What to Do in Madeira

Checklist by Plaan

We spent 2,5 months in Madeira in 2021. To say “Loved it” about this experience would clearly be an understatement. We have suggested this magnificent island to almost everyone.

As our friends often ask about what we recommend doing and seeing in Madeira, we thought it was easier to have a checklist ready for that. We have shared this multiple times now and wanted to share it also with you. Feel free to check out our take on Madeira and implement it.

Madeira sunrise Sunrise at Miradouro da Bica da Cana

Let's start off with the overview


Very unpredictable. One moment, the sun may shine with 25 degrees Celsius blasting, the next moment strong winds find you, or you might end up in a cloud – quite literally in the mountains. It would be best if your jacket is also windproof and with a hood.

Always check the weather forecast first, if it is rainy and stormy, it is dangerous to be in the mountains, and you should cancel your plans.


According to the weather, so best preferred layered. Even if it is sunny outside, always bring long rainproof clothing for the trip in your backpack.

Good hiking/walking shoes with thick soles are mandatory! There is little to do with pretty, white sneakers.

Bring with you at all times

  • Lots of water
  • Snacks
  • Flashlight/phone with a fully charged battery
  • Battery bank
  • Cash (you can't pay with a card in most snack bars)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat


Hiking trails are generally pretty well marked, and the starting points on Google Maps are mostly correct.

Hiking trails on the whole island are usually marked with the “PR” sign, ie PR1, PR2, etc.

We recommend purchasing the WalkMe Madeira app to track your trails. A one-time fee of 3 or 5€, and it definitely pays off.

Fun fact, Robert accidentally purchased the WalkMe Azores app, so be sure to check it’s in fact meant for Madeira hikes!

Where to go?

Hiking trails

PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lorenço – extend as far as possible to the top (ie the ascent to the top of the hill). Amazing landscape and views throughout the hike. About 7 km and takes 2-3 hours.

PR1 Vereda do Areeiro-Pico Ruivo – hike between the two highest peaks of the island, back and forth 10 km and it takes at least 5 hours. Lots of ups and downs. We couldn’t finish the hike and had to come back almost half way because it was very snowy and slippery. Was even officially closed.

PR1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo – hike leading toward the highest point of Madeira Pico Ruivo which is only reachable by foot. Needless to say, the views were incredible. LOTS of stairs to climb!

Vereda do Larano (it doesn't have a PR sign) – you can see São Lorenço from another angle. We started it ourselves in the middle of the trail and walked back afterward, because the main part of the hike is seeing São Lorenço which we did and the start of this trail was said to be not that interesting, rather even hard.

PR 9 – Levada do Caldeirao Verde. 8.7 km + 8.7 km takes about 5.5 hours as a round trip. Breathtaking views and exciting trails lead to a pretty lake.

PR 6 – Levada das 25 Fontes e Risco. 11 km round trip which takes about 2-3 hours. This exciting trail leads to a waterfall which is quite popular, so it is your choice whether you would rather prefer more private hikes. We were quite lucky to not spot so many people and could be at the waterfall completely alone.

Cable cars

Achadas da Cruz – the cheapest, steepest, and prettiest! When you arrive down there, you can walk along the promenade and enjoy the views, there is nothing else to do.

Faja dos Padres – absolutely fierce, there is this cozy beach bar where to chill at.

Good places to swim

Seixal beach – absolute favorite!

Seixal & Porto Moniz natural pools.

Calheta beach – our home beach which is one of the few ones with white sand in Madeira.

Seixal beach, Madeira We often visited Seixal – black sand beach with beautiful surroundings

Awesome towns to discover

Funchal – naturally, the beautiful capital would end up on our list.

  • Get lost in the Old Town
  • Go to the Mercado dos Lavradores to see what's on offer, but we don't recommend buying anything from there. They trap visitors and charge 30 € for fruit. Treat it as a tourist attraction, not a legit market.
  • For our Estonian friends, and why not the others as well – look for the Estonian consulate, which you can find by the Estonian flag. There is also a cute place to eat – O.Giro Churros & Paninis.
  • Roof bar of Savoy Hotel. Admission was at the time of our visit 10 € which converted to a credit from the bar. Worth it! Enjoy your drink with the view over Funchal.
  • Botanical Garden. There are several. We visited Monte Palace and absolutely loved it.
  • Blandy’s wine lodge. If you don't bother to go on a tour, definitely check out the wine shop.
  • Praia Formosa (beach) and the promenade is a place for a stroll.

Camara de Lobos – a small fishing village.

Ribeira Brava – a beautiful promenade and beach.

Madalena do Mar – an even more beautiful promenade.

Calheta – a small port town. Good restaurants by the marina, whale watching trips go out from there too, another option is from Funchal.

More ideas

Whale/dolphin watching – opt for responsible companies who respect the natural environment.

Dolphin watching Spotted adorable dolphins and in addition saw Madeira from another angle

Canyoning – discover the rare nature of Madeira from another perspective. We participated in Epicmadeira organized event.

Ponta do Pargo – a lighthouse (faro) where you can see the steep and powerful coast of Madeira.

Vereda dos Balcoes – a short walk, beautiful viewing, and birdwatching platform at the end (PR 11).

Miradouro da Bica da Cana – watch the sunrise. Can be reached by car, no need to "hike" for a long time.

Fanal forest – aim to be there on a misty and rainy day, it looks truly magical!

Fanal forest The foggy Fanal Forest which we were super lucky to witness on our first visit

Gabo Girao – glass-bottomed viewing platform. If you are not afraid of heights of course!

São Vicente – on your way over there visit the Capelinha de Nossa Senhora de Fatima Chapel.

PONCHA bar – try out different flavors like the classic orange, maracuja/passionfruit, lemon, fishermen, which is stronger, and so on.

Try PASTEL DE NATA pastry!

Try the NIKITA cocktail – it consists of vanilla ice cream, beer, white wine, and so on. Sounds really bad but tastes ridiculously good.

Enjoy your time in Madeira!

If you think that this is a lot of information, then yes. We stayed there for 2,5 months and would have wanted more. Probably even forgot something for this list. That means, just take your time and enjoy, don’t get stressed.

If you are looking for a hassle-free option that puts your preferences on a timetable, let Plaan help you with that – spend time exploring, not planning.


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