In my opinion, 7 days in Madeira is the most ideal amount of time to spend exploring this beautiful and lush volcanic island. But how exactly do you make the most of your 7 days in Madeira itinerary? Let me show you…
I’ve been visiting Madeira on and off for over 20 years, so I’ve created this 7 day Madeira itinerary based on my many extensive trips around the island. My very first visit to the island lasted for one week whereas subsequent trips were for longer (2 weeks each).
Based on my experience, I think one week in Madeira is ample time for many of the top things to do in Madeira plus some lesser-known things to do. Let’s discuss…
7 Days in Madeira is Enough Time To See the Main Sights (But Not Everything!)
If you’re wondering whether 7 days is enough time to see everything you want to, then just know that a week exploring Madeira is ample time for exploring some of the island’s top sights – both in Funchal, Madeira’s capital city and across the entire island of Madeira.
In fact, you can experience the best of Madeira in as little as 4 days. But If you want to explore Madeira at a more relaxed or slower pace, then ideally you would spend at least a week here.
That’s where this 7 day itinerary comes in! I’m going to show you all the incredible things you can do during your trip and how you can plan your Madeira itinerary.
7 Days in Madeira Itinerary (No Car Hire Required!)
Here’s how this 7 days in Madeira itinerary looks at a glance. You’ll find a more detailed version of this itinerary plus my top tips for visiting Madeira further on in this blog post.
- Day 1: Funchal
- Day 2: Best of the West Island Tour
- Day 3: Monte
- Day 4: Rest Day OR Porto Santo Day Trip
- Day 5: Funchal and Whale Watching Tour
- Day 6: Best of the East Island Tour
- Day 7: Funchal
Day 1: Funchal
Let’s start your 7 days in Madeira at a relaxed pace. On your first day in Madeira, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the capital city of Funchal and the many sights you can enjoy there.
The city is very walkable, so you’ll be able to see much of it on foot over a couple of days.
On this first day, I’d recommend devoting more of your time to the Old Town – especially if you’re interested in history and traditional architecture. Here’s a look at what you can enjoy during your wander through Funchal’s Old Town.
“The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption”
“The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption” is Funchal’s historic cathedral. It dates back to the 1400s and you’re usually allowed to look inside – providing a service isn’t happening at the time.
Old Town Walking Tour
Speaking of historic sights, if you want to learn more about them during your visit, then you might enjoy a walking tour through the Old Town such as this one.
During this 2-hour tour, you’ll wander through Funchal’s medieval centre while your guide reveals the city’s varied history.
You’ll visit the popular Farmer’s Market, the Campo Almirante Reis (a former football ground) and the Fortress of St James, which you’ll likely recognise thanks to its striking yellow walls.
Of course, you don’t need a walking tour to see all this. But you’ll be able to ask your guide questions while you wander around, so it’s certainly worth considering if you want to really get to know Funchal during your visit.
Funchal’s Street Art
You might not know this but there’s a lot of striking street art to see within the Old Town.
Back in 2010, a local man (Jose Zyberchema) launched the Funchal Painted Doors Project. To revitalise the area, he collaborated with local artists to create unique street art of varying styles, themes and colours. The murals are incredible to see!
You can even see various street art murals at the Funchal Marina.
Day 2: Best of the West Island Tour
Of course, there’s so much more to Madeira than its capital city of Funchal.
If you’re visiting Madeira without a car (you certainly wouldn’t catch me driving there!), then the easiest way for you to see some amazing sights in Madeira is with full-day coach tours.
Up first is this ‘Best of the West Tour’, which includes some of my favourite sights to see in Madeira. Here’s what you can look forward to seeing during this tour around the island.
Câmara de Lobos
Câmara de Lobos is a small fishing town close to Funchal and is usually the first stop on day tours to the western side of Madeira. During our tour, we spent about 30 minutes or so wandering around, taking photos and people-watching as the harbour here is quite active.
