• Menu
Home » Destinations » Europe » Madeira » Is Madeira Worth Visiting? 16 Reasons Why Madeira Belongs On Your Bucket List

Is Madeira Worth Visiting? 16 Reasons Why Madeira Belongs On Your Bucket List

This article may contain affiliate links, which may earn us a commission - at no extra cost to you - if you use one of our links. Please see our disclosures page for more information.

So you want to know whether Madeira is worth visiting, eh? My answer is simple: yes, yes, a thousand times YES! The End.

Just kidding. This would be a rubbish blog post if I left it at that, wouldn’t it?

In all seriousness, there’s a very good reason (actually 16 of them) why I’ve travelled to Madeira over half a dozen times by now. Read on for why I think you should consider adding Madeira to your bucket list.

16 Very Good Reasons To Visit Madeira

1. Madeira is called ‘The Hawaii of Europe’ for a reason

Pretty little waterfall in Madeira
Is this Madeira or Hawaii? Why it’s Madeira, of course!

Madeira is often nicknamed ‘The Hawaii of Europe’ – and there’s a very good reason for this.

There are actually a lot of similarities between Madeira and Hawaii. Having visited and loved both archipelagos, a few things stick out in our minds.

To start with, both Madeira and Hawaii are very mountainous green islands. Perfect for nature lovers!

Also, the islands were formed in the same way as each other through volcanic rock many, many years ago. This has resulted in the mountainous green landscapes we can enjoy today when visiting.

You can also find black sand beaches on both Madeira and the islands of Hawaii. In Madeira, you’ll find a black sand beach in Seixal, while Punaluʻu Beach on The Big Island is a popular one to visit in Hawaii.

With all this said, if you can’t quite afford a trip to Hawaii, consider Madeira as the next best destination.

2. There are many stunning landscapes to admire in Madeira

Of course, an island that’s nicknamed ‘The Hawaii of Europe’ must be beautiful. In a word, Madeira is stunning.

Here, you can look forward to beautiful ocean views, waterfalls, forests, views from the top of mountains and clifftops – and much, much more.

READ NEXT: 18 Unmissable Things To Do in Madeira

Admiring the views from the top of one of Madeira's many mountains
Admiring the views from the top of one of Madeira’s many mountains

3. You can enjoy lots of amazing hikes

If you love the outdoors as much as we do, then Madeira is a fantastic destination for you because you can look forward to admiring the beautiful landscapes we’ve already mentioned while on an amazing hike.

Many of the most popular hikes in Madeira follow the Levadas. If you don’t know what a Levada is, then it’s a type of irrigation channel or “mini-canal”, which carries water from one part of the island to another.

One of the Levadas in Madeira you can walk alongside
One of the Levadas you can walk alongside

Some of our favourite hikes and walks in Madeira include:

  • Levada do Caniço in Camacha (approx 20 minutes east of Funchal)
  • Levada do Norte near Quinta Grande (approx 20 minutes west of Funchal)
  • Levada do Caniçal near Machico (approx 30 minutes from Funchal)
  • Levada dos Maroços near Machico (approx 30 minutes from Funchal)
  • Levada do Furado in the Ribeiro Frio National Park (approx 35 minutes north of Funchal)
  • 25 Fontes & Levada do Risco near Rabaçal (approx 1 hour northwest of Funchal)

4. You can walk above the clouds in Madeira

Speaking of incredible hikes and walks, you can also look forward to walks above the clouds in Madeira.

This is another thing Madeira and Hawaii have in common. In Hawaii, you can drive to the top of Mauna Kea on The Big Island to take in the views from above the clouds.

While in Madeira, you can look forward to this type of walk at Levada do Barreiro near Pico do Areeiro.

Hiking through the clouds in Madeira
Walking above the clouds in Madeira

5. Madeira is nicknamed ‘The Island of Eternal Spring’ for a reason

Throughout the year, Madeira’s average temperature remains relatively consistent – whether you travel in January, May, September or any other month, to be honest.

This means Madeira is a fantastic destination to visit any time of the year – whether you want a winter sun destination, a warm summer retreat, or an autumn getaway.

Some days might be more rainy than others, but for the most part, the temperatures should be spring-like year-round.

My first few trips to Madeira were at the end of February for a bit of winter sun. Some days would be overcast, but for the most part, I was in my swimming gear sitting by the pool.

