Madeira Travel Guide

Madeira is a Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco. The island is the top quarter of an entire volcanic system and is formed by lava and rocks. Its cliffs rise from the ocean from a depth of 4000 meters.

Repeatedly voted Europe’s top island destination, Madeira is a diverse place when it comes to a vacation. Black sand beaches, the Atlantic, towering rock walls with gushing streams and irrigation channels make this an outdoor haven. But it’s also a place of gentler pleasures such as wine tasting, visiting lush botanical gardens and watching embroiderers and wicker weavers at work. Hiking the levada irrigation channels is the top activity, with tens of thousands pulling on hiking boots to discover Madeira’s secret interior. Waterfalls are spread all over the island. Some can be spotted near the road, others can only be reached by hiking. If you like chasing waterfalls, Madeira is the place to be!

Madeira Weather (When to Visit)

Madeira has a very mild climate all year round with an average day temperature of 66°F in January and 79°F in August. The wettest months are February and December, the driest July and August. During the last week of May you will see all kinds of flowers. All mountains will be covered with yellow broom flowers, which create a nice contrast with the blue sky. If you want to attend the flower festival, you should go at the beginning of May (but it is more crowded).

Best Madeira Beaches

Praia Formosa, Madeira Portugal, best Madeira beaches, things to do in Madeira, Madeira tours & Activities, best Madeira hotels, best Madeira restaurants, best Madeira bars
Praia Formosa

Located west of Funchal, Praia Formosa is the largest public beach in the area. This beach is connected to the Lido Promenade and the Promenade that connects to  Câmara de Lobos. At this complex you will find parking, showers, toilets, first aid post, a children’s playground, a sports center, a football pitch, restaurants and bars.

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Camara de Lobos, Madeira Portugal, best Madeira beaches, things to do in Madeira, Madeira tours & Activities, best Madeira hotels, best Madeira restaurants, best Madeira bars
Camara de Lobos

Madeira’s most photogenic beach was put on the map when Winston Churchill set up on his easel here in 1949. After 50 years later the scenery has not changed: colorful boats are still lined up on the cobbles of the little beach for cleaning and repairing, same scene that Churchill painted. 

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Ponta Do Sol, Madeira Portugal, best Madeira beaches, things to do in Madeira, Madeira tours & Activities, best Madeira hotels, best Madeira restaurants, best Madeira bars
Ponta Do Sol

Hidden away in a small cove, Ponta do Sol beach is just 160 meters long, which offers spectacular water temperatures for swimming.  Facilities that be found at the beach include changing room, toilets, snack bar and a games area. Parking is available close to the beach. 

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Jardim Do Mar, Madeira Portugal, best Madeira beaches, things to do in Madeira, Madeira tours & Activities, best Madeira hotels, best Madeira restaurants, best Madeira bars
Jardim Do Mar

In October, the narrow strip of west-facing rocky beach connecting Jardim to Mar and Paul do Mar is the point from the which surfers gain access to the waves. If you are looking for a calm and relaxed day at the beach, then this is the perfect option. 

Doca Do Cavacas, Madeira Portugal, best Madeira beaches, things to do in Madeira, Madeira tours & Activities, best Madeira hotels, best Madeira restaurants, best Madeira bars
Doca Do Cavacas

This beach has a natural volcanic swimming pool, which offers direct access to the sea, where you can enjoy spectacular views to Cabo Girão.  This small beach is located just between Lido and Formosa beach, and it is accessible by a connecting tunnel from Praia Formosa. Facilities in Doca do Cavacas beach include showers, changing rooms, restaurants and bars. Entrance fee applies.

Recommended Madeira Tours & Activities by Viator

Viator.com – Tours, sightseeing tours, activities & things to do

Madeira Dolphin and Whale Watching on a Luxurious Catamaran

Bask in the sun and sea of Cabo Girão, one of the world’s tallest ocean-side cliffs, on this romantic catamaran excursion departing from the Funchal Marina. After boarding, find a nice spot on the deck for spotting whales and dolphins, and then strap on your complimentary goggles and mask while you look for sea life beneath the surface. Learn more about the Madeira Dolphin & Whale Watching Catamaran Tour.

