CK Travels

32 brilliant things to do in Funchal, Madeira

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A small piece of Portuguese paradise, this was our very first trip to Funchal and the island of Madeira (although it certainly won’t be our last) – lush, tropical mountainscapes, beautiful black sandy beaches and incredible food and drink welcome you at every turn.

From colourful markets to stunning viewpoints, a vibrant old town and charming fishing villages, Madeira should be high on your holiday hit-list (and is budget-friendly too).

Here is our guide to the best things to do in and around Funchal, Madeira:

Disclaimer: our visit to Funchal was a press trip with Jet2 Holidays.


Flying to Funchal, Madeira

We booked our flights to Funchal, Madeira with Jet2, who provide a variety of package holidays from London Stansted Airport as well as many other UK airports.

The flight time to Madeira is 3 hours 50 minutes and Madeira airport is located a short 25 minute drive to Funchal old town. Plus the airport itself is located right on the coast so the island views from the flight as you arrive or depart are sublime.

Where we stayed in Funchal, Madeira

We stayed at the fabulous Enotel Magnolia hotel with Jet2holidays for 7 nights on an all-inclusive package which included flights, transfers, drinks, buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack bar (oh, and incredible sea views!).

Enotel Magnolia hotel in Funchal Madeira
Sea view room

Jet2holidays offer some great options for a couples holidays and we were really happy with our choice of hotel. We had a sea view balcony room on the top floor of the Enotel Magnolia and the views of the ocean and hills in Madeira were just stunning!

The location of the hotel worked well for us – it was just a short walk into the old town, not too far from Funchal Lido, and there were also lots of nice coastal walks within the immediate vicinity.

There are two pools at Enotel Magnolia – one large outdoor pool and one smaller indoor heated pool, plus a spa/sauna offering massages and beauty treatments.

The buffet quality was THE BEST we’ve ever had on an all-inclusive holiday. We ate heaps of delicious freshly grilled beef steak, sardines, salmon, tuna steak and more! Often there were local and Portuguese dishes to try in the restaurant like bolo de caco bread, caldo verde plus a few celebration evenings where we were served local drinks like Madeira wine.

We spent many afternoons relaxing by the swimming pool, drinking cocktails and sometimes returned to the bar at night to watch some of the evening entertainment like local folk-dancing.

We also liked the fact the hotel has tried to remove as much plastic waste as possible meaning you’re issued with your own refillable water bottles at the start of the stay, which you can request to be filled up at the bar or restaurant.

If you are looking for package holidays to Madeira, we highly recommend a stay at Enotel Magnoila in Funchal.

Enotel Magnolia hotel in Funchal Madeira
Our view of the hotel pool and Madeira from our balcony
Enotel Magnolia hotel in Funchal Madeira
Enotel Magnolia hotel pool

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira

1. Explore the old town (Zona Velha)

A tale of two cities – by morning and early afternoon, Funchal Old Town doesn’t appear that spectacular with most bars and cafes closed, and squares eerily quiet – however, by early evening, the old town comes alive, a magical array of seafood restaurants and upmarket bars combined with dive joints and food stuffs from all over the world.

Old town in Funchal Madeira

We explored Zona Velha most nights, always starting with a walk from the pebble beach (often via a stop at Santiago Beach Bar) before strolling past the bright yellow Fort (even more so at sunset). We meandered through the old town, picking bars at random and listened to the various street performers.

Rua de Santa Maria in Funchal Madeira

The square around Capela do Corpo Santo (a 15th century fisherman’s church) was a particular Zona Velha highlight, a hustle and bustle of hungry diners and casual drinkers. And unlike Rua de Santa Maria, the area wasn’t too touty – you are welcome to freely explore menus and decide where you want to go. A perfect way to spend an epicurean evening – enjoy!

Funchal Cathedral
Zona Vieja bars and restaurants, Funchal Madeira
Zona Vieja bars and restaurants, Funchal Madeira

2. Try Madeiran wine at Blandy’s Wine Lodge

No trip to Madeira is complete without tasting Madeira Wine (it is the law! Probably). Perhaps the best known and most renowned producer of Madeira Wine on the whole island is Blandy’s, whose eponymous Wine Lodge is one of the most popular attractions in Funchal.

