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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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