Funchal Hop-On Hop-Off Tour 3 in 1

A hop-on hop-off bus tour is the ideal way to combine the flexibility of independent sightseeing with the convenience of a guided tour. With a choice of 48 hours or a 5-day ticket, this great-value deal offers full access to three routes—the highlights of Funchal, the village of Câmara de Lobos, and the Skywalk of Cabo Girão. Learn more about the Funchal Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.

Skywalk & Porto Moniz Volcanic Lava Pools in Open Roof 4×4 Full Day Tour

Uncover the natural splendor surrounding Funchal on this full-day northern wonders Jeep trip. Stay from Funchal’s well-trodden paths in a fully-equipped Jeep to see the awe-inspiring plateaus at Paul da Serra. Admire the natural Porto Moniz pools, formed by volcanic activity long ago, as well as the renowned São Vicente vineyards and Cabo Girao. Learn more about the Skywalk & Porto Moniz Volcanic Lava Pools Tour.

Canyoning in Madeira Island

Head deep into the canyons of Madeira on this canyoning adventure. Discover the beautiful geologic and natural characteristics of the island, one of the best canyoning areas in the world, at the Ecological Park of Funchal. Receive a thorough safety briefing before strapping into the provided gear and dive into this 15-meter canyon, perfect for all ages and beginner skill levels. Learn more about Canyoning in Madeira Island.

Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour in Madeira

The south coast of Madeira is a popular spot to watch whales and dolphins in their natural environment. This small-group yacht cruise offers a more personalized experience, with a chance to customize the tour to your group’s preferences, stopping to swim or snorkel along the coast, and looking out for bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, and Bryde’s whales. Learn more about the Whale & Dolphin Watching Tour.

Best Madeira Restaurants

O Tascal $11 – 30

For the best local cuisine, come to O Tasco, a laid-back restaurant that specializes in Madeiran food. As there is no set menu, you’ll have your pick of the dishes of the day, which are mostly fish. Since the sea is nearby, you can count on exceptionally fresh fish. Enjoy the tapas-style appetizers before digging into your main dish. Telephone: 351 291 623 374 Web: O Tasco

Restaurant Med $31 – 60

Visiting the Med will first take you into the beautiful world of the Porto Mare hotel and then into the calm island lifestyle of the Mediterranean. The food there has touches of Greek, Moroccan, and Italian cuisine and it is all expertly prepared in a gorgeous environment. They are well known for the presentation of their food and the excellent staff who serve it. Their fish dishes are certainly a highlight, but their steak is also seasoned and cooked perfectly. Telephone: 351 291 703 700 Web: Restaurant Med

O Portao $11 – 30

Despite its location in the old town, O Portao has still managed to remain a hidden gem. Another informal restaurant, O Portao specializes in local cuisine. It manages to keep the prices extremely low and the value extremely high. You can sit inside or enjoy their outdoor dining while people-watching and basking in the seaside breeze. Telephone: 351 284 739 591 Web: O Portao

Restaurante Real Canoa $11 – 30

Restaurante Real Canoa is the sort of place you’ll want to keep returning to after you’ve been once, as evidenced by the many regulars who do just that. This place is well known for their steaks, which are cooked in the local style and always end up at exactly the temperature you requested. The staff takes their reputation as a restaurant with regulars seriously. Telephone: 351 291 762 396 Web: Restaurante Real Canoa

La Vaca Negra $11 – 30

If meat is what you’re in the mood for, La Vaca Negra is another great place to go. They specialize in Argentinean steaks, which they even let you choose yourself if you want to. They then add seasonings and sides that really complement the flavor of the meat, so come prepared to eat a lot. Don’t expect fine dining. Instead, expect friendly informality and owners who really endeavor to create a personal connection with the people they serve. Telephone: 351 291 764 491 Web: La Vaca Negra

Best Madeira Bars

Barreirinha Bar Café

Open from morning to night, Barreirinha Bar Café offers tasty brunch in its terrace, cocktails at sunset and cheerful nights with the presence of invited DJs. Telephone: 351 291 627 418 Web: Barreirinha Bar Cafe