We visited as part of a food tour but most hop-on, hop-off bus passes also include a free tasting or you can try a couple of their most popular varieties for just a few Euros.

Blandy's Maderian wine in Funchal Madeira

John Blandy first arrived on Madeira from London back in the early 1800s and soon began shipping and then producing his very own formulation of Madeira Wine. In the centre of Funchal, he established Blandy’s Wine Lodge and 200 years later, it still stands today.

Walking through the lodge is like stepping back in time and whilst some of the tasting rooms do have modern elements like air con, the courtyards feel steeped in history (although that might be all the wine we tasted). Note that Blandy’s Wine lodge is free to visit with a wonderful shop but it is closed on Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday.

Blandy's Maderian wine cellar in Funchal Madeira

3. Visit the Mercado dos Lavradores

A colourful and marvellous market in the centre of Funchal, Mercado Dos Lavradores doubles as both a produce and fish market as well as selling the usual tourist tat and souvenirs on the upper floors (although to be fair, it is the cheapest place in the city to buy gifts and take-home presents).

Mercado dos Lavradores in Funchal Madeira

Opened in the 1940s (and as at summer 2022, partially closed for refurbishment), the Mercado Dos Lavradores is worth a visit just alone to see the comings and goings of the fish market (emphasis on the sights AND SMELLS). Here is also a good opportunity to see what the popular fish dish scabbard looks like before it is treated (black scales and long like an eel).

Funchal Madeira Mercado dos Lavradores traditional Madeiran dancing

All of the food produce sellers at Mercado Dos Lavradores wear traditional costume and the downstairs courtyard has several popular cafes overlooking it, all with outdoor seating.

Note that some of the fruit sellers can be quite pushy and we were warned by a couple of guides that they sometimes overprice their fruit when selling to tourists.

Our visit to Mercado Dos Lavradores also coincided with a public holiday so we were treated to several song and dance numbers by a local folk group – it was nice to see tourists and locals alike join in with the clapping and festivities.

Funchal Madeira Mercado dos Lavradores fish market

4. Ride in a traditional Toboggan

Before we visited Madeira and did our research, the most we knew about the island was obviously Madeira Wine, Madeira Cake and the world famous Monte Toboggan Run.

All we can say is that we are SO GLAD we did this and it was definitely one of our Madeira highlights (which is saying a lot given how many wonderful things we did in and around the island).

Madeira Toboggan Ride on Traditional Wicker Basket Sledges in Funchal Madeira

The historic Monte Toboggan Run started in the 19th century when locals used to jump aboard the wicker sledges to get down the hill quickly. Now more of a tourist attraction, the course has been shortened in recent years to around 2km (from 10km) with the journey taking around 10 mins.

It felt completely safe (even when we were quite close to taxis or when a cat ran out in front of us) and so much fun. Also don’t forget to smile at the photographers along the way, incase you want to purchase your printed souvenir photo at the end.

Tip – if you don’t want to walk up the steep hills to Monte (crazy on a hot day) or pay for the cable car, we found doing the half-day Nun’s Valley tour that included the Monte Toboggan run very good value for money. The toboggan alone costs 25 Euros for one person or 30 Euros for two, and our half-day trip with various visits and views only cost us 66 Euros for 2 people. 

Also, the toboggan is closed on Sundays so plan ahead if you only have a few days on the island.

Toboggan in Funchal Madeira

5. View the painted doors along Rua de Santa Maria

Rua de Santa Maria is located inZona Velha and is one of theoldest and most colourful streets in Funchal’s old town!

This narrow street is home to 2010’s ‘Painted Doors Project’ which transformed a rundown area into a permanent outdoor art gallery. Around 200 doors of the houses, shops, galleries and restaurants alongRua de Santa Maria have been decorated by local artists and the street is now one of Funchal’s most popular attractions!

Funchal Madeira Rua Santa Maria painted doors street art
Painted doors, Rua de Santa Maria in Funchal Madeira

6. Swim at the Funchal Lido Complex and walk the Lido Promenade

Soak up the sun and enjoy the splash of sea waves at the two seawater pools at Funchal lido complex – with a bigger pool for adults and an additional one for children complete with slides, this is a fun family attraction with incredible views.

