Explore Madeira in one week – 7 day adventure itinerary

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Madeira, a lush and picturesque portuguese island off the northwest coast of Africa, is a hidden gem in the Atlantic Ocean known for its dramatic mountains, vibrant culture and unique landscapes. Whether you’re looking to hike through breathtaking trails, explore stunning viewpoints, or enjoy an epic Madeira road trip, this island has something for everyone.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through a perfect one-week itinerary in Madeira, designed to maximise your adventure. Covering everything from exploring the charming streets of Funchal to hiking through rugged landscapes, visiting the unique Laurisilva forests, and walking along Levadas, our detailed Madeira 7-day itinerary ensures you make the most of your time on this incredible island. 

How to Get Around Madeira

Madeira is a relatively small island, but its mountainous terrain and winding roads can make getting around a bit challenging. We highly recommend hiring a car, as it gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and visit off-the-beaten-path destinations that are not easily accessible by public transport.

If you’re not comfortable with renting a car, Madeira has a decent public transport network with buses connecting major towns and tourist attractions. However, the fixed routes and schedules may limit your itinerary and make it difficult to get to remote areas. 

  1. SAM Buses: Operate mainly in the eastern part of the island, including routes to the airport, Machico, and Santana.
  2. Rodoeste Buses: Cover the western part of Madeira, including routes to Câmara de Lobos, Porto Moniz, and Ponta do Sol.
  3. Horários do Funchal: The main bus company operating within Funchal and its surroundings.

Another option to get around Madeira is with guided tours. Many tour operators offer excursions to popular attractions, hiking trails, and scenic spots. The advantages of this option are having knowledgeable guides and not having to worry about transportation. However, you have less time and opportunity to explore, and you may not be able to visit everywhere on your itinerary. 

Where to Stay in Madeira

Choosing a place to stay in Madeira depends on what experience you are looking for. If you’re after a lively area with plenty of shops, restaurants and things to do, then consider Funchal. As the capital city, Funchal is the most popular and offers a variety of accommodations, from luxury hotels and mid-range airbnb’s to hostels.

However, if you’re seeking a more laid back experience, go for a seaside town like Calheta (where we stayed on our first trip) or Ponta Do Sol. There are plenty of towns and villages located all around the island. Since the locations and attractions in this itinerary are spread across the island, your choice of accommodation won’t significantly affect your ability to reach them.         

We’ve stayed in both Calheta and Funchal, and while both were great options, we preferred Funchal for its convenience to supermarkets and restaurants. Staying in smaller coastal towns often means you’ll be cooking more in your accommodation.

Check out all of the available Madeira accomodation options on Agoda or Hostelworld.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Madeira

Madeira has a mild, subtropical climate, making it great year-round. However, the best time to visit can depend on your preferences for weather, activities, and events.

  • Spring (March to May): Mild temperatures (16°C to 22°C), with the island in full bloom and the Madeira Flower Festival.
  • Summer (June to August): Warm and sunny (20°C to 26°C), ideal for beach and pool activities, but also the busiest and most expensive time.
  • Autumn (September to November): Warm and mild (18°C to 24°C), perfect for swimming and hiking, with fewer crowds.
  • Winter (December to February): Mild temperatures (14°C to 20°C), quieter and not ideal for swimming or hiking, with shorter daylight hours.

Day 1: Explore Funchal 

Wherever you’re flying from, it’s always nice to have a relaxing first day when visiting a new destination, so I suggest exploring the capital city of Funchal on your first day. Funchal, with its rich history, charming streets, and beautiful coastal views, offers a perfect introduction to the island of Madeira.

Monte Palace Madeira

The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a great place to start your day in Funchal, with its diverse range of exotic plants, lush greenery and impressive collection of azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles). The garden also features koi ponds and an intriguing museum with African art and minerals. It’s a tranquil place to spend the morning, before heading into the busier parts of Funchal.  

Funchal Cable Car

One of the best ways to get to Monte Palace is by taking the Funchal Cable Car from the Old Town up to Monte. The cable car ride offers incredible views over Funchal and costs 18 euros for a round-trip.

Funchal Old Town

Funchal Old Town is a must visit when exploring Funchal. This historic area is a maze of narrow, cobbled streets lined with colourful buildings, lively cafes, and unique shops. It’s easy to lose track of time when wandering around these quaint streets! Make sure to check out the Rua de Santa Maria, known for its colourful painted doors.

After exploring the Old Town, treat yourself to a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants. If you’re up for trying authentic Madeiran food, try the traditional dish “bolo do caco” (Madeiran flatbread), we absolutely loved these and got them almost everyday! We also recommend dining at Hamburgueria do Mercado, they serve delicious burgers and fruit milkshakes, and are vegetarian friendly. 

Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint

Finish your day by heading to the Pico dos Barcelos viewpoint. This spot offers a panoramic view of Funchal, the bay, and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and take some photos of the city.

Day 2: Pico Do Arieiro Sunrise and hike to Pico Ruivo 

Sunrise at Pico Do Arieiro 

Here’s where the adventure starts. Get up bright and early for a sunrise at Pico Do Arieiro, the third highest peak in Madeira. At 1,818 metres above sea level, Pico Do Arieiro offers stunning panoramic views that are particularly breathtaking at sunrise, casting a golden glow over the surrounding peaks and valleys. The Pico Do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast visiting Madeira. 

The drive to the peak is an adventure in itself, winding through the mountainous terrain of Madeira. Once at the top, find a good spot and watch the sunrise, it’s a magical experience that’s well worth the early wake-up call.

Hike to Pico Ruivo


11 km (round trip)


6 hours (round trip)


1000 m (approx.)



After watching the sunrise, it’s time to hike to Pico Ruivo. To make the most of your day and avoid the midday heat, start your hike as early as possible. The trail from Pico Do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo is one of the most breathtaking hikes on the island, offering a challenging yet rewarding journey through rugged terrain, tunnels, and unique landscapes.

The trail is well-marked and offers a variety of landscapes, from rocky outcrops and dense forests to open ridges with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Along the way, you’ll encounter several lookout points perfect for rest stops and photo opportunities. 

Return or Pickup

After enjoying the summit, you have two options: hike back to Pico Do Arieiro or arrange for a pickup at Achada do Teixeira, a shorter route back down from Pico Ruivo. If you choose to hike back, be prepared for a similarly challenging return journey. Alternatively, the hike down to Achada do Teixeira is a less strenuous route of about 3.5km.

Day 3: Seixal Beach & Natural Pools + Ribeira da Janela

Day 3 of this Madeira itinerary takes you to the island’s stunning north coast, where you’ll explore the beautiful Seixal Beach and its natural pools, followed by a visit to the dramatic landscapes of Ribeira da Janela.

Seixal Beach

Start your day at Seixal Beach, one of Madeira’s most picturesque black sand beaches. The calm waters and soft black sand make it an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing. With a background of dramatic mountains and greenery, it’s also the perfect spot for photography. The unique black sand, formed from volcanic activity, adds a striking contrast to the vibrant blue of the ocean.

Natural Pools of Seixal

Just a short walk from the beach, you’ll find the natural pools of Seixal. These volcanic rock pools are filled with crystal-clear seawater, perfect for a relaxing swim that allows you to see the rocky bottom and marine life. 

Ribeira da Janela

In the afternoon, make your way to Ribeira da Janela, a dramatic coastal area known for its unique rock formations rising from the sea just offshore. These jagged rocks create a dramatic and photogenic scene, so make sure to bring a camera! There’s also walking trails in the area that wind along the coastline and through the lush valleys, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and the rugged cliffs. 

Day 4: Rabaçal Waterfalls and Fanal Forest

Day 4 of this Madeira adventure itinerary is all about exploring the island’s lush forests and stunning waterfalls located on the west side of the island. You’ll visit the enchanting Fanal Forest and the Rabacal area, known for its many waterfalls and scenic hikes.

Fanal Forest

Start the day with a visit to the mystical Fanal Forest, located in the Laurisilva forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Fanal Forest is famous for its ancient, twisted laurel trees often shrouded in mist, creating an ethereal and otherworldly atmosphere. However, it’s worth noting that it can be tricky to catch the forest in the mist, and you might have to visit a few times before seeing it.

Rabaçal Area

Next, head to the Rabaçal area, a region renowned for its lush greenery, dramatic landscapes, and stunning waterfalls. There are a number of walks you can do here, but we recommend these: 

Risco Waterfall and 25 Fontes (25 Springs) 

Risco Waterfall and 25 Fontes are two of the most popular walks in this area, and for good reason. Surrounded by lush forests, levadas and cascading waterfalls, these trails immerse you in Madiera’s serene landscape.

The trail to Risco Waterfall and 25 Fontes begin at the same place, and after roughly 2km the trail splits into two, with one section leading to Risco Waterfall and one carrying onto 25 Fontes. The trail to Risco is relatively easy, allowing you to enjoy the lush surroundings and the soothing sound of the waterfall.

From Risco Waterfall, continue your hike to the 25 Fontes (25 Springs), a slightly more challenging trail that rewards you with a series of small waterfalls and natural springs. This hike takes about 3-4 hours round trip and involves some steep and narrow sections.

Lagoa do Vento

Another beautiful trail to explore in this area is Lagoa do Vento, which leads you to another tranquil waterfall that feeds into Risco Waterfall. The trail to Lagoa do Vento is approximately 2.7km round trip and takes about 2-3 hours. This trail takes you above the previous walks, so you get some beautiful views of the surrounding valleys, and into the unique laurel forest. 

Day 5: Levada do Caldeirão Verde + Santana + Miradouro do Guindaste

Day 5 is dedicated to exploring the east side of Madeira Island, with a scenic hike along the Levada do Caldeirão Verde in the morning. In the afternoon, explore the picturesque village of Santana and end the day with a visit to the stunning Miradouro do Guindaste.

Levada do Caldeirão Verde


13 km (round trip)


4 hours


110 m



Begin your day bright and early with the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike, one of Madeira’s most scenic levada trails. We recommend starting the hike in the morning as it allows you to enjoy the serene landscape without the crowds and heat of the midday sun. 

The trail takes you through the UNESCO-listed Laurisilva forest, with its dense vegetation, moss-covered trees, and vibrant flora. You’ll see several waterfalls and pass through dark, narrow tunnels carved into the rock, so make sure to bring a torch.

The trail ends at the serene Caldeirão Verde lagoon, and is the perfect spot to have a picnic and enjoy the serene landscape.


After your morning hike, head to the charming village of Santana. Santana is famous for its traditional thatched-roof houses, known as the ‘Houses of Santana’. These colourful, A-frame houses are a symbol of Madeira and provide a glimpse into the island’s past, many of which are now museums or shops selling local products and crafts. The vibrant colours and unique architecture also make for great photo opportunities!

Miradouro do Guindaste

The last stop of the day is Miradouro do Guindaste, a stunning viewpoint offering panoramic views of the north coast of Madeira. It’s an ideal spot for photography, with views of the rugged coastline, towering cliffs and vast Atlantic Ocean.

Day 6: Ponta de São Lourenço

The next stop on this Madeira itinerary is dedicated to exploring Ponta de São Lourenço, the easternmost point of the island. Known for its dramatic landscapes and rugged coastline, this area offers some of the most breathtaking views in Madeira.

Ponta de São Lourenço Hike


8 km (round trip)


3 hours


448 m



Start your day with a hike along the Ponta de São Lourenço península. The hike is known for its unique volcanic landscape, striking rock formations, and panoramic ocean views. Again, we recommend starting this hike early, as the trail gets very busy and there is no shade from the midday sun. 

The trail takes you through a rocky landscape with little vegetation, which is quite the contrast to the lush greenery found everywhere else on the island. Throughout the hike, you’ll have beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean on both sides of the peninsula. On clear days, you can see the nearby Desertas Islands and even Porto Santo in the distance.


If you have time and energy, take a detour to Prainha, a small black sand beach located near the beginning of the trail. It’s a great spot for a refreshing swim and a bit of relaxation before or after your hike, and when the tide is out you can swim in rock pools.

Afternoon Exploration in the area

On your way out, stop off at the Ponta do Rosto Viewpoint, located north of Ponta de São Lourenço. This viewpoint offers more incredible views of the coastline and the peninsula you just hiked. Caniçal is the closest village, and has several restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy fresh seafood and traditional Madeiran dishes.

Day 7: Ponta Do Sol / West Coast 

The final day of your Madeira road trip is dedicated to exploring Madeira’s west coast. Explore the charming town of Ponta do Sol, stop at the many different viewpoints, and discover coastal villages. The day will be filled with scenic drives, beautiful waterfalls, and a perfect sunset to end your trip.

Cascata dos Anjos

Cascata dos Anjos is one of Madeira’s most unique waterfalls. It’s famous for its location over a coastal road, allowing you to drive through the waterfall as it cascades over the cliff and onto the road below. It’s a great spot for photos, and has incredible views looking out over the ocean. 


Stop off in the town of Calheta, where you’ll find the sandy Calheta Beach, plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants; and a contemporary art museum called “Casa das Mudas”. 

Explore the Miradouros (Viewpoints)

Continue along Madeira’s scenic west coast and stop at some of the Miradouros (viewpoints) to enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and the dramatic cliffs. Miradouro da Garganta Funda and Miradouro do Fio are two excellent spots to take in the scenery.

Coastal Villages

Visit the coastal villages of Paul do Mar and Jardim do Mar. These small fishing villages are known for their stunning coastal views, charming streets, and excellent seafood restaurants. They are perfect for a stroll along the coast and a lunch break.

Sunset in Ponta do Sol

Ponta do Sol is a picturesque town known for its sunny weather and charming atmosphere. This town is one of the oldest in Madeira and offers a glimpse into traditional island life. Wander through the narrow streets lined with colourful buildings, visit the 15th-century Church of Nossa Senhora da Luz, and take in the views from the town’s small harbour.

We highly recommend watching the sunset from the pier or promenade, as you can see it set behind the ocean which creates some mesmerising colours.

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