In later years, I started going in June and it was much warmer but also busier. On my next trip to Madeira later this year, I plan on going in the spring months. So I look forward to experiencing that next.

READ NEXT: When Is The Best Time To Visit Madeira?

6. Madeira’s weather keeps you on your toes

Despite Madeira’s spring-like temperatures, the weather is still unpredictable. Thanks in large part to its mountainous terrain.

Don’t be surprised if you drive 30 minutes down the road and leave bright sunshine behind and discover rain or even fog.

Personally, I love the changing weather because it adds an element of surprise to your trip – and allows you to adapt your itinerary to suit what the weather’s doing at the time.

READ NEXT: 7 Days in Madeira Itinerary (No Car Hire Required!)

7. Madeira is a suitable destination for both short and long trips

Madeira is a small island, making it suitable for both short and long trips. The island is only 459 square miles (roughly 35 miles long and 13 miles wide).

If you really wanted to, you could see the most remote parts of the island in a couple of days – especially if you join coach tours.

But the great thing about being such a small island is that Madeira is good for both short and long trips.

Camara do Lobos in Madeira
Exploring beautiful Camara do Lobos for the day

If you only have a few days to spare, you can still see some amazing sights in Madeira. And if you’re able to spend a week or two there, then you’ll have a more relaxed experience and more chance to discover some hidden gems.

Madeira, in many ways, offers a lot of variety for different types of tourists. It’s one of those destinations that’s universal and has something for everyone.

READ NEXT: How Many Days in Madeira is Ideal (+ Itinerary Suggestions)

8. It’s quiet and NOT a party island!

That said, Madeira is NOT a party island. It’s quiet – unlike some of its cousins. And when I say cousin, I mean this figuratively rather than literally.

Although Madeira has become more popular over the years, it’s still a considerably lesser-known destination compared to some of its European counterparts such as the Canary Islands and Mediterranean islands.

In the past, Madeira has been known as somewhere for older people to frequent, but it’s losing that label more and more over the years.

More people in their 20s and 30s are visiting Madeira for all of the things that we’ve mentioned so far: the amazing hikes, the beautiful landscapes, the warm temperatures and everything else that we love about Madeira.

But it’s still not a party island. It’s not somewhere that you go to for clubbing or all-night drinking.

It’s somewhere where you go for nature and outdoor adventures, delicious food in a restaurant and relaxing poolside days. That means it’s perfect for people like you and me who want to experience the outdoors and day trips without a hangover.

Valley of the Nuns in Madeira
The Valley of the Nuns is just one of many amazing views you can enjoy during a day trip around Madeira

9. Madeira is a must for nature lovers

Given Madeira is such a fertile island (thanks to its association with volcanoes) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are some amazing botanical gardens that you can visit in Madeira.

The two noteworthy ones are the Madeira Botanical Garden near Funchal where you can appreciate gardens with an ocean view.

Madeira Botanical Garden
Ocean views from the Madeira Botanical Garden

But my absolute favourite is the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, which is home to three tiers of gardens spread across 70,000 square metres. I particularly love the Japanese garden here.

Monte Tropical Garden
One of the gardens at the Monte Palace Tropical Garden in Madeira

Speaking of botanical gardens, flowers and plants, Madeira is also known for the Bird of Paradise flower, which is one of my favourite tropical flowers. You can find them growing in abundance across the island – particularly if you visit during the spring or early summer months.

Bird of Paradise Flower in Madeira
A Bird of Paradise flower growing next to the road in Madeira

10. No matter what time of year you visit Madeira, you can enjoy an epic festival

Throughout the year, the capital city of Funchal is also known for its many amazing festivals. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Madeira Flower Festival: Usually in April or May. It’s dedicated to – you guessed it – flowers!
  • Madeira Carnival: Usually in February. Watch as Funchal explodes with colour!
  • Atlantic Festival: Usually in June every year. You can look forward to live music and fireworks.
  • Madeira Wine Festival: Often in March, but not every year. This is a great time to sample the local wine!
  • Christmas & New Year festivities: Throughout December, you can enjoy lots of festivities to celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year. 