Lido in Funchal Madeira

Even if you don’t fancy a swim, the area is still worth a visit, particularly for the Funchal Lido Promenade walk where you watch all the fun of the lido without getting wet plus see stunning views of the famed Formosa Beach. There are numerous bars and restaurants along the Lido Promenade walk meaning you can treat yourself along the way. 

7. Ride the Madeira cable car

Billed as a journey ‘…between heaven and earth..’ (hmmmm), the Madeira Cable Car swoops and soars between the beachfront in Funchal and the pretty Monte Palace Gardens high up on the hillside.

We travelled in a full cable car (up to 6 people per car) and most of the other occupants particularly liked snooping into people’s back gardens and also commenting how hazardous it must be to maintain gardens given the sheer drop (yes, it was all Brits).

Funchal Madeira Cable Car

Lasting around 15 minutes, Funchal’s cable car adventure is one of the longest we can recall and currently costs 18 Euros return for adults as at July 22. Combination packages including doing the Monte Toboggan at the top are also available.

Note that as at summer 2022, face masks are still mandatory on board the cable car (although the photographer gets you to pull them down when you smile for a photo so go figure).

8. Monte Palace Madeira

If you are using the Funchal cable car from the old town to Monte, chances are the first thing you’ll spot at the top is the entrance to Monte Palace’s gardens. 

Monte Palace Madeira gardens in Funchal Madeira

Located high up on the hillside and based over several levels with exotic species of plants, flora and fauna, this botanical garden boasts over 100,00 species as well as stunning views and a lake that is home to swans, ducks and koi carp.

The Monte Palace garden has a manor house / museum that had a big mineral collection, sculptures and an ‘African Passion’  exhibition. Open daily (except Christmas Day), prices are 12.50 Euros admission (as of July 2022) and there is also a coffee shop.

9. Madeira Botanical Garden

One of two botanical gardens on the hills in Funchal and not to be confused with Monte Palace Gardens (it has been done), Madeira Botanical Garden on the Bom Sucesso Estate boasts over 2,000 blooming marvellous examples of plant species and trees from all over the world, that thrive in this tropical island climate.

Madeira Botanical Garden is obviously best to visit in the summer months when the flowers burst into life with a cavalcade of colour (so pretty it practically features on every postcard or tea towel you’ll see on sale in Funchal).

Other than the the truly spectacular setting and views of the bay, one of Madeira Botanical Garden’s main highlights is Loiro Park, a colourful kaleidoscope of exotic birds and rare species. 

10. Monte Church of Our Lady on the Mount / Nossa Senhora do Monte

Before we jumped aboard the toboggan at Monte, the sledge starting point is directly below this beautiful church (so a perfect place for some quiet contemplation or to pray before you jump aboard!).

Monte Church Sanctuary Funchal

Walk up the steep steps to see stunning coastal views of Funchal and Madeira island. Originally built in the 18th century (and rebuilt after a subsequent earthquake) and an important pilgrimage site, Monte Church is free to visit and contains several noticeable features inside including gold artifacts and several chandeliers.

Monte Church Sanctuary view Funchal

11. Stroll along Funchal Marina

Madeira’s millionaire playground, Funchal Marina is home to over 200 yachts and generally expensive looking ships. It makes a nice place for an evening walk, especially when coupled with a trip one of the several bars, cafes and seafood restaurants overlooking the marina (you can pretend to own one if you like).

Funchal Madeira outdoor bar

12. Funchal Pirate Ship / Santa Maria de Colombo

Whilst in Funchal Marina, also keep an eye out for the large, wooden ‘pirate’ ship docked here which you’ll often see out in the bay on day trips – this is the Santa Maria de Colombo, built in 1998 and a replica of the Columbus’ flagship (not to be confused with this Columbo!).

Prices start from $35 Euros per adult for a three-hour sailing trip (although we can’t guarantee you won’t have to walk the plank). Book a Madeira pirate ship 3-hour boat trip on Get Your Guide >

Funchal Madeira Santa Maria de Colombo ship

13. Go on a Funchal food and drink tour

Whenever we visit a new destination, one of the first things we do is book onto a food and drink tour to try the local cuisine, and to also suss out the best spots in town to eat at!