After Câmara de Lobos, you’ll usually be taken to Cabo Girão, which is a famous clifftop viewpoint. From here, you can see Funchal in the distance and how steep the drop is down to the coast.
Ribeira Brava is one of the many coastal villages you’ll explore during your tour. There’s a black sand beach here as well as viewpoints you can walk up to.
Speaking of viewpoints, the ones from Encumeada are something else entirely. At over 1,000 metres high, you’ll likely be above the clouds. While here, your tour guide might also allow you to follow part of the ‘Levada’ walk, which is well worth it. It’s an unforgettable walk above the clouds!
Surrounded by eclipsing mountains and views out to the sea, São Vicente is an interesting little town to wander around. You’ll usually be given around 60-90 minutes here.
Your final stop on this tour is Porto Moniz along the north side of the island. This is one of my favourite places in all of Madeira.
Here, you can admire the sea views and marvel at how the island was created by volcanoes. You can even swim in volcanic rock pools here.
These particular rock formations were made from the uneven spreading of volcanic lava, which then filled with fresh seawater. These pools are very popular with locals and tourists alike and only cost a couple of Euros to dip your feet or swim in.
Even just a walk around the town of Porto Moniz itself will show you yet more formations carved from volcanic rock such as caves you can walk through and explore.
Day 3: Monte
If you’re following this 7-day Madeira itinerary, then you’ll probably feel a little tired after such a long tour on the previous day. So, let’s do something cool but at a more relaxed pace.
From Funchal, you can catch the cable car to Monte to explore some stunning sights there.
Although Monte is technically a part of Funchal, it’s about two miles north of the capital city, so most people class Monte as a day trip from Funchal. And it’s well worth spending the day here!
In Monte, you can explore the 18th-century church called ‘The Church of Our Lady of the Mount’, as well as the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens.
While the cable car itself is a great experience in Madeira, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hop on a traditional wicker toboggan at Monte to zip back down the hill to Funchal.
Day 4: Rest Day OR Porto Santo Day Trip
As we reach the halfway point in your one-week Madeira itinerary, you may want to spend today sunbathing (hello decent temperatures year-round!)
Of course, you could do this at your hotel especially if it has a pool you can lay next to.
But as an alternative suggestion, why not consider catching a ferry from Funchal to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo?
Here, you can enjoy nearly six miles of sandy beach, which you won’t find in Madeira. On Madeira, there are man-made beaches, which are very small and quite crowded at peak times.
But Porto Santo is much less visited, and as I say, has a long stretch of beach to enjoy. You can get to Porto Santo from Funchal in as little as 2.5 hours via a ferry from Funchal Harbour.
Day 5: Funchal and Whale Watching Tour
On your fifth day, you might enjoy exploring some more of Funchal at a relaxed pace.
Check out this list of top things to do in Funchal, such as Santa Catarina Park and the Lido, or maybe even enjoy a day trip on the “Santa Maria de Colombo” replica ship.
From Funchal, you can also join a catamaran tour to go in search of whales and dolphins. The tour I’ve linked to above has morning and afternoon departures. But maybe you’ll enjoy a sunset whale-watching tour instead?
Day 6: Best of the East Island Tour
You’ve seen the best of the West of Madeira. Now’s your chance to see the best sights in the East.
I love this tour because it includes a walk along part of the Levadas, as well as trips to various iconic places such as Pico do Arieiro and Santana.
Pico do Arieiro
Pico do Arieiro is one of Madeira’s most famous viewpoints. At 1,818 metres up, you’ll probably find yourself above the clouds looking out across gorges and valleys.
Ribeiro Frio is a small village with another fabulous viewpoint. It’s also one of the most popular starting points for a Levada walk. And if you’re lucky enough, your tour guide may even allow you some time to follow the Levadas before hopping back on the coach.
Not sure what a Levada is? It’s a man-made channel created to carry water around the island to help with the irrigation of agricultural fields – and they’re a lot of fun to follow!
You’ve likely already heard about the triangular straw-topped houses that Madeirans used to live in. Now’s your chance to wander around an entire village of them. You used to be allowed to see inside one of them, but I believe they’ve stopped allowing this recently.
Ponta de São Lourenço
If there’s enough time, then your tour guide will probably take you to Ponta de São Lourenço, which is the most easterly point of the island and home to stunning clifftop views across the sea.
Your final stop on a tour of the east of Madeira is likely to be Machico, which is home to a man-made sandy beach (one of only a handful in Madeira!) The beach is hugged by cliffs, which means you’ll be shielded from strong winds while you relax and watch the waves roll in.
Day 7: Funchal
Finally, if you have a full day left on your seventh day (for instance, your flight isn’t leaving Madeira until the late afternoon or evening), then you might want to wander around Funchal for a bit longer.
Maybe today is a good day for souvenir shopping? Madeira wine, Poncha, traditional honey cake and anything made from either wicker or embroidery are all great souvenir options.
Otherwise, some time relaxing in the sun while you wait to go back to the airport is also a lovely way to reflect on your week in Madeira.
Where To Stay For Your Week in Madeira
While there are lots of places across the island where you can stay, I usually advise staying relatively close to Funchal – especially if you’re not hiring a car.
You’ll find staying near the capital more convenient for taxis to the airport and for sightseeing as Funchal is the most common pick-up point for tours and day trips around the island.
Not to mention various boat tours or whale-watching excursions depart from the Funchal Marina.
My Mum owns a timeshare in Madeira through the Pestana Group, which has allowed me to stay at the following hotels:
- Pestana Palms: 4-star aparthotel near the Lido with an outdoor pool overlooking the sea | Check Prices
- Pestana Grand: Luxurious 5-star hotel with a large outdoor pool also near the Lido | Check Prices
- Pestana Village: Charming 4-star apartments in picturesque grounds also near the Lido | Check Prices
If you’re after sea views then I recommend staying at Pestana Palms. But I also loved the privacy and picturesque grounds of Pestana Village while Pestana Grand is worth the 5-star luxury price tag if you can afford it.
Alternatively, other top-rated hotels in Funchal include:
- Belmond Reid’s Palace: Luxurious 5-star beachfront hotel and spa near Santa Catarina Park. I’m told by a fellow travel blogger that they also serve an excellent afternoon tea | Check Prices
- Hotel Porto Santa Maria: Modern 4-star waterfront hotel and spa near Funchal Marina | Check Prices
- Vitorina Corte Guesthouse: Simple 2-star guesthouse within easy reach of Funchal Farmers Market; some rooms have sea views | Check Prices
- Sé Boutique Hotel: Stunning 4-star hotel and restaurant complex near Funchal Marina | Check Prices
How To Get To Madeira
Although Madeira is a common pitstop on various cruise and ferry journeys, you’ll likely be flying into Madeira for your 7 day trip.
What you might not know is that Funchal Airport has one of the trickiest runways to land on in the world! It’s short, juts out over the sea and is prone to strong winds.
This means that not every airline flies into Funchal as it requires the pilot to have a very specific set of skills. Popular airlines that fly to Madeira from the UK currently include British Airways, easyJet, Jet2 and TUI.
That said, as Madeira’s popularity grows, more and more airlines are adding Funchal to their destination list. There’s certainly a lot more choice of airlines today than when I went on my first trip to Madeira over 20 years ago!
Read More About Madeira
Seeing as I’ve visited Madeira many, many times over the years, we have lots of articles about this beautiful little island for you to read. But here are a few to get you started:
- Is Madeira Worth Visiting? 16 Reasons Why My Answer’s Yes!
- When Is The Best Time To Visit Madeira?
- How Many Days in Madeira is Ideal (+ Itinerary Suggestions)
- 18 Unmissable Things To Do in Madeira
- 20 Best Things To Do in Funchal
- 11 Incredible Day Trips From Funchal
Over to you now – I’d love to know what you think of this 7 day Madeira itinerary. Do you have any questions about your upcoming trip? Write me a note below; I always reply.
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