Whether you’re a laid-back traveller or an adventurous adrenaline addict curious for your next escape, Madeira has you covered. You could be flying high in the sky or trekking the island’s lush lands… Madeira should be explored from every angle possible. Especially with these six incredible activities.
Land activities in Madeira
Love exploring your natural surroundings whilst on holiday? Perhaps you just prefer to have your feet firmly on the ground… Either way, Madeira has loads of great activities on land that you can enjoy. The island is known for its sweeping sea views and lush, green mountains. Luckily, it’s easy enough to get stuck into the island’s natural beauty. You might fancy a leisurely game of golf (accompanied by stunning sea views) or a relaxing tour on horseback. But here are two of our favourite land activities in Madeira:
Walk the levadas
One thing you’ll notice about Madeira is the majestic mountains and hills. If you’re a real nature lover, you’ll no doubt want to get stuck right into them. Hiking and walking is a never ending past time on the island and it’s one you’ll be sure to enjoy.
The island is home to a network of hiking paths, otherwise known as veredas. Or if it’s a path located alongside a watercourse, it’s known as a levada. These trails are easily accessible and there’s a range of difficulties to choose from. So, even if you don’t consider yourself “young” and “fit”, it’s not a problem!
Why do it?
So, why should you take a walk, hike or trek along the levadas? Well, it’s quite simple. It’s the best way to see Madeira for what it really is. Aside from getting a breath of fresh air, you’ll get to see the raw beauty of the island and it’s quite thrilling to be in the outdoors.
Best levada walks in Madeira
Rabaçal 25 Fountains:
- Around 4.6km or 3 hours in length
- At the end of the hike, there’s the 25 fountains lagoon filled with waterfalls and fountains
- One of the most visited levadas in Madeira
Levada do Alecrim:
- Covers a 7km area
- Takes around 2 and a half hours to complete the hike
- One of the most beautiful hikes accompanied by waterfalls, lagoons and springs along the way
Levada do Rei:
- Covers a 5.1km area
- Takes around 3 and a half hours to complete the hike
- Expect amazing farmland views, forests and vegetation
Toboggan rides in Monte
The small parish of Monte is located up in the mountains above Funchal. It boasts some of the island’s most traditional events such as the Ascension of the Virgin Mary. But if you’re looking for unforgettable activities during your Madeira holidays, Monte also offers something pretty unique.
Yep… we’re talking about good ole’ toboggan rides! Fun, thrilling and not something you get to do every day, there’s no wonder some people head for Monte just to give this a try. It all started in 1850 as it was a quick and easy way for locals to get down to Funchal. But now it’s a pretty big tourist attraction instead.
What is it?
The toboggan is a two-seater wicker sledge operated on wooden runners. It’s also pushed and steered by two men dressed in the traditional straw hat, cotton clothes and rubber soled shoes which act as brakes.
- Reach speeds of 48km per hour
- Total course of 2km
- The Monte tobaggans can be found at the bottom of the stairs towards Nossa Senhora de Monte Church
Water activities in Madeira
There’s no need for water babies to feel left out in Madeira, because you aren’t! There’s loads of fun water activities on the island for you to make the most of. Think flyboarding, parasailing, stand up paddling… all of your usual water sports are on offer here. But if you’re looking for something a little more different, Madeira also has other intriguing water activities that you can dive right into.
Big game fishing
Like to head out to lakes or the sea in your spare time, throw your line in and see what pops up on the end of it? Well, in Madeira there’s loads of big fish… and we mean BIG fish. Record breaking sizes of fish! Catches of Blue Marlin (over 1,000 lbs) and Big Eye Tuna are common in Madeira, more so during the fishing season from June to September. Aside from that, there’s loads of other species including Blue Fin Tuna, Bonito, Barracuda and Swordfish among many more.
Where do you get started?
Fishing conditions in Madeira are so good, that you only need to go a further 5 minutes from the harbour to be in deep fishy waters. Funchal’s Marina is the perfect place to start your fishing adventure with top boats equipped for fishing and well-experienced crews to help you out. Plus, if you’re not an experienced fisherman but rather a keen beginner, you’ll be able to get an introductory lesson.
Whale & dolphin spotting safaris
Madeira has a privileged place in the Atlantic Ocean which means it’s easy enough to spot some of the deep blue’s most fascinating creatures. Madeira’s waters get really deep just off its coast, so on most days you can spot whales and dolphins just passing by.
There’re loads of species which can be found including the Beaked Whale, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and Risso’s Dolphin among loads more. It’s a popular family-friendly activity, getting out into the water by boat and spotting as many different species as you can. And for a more luxurious experience you might choose the catamaran tour!
When’s the best time to go whale & dolphin spotting?
The great thing is that dolphins can be spotted around the island any time of the year. However, the best time to see whales is between May – June or September – November.
Air activities in Madeira
Being up in the air isn’t for everyone, but for those who dare, they’ll be rewarded. There’s something for the brave daredevils and for those who prefer something a little less terrifying. Madeira offers flight tours which explore Porto Santo and the Desertas Islands – this might appeal to many who enjoy a typical flight ride. Otherwise, there’s plenty more things to do in Madeira up in the clouds.
Fly like a bird with paragliding
Ever wondered what it feels like to take to the skies and get a bird’s eye view? Well, grab that opportunity during your Madeira holiday! Adrenaline seekers will love attaching themselves to a parachute and gliding across the sky whilst admiring Madeira’s beauty.
Don’t worry, you’ll also have an experienced paraglider with you who will ensure your safety as well as making sure you have a pleasant and enjoyable time.
Up you go in a cable car
We know that paragliding isn’t for everyone, so why not explore Madeira from up above in a cable car? Luckily, there’s loads on the island which will get you to thrilling heights. Each cable car route offers unique views, some in hard to find places, so you get to explore the true Madeira.
Popular cables cars in Madeira
Funchal – Monte:
- Depart at Almirante Reis Park in Funchal or Caminho das Babosas in Monte
- Journey time is 15-20 minutes
- Tops a vertical rise of 580m
Santana – Rocha do Navio:
- Located on Madeira’s northern coast
- Only a 5-minute trip
- Amazing views of vineyards, banana plantations and the Rocha do Navio nature reserve
- Small coastal village near Funchal
- Descends 200 metres to Garajau Beach
- Local attractions include the Cristo Rei statue and views of the Desertas Islands
Fajã dos Padres:
- Only a journey of 300m/2 and a half minutes
- Located at the bottom of the cliff, the Fajã is a small agricultural area
- The cable car gives you access to the beach and a small restaurant
Botanical Garden – Monte Parish:
- The journey is 1600m long which is around 9 minutes
- Enjoy views of Funchal Bay and the forest around João Gomes River
- Admire the floral beauty the gardens then visit the small town of Monte
Achadas da Cruz:
- Take a trip to a remote spot – perfect to explore Madeira off the beaten path
- Access to a secluded pebbly beach
- The cable car is located in the north of Madeira in Achadas da Cruz village, just 10km from Porto Moniz
These fun activities really get you exploring Madeira from all angles! Get booking today and visit one of the best well-rounded destinations in the world.