We chose a food and walking tour which we found on Get Your Guide, that lasted 3 hours and stopped at 9 different venues for food and drink tastings. Our guide Rachel was super knowledgeable and explained a lot about the the island’s culture and history, whilst taking us to many popular spots, as well as some hidden, off-the-beaten track restaurants.

We thought the tour was great fun – we had such a laugh and the time totally flew by (our bellies were also so full of good food by the end).

However we think the price is a little on the expensive side for a Madeira tour (58 euros per person), but if you are a passionate foodie or a bit unsure of where to start with Madeiran cuisine then this is the perfect activity for you!

14. Try Bolo de Caco (Madeiran flatbread)

When in Funchal you must try Bolo do Caco! This traditionalMadeiran dish is a circular flatbread made with wheat flour which is shaped like a cake (bolo is the Portuguese word for cake), and is cooked onahot basalt stone (called a caco).

The bread is typically eaten warm and usually drenched in delicious homemade garlic butter. It can be eaten on it’s own as an appetiser, as anaccompaniment to seafood and steak dinners, or as a sandwich with fillings such assteak, ham and cheese (called a Madeira style prego).

You will find bolo do caco in most restaurants on Madeira and at many street food stands. The street food stands in town usually servebolo do caco as a sandwichwith either chouriço, ham or garlic butter fillings.

We tried a lovely version of the dish on a food tour which was served with small cubes of delicious fried pork.

15. Taste freshly grilled Lapas (Limpits)

Madeira is renowned for its seafood and one of the most famous dishes on the island is fresh grilled labas (limpits). This popular type of shellfish are commonly foundliving along the rocky shores of Madeira and are perfect as a light snack or appetiser.

Limpits atSantiago Beach Bar

The preparation of cooking limpits involveseasoning them with butter and garlic and then grilling them in their own shell in a frying pan.They look (and taste) like a cross between a mussel or a clam, but have a much more chewier texture.We think they are absolutely delicious, especially with a drizzle of lemon!

We recommend trying this local delicacy at sunset in a beachfront bar paired with an ice cold beer and a side dish of Bolo de Caco bread. We went to Santiago Beach Bar in Funchal’s old town and ordered a plate of limpits for just 6 euros.

16. Funchal Cathedral Se

Built in the 16th century and one of the oldest places of worship in Funchal, Funchal Cathedral Se is gothic in style and was constructed using the volcanic rock chiselled from the rocks at nearby Cabo Girao (now home to the sky-walk). 

The Funchal Cathedral spires have a looming presence on the city skyline with loud church bells (also making it quite an easy place to find!).

As soon as you enter, look up at the incredible and ornate cathedral ceiling, considered to be one of the finest in all of Portugal. Note that there are often a number of beggars outside the cathedral but the area is very safe in the daytime – it is requested that tourists not visit during service times.

17. Sao Tiago Fortress

One of the most easily recognisable and photographed places in the whole of Funchal, the bright yellow mustard fortress walls are easy to spot (and look glorious when covered in bright sunshine against a blue sky backdrop).

Funchal Madeira Sao Tiago Fort

Parts of the fortress date back to the 17th century where it was built to defend the local port from pilfering pirates.

Over the years, it has been used for many purposes including as an art museum, army barracks and temporary housing for flood victims.

These days it is home to a swanky restaurant in the interior but you are still able to explore the exterior courtyard and walls for free.

In particular, the front entrance to the Fortaleza de Sao Tiago is particularly photogenic as classic cars are often stored in front making it look like a historic scene.

18. Enjoy a sundowner at Santiago Beachside Bar

Is this Funchal’s best kept beachside secret? Hidden a little way down an alley-way littered with bright blue boats and old fishing nets and in the shadow of Fortaleza de Sao Tiago, Santiago beachside bar is a true find and far away from the traditional tourist bars you might find in the old town.

Santiago beach bar in Funchal Madeira

We discovered it one night on a sunset walk – there is no signage out the front and the seating area directly overlooks the beach and nearby cove.

Cheap as too – we had a plate of delicious grilled lapas (limpets) and several rounds of Coral beer (the local brewery) and it only cost us $15 Euros – plus it never got that busy and there was a low-key DJ.

