Madeira is one of the world's most famous floating gardens. With its exceptional combination of mild climate, spectacular landscapes and beautiful subtropical vegetation, it is not surprising that nature lovers consider Madeira the most beautiful place in Europe.
The best way to discover its cosy capital Funchal is undoubtedly by 'tobogans', sledges made of wood and reeds. First, take a cable lift to the high Monte and enjoy the irresistibly beautiful tropical gardens. From here, glide down through the city streets. Also don't forget to visit the indoor market halls, the atmospheric seaside promenade and the bodega of the famous wine family Blandy.
Another highlight - but in a figurative sense - is the Parque Natural de Madeira, which occupies no less than 2/3 of the island. Along the beautiful 'levadas' (mini canals) you can explore the interior of Madeira in a unique way.
More natural beauty can be found along the west and north coasts. Go swimming in a natural lake on one of the many picturesque rocky islands, enjoy stunning views of the spectacular rocky coastline and discover Madeira's oldest fishing village, dotted with motley boats. But the most impressive excursion is the mountain hike to the Pico Ruivo (1,862 m). Can you conquer your fear of heights?
Day 1: Départ pour Funchal/Ponta do Sol
As soon as you arrive, pick up your rental car from the airport and your holiday kicks off! Your first drive will take you to your hotel, where you will stay for 7 nights.
Day 2: Funchal
Funchal has been the economic centre and capital of Madeira for centuries, a city set against the mountain slopes like a giant amphitheatre. Its cosy and small-sized centre offers a great atmosphere. You can stroll, relax on a terrace, shop and occasionally visit landmarks. Time flies by here. Don't miss a visit to the indoor market 'Mercado dos Lavradores', where you'll find an abundance of flowers, vegetables, fruit and fish. After visiting the market, a walk along the atmospheric promenade 'Avenida do Mar', which runs along the sea, is a must. Don't forget to try the typical espada fish, which can be found on many menus of different restaurants. Just behind the Palácio de São Lourenço, with its 15th-century fortress, you will find the Adegas de São Francisco, a wine cellar named after the former monastery, which is now run by the famous wine family Blandy. This family has built a great reputation in wine production for more than two centuries. It is definitely worth a visit! If you want to see Funchal from above, you can take the Teleférico da Madeira at the port. The cable car will take you to Monte, a high-altitude area with beautiful tropical gardens and the majestic Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte. This is also where Charles I, the last emperor of Austria-Hungary, is buried. From here you enjoy breathtaking views over Funchal and the surrounding area. If Madeira's beautiful flowers continue to enchant you, a visit to the Jardim Botânico, about 4 km northeast of Funchal, is a must. Before returning to Funchal, you should definitely take advantage of the 'tobogans', which are wooden sleds you take your seat in and are piloted by two 'carreiros'. Gliding, you make a descent through the streets of Funchal, an experience not to be missed.
Day 3: The famous 'levadas'
Visit the Parque Natural de Madeira, which covers as much as 2/3 of the island. Here you can explore Madeira's inland in a different way along the beautiful 'levadas', such as Rabaçal and the plateau of Paúl da Serra in the west, or Ribeiro Frio in the east. The word 'levada' comes from the Portuguese word 'levar', meaning 'transport'. In reality, a levada is nothing more than a narrow channel, no wider than a stream, that is part of an irrigation system and transports water from the wet springs in the north of the island to the drier south. The paths alongside the levadas, originally created in the 16th century for maintenance, have over time become very popular as hiking trails and are today one of Madeira's biggest and best-known attractions.
Day 4: The west and north coasts
From Ponta do Sol or Funchal, drive along the west coast to Calheta, where modern art merges with beautiful nature. The 'Casa das Mudas' Arts Center, located on the edge of a cliff, offers stunning views and an impressive collection of modern art. Afterwards, drive on to the northernmost tip of the island, Porto Moniz, one of Madeira's oldest villages, with a spectacular coastline full of picturesque rock islands where natural pools have formed in which you can swim. Next, you descend to São Vicente, known for its whitewashed houses decorated with flowers, set against the hillside, connected by narrow alleys and steep steps. Via Ribeira Brava, you will return to your hotel for a well-deserved quiet evening.
Day 5: Câmara de Lobos-Eira do Serrado
Explore picturesque Câmara de Lobos, Madeira's oldest fishing village, where traditional colourful boats still line the beach. The place gets its name from the seals ('lobos' in Portuguese) that used to live here, although they have now completely disappeared. You will find abundant 'peixe espada' here, the famous black scabbardfish traditionally fished for and considered a delicacy. You will then leave the coastal road and take a detour to the viewpoints of Pico dos Barcelos and Eira do Serrado, where you will find breathtaking views, including the village of Curral das Freiras, located in a volcanic valley.
Day 6: Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo of Santana
The most impressive excursion is to the Pico do Arieiro. The summit (1,818 m) is the starting point for a spectacular mountain hike to Pico Ruivo (1,862 m). This is a hike for experienced hikers without vertigo and takes about 6 hours round trip. If you prefer something less adventurous, you can choose to cross the island via Ribeiro Frio to Faial and then to Santana, known for its traditional wooden houses with pointed straw roofs. These small triangular houses are the traditional farmhouses in the region. On the way back, stop at the spectacular Ponto de São Lourenço on the east coast.
Day 7: Funchal
Time to relax a bit today, see Madeira from the water and board the Santa Maria, a replica of the ship on which Columbus discovered the New World.
Day 8: Going home
Unfortunately, your trip has come to an end and it's time to return your rental car at Funchal airport and fly back home. If you'd like to stay a little longer, be sure to let us know. We'll be happy to extend your stay in Madeira.
Why book with Caractère?
- Best price guarantee
- Caractère extras
selected and approved hotels
instantly in touch with Caractère employees
- Affiliated to Travel Guarantee Fund