There are so many things to do and see on Madeira, and it might be hard to make a Madeira Island 7-day itinerary for your holiday. Ideally, you stay more days on this amazing flower island, but most people from Europe go for a 7-day trip to Madeira. I will give you an idea about the best things to see and do, excursions and island day tours on Madeira Island. This will help you in creating your own Madeira Island 7-day itinerary, for your vacation of one week to Madeira.
Create your own Madeira Island 7-day itinerary with or without a car
Because personal interests may vary, I give you an overview for you to create your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary exactly as you wish! I include the things you absolutely must do and can’t miss on Madeira Island. I did not rent a car, but the things to do in your 7-day itinerary can be done with or without renting a car on Madeira Island. I will also give you some bonus tips for if you have more than 7 days on Madeira Island, or if you’re a scuba diver!
After traveling to Madeira Islands for 5 days, I fell in love with the island!
Madeira Island is very close to me, living on the Canary Islands. There is a direct flight between the two archipelagos, of less than 1,5 hours. I first went on a 5-day holiday to Madeira Island, but I decided to go scuba diving on Porto Island. I booked a return boat ferry from Madeira to Porto Santo Island, so I got to spend my first and last day on Madeira. Although I only got some vibes of Funchal, I felt this strong urge to go back and see more of the island. You can read more about Porto Santo Island at the end of this post.
I created my Madeira Island itinerary for 10 days
Half a year later, I returned to Madeira Island for about 10 days. I created my own Madeira Island itinerary for a bit longer than 7 days, which included the Madeira West tour, Madeira East tour and nun’s valley on a half a day tour. I did two levada walks, the 25 fountains of Rabaçal and the mountain hike to the highest peak of Madeira, from Pico de Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. If you book anything through the links provided in this post, I receive a small commission.
Then I came back for a month to Madeira Island
I also visited the Botanical Gardens and did a Funchal city walk, before taking off to the Azores Islands. After the Azores, I came back to Madeira for a month. The third time I did even more sightseeing, excursions and levada walks. I traveled Madeira without renting a car. You can find a link to all my other posts about Madeira here. But I strongly recommend to check out this post full of practical travel information for Madeira Island.
Things you must do and add to your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary
So, with all those excursions, sightseeings, day tours and levada walks, I have a good idea of the must-dos to include in your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary! There are so many different levada walks and island tours, that it’s hard to choose. If you like to rent a car during your holiday on Madeira Island, you might still use the recommendations in this post to go and see the island at your own pace.
Traveling around Madeira Island without a rent-a-car
I did all the things on Madeira without a car. I booked the tours that most tour companies offer, and I’ll include the links where you can book them. You can do the same tours and levada walks by yourself with a rental car, but keep in mind that not all levada walks are circular, so for those levada hikes, you need to organize transport back to the starting point.
What day tours and excursions to include in your 7-day itinerary for Madeira Island?
If you’re planning to travel to the Madeira archipelago, I suggest including the following in your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary. Once again, you can book them with tour companies, for a very reasonable price. But if you prefer to rent-a-car, you can look at all the places where the tour companies stop, and drive there yourself.
Suggestions for a Madeira Island 7-day itinerary:
- 2 days: two full-day tour island excursions to see Madeira Island, do both the Madeira West Tour and the East Tour of Madeira. With those two tours, you’ve seen most of the best places to visit and gain a good overall impression of Madeira Island
- 2 days: two levada walks through different landscapes and in different areas of Madeira Island. Pick one from the Laurisilva forest, like the 25 fountains of Rabaçcal (this is the most popular levada walk on Madeira) or Caldeirao Verde. Combine a forest levada walk with the Levada walk between the mountain peaks or an easier levada hike through farmlands.
- 1 day: visit the Botanical Gardens and Monte Palace Garden in Funchal
- 1 day: combine a half-day tour of nun’s valley with a Funchal city walk and include a walk through Funchal’s old town, or choose to go for wine tasting in Funchal
- 1 day: free to choose! You can go on a boat excursion, go dolphin and whale watching by Catamaran, go for another levada walk, you can do a full day Madeira wine tour, go shopping in Funchal or just relax and absorb some sunshine. You can go scuba diving and either do a one-day beginner’s experience, or guided dives in the Funchal eco-park for certified divers, or dive the Afonso Cerqueira Wreck if you’re an experienced diver. Don’t wait till your last day and keep your no-flight time after diving in mind.
Madeira West Tour: this excursion must absolutely be included in your 7-day itinerary
They say that Madeira West Tour is the most beautiful day tour of the island, and it should definitely be included in your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary. You visit the charming fishing village of Camara de Lobos, drive through the beautiful Encumeada pass, stop at Sao Vicente and see the natural pools in Porto Moñiz, amongst much more. You also stop at amazing viewpoints during this Madeira Island west tour. You will be amazed to see such a variety of landscapes and how the microclimate changes throughout the day.
