Suggested Madeira Island tour

Day 1 : Arrival at Madeira.

A flight from 3½ hours will take you from Heathrow to Santa Cruz/Funchal, Madeira International Airport.
If you've booked your car upfront -which is always a smart thing to do- then you'll already have the voucher that you can present at the car rental desk which is situated in the arrivals of the airport.
Few moments later you can pick up your car and head for hotel Alpino Atlantico in Canico de Baixo.
To get to Canico, you have to take the Via Rapida in the direction of Funchal. You will reach the exit Canico de Baixo after about 10 minutes. Turn left after the exit and drive downhill while following the signs "Hotels".
Should you arrive early, then it could be interesting to know that all guests of hotel Alpino Atlantico can enjoy all facilities of the Ondamar hotel that belongs to the same group of hotels. Take the opportunity to go for a swim in the pool or in the ocean.
The Manta Diving Center, which is the sole diving school on Madeira and belongs to hotel Ondamar, is the place to be for scuba diving in the Atlantic. The bay here is a Unesco protected area and full of colourful fish.

In the evening and at night, you'll also find a fabulous ocean view under the moonlight.

Restaurant suggestion : Fish restaurant Atlantis

Overnight stay : Hotel Alpino Atlantico in Canico de Baxo

Day 2 : Trip to Funchal and Monte.

Today you can visit Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
In the morning you can go to the famous Mercado dos Lavradores, a market of flowers, fruits, vegetables and fish.
Lunch opportunities can be found in the surroundings of the market or select one of the side walk cafes near the cable car.
The latter will take us in the afternoon from Funchal to Monte, where you can visit the Tropical Garden and the typical church.
On the way back you can decide to go for a ride on the wicked Toboggan.
Enjoy one of the many side walk cafes in Funchal or go for a walk along the harbour.
Most all museums of Madeira can be found in Funchal. I can especially recommend the Museum of Art which can be found inside the Forte de Sao Tiago.

Price cable car : (one way ticket) : 9,50 € per person, children under 5 can have a free ride.
Price Toboggan : 25 € for 2 persons - 37,5 € for 3 Persons - Children under 5 are free.

Restaurant suggestion : Restaurante Cerbejaria Alemã in Canico de Baixo

Overnight stay in our hotel in Canico de Baixo.

More info :
Funchal and Monte
Photos of Funchal and Monte

Day 3 : Car tour Canico - Curral das Freiras - Camara de Lobos - Canico.

You will soon discover that a Madeira holiday means a lot of variation.
This will become clear when you leave the coast today and explore Madeira Interior, the inner part of the island.
Curral das Freiras, "Nun's Valley" is a village situated at a height of 633 meter.
On the same road you should also visit Eiro do Serrado at 1095m. Starting at the hotel on top of the road, you can go for a short walk which will provide an impressive view upon Nun's Valley.
Estalagem Eira do Serrado allows for a drink or lunch but why not decide for a picknick ?
In the afternoon you can visit Camara do Lobos, a fishermen's village on the South coast of Madeira. This was the favourite place of Winston Churchill who made many paintings here. It is also an ideal place to try the local drinks Nikita and Poncha that were invented here.
On the way back to our hotel in Canico, you can stop in Garajau (exit Garajau) where you'll find the statue of Cristo Rei. This huge image of Jesus Chirst with the stretched arms looks in the direction of the similar statue in Rio de Janeiro (Brasil).

Restaurant suggestion : Restaurante Cerbejaria Alemã in Canico de Baixo

Overnight stay in Hotel Alpino Atlantico in Canico de Baixo

More info :
Curral das Freiras
Photos of Curral das Freiras

Day 4 : Canico - Cabo Girao - Ribeira Brava - Serra de Agua.

Today you leave Canico de Baixo and head for the Poussada dos Vinhaticos, your next hotel on Madeira.
Be sure you remain on the old coast road (ER101) as much as possible because that's where you'll get the most beautiful views.
Take the highway in Canico towards Funchal and leave it at the exit "Hospital". (Just like you did when you visit Funchal).
Turn right at the Lido and head in the direction of Camara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava.
On your way you can visit Cabo Girao, an impressive sea cape of no less than 580m which offers a great view on Camara do Lobos and the South coast of Madeira.
Ribeira Brava is the second city in the South of Madeira. The small shopping streets allow for a short walk. The sidewalk cafes near the beach invite for a drink and lunch can also be taken here.
If you love sun, sea and beach, then Ribeira Brava is the place to be as the artificial sand beach attracts many locals and tourists.
In the afternoon it is time to head for our hotel. Follow the signs for Sao Vicente. Near Serra de Aqua the road will split. Follow the signs for Sao Vicente via Encumeada to reach the hotel ! (You'll have to turn left). Note that the road straight ahead will take you through the tunnel towards Sao Vicente.

Overnight stay in hotel Poussada dos Vinhaticos. Alternatively you may choose to stay at Residencial Encumeada, a perfect starting location for walks through the mountains.

Restaurant suggestion : Half board in the hotel

More info :
Images of nature from Serra de Aqua
Photos along the South coast of Madeira

Day 5 : Sao Vicente.

Drive downhill towards Serra de Agua and further through the tunnel towards Sao Vicente.
As your reach the village look for the sign "Grutas". It indicated the caves of Sao Vicente that are a must see.
During the guided tour you'll learn how the volcanos created Madeira Island.
The center of the Sao Vicente is only 1km away from the caves. Visit the village and watch the North coast of Madeira.
On the way back to the hotel you should drive towards Rosario and take the mountain road that leads to Encumeada (1007m) where a magnificent mountain scenery will be your reward.
The Residencial allows for a (cheap) tea or coffee and cake.
The road downhill will take you back to the hotel.

Overnight stay in hotel Poussada dos Vinhaticos

Restaurant suggestion : Half board in the Hotel

More info :
Sao Vicente
Photos of Sao Vicente
Photos of Encumeada

Day 6 : From Poussada dos Vinhaticos via Calheta and Ponta do Pargo towards Porto Moniz.

Today your drive back to Ribeira Brava and from there along the coast road via Ponta da Sol (the sunniest place of Madeira) and Madalena do Mar towards Calheta.
Calheta has an artificial sand beach, just like the one in Ribeira Brava. One part of the beach is situated near Calheta Beach hotel and the other part a bit more to the West. There is plenty of time today to enjoy the beach.
Why not have a picknick ? In front of Calheta Beach hotel there is a supermarket where most everything can be bought.
The inhibitants of Madeira also love to picknick and further down the road towards Ponta do Pargo and Porto Moniz, where you enter the pine forests, you will find a lot of nice places for this.
Personally i enjoy the beatiful view near Lombada dos Marinheiros.

Leave the main road in Ponta do Pargo to see the lighthouse (Farol) where you get a great view on the South coast of Madeira.
The Casa de Chà (Tea house) near the lighthouse is very much recommended if you wish to enjoy local cake and pie.

Then it is time to head for Porto Moniz which you'll reach after a steep descent into the center of the village.

Overnight stay in Hotel Moniz Sol in Porto Moniz (or hotel Euromoniz).

Restaurant suggestion : Restaurant Orca Praia in Porto Moniz (with sea view and delicious Espetada em Pau de Lauro, traditional meat on a skewer)

More info :
Photos along the South coast of Madeira
Porto Moniz
Photos of Porto Moniz

Day 7 : Round trip Porto Moniz - Paul da Serra - Encumeada - Porto Moniz.

This is absolutely the most beautiful car tour on Madeira.
Leave Porto Moniz in the direction of Ponta do Pargo until Achada da Cruz where you turn left towards Paul da Serra.
On the left hand side of the plateau you get an overview of the laurel forest (Laurisilva) which reaches until the North coast of Madeira, while at the same time the North coast can be seen.
Every turn of the road will surprise you with another beautiful view !
Near Fonte da Pedra you'll discover a canyon-alike landscape with lots of green scenery.
The exit towards Rabacal cannot be missed. Park the car and make the descent into the Jungle where you can walk along the levada towards the Risco Waterfall and the amazing 25 Fontes (25 Springs).
Prepare for a 2 hours walk which includes a rather steep climb.

After the walk you may have a rest in the Jungle Rain Cafe a bit further down the road towards Encumeada.
At Lombo do Mouro you leave the Paul da Serra plateau and make the descent along nice roads towards Encumeada and further to Sao Vicente.
Along the spectacular coast road, which is another tourist attraction, you drive back to Porto Moniz.

Overnight stay in hotel Moniz Sol in Porto Moniz

Restaurant suggestion : Restaurante O Salgeiro in Porto Moniz

More info :
Paul da Serra and Rabacal
Photos of Paul da Serra

Day 8 : From Porto Moniz towards Ponta Delgada and tour to the Pico Ruivo.

