Taking a taxi to Ribeira Brava offers a direct and comfortable ride. The journey from the airport typically takes around 30 minutes, while from Funchal, it’s about a 25-minute drive.