There are so many things to do in Madeira that you simply can’t fit them all into one holiday, so we’ve selected 10 of the must-dos.
Don’t have the time to do all of these on your trip? Guess you’ll just have to book another holiday to this Portuguese paradise.
#1. Go whale and dolphin watching
If you long to spot whales and dolphins, then Madeira is your best chance. In fact, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll spot them as 29 of the 80 species of cetaceans worldwide can be found off the Madeira coast. Make sure to pack sunscreen and a jumper!
When picking your tour company, choose one that abides by conservation standards and prioritises education over entertainment. This means that they’re less likely to come too close to the animals, which could frighten or even harm them.
#2. Visit Funchal
This beautiful capital city has something to suit everyone, from historic and colourful local markets to heart-racing extreme sports to high-quality restaurants. One of the best cultural sites in Funchal is the Rua de Santa Maria, where street artists create some of the most incredible paintings and sculptures in the world.
#3. See the abyss at the Cabo Girão Skywalk
The Cabo Girão Skywalk is the highest cliff skywalk in Europe at 589 meters and, for the truly daring, you can step out onto the glass-floored platform to admire the sea below… very far below.
#4. Explore the island with a hire car
There’s nothing better than exploring the world from behind the wheel and Madeira’s varied scenery would make a great backdrop to your adventure. You could drive along the rugged coastline, zip through the towns, or just quickly make it to each of the stops on this list.
If you’re looking to save money on car rental in Madeira, make sure to compare the different companies and only pay for the services you actually need.
#5. Go paragliding
If you’d prefer to see the scenery in a more adventurous fashion, there are plenty of paragliding sites across the island, allowing you to take to the skies and enjoy the cliffs, valleys, and beaches from a birds-eye-view.
#6. Take a dive in Madeira Aquarium
If heights aren’t your thing, what about swimming with sharks, rays, morays, and hundreds of other fish? It’s a unique experience in a safe and controlled setting, as experienced instructors will teach you how to handle the equipment and to breathe underwater in a natural seawater pool before you dive.
If your friends or family aren’t diving with you, they can watch from the other side of the aquarium glass and take some amazing holiday snaps. Now, you can really step up the social media bragging.
#7. Hike through Laurisilva forest
This UNESCO World Natural Heritage site is the world’s largest laurel forest, filled with lush mountain vegetation and plenty of beautiful animals. If you make it all the way to the top of the mountain, you’ll be treated with a truly awe-inspiring view of the coast.
#8. Go canyoning at the Parque Ecologico do Funchal
Just outside of the capital, this park allows visitors to swim in rivers, abseil down 15-meter cliffs, and jump from waterfalls into natural pools. It’s not for the faint of heart.
#9. Enjoy dinner and a show at the Sabor a Fado
At this small, family-owned restaurant in Funchal, you’ll be treated to typical Madeiran cuisine, with a side helping of traditional Portuguese live music. The Fado, a style of melancholic music that has its roots in 19th Century Portugal, is played here with members of the family taking it in turns to sing for the diners.
#10. Swim in the natural seawater pools in Porto Moniz
Keen swimmers will love these all-natural pools that are framed by volcanic rocks and replenished at high tide. It’s a unique way to keep cool and get your laps in.
Well, that’s it for our top picks for Madeira activities. Let us know if we missed any of your favourite things to do.