If you’re looking for a vacation with breathtaking scenery and cute little villages, Madeira is the place for you!

If you’ve only got a week, don’t panic – that’s more than enough time to enjoy the “Pearl of the Atlantic”.  We surveyed the island over 5 days, so it’s best to plan over 7.

Practical infos

☀️ The weather changes quite quickly and is not the same from one corner of the island to the next, so “adaptation” will be the watchword of your stay 😀 If you’re looking for sun during your stay, plan your own itinerary by day or half-day in different parts of the island, so you can mix and match according to conditions.

🚗 I recommend renting a car for several reasons: to visit places off the beaten track, to stop off at Miradouro (viewpoints), to watch the sunrise and sunset. I chose “AP Rent a Car“, which I highly recommend. It’s a small, very serious local agency.

🛏️ We opted for a B&B in Calheta, which is called “les terrasses suites“. We choose this location to avoid the crowd in Funchal and be close to the beach.

Before we start, you’ll find a summary of this itinerary here, which you can download onto your phone and take with you wherever you go.

Day 1 : Ponta do Sol – Fanal forest – Ribeira da Janela – Porto Moniz – Achada da Cruz

First stop Ponta do Sol, a typical village with a pebble beach. Laze or stroll, lunch, ice-cream break, it’s up to you. On the way to the next village, enjoy the Cascada dos Anjos, a waterfall that falls over the road.

Fanal forest : clearly one of the most emblematic places on the island. A forest where the fog creeps in between the famous century-old laurel trees. Mysterious atmosphere guaranteed!

Ribeira da Janela : you can reach this pebble beach either from the parking lot opposite the hydroelectric power station, or from the tunnel that runs through the mountain (much nicer). Its rock is truly singular, changing shape according to the viewpoint.

Porto Moniz : at the north-western tip of the island, Porto Moniz attracts visitors with its natural pools carved out of volcanic rock. The cuisine here is renowned.

Achada da cruz cable car : it’s off the beaten tourist track, so make the most of it! The cable car is not just for tourists. It’s mainly used to grow crops and give locals access to their land and farms/weekend houses near the beach. The cable car ride is well worth it, and the views are postcard-perfect.Tips: make sure you use the toilets and buy refreshments in the small snack bar near the departure platform, there are no facilities down below. 3 euros round trip / take a good hour to enjoy the place.

Day 2 : Sao Vicente – Véu da Noiva – Seixal – Calheta

Sao Vicente : In the hollow of a magnificent valley, don’t miss the village of São Vicente, with its traditional white houses with tiled roofs. You’ll find the Capelinha Nossa Sra. Fatima UNESCO World Heritage Site, this small chapel in the heart of Floresta Laurissilva is full of charm.

Miradouro Véu da Noiva : This Mirador offers a spectacular view of a wild waterfall plunging into the ocean. You can also see the old road that used to run along the cliff. Unfortunately, it is now closed.

Seixal : This small village is home to one of Madeira’s most beautiful beaches. If you like surfing, this is the place to be! We opted for the natural pools.

Calheta : Where we stayed, you can also enjoy Calheta beach and an ice cream at manufactura di gelato. To be honest, they were so good that it became our ritual at the end of the day 😀

Day 3 : Bica da cana – Ponta de Sao Lourenco

Bica da Cana : If you’re lucky with the weather and don’t mind getting up early, this miradouro is the perfect place to catch a sunrise. You’ll have to walk 15 minutes to get there, and the path is fairly easy. For my part, all I got was fog…

Ponta de Sao Lourenco : This is a must-see on any trip to Madeira. Located in the east of the island, this rocky headland offers a desert landscape of steep cliffs, with red and ochre hues. Departure is from the parking lot at Baia d’Abra, with the path directly visible from the parking lot. Allow a good 3 hours for 7km! Tips : Bring plenty of water and a windbreaker, as the hiking trail is not at all shaded.

Ponta do Rosto : Get back in the car and drive to Ponta do Rosto. From here, you can see both the north and south coasts of Madeira Island.

Miradouro do Guindaste : this viewpoint overlooks the spectacular east coast. This is undoubtedly one of the best sunrise vantage points.

Santana : this is where you’ll see the colorful thatched cottages with their pointed roofs! Some are tired, others have flowers or have been transformed into garden sheds, but in the end there are only two or three typical houses.

Day 4 : Funchal – Cabo Girao

I recommend you start with the Lavradores market. It’s a place to discover for its atmosphere and all its colors. You can buy fish, spices and fruit. Beware, however, that prices are a little higher, and if a vendor offers you a piece of fruit to try, you’ll have to buy it afterwards 😀

Leaving the market, take the Santa Maria pedestrian street, which runs through the Old Town. Here you’ll find a whole host of doors painted by Funchal artists – we loved it!

You can’t leave Funchal without visiting the Jardim Tropical (€10 entrance fee), a Japanese-inspired garden. To get there, you can take the cable car straight up to Monte (€16 return).

Back in the city, you can stroll through the cathedral district. Here you’ll find stores and typical black-and-white cobblestone streets.

Cabo Girao : This is one of the island’s most attractive spots, renowned for its impressive panorama. Situated on one of Europe’s highest cliffs (580 meters high), this lookout above the void fascinates with its glass floor.

View from Pico do Ariero
Day 5 : Hiking to Pico do Ariero

The best for last 🙂 On this day, we woke up at dawn to watch the sunrise from the Pico de Ariero (1796m) and we weren’t disappointed. If you want to do this hike, it will take you 7 hours to cover almost 10km.  The hike is very well laid out, as it’s one of the most touristy on the island.

Tips : It’s possible to park the car at Pico Arieiro, so you can watch the sunrise or sunset without too much effort. If you’re doing the hike, bring a headlamp, picnic and water.

What we didn’t have time to do and what I recommend:

  • The Caldeirao Verde and Inferno hikes
  • The 25 Fontes hike in Rabaçal
  • Miradouro Eira do Serrado: an impressive view of the mountains, and of this isolated village nestled between towering cliffs.

Now you have everything that you need to enjoy your travel in Madeira!

Happy travel! J&T