If you’re an adventure and outdoor lover, this perfect 5 day Madeira itinerary should be on top of your bucket list. Filled with adventurous hikes, outdoor sceneries and breathtaking places, we guarantee that you’ll fall in love with Madeira. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the perfect 5 days in Madeira and tell you everything you need to know.
Madeira has easily become one of my favourite places in all of Europe. As I love hiking, adventures, being outdoors or watching a sunset on top of a mountain, Madeira offers everything I like to do. But even if you’re not willing to hike a few kilometres every day, there’s so much to see and do: from stunning ocean-side sunsets to beaches that will make you feel like you’ve set foot on Hawaii. Madeira is a pure dream and this 5 day Madeira itinerary will guide you through the best things to do.
This perfect 5 day Madeira itinerary is a shorter version of our 7 day Madeira itinerary and will help you with your travels if you want to stay for a shorter amount of time.
Why should you visit Madeira?
- It’s the perfect place for hiking of any level
- You’ll see the most stunning landscapes
- The island itself is very diverse although it’s so small
- Great weather year-round: temperatures rarely drop under 20°C
Best time to visit Madeira
Since Madeira, besides being an European island, is so close to Africa, the weather is very good year-round. Even if you’re visiting in December, you can plan with around 20 degrees celsius during the day and around 15 degrees in the evening. Therefore, you can really visit Madeira during every month of the year. However, the best times are between May and September as it’s overall a little bit warmer and sunnier.
How to get to Madeira
The best way to get to Madeira is by air. The international airport of Madeira is based in Funchal and you’ll easily find flights from any major city in Europe. We already got a few messages regarding the landing and if it’s scary. Fortunately, you can calm down: only specially trained pilots are allowed to fly into Funchal. Hence, the landing was honestly one of the best we ever had.
How to get around in Madeira
As already mentioned, Madeira is a pretty small island. However, you should not really aim to do this itinerary by foot or by public transport. The public transport system is not as reliable as it is in major European cities. Thus, if you want to visit the places stated in this 5 day Madeira itinerary, we would recommend renting a car on Madeira. You can simply pick it up once you’ve landed at the airport and then drop it off before leaving.
Tip: We would highly recommend to rent your car at a local dealer as prices are much cheaper.
Your 5 day Madeira itinerary – Overview
ONE / Arrival at the airport, picking up your rental car & sunset at Seixal beach
TWO / Sunrise above the clouds & PR1 hike
THREE / The best viewpoints on the north coast
FOUR / Easternmost points of Madeira
FIVE / Ribeira da Janela and the Fanal forest
If you’re a first timer to Madeira, you might also want to read about our first timer’s guide to Madeira.
Day 1 of your 5 day Madeira itinerary
Arriving in Madeira
Your first day on Madeira is all about arriving to the island, picking up your rental car and get to know Madeira’s beautiful coastlines. Since you’ll most likely be exhausted from the flight, I didn’t plan too much into your first day. However, I’ll also add on some tips that you can explore if you’re wanting to.
Firstly, you’ll land in Funchal and after arriving, it’s time to pick up your rental car. As previously said, this is the best way to get to the several spots on the island and ensures that you’ll have the best time possible.
Afterwards, check into your hotel or holiday apartment. If you’re asking us, we’d recommend to stay somewhere nearby Funchal. During our first time on Madeira, we stayed in Calheta. This was a beautiful stay and Calheta is also known to be one of the sunniest parts of the island. But whenever we wanted to drive somewhere, we had to drive past Funchal.
Your first afternoon & evening of your 5 day Madeira itinerary: Seixal beach
I hope you’re already feeling arrived, because on your first afternoon and evening, we’re doing a quick tour up to Seixal beach. This beach is one of the most famous places in all of Madeira as it’s a black sand beach that makes you feel like you’re in the real Jurassic world. The green-clad mountains and the wonderful view make this spot one of the most beautiful places in Madeira.
Tips if you’re having some extra time:
- On your way to Seixal beach, you’ll come across a waterfall on the left side of the road. The waterfall is called „Cascata Agua d’Alto„.
- Another viewpoint nearby Seixal beach is Miradouro Véu da Noiva. Stop by if you want to see a waterfall pouring down into the ocean.
- Seixal beach can be easily combined with a visit to Porto Moniz. There you can find amazing natural swimming pools.
Your 5 day Madeira itinerary: Day 2
Your second day on Madeira will be filled with one of the most popular and best things to do on the island: The PR1 Pico to Pico hike.
Sunrise above the clouds
It’s an early wake up today, because you will spend your first sunrise in Madeira above the clouds. Yes, you’ve read that right. Madeira is known to be one of the best places to see cloud inversions. And the best cloud inversions can be seen from Pico do Arieiro.
In order to get to the best sunrise point in Madeira, just type in „Pico do Arieiro“ into Google maps and it will automatically guide you to the parking lot. This parking lot is free to use, but you need to be early in order to get a spot. Once you arrived at the parking lot, walk to the kiosk up front and then walk left for about 10-15 minutes. Then you’ll arrive at Miradouro Ninho da Manta which is an amazing spot to watch the sunrise.
