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Discover what to do in Madeira: 10 unmissable experiences of natural beauty and adventure

Madeira, together with the Azores, are two archipelagos and autonomous regions of Portugal. If you’re planning your next trip and need tips on what to do in Madeira, this post is for you. Get ready for a trip full of natural beauty, fascinating culture, and memorable experiences.

The Madeira archipelago consists of several islands, including Madeira, Porto Santo, the Desertas Islands, and the Selvagens Islands.

We’ve visited Madeira several times and never get tired of it. We always leave amazed and eager to return, there are always new ideas about what to do in Madeira. The friendliness of the people, the good weather most of the year, and the gastronomy are the main reasons that make us want to come back. With such a diverse list of activities and places to explore, it’s hard to choose just a few, but here are the 10 unmissable things you can’t miss during your stay.

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Mercado dos Lavradores – Funchal

What to do in Madeira? The market of the farmers is an iconic place not to be missed.

Visit the center of Funchal, where you’ll find historical monuments, commerce, and an excellent waterfront to walk to the area of the Mercado dos Lavradores. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Mercado dos Lavradores, where you can explore a variety of local products, from tropical fruits to fresh fish, while soaking up the bustling energy of this historic market. The colors of the fruits there are unique. Then, you can still ride the cable car and descend in basket carts that the entrance to the cable car is nearby.

Drink Poncha

Don’t miss trying the famous Poncha da Madeira, a traditional drink made with sugarcane brandy, honey, lemon juice, orange, or other fruits. You can try it at the Taberna da Poncha in Serra de Água or at Venda do André. Don’t forget to eat the typical seasoned peanuts and lupins. Both places are among our favorites, in Serra de Água take the opportunity to go up a little more on the road and see the breathtaking view.

Curral das Freiras

Explore Curral das Freiras, a picturesque village nestled in the heart of the island, nestled among rugged mountains, where you can enjoy breathtaking views and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.

Try One of the City’s Modern Restaurants

Indulge in an unforgettable meal at one of the city’s modern restaurants, where talented chefs combine fresh, local ingredients to create dishes that are true culinary masterpieces. Try Kampo or Akua by chef Júlio Pereira.

Go for a Levada Walk

Explore the island’s natural beauty by taking a hike along a levada, where you’ll discover stunning landscapes, lush gorges, and refreshing waterfalls. Levada options: Levada do Alecrim, Levada do Rei, Levada das 25 Fontes, and Vereda dos Balcões which has a spectacular view at the end. There are many others you can see here but these are the ones we’ve already tried. 

Eat Lapas and Bolo do Caco with Garlic Butter

What to do in Madeira? Eating lapas is undoubtedly a gastronomic experience not to be missed.

Experience authentic and unique flavors that are always included in the list of what to do in Madeira by trying delicious grilled lapas accompanied by bolo do caco with garlic butter and nails, a combination that will surprise your taste buds at Muralha’s Bar.

Queijadas

Make a stop at Pastelaria O Galã in Machico to savor the famous queijadas, a temptation for sweet lovers that will melt in your mouth. When we land in Funchal, it’s the first thing we do, as it’s close to the airport. Machico is worth a visit for the beach and the scenery you can appreciate there.

Porto Moniz Natural Pools

Cool off at the Porto Moniz natural pools, where you can swim in crystal-clear waters surrounded by volcanic rock formations, a unique and invigorating experience.

Santana Thatched Houses

Another experience on the list of what to do in Madeira is exploring the charming thatched houses in Santana, a traditional village where you can immerse yourself in the island’s culture and history. Here you can admire the unique architecture of these picturesque dwellings.

Ponta de São Lourenço 

Our last tip on what to do in Madeira is Ponta de São Lourenço. Explore the magnificent Ponta de São Lourenço on a panoramic walk through its unique natural beauty, enjoying breathtaking views of the ocean and the coastal landscapes of Madeira Island. Here is one of the places on Madeira Island where we saw the bluest sea in breathtaking views.


Extra Tips

  • Porto Santo Beaches: End your journey with a visit to the stunning Porto Santo Beach, with its golden sands and crystal-clear waters, where you can relax, swim, and enjoy the radiant sun, thus completing your unforgettable experience on the Island of Madeira. Porto Santo is another island in the archipelago that is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes away by boat from Funchal. Alternatively, you can go by plane. When we visited Porto Santo, we organized flights to optimize the trip, starting on Porto Santo Island, then flying/taking the boat to Madeira Island and returning to Portugal.
  • Renting a car is essential for exploring various locations on the island, ensuring flexibility and access to remote locations and total flexibility to handle your list of things to do in Madeira. Check out the car rental options in Madeira here.
  • Try one of Madeira’s most typical dishes, espetada, which is eaten everywhere. Ask the locals for the best places to taste this dish. For us, Restaurante Viola is an excellent choice.
  • When choosing your area to stay, consider using Funchal as a base. It offers greater diversity for evenings and nights, but it all depends on your travel goals. Whenever we visit Madeira Island, we choose to stay at the Casino Park Hotel. Besides its location, the service and the view over Funchal are excellent.

Get the most out of your trip

While visiting Madeira Island, consider enhancing your trip by exploring the various outdoor activities available in the surrounding area. Take advantage of these opportunities by consulting Manawa for a range of options to make the most of your experience.

We’ve selected these for you:


With such a diverse mix of exciting experiences, stunning landscapes, and authentic flavors, Madeira Island promises a truly memorable and enriching journey. Get ready to fall in love with this unique destination and discover all it has to offer!

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