Top 10 Madeira

Somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean lies a paradise like no other: the island of Madeira. This absolute jewel of Portugal is just waiting to be discovered and Before You Explore knows the best places for you to visit on the island!

Tips: hiring a car is highly recommended in order to make the most of your stay on the island; having a GPS always helps but is not entirely useful with all the tunnels on the island so rather buy a map and navigate like in the good ol' days!

1. Seixal

Why visit? For a tropical island experience - complete with black sand beaches, natural rock pools, crystal clear waters and the Bride's Veil Waterfall that flows from the mountain into the ocean. Not only is this area beautiful, it also attracts less tourists, making your experience here more authentic!

How to get there from Funchal: by taking the VE4 from Ribeira Brava to São Vicente and then the VE2 to Seixal
GPS coordinates: 32.822163, -17.103081

2. Cabo Girão

Why visit? Because this is one of the highest cliffs in Europe, offering incredible views of the ocean below and nearby cliffs. Cabo Girão's viewpoint also has a glass floor platform where it feels like you're walking on air!

Opening Times: Daily 08h00-20h00
How to get there from Funchal: by driving west along the VR1, you'll find it located just past Câmara de Lobos
GPS coordinates: 32.656400, -17.006700

3. Pico do Arieiro

Why visit? With an out-of-this-world landscape, Pico do Arieiro is Madeira's 3rd highest peak. It requires no hiking but only a few steps to reach the top! For the enthusiastic hiker, this peak also provides a starting point for a number of mountain hikes. Best views before 10h00 & after 17h00!

How to get there from Funchal: by taking the ER103 through Monte and then turning onto a minor road that leads up to the peak
GPS coordinates: 32.735556, -16.928639

4. Ponta do Garajau

Why visit? See Madeira's Christ Redeemer statue similar to the one in Brazil, walk down these steps for beautiful cliff views and don't miss swimming / snorkelling in the marine reserve below (easily reached by car or cable car).

Opening Times: all day, everyday - the cable car to the beach below is open everyday 10h00-20h00
How to get there from Funchal: drive east along the VR1 until you reach Caniço
GPS coordinates: 32.639444, -16.850417

5. Funchal

Why visit? Because it's Madeira's capital and has loads of things to do - from boat trips to wine tasting to visiting Cristiano Ronaldo's museum! Don't miss walking through Rua de Santa Maria, a street famous for its colourfully painted doors.

How to get there from Madeira airport: most visitors stay in Funchal, which is easily reached by driving west on the VR1 from the airport
GPS coordinates: 32.646819, -16.906625

6. Santana

Why visit? To see traditional A-shaped houses that the people of Santana used to live in and also to admire the beautiful flowers and plants. Don't forget to taste Bolo do Mel, which is traditional honey cake. Yummy!

How to get there from Funchal: drive east along the VR1 towards Machico and then turn onto the VE1, driving north until you reach Santana
GPS coordinates: 32.792500, -16.875833

7. Ponta de São Lourenço

Why visit? Because it's the southeastern-most point of Madeira and the landscape here is desert-like, completely different to the rest of the island. There's also a popular hike here perfect for beginner hikers. Don't miss seeing one of nature's masterpieces, untouched by man!

How to get there from Funchal: by driving east along the VR1 until you reach Caniçal and then turning onto the ER109, which will take you to the point
GPS coordinates: 32.743569, -16.700818

8. Encumeada Pass

Why visit? For remarkable views of the mountains, valleys and clouds from the north coast curling down the slopes. Don't miss spotting "poios", the very distinctive agricultural field levels on the mountain slopes. Farmers created them like this to make it easier to plant crops on steep inclines.

How to get there from Funchal: drive west on the VR1 towards Ribeira Brava, then turn onto the VE4 that will take you northwards onto the Encumeada pass
GPS coordinates: 32.749470, -17.024796

9. Cabanas de São Jorge

Why visit? Because it's a hidden gem on the island - in fact hardly any guide books recommend this spot! It has a miradouro (viewpoint) that looks out to the tropical northern coast of the island. You can also buy delicious fruit grown locally at much cheaper prices than in Funchal.

How to get there from Funchal: drive east along the VR1 towards Machico and then turn onto the VE1, driving north past Santana until you reach this village
GPS coordinates: 32.826556, -16.938917

10. Levada das 25 Fontes

Why visit? To do one of Madeira's famous levada walks! Levadas were created as irrigation channels to bring water from the mountain to the villages below. This particular levada walk takes you through Rabaçal's woodland area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that ends with numerous waterfalls (known as 25 natural springs) flowing into a lagoon.

How to get there from Funchal: by driving west along the VR1 until you reach Ribeira Brava, then turning onto the VE4, driving up the Encumeada pass and finally onto the ER110 which will lead you to Rabaçal
GPS coordinates: 32.7543, -17.1332

What would your Top 10 Madeira be?