Banana’s Pub

Famous in the Madeiran night, this pub located in Funchal’s Old Town invites you to a light meal of traditional snacks and a toast with Nikitas, Ponchas and other cocktails. Live music every night, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Telephone: 351 291 794 354 Web: Banana’s Pub

Scat Funchal Music Club

Scat excels in mixing flavors and sounds. The creative gastronomy, based on regional products, combines with live music and jam sessions. Telephone: 351 291 775 927 Web: Scat Funchal Music Club

Living Room

Bar, lounge and art gallery, all comes together in the most intimate living room in Funchal to pay homage to music and visual arts. If chance arises try the passion fruit mojito. Telephone: 351 965 366 207 Web: Living Room

Mini Eco Bar

At this modern bar, the environment is cosmopolitan and music is the guideline. Ecology concerns are reflected in almost all aspects of the place. Telephone: 351 919 409 002 Web: Mini Eco Bar

Best Madeira Hotels

12 Comments

  1. Jordan

    Considering the fact that I always look for new beach locations, I thank you for the Madeira travel guide. The flowering season in May seems to be a very beautiful time to visit Madeira, the combination of blooming nature and the beaches seems to be perfect. 

    In addition, the variety of beaches and the cost effective restaurants makes it a very affordable destination that I will surely consider for spring break this year!

    Thank you for the lovely guide!

    Jordan.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome.  I am glad you enjoyed Jordan.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  2. Jos Moreno

    Wow, I am really impressed you have lay out a complete holiday Guide of Madeira one of the Natural Wonders in this world. it is such an amazing place to visit and live.

    Madeira is not far away from my Island in contrast my island was not blessed with such a green scenery it only rains 1/2 in the year.

    Your website has given a complete detailed information for any visitor that want to experience an amazing holiday in this island, just incredible. Do you live in Madeira? Also people are incredible friendly and humble – I will share with people thatv are interested in going to this incredible places including myself.

    To your success,

    Jos   

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I sure wish I lived in Madeira!  It is a beautiful vacation destination, especially for those who love the beach.  Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  3. shariful islam

    As a traveler I would like to say that a nice travel guide.  You did a great job providing all the information to plan a wonderful vacation to Madeira.  .I’ve never been but have wanted to vacation here.  I have heard a lot about Madeira, but seeing what I saw in your travel guides, my desire to go has grown a lot.  Will save this post one more time for future reference.

    Thanks for guideline

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome.  I am glad you enjoyed.  Thanks for visiting beach travel destinations.

      Reply
  4. primoz pticak

    Hi! That is an article that tells you everything you need when you are a tourist – you don’t need nothing more,everything is described here. Doca de Cavanas volcano swimming pool seems beautiful and promising – it would definetly be my toutist attraction to visit – I love to jump and dive in water,I bet I would enjoy it to the max!

    Cheers,

    Primoz P.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great!  I love to jump into refreshing water as well.  You can definitely enjoy this at Doca de Cavanas.  Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  5. Feji ben

    As a traveler I must say your awesome to be able to put out a comprehensive travel guide like this shows that you are awesomei have heard alot about Madeira, although I have been there once but I didn’t really view the place mush because I was There on business…..and I planned going back but I forgot but after reading your article I think I would go back for a vacation as this is one of the best places to visit.thanks once more I would save this Post for future reference

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great 🙂  I am glad you enjoyed and appreciate your visit to beach travel destinations and taking the time to leave me comments. 

      Reply
  6. Tucker

    I love this travel guide on Madeira! The beach that attracts me most is Jardin Do Mar because I’d be interested in surfing while I’m there. I’m a pretty intermediate surfer though. Do you know how big the waves get in that area? And what are the best seasons to avoid the majority of tourists but still get some nice weather? 

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Madeira is exposed to the NW Swells that power across the Atlantic from October to April each year, and although November to February guarantees the best conditions there will be surf all year round. Swells can rise and fall quickly so you really need to be paying attention to get the most out of your trip. It is not unusual for the surf to jump 8ft + in a couple of hours. Be wary of the odd surprise set when you are out there.  Hope this answers all your questions 🙂

      Reply

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