READ NEXT: 20 Best Things To Do in Funchal, Madeira

11. Madeira celebrates its heritage

People wearing traditional Madeiran clothing at the Flower Festival
People wearing traditional Madeiran clothing at the Flower Festival

Speaking of festivals, Madeira also celebrates its heritage through its various festivals. You’ll often see the locals wearing traditional Madeiran outfits in red, black and yellow.

Not only this, but many of the best souvenirs from Madeira relate to the island’s heritage and traditions in some way, such as embroidery and wickerwork.

12. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see dolphins near the island

There aren’t too many places in the world where, if you go on a dolphin-watching tour, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll see dolphins.

But in Madeira, there are lots of dolphins around because the water is so clean and so warm. I’ve been on lots of dolphin-watching tours in Madeira and I’ve seen dolphins every single time.

In some cases, the dolphins were so used to us that they would come and scratch their fins along the side of the catamaran. It was very interesting to see!

Some dolphins we saw during our catamaran tour
Some dolphins we saw during our catamaran tour
A dolphin next to our catamaran near Madeira
Some of them came to say hello!

13. The flight to and from Madeira is… interesting!

If you’re a nervous flyer, then Madeira might not be the best destination for you because both arriving on and leaving the island via plane is… interesting.

The runway is relatively short (it’s 2781 metres long) and at least 1000 metres of it juts out into the water on top of stilts. It actually used to be as short as 1600 metres, but they extended it to make it safer.

There are also cars parked beneath the runway, so some people describe the flight as a bit like landing on top of an aircraft carrier. It’s certainly a memorable experience!

Because of this, it takes specially trained pilots to do the takeoffs and landings in Madeira, so not all airlines fly to Funchal.

In my case, Madeira was the first destination I ever flew to, so I got used to interesting flights early on. But I appreciate to some, it might be a little (or very!) nerve-wracking.

14. Madeira is a fantastic foodie destination

I’m not much of a foodie myself, but I have to say that Madeira has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten on vacation.

My personal favourite is swordfish, washed down with a glass of Poncha, which is a Madeiran speciality made from sugar cane juice, honey, sugar and orange juice.

But there are lots of other incredible foods to enjoy in Madeira as well, such as:

  • Espada Fish: The Black Scabbardfish aka Espada Fish looks terrifying when you see it at a market, but it tastes delicious!
  • Espetata: Succulent beef cubes on a skewer; usually chargrilled.
  • Pastel de Nata: A traditional Portuguese custard tart.
  • Madeira Wine: Wine has been produced locally in Madeira since as far back as the 15th century, so sampling the local wine is a must while you’re here.
  • Madeira Honey Cake: Unlike the Madeira cake you’ve likely seen in supermarkets back home, real Madeira cake is dark in colour and is made with honey from local sugar cane.
Traditional Madeira honey cake
The REAL Madeira cake looks like this…

15. Who needs rollercoasters when you’ve got toboggans?

Where else can you zip down a hill in a wicker toboggan?

In Madeira, this was a traditional way to get down the steep mountainous hills. The toboggans are traditionally made from wicker and two men stand on the back to control the brakes and steering.

Today, it’s more of a tourist attraction, but it’s fun. Head to Monte via the cable car and come back down the hill on a toboggan. It’s fun, thrilling and an interesting way to get around! Who needs rollercoasters, eh?

READ NEXT: How To Get Around Madeira (With & Without A Car)

16. Madeira is relatively cheaper than its European counterparts

Despite Madeira becoming more popular over the years, it’s still relatively cheaper to visit than many other similar European destinations, including places like Tenerife and popular Mediterranean islands. Probably because Madeira is still largely undiscovered compared to some of the more famous European islands.

Read More About Madeira

I hope you agree that Madeira is well worth visiting – especially if you love nature and the outdoors.

So, if you’d like to read more about Madeira, then we have lots of travel blogs for you to check out. Here’s our full list of articles about Madeira. Alternatively, here are some blog posts you can read right now:

Of course, if you also have questions we’ve not already covered, then please feel free to leave us a comment down below or send us an email. We’ll be happy to help!

Did you like this list of reasons to visit Madeira? Why not share this blog post with a loved one or friend now and convince them to come with you?

Is Madeira Worth Visiting? 16 Reasons Why My Answer's Yes!
If you're finding our blog posts helpful, we would love it if you would consider donating to our "Buy Me A Coffee" site. Thank you so much for your support xoxo
Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

View stories

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *