Madeira has to be one of my favorite places in all of Europe. The so-called flower island has some of the most mesmerizing landscapes: from stunning ocean-side sunset views to lush forests and mountains that will make you feel like you’ve set foot on Hawaii. The island is a pure dream, so if there is one place that should be on the top of your bucket list, it’s this 7-day itinerary for Madeira, Portugal.
While you might think that 7 days will never be enough to see Madeira, it certainly is. Madeira is quite a small island which you could easily see within a few days. Hence, seven days will allow you to visit the major must-sees and also get enough time to relax, enjoy the local culture and great food.
This 7-day Madeira itinerary has a great mix between beaches, waterfalls and viewpoints – so don’t worry, there’s definitely something for everyone here.
Why should you visit Madeira?
- Several Levadas and Veredas that are perfect for hiking of any level
- Amazing landscapes from beaches over forests to mountains
- Very diverse island with stunning views
- Great weather year-round
Best time to visit Madeira
Due to the fact that Madeira is so close to Africa, the temperatures are very stable year-round. But don’t underestimate this fact, because Madeira still has mountains and it can be snowy during winter. Therefore, we would recommend to visit between May and September for the best experience; especially if it’s your first visit.
How to get to Madeira
Madeira has an international airport based in Funchal. This makes it possible to visit Madeira from any major city within Europe. For example, we found direct flights from Cologne to Funchal in almost every month.
How to get around in Madeira
As previously mentioned, Madeira is a pretty small island. However, the public transport system is pretty much non existent which makes it hard to rely on buses. If you want to visit the places stated in this itinerary, we would definitely recommend to rent a car on Madeira. You can pick it up at the airport and simply drop it off before leaving.
7 days on Madeira – Overview
DAY 1 / Arrival, picking up your rental car & enjoying a sunset at the beach
DAY 2 / Ponta de São Lourenço
DAY 3 / Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruivo hike
DAY 4 / Seixal Beach & Véu da Noiva
DAY 5 / São Vicente and Capelinha de Nossa Senhora de Fátima
DAY 6 / PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike
DAY 7 / Ribeira da Janela & flight back home
Day 1 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
Arrival, picking up your rental car & enjoying a sunset at the beach
Did you know that the airport landing in Madeira is one of the most famous and also most dangerous ones in the world? Only specially trained pilots have the permission to land here. This is because it’s a very short landing strip, so as soon as the plane hits the ground, you will feel the pilot hitting the breaks. But don’t worry: it’s not terrifying at all!
After your arrival it’s time to pick up your rental car. We booked our car directly at the airport to be able to drive to our hotel and continue with the Madeira travel itinerary on the next day. When choosing a rental car for Madeira, we would definitely recommend to get something bigger and don’t opt for the cheapest car available as the driving on Madeira is kind of difficult.
For our home base, we chose Calheta because of its proximity to the airport and other beautiful spots, but also because it seemed to be a quiet and relaxing place. We had a wonderful stay at Savoy Saccharum Resort & Spa, only 5 minutes walking from Calheta beach. For our first evening, we decided to relax and enjoy the sunset at the local beach.
Day 2 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
Ponta de São Laurenço
If you research Madeira, there is no way you could miss Ponta de São Laurenço. It is actually the easternmost part of the island and once you’ve parked your car, you’ll quickly notice that the landscape here is completely different compared to the rest of the island. You will also notice that it’s quite windy on this part of the island, so definitely bring a jacket.
On your way back to Calheta, you can also visit the famous „Casas Tipicas„, traditional stone houses with steep, triangular-shaped thatched roofs. These tiny houses are spread out through the small village of Santana.
Day 3 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruivo hike
On our third day visiting Madeira, it’s finally time for the first hike! We found it very helpful to first get one full day in Madeira to acclimate ourselves and then do the Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruivo hike as the peaks are located on ~1.800m above sea level. However, please consider postponing this hike to any other day or switching it with another activity as you will have to make sure it’s a clear day and that it doesn’t rain. Otherwise you’ll most likely find yourself within the clouds instead of above the clouds.
In order to check the weather before driving all the way up to Pico do Ariero, just search for „Pico do Ariero webcam“ to get a feeling of how the weather is. If the weather is good, type in Pico do Ariero into your navigation system and park at the Pico do Ariero parking lot. Then, make your way to the restaurant at the top and go left. Afterwards, you’ll follow the signs that say PR1 which will take you all the way to the highest point of the island.
