Sun, mountains and the ocean – what more could you want? Madeira is a perfect holiday destination at any time of the year. The island captivates visitors with its sheer diversity of fauna and flora, guaranteed beautiful weather and unforgettable culture. If you are a person who prefers an active holiday to lazing on the beach, check out our guide to Madeira!

Madeira – the evergreen island

Madeira is an island of volcanic origin located in the Atlantic Ocean. Together with the islands of Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens, it forms the Madeira archipelago, with only Porto Santo and the 741 square-kilometre Madeira being inhabited. Madeira’s mild climate has earned it the moniker the “evergreen island”. In summer the average air temperature is 25°C, in winter it is 17°C. Meanwhile, the average water temperature in summer is 22°C, in winter 18°C.

Porto Santo beach
Porto Santo beach © iStock

Madeira is full of beautiful and diverse vegetation, high cliffs, beaches and rare species of animals. For those who want to relax, there are pebble beaches at their disposal, for example the beach in Lido, however lovers of sandy beaches may be disappointed as there are only a few sandy stretches in Madeira (e.g. in Machico). However, a short ferry ride to the nearby island of Porto Santo will offer far more sand. Madeira is known for its interesting monuments, such as the Sé Cathedral or the Ethnographic Museum of Madeira. Football fans will love the Cristiano Ronaldo museum and can see the monument depicting CR7. After a short burst of relaxation and sightseeing, it’s time for a real adventure. Here are our ideas for an active holiday in Madeira.

Levada © Andre Carvalho

Trekking paths in Madeira

Madeira’s mountainous terrain guarantees excellent conditions for trekking and you’ll find numerous tourist paths on the island. Overcoming them will not only provide you with a large dose of endorphins, but will also enable you to admire the island’s beautiful landscape. One of the main attractions of Madeira is its levadas, a network of small irrigation channels that bring water from the north to the south of the island. Their construction began in the 16th century and the most recent canals date back to the 1940s. The water from the levadas powers hydroelectric power plants and also irrigates the surrounding fields and crops. Hiking the levadas attracts tourists year-round . Some of the channels are carved from steep rock, others meander down valleys. During the hike, you’ll pass waterfalls and go through tunnels. Take a packed lunch, a torch and good walking shoes as the paths can be slippery. Our route suggestion takes you from Ribeiro Frio to Balcões in around 20-30 minutes. 

Pico Ruivo
Pico Ruivo © iStock

Speaking of hiking, it is well worth climbing some of the island’s peaks to admire the beautiful panorama that stretches over green hills to the ocean. One option is the route from Achada to Teixeira and on to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of the island at 1862 metres above sea level. Another idea to spend time in Madeira is with a hiking trip to Cabo Girão (580 m above sea level), where there is a viewing platform with a glass floor. Do you want to admire the mountainous terrain of the island, but prefer not to hike? Riding an off-road bike, hiring a motorbike or a car on unpaved roads will give you plenty of adrenaline!

Funchal view
Funchal view © iStock

What to do in Madeira

When you’re not exploring the island on foot, then maybe try climbing? Steep cliffs encourage you to conquer the heights under the watchful eye of a professional. Fans of fast driving can go to the capital of Madeira, Funchal, where there is a go-kart track. A paragliding flight shows you Madeira from a different perspective and you can also experience another kind of sky-high ride by cable car. One of the most popular routes runs from Funchal to Monte, with an extra thrilling toboggan ride for the way back ! 

The route leads from Monte down into Each wicker sleigh holds two people and is pushed and steered by two locals dressed in traditional costumes. The descent takes about 10 thrilling minutes.Interestingly, in 1850 these sleighs were the main means of transport between these two towns.

Need a moment of rest? Head to the golf course! Play golf in beautiful scenery with the ocean as your backdrop. You can choose from two courses – Palheiro Golf (18 holes) and Santo da Serra Golf Club (27 holes).

Clifs, Madeira
Clifs, Madeira © Henrique Seruca

Water sports in Madeira

Madeira is the perfect place for water sports – it’s known as the Hawaii of the Atlantic for good reason. Beautiful, sunny weather goes hand-in-hand with frequent waves. Of course, surfing rules the roost here and you’ll find surf schools and equipment rental located throughout the island. Bodyboarding, is also very popular, and right behind it is SUP – stand up paddleboarding where you’ll ride on a board with the help of a paddle. Prefer something more extreme? Time for coasteering This is a combination of climbing rocks or a cliff, jumping into the water, and exploring caves.

Buy tickets for attracions in Madeira
Delfiny u wybrzeży Madery © Francisco Correia
Dolphins in Madeira © Francisco Correia

Diving in Madeira will give you similar, if not even better, experiences. Crystal-clear waters invite you to take a dip and a big attraction for tourists is diving in Madalena do Mar, where the “Bowbelle” shipwreck is located at a depth of 21-30 metres. Water lovers who prefer a quieter time can rent a boat and go on a nice cruise. It is worth opting for a cruise with a crew, combined with the observation of dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. Fans of sport fishing and canoeing will also have a nice time in Madeira.

Cabo Girão view
Cabo Girão view © iStock

As you can see, Madeira has a lot to offer and sweet lazing can be combined with active rest. Regardless of which entertainment you choose, you can be sure of the weather and the breathtaking scenery.



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