19. Sip the traditional Madeira drink Poncha

When visiting Funchal, you will probably notice many bars in town serving a traditional alcoholic drink called Poncha!

Poncha isMadeira’s national drink andcan be found everywhere. It is apotent cocktail (if made correctly!) made from aguardente de cana (sugar cane rum), honey, sugar and lemon juice (or sometimes orange or passion fruit juice).

Madeiran poncha in Funchal Madeira

To make the drink you need to mix all the above ingredients in a jug with a wooden muddler (known as a mexelote) and you can find these muddlers in many gift shops all over the island.

We recommend sipping poncha slowly from a very small glass as it is very strong! You could easily spend an evening trying freshly made poncha at some of the local bars in town rather than buying the inferior pre-made ones from the supermarkets and gifts shops.

Fishermen in Madeira used to drink poncha before a day at sea to avoid getting sick and many locals claim the drink cures the common cold!

20. Taste Madeira Honey Cake (Bolo de Mel) at Fábrica Santo Antonio

Fábrica Santo Antonio is located in Funchal’s old town and is a fantastic old fashioned bakery that serves the famousBolo de mel de cana (Maderia sugar cane honey cake).

Madeira Honey Cake at Fábrica Santo Antonio Funchal Madeira

The Madeira honey cakeis considered to be the island’s oldest dessert and dates back to the 15th century. It is a circular cakemade from dark sugar cane molasses (treacle), plus wheat flour, butter, lard, walnuts,honey, almonds and spices such ascinnamon, cloves and anise.

It is quite a rich and dry cake but is absolutely delicious and best served with a glass of Madeira wine!It is sold all year round, but is mostly eaten by locals around Christmas time.

As well as selling Maderia honey cake,Fábrica Santo Antonio sell amazing traditional biscuits and jams in gorgeous old fashioned style cardboard box packaging. It is well worth a visit to check out some of the beautiful produce, plus they make great gifts to take back home (the cakecan be stored for around a year).

Funchal Madeira Fábrica Santo Antonio biscuit shop

21. Pose with the Cristiano Ronaldo statue

Funchal’s most famous son Cristiano Ronaldo has a bronze statue in the Sea Square, right outside the museum of the same name and the Pestana CR7 hotel.

You can tell it well ‘liked’ as certain parts of the bronze statue are a lot more shinier and well ‘rubbed’ than other parts (including his hands and other lower body parts which we’ll just let you use your imagination on).

Funchal Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo Statue

The larger than life bronze Ronaldo statue was unveiled in 2014 and is popular with locals and cruise ship tourists who disembark nearby. If you want to get a picture with Ronaldo’s statue, best to head on over in the evening as during the day, you often have to queue.

22. Visit the CR7 Museum (Cristiano Ronaldo’s trophies)

Madeira’s most famous museum has to be the CR7 Museum, dedicated to the life story and upbring of local footballing legend Cristano Ronaldo (in fact , every guided tour we went on, the tour guides would always give us numerous Ronaldo facts, such is his revered status on the island).

Opened in 2013 with prime ocean views and a luxury hotel on top (CR7 Pestana), the museum houses trophies galores, various videos and a waxwork replica of the man himself. It also houses a football and youth academy that Ronaldo helps fund and we often saw activities and training sessions at the exterior of the building during the week we were there.

23. Spot whales and dolphins

The clear waters surrounding Madeira are abundant with marine wildlife and a boat trip around the island is a great activity to spot both whales and dolphins! Tours depart regularly from Funchal to see these creatures all year round, however the best months to see the highest quantity of species are usually between April and September.

The chances of spotting a whale are not as high as seeing dolphins (whales spend a lot of time underwater), but if you do get lucky, the most common whales seen are the Sperm Whale and the Pilot Whale.

Whale and dolphin watching tours are very popular so we recommend booking in advance. There are several tours on Get Your Guide including ones that sail at sunset.

24. Visit Casino da Madeira

Although not players, we’d ‘wager’ that the Casino da Madeira is worth a gamble if you are looking for a fun, evening activity – from table games to live entertainment, the casino offers many nightly attractions. 

How can we not mention how brightly lit up it looks in the evening, a little bit of Las Vegas in Funchal (the neon gaudiness feels quite seventies, meaning its exterior hasn’t likely changed much since it opened in 1974). With a large bar, two restaurants a and night-club on site, the casino is popular with tourists and locals alike.

25. Stroll through Santa Catarina Park

We visited Santa Catarina Park most days as it was on the way back to our hotel and offers stunning views of the harbour and marina area, plus has a beautiful lake area with swans a swimming and bedecked with palms and other tropical species. Santa Catarina Park also plays host to regular events and concerts including the annual Funchal jazz festival.

Popular with picnickers, Santa Catarina Park has lush landscaped lawns and coastal views so definitely one of the best green spaces to visit whilst in Funchal.

Santa Catarina Park Funchal Madeira

26. Santa Catarina Chapel

Located in the park of the same name, the Santa Catarina Chapel was the first place of worship on the whole of the island and today, still has incredible panoramic views of both the coast and Madeira’s mountains.

It was originally built in the 15th century as a smaller wooden church before being built in stone in the 1600s. The chapel is free to visit and contains many historic artifacts and religious relics inside.

27. Taste gourmet chocolates at UauCacau

If you are a chocolate fan then you simply cannot miss a trip to this gorgeous chocolate shop/cafe in Funchal.

UauCacau is a 100 percent Madeiran chocolate factory, selling delicate and elegant handmade pieces that all look like miniature works of art.

There are a huge variety of local flavours you can pick from and you can taste chocolate infused with tomato, passion fruit,rose and black pepper, banana, pistachio, plus some filled withwith poncha, rum and Madeira wine.

The passion fruit flavour won the gold medal at the 2014 National Chocolate Contest, and that was one of the chocolates we sampled on our visit there – it was absolutely delicious.

Funchal Madeira Uaucacau chocolate shop

UauCacau has both indoor and outdoor seating where you can enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or hotchocolate, with each drink coming with one piece of chocolate.

There are three branches of UauCacau in Funchal one on Rua da Queimada de Baixo street and one smaller sized shop insideMercado dos Lavradores, plus a branch inside Forum Madeira shopping centre (a 10 minute drive from Funchal old town).

Note if you are visiting Funchal for the weekend, both branches in the old town are closed on Sunday. If you’ve left gift shopping until the last minute then there is a small stand inside Funchal Airport selling a limited range of UauCacau chocolate.

28. Visit Jardim Municipal do Funchal

In the heart of Funchal old town, this gorgeous garden has botanical species from all over the world including Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Built in the 1780s on the site of a former convent, the Jardim Municipal do Funchal today is a thriving, tropical space with a small pond, bandstand and popular cafe shaded amongst the trees.

One thing we also noticed is that lots of local people like to eat their lunch here or relax amongst the trees as the temperature definitely feels a little more cooler in the daytime.

Jardim Municipal do Funchal Funchal Madeira

29. Try Scabbard Fish (Espada)

The black scabbard fishis only found in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean surrounding Madeira Island and kind of resembles across between an eel and a piranha! It is a pretty scary looking thing with its large white eyes andfang-like teeth, but it is considered a Madeiradelicacy and one of the island’s most popular seafoods!

Scabbard fish inside Mercado dos Lavradores

The scabbard is a light and delicate fish which can cooked in a variety of different ways and is most delicious when paired with either a passion fruit or banana sauce! The fillet can be grilled or battered and served with a side salad, or inside bread as a sandwich.

Battered scabbard fish inside bolo de caco bread

Things to do outside Funchal

30. Take the bus to to Câmara De Lobos

Located around 10km away from downtown Funchal,Câmara De Lobos is a small yet idyllic fishing village with a stunning harbour, glorious hilltop walks and an array of seafood restaurants and pretty bars. It is really is worth making the trip if you have time and there are several ways to reach it if you don’t have a hire car including several public buses.

We visitedCâmara De Lobos using our Yellow Bus Tour pass which we purchased to explore Funchal over a 48 hour period (various durations are available to buy). 

Our trip toCâmara De Lobos coincided with the annual San Pedro festival so the town was bedecked with various decorations (including lots of fish themed bunting). The main harbour car-park had also been transformed into a beachside festival hub with dozens of food stalls and bars and a huge stage for musical acts.

Seal pup street art in Camara de Lobos made from recycled materials by famous Portuguese artist Artur Bordalo - Bordalo II, Madeira

Allow at least two or three hours to visitCâmara De Lobos so you can do a small coastal walk (a little hilly but worth the views), have some seafood and walk around the harbour arm. Several hotels and B&Bs can also be found inCâmara De Lobos.

31. Book onto a ‘best of the west’ group tour

The day trips in Madeira are incredibly cheap compared to most European cities so we did several during our Jet2 break to Funchal.

We booked a Best of West Madeira tour which lasted around 8 to 9 hours and cost us less than £30 / 26 Euros each which we thought was really good value (drinks and lunch are excluded and gratuities are appreciated by the driver).

Piscinas Naturais Velhas rock pools by the sea in Porto Moniz, Madeira
Volcanic rock pools at Porto Moniz

As part of the Best of West tour, we got to visit:

The Cabo Girao Skywalk
A trip with real ‘altitude’, dare you walk on the 589 metre high glass skywalk? And yes – we did! The views are stunning but given the sheer amount of tourists at any one time clamouring to get selfies or family shots, Cabo Girao Skywalk is great to visit as part of a guided tour but probably not somewhere making a special trip to.

Volcanic rock pools at Porto Moniz
Our lunch-stop on this day your was the pretty coastal town of Porto Moniz famed for its natural lava pools formed from previous volcanic activity. We walked around the port and for a few Euros, swam in the pools. If you are on a cheap budget, there are some pools a little further along the coast that are free to swim in (but don’t have lifeguards).

Natural rock pools by the sea in Porto Moniz, Madeira
Volcanic rock pools at Porto Moniz

Home to one of the most incredible black sandy beaches we’ve ever encountered, Seixal was simply stunning – imagine Iceland meets Hawaii and you’re half way there. The mountainous back-drop formed a picture postcard setting whilst swimming at the beach – and even though it was a bank holiday, it wasn’t too busy either.

Ribeira Brava
A quick trip to Ribeira Brava was also included as part of the tour itinerary, a small beachside town with a pretty town square, beachfront restaurants and swimming pools.

We booked onto this full day ‘Best of Madeira’s West Tour’ with Get Your Guide.

32. Visit Nuns Valley

Another budget friendly tour – this was a half day tour to Nuns Valley costing around £18 per person that also included a ride of the world-famous Monte toboggan (see the earlier mention) – so given the toboggan alone usually costs £25 for two, the bus tour element was ridiculously good value for money.

Nuns Valley Madeira

Once we’d completed the toboggan and had visited the Church of Our Lady on the Mount (stunning views), we got a tour through Madeira’s countryside including a quick stop at the football courts that Ronaldo first developed his world-class soccer skills (a photo of him as a young child is now emblazoned on the gates).

The highlight of this trip (other than the toboggan) was the Eira do Serrado viewpoint, located 1095m above sea-levels; such stunning views and in some parts, higher than the clouds themselves.

We visited Nuns Valley as part of a half day Nuns Valley, Monte and Sleigh Ride Tour on Get Your Guide.

We can’t wait to return to Madeira and explore more of this incredible island. Did we miss anything? Hit us up in the comments section below with any Madeira hints and tips!

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  • Reply
    October 13, 2022 at 1:53 pm

    Fantastic blog. So informative. Thank you. I’m planning our holiday to Madeira for January and looking to stay at the same hotel too that’s how I came across this site.

    • Reply
      CK Travels
      October 13, 2022 at 2:31 pm

      So happy you found our blog post useful. Have a great time in Madeira!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    Well our holiday is all done and I had your blog at hand most of the time. We’ve done a huge amount of things thanks to your recommendation. It was really hard to find Santiago Bar but we did haha. We very much enjoyed the warm pool in the hotel after all day exploring. We did a few excursions with Jet2 as they were reasonably priced.

    • Reply
      CK Travels
      February 25, 2023 at 2:29 am

      Thats so great to hear! Glad you had a wonderful time and managed to find Santiago Bar 🙂 Madeira is such a stunning island.

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