The Pico do Ariero (1.818m) to Pico Ruivo (1.862m) hike is one of the most popular hikes of Madeira, so be prepared to share the hiking paths with a couple of fellow hikers. Also, keep in mind that the PR1 hike is not a loop hike, so you have to hike the entire path back again. Definitely pack some snacks and enough water.
Day 4 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
Seixal Beach & Véu da Noiva
After yesterday’s hike, your fourth day on Madeira definitely is a bit more relaxing, combining two of our absolute favorite spots along the island: Seixal Beach and Véu da Noiva.
Seixal Beach is a black sand beach in the north-west of Madeira and it does come with some epic views that will make you feel like you’re in Hawaii. Actually, I don’t like combining places, because it always makes it feel like one place is the benchmark and the other one is just something like a cheap replicate, but this should give you a feeling what Seixal Beach looks like. If you want to see some videos from Seixal Beach, check out our Reel here.
The black sand beach is surrounded by lush green and comes with stunning mountain views as well. Also, from the beach you can already see the next spot: Véu da Noiva.
Véu da Noiva is a beautiful viewpoint of a waterfall next to the ocean. And honestly, I don’t think that there could be a better place for reflecting the different landscapes you can experience on Madeira Island.
Day 5 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
São Vicente and Capelinha de Nossa Senhora de Fátima
Actually, you could also combine the town of São Vicente with the previous two spots, Seixal Beach and Véu da Noiva, but we really enjoyed driving around the island and having time to explore, especially since it was our first time visiting Madeira.
Especially if you have bad weather on a day or two, São Vicente and the Capelinha de Nossa Senhora de Fátima is the perfect place to explore. As you can see on the drone shot below, we certainly weren’t lucky with the weather here and still had so much fun visiting.
Day 6 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike
Another day, another hike – and this one is special! Whilst the previous hike from Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruivo is called a Vereda, a dry hike, the PR9 hike is a Levada. Levadas are a system of channels or aqueducts. A rule of thumb is that the Vereda hiking trails are up in the mountains of Madeira whilst the Levada hiking trails are in the forests of Madeira. They consist of maintained paths alongside man-mades water springs, making it a calming experience.
The PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike is one of the most famous hikes of the entire island, so it can become crowded during the day. In order to enjoy the lush nature and amazing panorama’s along the hike, start as early as possible.
Here are some tips you need to know before doing the PR9 hike:
STARTING POINT OF THE PR9 LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE HIKE:
The PR9 hike starts at Parque Florestal das Queimadas. You can easily type this into your navigation system and you will end up at this popular spot which you might already have seen on Social Media. There is a parking lot at Queimadas which will fill up very quickly. Hence, I’d really advise you to come before 10am. After parking your car, you can enjoy a coffee at the little Café in the first house and then start the hike.
LENGTH & DIFFICULTY OF PR9 LEVADA DO CALDEIRÃO VERDE HIKE:
The entire hike is about 12 kilometres long and will take you approximately 4 hours in total. Some of the paths are quite narrow, so you will have to be careful here and there when people come towards you.
Overall, this hike is not very difficult since there are only around 100 meters of incline over the 12 kilometres. Hence, it’s basically flat, which makes it comfortable for most hikers. This hike is great for average hikers, kids, older people, and even bringing a dog would be no issue.
The Levada do Caldeirão Verdade will take you through Madeiras lush jungles, past several waterfalls and will even have you walk through tunnels. You should definitely bring hiking clothes and, if you already have one, your headlamp. Otherwise your phone flashlight will also do its thing for the tunnels on this hike.
After finishing your hike, you come back to Queimadas and remember that cute little café from the morning? Order a Poncha here as a reward, if you’d like to. Poncha is a traditional drink served on Madeira, consisting of rum, honey and lemon juice.
Day 7 of your 7-day Madeira itinerary
Ribeira da Janela & flight back home
It’s already the last day of your 7-day Madeira itinerary, but no need to be sad! I saved the best part for your last day: Watching the sunrise at Ribeira da Janela has to be one of my favorite experiences ever. Watching the waves roll in while the sun slowly rose was just amazing.
Afterwards, it’s time to check-out of Savoy Saccharum Resort & Spa. Since the hotel is very close to the airport, we spent the last day enjoying the sun and even had some time to explore Funchal a bit.
I hope this 7-day itinerary for Madeira will help you with your travel plans and will also inspire you to visit some of the most magic places along this beautiful island. If you have any questions about this itinerary, simply drop them in the comment section below!