The best of Madeira

Madeira miradouro

Our recommendation for discovering the best of Madeira in a few days is to stay in Funchal (the capital) for the first part of your vacation and then move to the northwestern part of the island for the following days.


On the first day, get acquainted with the surroundings by strolling through the streets of the city center around the Cathedral and visit the Mercado dos Lavradores to admire the stalls filled with tropical fruits.

From Funchal, head straight to explore the eastern part of Madeira, where the spectacular ocean views will not disappoint.

Make your way to Ponta de Sao Lorenzo, at the eastern tip of the island.

The panoramic view is stunning right from the parking area, but it’s worth venturing along an easy trail to experience the full power of nature.

The winds whip fiercely through the area, which appears barren, allowing only low vegetation.

You are in a natural reserve, with sheer cliffs overlooking bays with crystal-clear water and endless views of the islands in front and Porto Santo.

Madeira miradouro

Resume the car journey and head towards Miradouro do Guindaste, a scenic viewpoint overlooking the sea, with a glass floor.

On the way back to Funchal, stop to watch the sunset from an absolutely spectacular spot: Ponta do Garajau.

You’ll find a long staircase leading down to the ocean.

Certainly one of the most picturesque staircases in the world.


For dinner, choose the Funchal old town, around Rua de Santa Maria, arriving a bit earlier for a pleasant stroll.

The street is the heart of the Art Open Doors project, where over 100 artists have contributed to urban regeneration by painting the doors with street art.

Rua de Santa Maria is now bustling and lively again, with its painted doors and many restaurants.

Be sure to book well in advance at Taberna Ruel, the go-to restaurant to taste Madeira’s typical dish: swordfish fillet with banana. Surprisingly delicious.



You might want to dedicate the second day to the most famous trek in Madeira, from Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak on the island.

It’s a challenging yet spectacular route, so it’s best to start very early, in time to see the sunrise.

In the early morning, it’s often possible to see clouds all around the mountain, creating a very captivating effect.


Madeira trekking


Alternatively, enjoy a day sailing or catamaran trip, discovering Madeira’s clearest waters and engaging in snorkeling or whale and dolphin watching.

Or, if you’re a wine enthusiast, spend a day exploring the cellars and vineyards of Câmara de Lobo, meeting the producers and tasting local wines.


For the evening, opt for a restaurant with a historically charming setting: an old salt warehouse, hence the name of the restaurant, Armazém do Sal.

The location is romantic and cozy, and the cuisine is refined.


Il meglio di Madeira -Armazem do sal



On the following day, indulge in fun and relaxation.

Start the day with a typical Madeiran activity: the toboggan ride!

Reach the starting point via cable car and get ready for a truly unique descent through the streets of Funchal.

What was once a genuine means of transportation for the residents living in Madeira’s upper district is now reenacted as a fun activity for tourists.


Then, return to the center of Funchal and take a stroll in the Jardim Municipal or the Parque del Santa Caterina, two peaceful oases with lush vegetation.

For this last afternoon in Funchal, unwind at the Laurea Spa, inside the Savoy Palace.

It’s an ultra-luxurious spa, the largest in Portugal, ranked among the top 10 spas in the world at the Wellness Travel Awards 2021.

Inspired by Madeira’s laurel forest, both in colors and scents, it will leave you feeling rejuvenated by the forest’s strength.

Book a relaxing massage, immerse yourself in the thermal area, and finally, enjoy champagne while getting a manicure at the Champagne and Nails Bar.


Funchal Savoy spa


After an afternoon at the Savoy Palace hotel spa, continue your evening at another luxury haven, the Desarma restaurant, located on the rooftop of The Views Baìa hotel.

Here, the culinary experience reaches its peak, with a menu that delights the palate.

It’s a true sensory battle, as described by Chef Octavio Freitas, who focuses on bold flavors, ranging from bitter to explosive.



Now that you’ve seen (and tasted) the best of Funchal, you’re ready to move to the northwestern area of Madeira.

Once you reach the northern coast of the island, the road becomes scenic, with postcard-worthy views.

Take a dip at the black sand beach of Seixal and continue on to Porto Moniz.

Here, the natural pools are, in our opinion, the most captivating, and you’ll find it hard to resist the temptation.


Madeira piscine naturali


Stay in this area for one night to enjoy the sun and baths in the natural pools.

On the last day, as you return to the airport, you’ll cross the island with its mountains, providing the opportunity to discover Posto Florestal do Fanal.

In this centuries-old laurel forest, which has a mystical charm with its mist, some scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed.

Now that you’ve discovered the best of Madeira, if you have one or more days left, take advantage of a vacation on the nearby island of Porto Santo, or make a stopover in the poetic Lisbon.


| Image credits: Laurea Spa – Savoy Palace hotel Funchal |

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