Tip: In order to see if your chances for a cloud inversion will be good, check the weather up front! If it’s foggy down in Ribeiro Frio, your chances are good.
5 days in Madeira: Hiking the PR1 Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
If you’ll only do one hike in Madeira, let it be this one. This hiking trail connects three characteristic points of Madeira: it starts at Pico do Areeiro (1,818 m), goes over Pico das Torres (1,851 m) and ends at Pico Ruivo (1,862 m). All in all, this route is 14 km long and has a medium difficulty. In order to do this hike, you should definitely pack in something for breakfast, snacks and enough to drink.
Alternative way to spend your second day in Madeira
Don’t feel like hiking? Then I got another plan for you! After watching the sunrise, make your way back to your car and drive back down in the direction of Funchal. But instead of driving all the way back, you’ll drive to Monte Palace, a tropical garden with art exhibitions.
After visiting Monte Palace, you can enjoy your sunset at Ponta do Sol and then head over to Funchal in order to explore the city’s restaurants and night life.
Day 3 of your 5 days in Madeira itinerary
Wow, time goes by so quickly! It’s already your third day on this beautiful island. This means it’s time to explore the best viewpoints on the north coast of Madeira.
Overall, Madeiras north coast is a lot wilder and greener than the sunny south. It’s full of lush green valleys, beautiful levada hikes and one viewpoint after another. On the north coast you can easily stroll by the ocean and listen to the waves roll in, hike amongst old forests or just enjoy a scenic drive.
Morning: Miradouro do Guindaste & Santana
Starting off strong with a morning at Miradouro do Guindaste, also known as the crane viewpoint. A morning at this viewpoint is magical as the sun rises directly in front of the viewpoint, immersing the ocean into pure golden light.
After sunrise, you can easily drive to the Casas Tipicas de Santana. The triangular, thatched Casas de Santana are one of the most famous places and represent a unique historical heritage. You should plan around 30-45 minutes for the Casas Tipicas. Tip: Here you’ll also find cafés and restaurants that sell typical food.
Noon: Boaventura & Ponta Delgada
Once you’ve visited Santana, drive the ER 101 further to Boaventura. Here you’ll find amazing viewpoints like Miradouro do Arco de São Jorge or Miradouro de São Cristovão.
Continue driving to Ponta Delgada which is a small town in the north of Madeira. Park your car and enjoy a scenic stroll through the little village, where you can find a ton of other viewpoints.
Afternoon: São Vicente valley
From Ponta Delgada, it’s only a short drive over to the São Vicente valley. Here you’ll find some of the most famous viewpoints of the island, such as Capelinha de Nossa Senhora de Fátima. If you haven’t made it to Véu da Noiva or Casta Agua d’Alto during your first evening in Madeira, now’s the time to catch up to this.
Sunset: Ponta da Ladeira
The last viewpoint for this day is Ponta da Ladeira, one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Madeira and also the best viewpoint to watch the sunset. Here you’ll see golden hues over coastal cliffs and a panoramic view of Achadas da Cruz and the surrounding mountains.
If you want to read more about this, check out our blog post about the most beautiful viewpoints in Madeira.
The fourth day of your 5 day Madeira itinerary
Today we’re road tripping to the easternmost point of Madeira to see a peninsular formed due to volcanic eruption. This peninsular is called Ponta do São Laurenço. It’s a postcard-perfect view and you can either just enjoy the view from the Miradouro, or explore the peninsular yourself. Of course, we’d recommend the latter as the PR8 hike Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço is one of the shortest and easiest hikes on the island. The PR8 hike is 6km round trip and a very easy, flat hike along a cliff which is secured through railings.
After doing the hike, you can stop by the winding roads of Ponta do São Laurenço and snap a picture.
For today’s sunset, drive back in the direction of Funchal and stop by the Cristo Rei statue. Here you’ll see the sun drop into the ocean.
Your last day in Madeira
I still have two beautiful spots planned for your last day out of your 5 day Madeira itinerary. They’re both located in the northern tip of Madeira, but very easily accessible. You don’t have to do any hiking today but you’ll still see amazing landscapes and one of the most famous forests in the world.
Morning: Ribeira da Janela
For sunrise, or shortly after, visit Ribeira da Janela. This place is absolutely bucket list worthy and one of the most beautiful spots to watch the sunrise. Watching the massive waves roll in whilst the sun paints everything in a light golden light is worth waking up early.
Tip: If it’s too windy, you can also watch the sunrise from the little platform behind the stone beach.
Noon: Fanal Forest
Actually, Ribeira da Janela is the perfect starting point to drive to the Fanal Forest as it’s very nearby. Be careful with your navigation as typing in „Fanal Forest“ will lead you to the wrong point. Instead, type in „Posto Florestal do Fanal“ to reach the parking lot. Again, the parking lot is free to use and very spacious. Thus, you’ll definitely get a spot at any point of the day.
From the parking lot, you’ll already see the mythical forest of Madeira. The most famous spot with the huge tree in frame is directly at the beginning of the park. If you’re lucky, the forest will be covered in fog, making it a mystical experience.
Evening: Outbound flight back home
Unfortunately, it’s already the last day of your 5 days in Madeira. I really hope that you liked this 5 day Madeira itinerary and that it will help you with your travel plans.