Funchal
Off the beaten track

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Our most recommended Funchal Off the beaten track

Hike Madeira: Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

1. Hike Madeira: Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

The sun rises over your hotel as you set out on your walking tour adventure. Leaving from the comforts of your room in Funchal on the Madeira Islands, we'll drive you up to the third highest peak in Madeira - the magnificent Pico Arieiro. You'll sip coffee or a drink on your way up to the base of the peak, looking out at all the stunning beauty this place has to offer. As we head from sea level up to the base at 5,964ft (1818m), you'll pass beautiful flora and fauna. Finally, we'll begin our mighty walk up the mighty Pico Arieiro up to the highest point on the island, the Pico Ruivo peak at 6107 ft (1862m). Finally, we'll walk down to Teixeira where you'll be comfortably transferred back to your hotel. And of course, no day of hiking is complete without a drink at a traditional bar, so we'll make sure to stop at one with a spectacular view to enjoy the closing of your day!

Madeira Walks - Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains

2. Madeira Walks - Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains

Rabaçal is a nature reserve on the island of Madeira that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. It is an area of intense natural beauty, brimming with waterfalls and unique flora and plant life, all of which you can experience on this wonderful guided walk. The 25 Fountains Walk starts by heading down the biggest valley of Madeira towards the Rabaçal reserve. Along the way you will walk along two of the oldest Madeira levadas each boasting a remarkable evergreen landscape with beautiful waterfalls scattered throughout. The 25 fountains refer to the 25 natural springs you will discover on the walk. Each spring falls into a small crystal clear lake surrounded by dense vegetation. Once you arrive here you may never want to leave! In this paradise-like oasis you'll be immersed in beautiful surronds, listening to the murmuring sounds of the water and the quiet chanting of the birds. For nature lovers this walk is an invitation into a unique and awe-inspiring slice of heaven. Rabaçal is a paradise of waterfalls, lakes and enchanting fountains and there is no better way to experience it than on a guided walk.

Northwest Madeira 4x4 Tour

3. Northwest Madeira 4x4 Tour

The tour will start at your hotel, cruise port, or guest house, taking you to Serra d'Água, where you will have the opportunity to learn about the island of Madeira. At the North side you will see Ginjas village. Then continue on, using the old roads and some forest roads where its only possible to go with a 4X4. Head to the top at 1500 meters at Paúl da Serra. Explore the natural beauty of this island, meet the people, and explore the cultures, traditions, and local food and drinks. Enjoy the expertise of a multilingual driver, who will take you on this full day journey to Encumeada, Ginjas, Estanquinhos, Paúl da Serra, Fanal, Ribeira da Janela, Porto Moniz, Seixal and São Vicente, with additional opportunities to see and swim in the volcanic lava pools.

Funchal: Old Town Walking Tour

4. Funchal: Old Town Walking Tour

Meet your guide at Jesuit's College of Funchal, Madeira University to begin this 2-hour guided walking tour of Funchal. Learn how the history of Madeira and Funchal shaped the city centre as you visit the most important points of interest. Travel down the 19th century public walkway between the Municipal Theatre and the Cathedral, where sugarcane was first planted in Madeira, during the 15th century. Explore the city’s medieval heart dating from the Golden Age of Sugar and discover the beautiful 17th century religious monuments. Visit the ruins of the old Pilory Square and other remnants from past floods and the area damaged by the Great Fire of Funchal in 1584. This tour helps to support students at the University of Madeira who are facing financial difficulties.  

Funchal: Full-Day 4x4 Eastern Tour

5. Funchal: Full-Day 4x4 Eastern Tour

On this tour, see the best views of the eastern side of Madeira, a unique experience passing by the non-touristic villages. Start with a visit to Machico, where Portuguese captains landed for the first time. Move on to Portela for an experience with the amazing countryside of Madeira, overlooking Eagle Rock (Penha D'Aguia), known as the human face. Enjoy the view over the rocks and the coast. Afterwards, continue to the sugar cane and rum factory in Porta da Cruz. Taste the local rums and learn about the local production of rum. Travel down the serpentine roads to the village of Santana to visit the traditional thatched houses, and enjoy a delicious lunch during your stay in Santana. In the afternoon, visit the 3rd highest peak of Madeira. At 1818 meters you will have a 360° view over the surroundings, passing by Ribeiro Frio Village.

Funchal: Madeira Island Group Surf Lesson

6. Funchal: Madeira Island Group Surf Lesson

Join a surf lesson in the clear Atlantic waters off Madeira Island, and learn the fun sport for the first time or hone your surfing skills with an expert instructor. Enjoy the ease of a hotel pickup from Funchal, and be directly dropped off at the best surfing spots on the island. Kick-start your lesson with a warm up and a technical demonstration on the beach before hitting the water to catch some waves. Feel the cool waters beneath your gliding board, and the adrenaline course through you after catching your first wave. Enjoy the top surfing spots for beginners on Madeira Island, including Praia do Seixal, Praia de Machico, and Porto da Cruz, where your instructor will bring you to make sure you get the best experience possible.

Desertas Islands Full-Day Catamaran Trip from Funchal

7. Desertas Islands Full-Day Catamaran Trip from Funchal

On this full-day catamaran trip to the Desertas Islands you’ll sail along the south coast of Madeira Island. On arrival you’ll disembark in clear waters onto a beach of volcanic origin, where you’ll have a chance to enjoy a swim. Covering an area of 12,586 hectares the Natural Reserve of the Desertas Islands comprises all islands and islets (Ilhéu Chão, Deserta Grande, Bugio, and adjacent islets) and all of the surrounding marine area. It has been designated a nature reserve for over 25 years, and is now internationally known for its monk seal conservation efforts. Today this protected area can be visited by sea. Deserta Grande is the only island where visitors can disembark, and you’ll enjoy a guided walk to the conservation center to learn about the monk seal protection efforts and also about endemic flora and fauna.