Today you leave Porto Moniz and head along the North coast towards hotel Monte Mar Palace in Ponta Delgada.
The hotel is beautifully situated on a cliff by the sea.
There is plenty of time to enjoy the hotel at its swimming pool where you get a nice view on the coast.
In the afternoon you can visit the 1862m high Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest mountain.
Drive towards Santana passing Boaventura and Sao Jorge. In Santana turn right at the gas station in front of restaurant Estrela do Norte.
The road goes straight ahead, all the way up. Be careful though while the road is not always in good condition. Should you be interested in a coffee or a refreshment, then there is an opportunity to stop at the holiday resort near the Pico das Pedras. Walkers may be interested in the walking trail that leads to Queimadas.

Overnight stay in hotel Monte Mar Palace in Ponta Delgada

Restaurant suggestion : Restaurant Estrela do Norte in Santana.
The restaurant is situated along the coast road, where the descent from the Pico Ruivo ends.
This is a very cheap restaurant and the local specialty, the espetada, is delicious. Hint: A bottle of Monte Velho wine, my personal favourite on Madeira costs only 11 euro per bottle.

More info :
The coast road of Madeira
Pico Ruivo - the highest mountain of Madeira

Day 9 : Tour from Ponta Delgada to Balcoes and Pico Areeiro.

Drive along the coast road towards Faial.
From there turn right into the inlands via Ribeiro Frio to Poiso (1413m).
Why not have a picknick today ? There are plenty of inviting tables on the road between Ribeiro Frio and Poiso.
At Poiso you have to turn right to make the climb -which goes usually through the clouds- towards the Pico do Areeiro.
On top of the mountain you'll find the former Pousada do Areeiro where you can enjoy the breathtaking views.
On the way back you should stop at Ribeiro Frio where you can visit the entrance free governmental trout farm.
Ribeiro Frio is also the village where the short levada walk (30 minutes) towards Balcoes begins. Do not hesitate to make this walk ! Your reward will be a dazzling view.

Overnight stay in hotel Monte Mar Palace in Ponta Delgada

Restaurant suggestion : "Casa de Palha" (Straw house) in Sao Jorge next to the church.
The church, one of the nicest on Madeira, was built in 1761 and is an exemple of baroque architecture.)

More info :
Pico do Areeiro
Balcoes and Ribeiro Frio
Photos Madeira Interior

Day 10 : From Ponta Delgada via Santana towards Santo da Serra and Camacha.

In Santana you can stop to explore the village antd its famous triangular straw houses
Enjoy the many views in Faial and Porto da Cruz where we leave the coast road in the direction of Portela (with another spectacular view point) and further towards Santo da Serra where you'll find the hotel Estalagem A Quinta.
In the afternoon you can visit the idyllic Camacha, a village well known for its craftsmen skilled in wicker basket making.
A wall with the exact sizes of a football goal remind that this was the first place in Portugal to play football.

Overnight stay in hotel A Quinta Estalagem in Santo da Serra

Restaurant suggestion : Bacalhau com natas, a typical dish on Madeira, is the specialty of the house.

More info :
Photos of Ponta Delgada and Santana

Day : From Santo da Serra via Canical to Sao Lourenco and back to Funchal airport.

Today our Madeira holiday comes to an end.
Depending on the time of your flight you could do the following activities:

  • Visit Sao Lourenco.
    In Santo da Serra you follow the signs for Machico and further towards Canical and Sao Lourenco.
    Here you'll meet a landscape that you didn't see already during your Madeira Island tour. It ressembles a moonscape, it is extremely dry and apart from cactus you won't see much of a vegetation here.
    Here you can also visit one of the few sand beaches of Madeira. (Look for the sign "Prainha").
  • Visit the Jardins da Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro, also called Blandy's Gardens.
    This is in our opinion the most beautiful garden of Madeira.
    To get here, leave the Via Rapida at exit 13 and follow the signs for "Palheiro Estate".
    Alternatively take the road from Camacha towards Sao Gonçalo.
  • Can't get enough of the delicious Espetada of Madeira ?
    There is a small restaurant between Sao Lourenco and Canical, called "O Tunnel". The food is great and very cheap.
At the airport leave the rented car where you picked it up and take the elevator from the parking place towards the first floor of the airport.
After checking in, don't hesitate to go to the gates. On the top floor of the airport you can have a drink or a snack, or watch the airplanes take off from the outdoor terrace.

More info :
Photos of Sao Lourenco