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Madeira 1 Week Tour & Funchal 7 Day Itinerary

Madeira combines a stunning rugged coastline, a dramatic mountainous interior and traditional Portuguese charm, to form a fantastic year-round holiday destination. The majority of visitors to Madeira are based within Funchal, the largest city on the island, and from here it is possible to take day trips which explore the whole island.

Madeira hike walk

Madeira is a hiker's paradise

An alternative approach for a week’s holiday is to tour Madeira, being based in three or four different towns. This guide will provide a selection of different suggested 1-week itineraries for Madeira, for visitors who are either based in Funchal or plan to tour the island. The suggested 1-week tours detailed in this article are:

• A 1-week holiday based in Funchal that explores Madeira via organised tours
• A 1-week independent holiday, based in Funchal but explores using a rental car or public transport.
• A 1-week touring holiday of Madeira, based in four different towns.

Suggested 1 week holiday based in Funchal with organised tours

This suggested 7-day itinerary is designed for tourists who will be based within Funchal for the duration of their holiday and enjoy organised tours. Organised tours are a convenient way to see the entire island without the hassle of public transport or the need for a rental car. These tours have the added benefit of a knowledgeable local guide, while fitting a lot of sightseeing into a single day.

There are lots of different tour companies in Funchal offering very similar tours, and the three standard tours are; the east of Madeira, the west of Madeira and a half day to Curral Das Freiras. Tours can be booked from your hotel or one of the numerous ticket agencies in Funchal, and the prices listed below are for guidance (without lunch). The suggested 1-week itinerary is:

Day 1 – Funchal and Monte. Explore the Old Town and harbour front of Madeira, ride the cable car up to Monte and wiz downhill in a toboggan. This day can be easily done independently, and for a suggested 1-day tour of Funchal please see this guide.

Cidade Velha old town in Funchal

The Cidade Velha (old town) in Funchal

Day 2 – Organised full day tour of the west of Madeira. Typical tours visit; Cama de Lobos, Cabo Cliffs, Encumeada viewpoint, Porto Moniz and Sao Vicente.

Day 3 – Organised half day tour to Curral Das Freiras

Day 4 – Organised full day tour of the west of Madeira, which includes; Camacha, Pico do Arieiro, Ribeiro Frio, Santana, Faial, and Machico

traditional house of Madeira Santana

The traditional house of Madeira in Santana

Day 5 – Day trip to the island of Porto Santo. The arid island of Porto Santo is two hours by ferry from Funchal and has the best beach of the Madeira archipelago. For a guide to day trip to Porto Santo please click here.

Day 6 – Organised Levada walk, join an organised walk of one of the scenic waterways that cross the island.

Day 7 – Boat tour of Madeira, cruise to the Ilhas Desertas islands or dolphin watching

Tip - The size of the tour vehicle depends on the popularity of the tour and season visiting. If you specifically wanting a small group tour (8-12 people) always check that this is what you are purchasing with the booking office or hotel.

Tip – The tour companies provide weekly schedules of Levada, with a different walk per day of the week. At the beginning of your holiday view the schedule (and weather!) and book yourself on to the walk most suitable for you.

 

 

Suggested 7-day holiday based in Funchal for the independent visitor

This suggested 7-day itinerary is designed for the more independent traveller who wishes to be free from the constraints of a coach tour. Public transport in Madeira is inexpensive and the cost of each of the day trips will be significantly less than the organised tours, but certain routes have limited services and may require planning on the Rodoeste bus website (http://www.rodoeste.com.pt/). The suggested route is:

Day 1 – Explore Funchal and Monte – for a suggested 1-day tour of Funchal please click here.

Day 2 – Day trip to Cama de Lobos and Cabo Cliffs. Cama de Lobos is a pretty fishing town while the Cabo Cliffs are some of Europe’s highest cliffs that have a glass-floored skywalk (only for the brave). For a guide to Cabo Cliffs please click here.

Day 3 – Day trip to Porto Moniz. Porto Moniz is famed for the salt water lava pools, where visitors can swim in the sun-warmed sea water while waves crash against the black basalt rocks. For a guide to Porto Moniz, please click here.

lava pools porto moniz

The beautiful lava pools of Porto Moniz

Day 4 - Hike between Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo, this beautiful mountain route connects the third highest peak with the highest peak in Madeira and passes through stunning scenery. For a guide to the hike please click here.

Day 5 - Day trip to Porto Santo island. Porto Santo is not just for lounging on the beach, there are challenging hiking trails, delightful villages and demanding off-road cycling routes. For a day trip guide please click here.

Day 6 - Day trip to Curral Das Freiras. This little town is hidden deep in a valley and was historically a refuge for the island during pirate raids.

Day 7 - Day trip to Sao Vicente, Sao Vicente caves and Encumeada viewpoint. Sao Vicente is a charming town set amidst a steep valley, further inland is the largest cave network of Madeira. On the way back to Funchal, if you have a rental car head up to the view point of Encumeada.

Paira do Machico

The sandy beach of Paira do Machico

A 1-week touring holiday of Madeira

This suggested itinerary provides a suggested touring route for a 1 week holiday to Madeira.

Day 1 - Explore Funchal and Monte

Day 2- Funchal Day trip to Cama de Lobos and Cabo Cliffs

Day 3 -Ribeira Brava

Day 4 - Porto Moniz with a relaxing day in the lava pools

Day 5 - Porto Moniz - Day trip to Sao Vincente and caves

Day 6 – Santana

Day 7 - Machico

This tour is detailed in the following section

Day 1 Exploration of Funchal

Funchal is the largest settlement on the island but is an individual and interesting place to explore. The capital has a relaxed pace of life and is a pleasant mix of Portugal culture with a Madeira twist. Funchal

The view over Funchal from the harbour

There are charming gardens, beautiful churches and welcoming cafes - the city is a place just to wander and explore. An unusual half day activity includes riding the Monte cable car up to the panoramic summit and racing the toboggan carts down the steep streets back to the capital. Other highlights of Funchal include the Igreja de Sao Pedro, the pretty Presidential Palace Gardens and the harbour front.

Day 2 Day trip to Camara de Lobos

Camara de Lobes is a pretty fishing village just to the west of Funchal. Here the colourful boats are pulled onto the dark greys stones of the beach while the village ekes with charm and character.

Camara de Lobos

The fishing boats on the beach of Camara de Lobos

Not to be missed are the Cabo Girão one of Europe’s highest cliffs that offer wonderful views. For the brave is a glass-bottomed skywalk which hangs out over the 590-meter drop to the sea and fields below.

Cabo Girao cliffs

The massive drop from the Cabo Girao cliffs

Day 3 Ribeira Brava

Calheta is on the southern side of the island is the location of the best sandy beach while Ribeira Brava is a pleasant resort town. Both towns provide easy access to the interior of the island and the beautiful hiking trails around the village of Rabacal.

Levada of Madeira

The forest walks of the Levada of Madeira

This village is the start of two of the best Levada hiking routes that pass either the 50 meter Cascada de Risco waterfall or the 25 Fontes a series of waterfalls that cascade into the valley. This final location allows for visitors to either relax on the beaches of Calheta or to explore the lush interior or explore the scenic coastline.

Day 4 and 5 Western Madeira

Porto Moniz is on the northwestern tip of Madeira and this side of the island is dominated by massive jagged mountains, steep cliffs and lush vegetations. The small town of Porto Moniz is famed for the amazing lava pools which are filled with sea water and are set amongst beautiful rock formations. If you want a place to relax on your holiday this well maintained complex is the place for you. Ponta do Pargo 20km south of Porto Moniz is the most westerly point of Madeira and is another area of stunning natural landscapes and makes for a pleasant days excursion from Porto Moniz. This area is perfect for nature lovers if this is your enjoyment add an additional day in the region.

lava pools of Porto Moniz

The lava pools of Porto Moniz

Day 6 Santana

Santana is the location for the quaint looking thatched houses and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

traditional house of Madeira Santana

The traditional house of Madeira in Santana

Day 7 Machico and Santa Cruz

Machico and Santa Cruz are on the north eastern side of the island and are close to the airport. Machico boasts one of the best sandy beaches of Madeira and was one of the first settlements of the island.

Paira do Machico

The sandy beach of Paira do Machico

The early history of the town was ravaged by pirates and the town contains two small forts and the oldest church of Madeira. A pleasant excursion around the airport is to the sleepy town of Santa Cruz with its traditional sugar cane factory.

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