From Funchal: Sea Cliffs and Wine Tasting 4WD Tour

8. From Funchal: Sea Cliffs and Wine Tasting 4WD Tour

Depart Funchal by open 4WD vehicle and journey to one of the island's most impressive views. Go to Cabo Girão on the southern coast, where a glass-floored viewing platform was installed in October 2012 and the Cabo Girão Skywalk is the highest in Europe. Marvel at hues of intense depth and clarity, enhanced by the constant light of a warm and inviting sun. Travel along the island's steep and serpentine roads and enter an exotic part of Madeira known only to a few. Benefit from the services of a local guide as you get uninterrupted views from your open-top 4x4 vehicle and visit Câmara de Lobos, where Sir Winston Churchill was inspired to paint the landscape. We will stop at a local bar, where you can try some local/traditional drinks and the famous, "poncha."

From Funchal: East Coast of Madeira Tour

9. From Funchal: East Coast of Madeira Tour

The tour heads first to Camacha for a visit to the largest outlet on the island for wicker products where demonstrations of wicker weaving can be seen. Continue uphill by heading for Pico do Arieiro for tremendous views over a succession of knife-edge ridges and sheer cliffs. At an altitude of 1,818 meters, it is the third-highest peak in Madeira. Continue your journey downhill through small terraces lining the road before you reach the Laurissilva Forest, one of the most beautiful natural treasures of Madeira. This forest is about 20 million years old and was classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.  The next stop is at the charming village of Santana, a picture of domestic and agricultural prosperity known for its traditional stone houses with steep, triangular-shaped thatched roofs. Traditionally people lived in these ingenious structures and you can discover how spacious the A-frame buildings are when you visit one. Next, drive down the north coast to the rural village of Porto da Cruz, home to the only functioning sugar mill in the north coast. This small village has a maze of alleys and, as well as a beautiful sea promenade, the former warehouses are being converted into cafes. Lastly, take in Praia de Machico, a beautiful bay with an uncommonly shaped valley that looks as if a balcony overlooks the sea and the mountains. The sugar cane crops and its mills made it very important for Madeira’s economy until the 17th century. The eastern side of the bay is dominated by Pico do Facho’s 320 meter peak, named after the beacon that used to be lit here to warn residents of approaching pirates. Heading home, enjoy views of the coast and enormous Madeira junipers trees which have become quite rare over the years.

From Funchal: Full-Day Madeira Peaks Tour by Open 4x4

10. From Funchal: Full-Day Madeira Peaks Tour by Open 4x4

Begin this full-day 4x4 tour with a pick-up at your hotel in Funchal and travel deep into the southeast of Madeira. You’ll come to Machico town and the line that divides the north and south of the island. Take in breathtaking views of the Eagles Rock from Portela. Drive down, stopping in Porto da Cruz, which is the next must-see point. Visit a sugar cane factory, continue to the Faial coastline and then up to see the typical houses of Santana. These small straw-thatched triangular houses are emblematic of Madeira and intricate in their construction. Head down into the valley and through the forest to Riveiro Frio at an elevation of 1818 meters, the third-highest peak on the Island.

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What people are saying about Funchal

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 953 reviews

This trip is fabulous. Leanna was a fabulous guide, setting the expectation about the walk clearly at the beginning and at regular intervals throughout the walk. Along the way she gave a host of really interesting information about the route, surrounding nature and Madeira. The wal itself and views are epic. I'm not an avid walker, but am of decent fitness and found it okay, but the 400 steep stairs towards the end are a challenge. You get an hour at the peak to spend as you like and lunch above the clouds is sublime. I read a couple of reviews before booking saying they felt rushed - I couldn't disagree more. The pace of the walk was very moderate and understanding of all walking abilities, especially the second half which is pretty much all uphill. I didn't feel rushed once. You can take as many pictures as you like and catch up, no questions asked. Would definitely recommend.

My friend and I completed the walk with Amilcar, he was very competent, calming and understanding of each member of the tours fitness abilities. He was funny and caring, especially to a woman who had a lung condition within the group, taking the time to ensure she was okay on steep inclines. He drove the taxi in a safe manner ( and trust me when you see the high roads of Maderia you want to feel confident about the person behind the wheel). The walk is beautiful and worth completing. Its a busy route, however we all share this planet so be patient! If you want empty mountain's to hike best come to Ireland :) Overall, you will feel comfortable with this company - they are time efficient and our tour guide, Amilcar, was extremely good at his job! Thanks again, we will be back!!!! Hannah and Maire

Nice 11km walk next to the Levadas. Not too much training needed as it was mostly going down or flat. Last part through a tunnel. Not advisable for people with extreme fear of heights or claustrophobia. All our group (18 people) enjoyed a lot. One person from another group had to return because of fear of heights - this was taken care of very professionally with an alternate route and I think the person enjoyed also in the end.

Kia was an excellent and knowledgeable guide. It was a very interesting tour which we would highly recommend to other travellers to Funchal.

Very nice. Nice young ladies, very friendly, received us wonderfully. Answered all questions in detail. As I said, everything is fine.