A few tips for the excursion Madeira Island West tour
Don’t forget to bring a jacket because it can be much colder in the mountains, swimwear so you can soak in a natural pool in Porto Moñiz after your lunch break, and hiking boots, if you like to do the short levada walk during this tour. Here is a little video about the west tour of Madeira Island to give you a good impression.
Include the Madeira East tour in your one-week itinerary for a complete idea of the island
I really liked the East Tour of Madeira too, and I especially enjoyed the visit to Santana. The lovely village, with its famous A-framed houses and flowers everywhere, is something truly special to see and experience. Also, the stop at the entrance point for the Ribeira Frio levada walk, the visit to an old rum factory and the view over Sao Lourenço are all interesting things to see and include in your 7-day itinerary on Madeira Island. You also stop in Garajau where you can imagine yourself in Brasil due to the huge Jesus statue.
A tip for the excursion Madeira Island East Tour
The day tour of Madeira Island East offers some truly amazing photo opportunities. Don’t forget to charge your cellphone or bring a camera, you don’t want to end up without being able to make some really nice pictures. Here is a little video of the east tour.
Levada Walk for your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary: 25 fountains of Rabaçal
There are so many different Levada hikes to choose from, but if you have only a week on Madeira Island, I would choose two different ones. I recommend doing one levada hike through the Laurisilva forest, like the 25 fountains of Rabaçal levada walk. It is a circular route, so you can also go there with a rental car. This Levada hike goes right through the laurel forest and includes lots of waterfalls (that’s where the name 25 fountains comes from). You can go for a swim close to the waterfall during your lunch break. Here is a video about the 25 fountains of Rabaçal levada hike.
The Caldeirao Verde Levada walk as an alternative, if the 25 fountains of Rabaçal Levada hike is fully booked
The Levada walk at the 25 Fountains is one of the most popular Levada walks and can be fully booked, especially in the high season. If this is the case, I would instead choose to do the Caldeirao Verde Levada walk, which also includes a waterfall. I’m still creating new videos for the hikes I did after I came back from the Azores islands, so don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel or sign up for the mailing list if you like to stay up-to-date.
Second levada walk: the mountain hike to the highest peak of Madeira Island
I would plan the second Levada walk on a different part of the island, for a variety in landscape. I really enjoyed the adventure of hiking to the highest peak of Madeira, the Levada walk from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. This hike might not be for everyone. It is classified as a hike for experienced hikers, or as a challenging walk. It contains many stairs and includes 4600 steps. I name it, just in case you want to keep your sour muscles in mind, for planning your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary 🙂 The hike goes along steep drop-offs, although there are lines where you can hold on to.
Tips for hiking to the highest point of Madeira: the Levada mountain walk from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
You do need to wear shoes with a good grip and also take clothes for sun protection, as well as for cold and rain. Because the weather on Madeira is always a surprise, no matter what time of the year it is. If you’re a confident hiker, I would absolutely include this mountain walk in your week on Madeira Island, next to a forest walk. Keep in mind that this hike has a different starting and ending point. If you’re planning on going there by rental car, you need to organize the transport back to the starting point. Also, you pass through some tunnels so if you go by yourself, bring a waterproof torch (it can be wet in the tunnels) Here is a video about this hike:
An easier Levada walk to add to your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary
If you don’t like the challenge of hiking to the highest peak of Madeira, there are many other Levada walks to choose from. Especially the so-called easier levada hikes, like the one to Paradise Valley. You can also do a hike to Sao Lourenço, in the East point of Madeira, make sure to bring lots of sun protection for this one!
If you’re not a keen hiker, choose another activity for your 7 days on Madeira
Of course, if you’re not much into hiking, you can also swap the second Levada walk for something I mention in the day `free to choose`, in the above 7-day itinerary. It’s hard to create a strict Madeira Island 7-day itinerary. Interests vary and therefore I like to give you some options. Madeira Island has so much to offer. You might be even more adventurous and like to go canyoning on Madeira Island.
From Funchal: The botanical gardens of Madeira & Monte Palace Garden Park.
Personally, and depending on the availability of the excursions, I would try to alternate a hiking day with an island excursion day tour, to keep some variety in your 7-day itinerary on Madeira Island. Keep in mind that you also walk quite a lot during the visit to the Botanical Gardens and during the Funchal city walk. I did both the Madeira Botanical Garden and Monte Palace garden on one day. You can read more about visiting the garden parks of Madeira island in this post.
Add both gardens parks to your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary
Both garden parks are big, I walked more than 10 km on this day (although I needed to pass the Botanical Gardens for a second time to catch the bus back at the entrance gate down). I recommend doing both garden parks because they both are beautiful but different. However, you might only want to do one park and combine it with a Funchal tour by tuk-tuk, or the half-day Nun’s valley tour. Here is a video about the Botanical Garden and Monte Palace Garden on Madeira Island:
Add the Funchal city walk & old town to your Madeira Island itinerary
I would absolutely schedule some time in Funchal for your Madeira Island itinerary. The different parts of Funchal include the charming old town full of art, small old streets and cozy restaurants. Sao Martinho, the more touristy and fancy part, has luxury hotels, a shopping center and the Lido promenade with a bathing complex. There are museums, old buildings, cathedrals and churches in the city center of Funchal. Don’t forget to stroll around the harbor area where huge cruise ships are laying in the port. Also, visit the charming little city park and Santa Catarina Park.
A word about the farmer’s market in Funchal
If your time is limited, definitely walk through the old town part of Funchal, also called ‘Zona Velha’, and soak up some culture. In regards to the farmers’ market, a local guide told me that the fruits are overpriced there. She said that if you like to support the local farmers of Madeira, it’s much better to buy fruits from the little fruit stalls which can be found all around town. The farmers’ market is still nice for a visit though! There is a fish market as well, and lots of flowers.
Explore the city of Funchal: tourist information office
Looking at the fact that the routes, timetables and prices of the Funchal busses change at times, I decided not to include this information. I recommend going to one of the tourist information stalls close to the harbor or in Funchal city and picking up an information leaflet. You can also get a Funchal city map from the tourist information office and plan your own Funchal city walk.
Discover Funchal by sightseeing tour bus, tuk-tuk or tukxi
There are different busses to do sightseeing tours in Funchal. This bus works like a hop-on, hop-off system, and it takes you to different parts of Funchal, including places like Câmara de Lobos and Cabo Girao. Although you will visit those places during the Madeira Island West tour. You can also discover Funchal by tuk-tuk, or tukxi. And subscribe to Splashpacker YouTube channel if you don’t want to miss my upcoming video about my DIY Funchal city walk!
Nun’s Valley is a must-see on Madeira Island: half a day tour to Curral das Freiras
Nun’s Valley is located about 12 km from Funchal, and most tour companies include pick-up and drop-off from Garajau too. It’s a very low-cost tour, the price goes from €25,- in 2023. The valley of the nuns, also called Curral das Freiras, is only half a day tour. If you go in the morning, you will be picked up at 9 AM and dropped off around 2 PM. This tour is easy to combine with doing more sightseeing in Funchal, a city walk, or a visit to one of the botanical garden parks. Here is a little video of Nun’s Valley:
Tips for an itinerary of longer than 7 days on Madeira Island
If you have more than 7 days on Madeira Island, you will not get bored. In fact, if you have the time and the possibility to stay longer, I would absolutely do so! Canyoning, an adventurous activity that is gaining more popularity, is possible on Madeira and you can also go dolphin & whale watching on a catamaran boat trip from Funchal. No matter if you like to create a Madeira Island itinerary for 10 days, 14 days, or a month, you will not run out of things to do! If you are a beach lover and have more than 7 days on Madeira, I would pay a visit to Porto Santo Island.
Visit Porto Santo Island during your Madeira holiday
Porto Santo Island is a little island of about 42 km2, located at a 2,5 hours-ferry boat ride from Madeira Island. It is known for its beautiful beaches, especially because there are not many white beaches on Madeira Island. I first fell in love with Porto Santo Island due to the friendliness of the local people. I stayed in the Hotel Porto Santo & Spa and had a very nice stay there. There are lots of spas and health centers on Porto Santo island. It is said that the sand of Porto Santo Island has healing powers. Find your hotel in the search below, or click here to book it on Booking.
Save some CO2-emission and catch the ferry to Porto Santo Island
If you can stretch your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary a bit, I would definitely visit this lovely island for some relaxation on the beach and in the spas. You can do a little island tour, walk around, do watersports, or go scuba diving. You can fly from Funchal to Porto Santo, but I would keep the environment in mind and just catch the ferry. With a restaurant and cinema on board, you can just chill out, save some CO2 emissions and nitrogen oxides, and enjoy the boat ride. On the way back to Madeira, I also caught an amazing sunset from the ferry.
Extra tip for scuba divers going for a holiday to Madeira Island
Porto Santo Island offers beautiful unspoiled scuba diving. There are two wrecks to dive and you will be amazed by the grouper, called Ginja (see the video below). But you can also do some nice scuba diving on Madeira Island, including the dive site of the Alfonso Cerqueira wreck, as mentioned in the above suggestion of your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary. In Garajau, you can dive with the groupers and discover the cutest little scuba dive center in a cave. There are different dive centers in Funchal, there is one in Caniço and Calheta and there are more to be found around the island.
Conclusion for your Madeira Island 7-days itinerary
I hope this post has given you a good idea about what to include in your Madeira Island 7-day itinerary. I’m currently writing a post with practical travel information for your Madeira Island holiday, and I recommend checking it out. It is full of tips on where to stay, finding your best flight deal, if you should rent a car, and seasons on Madeira. Subscribe to my channel below to get notified when this post is available. Or click here for an overview of all Madeira posts.
Blog posts with my personal experience of doing all those excursions on Madeira Island
For more personal impressions, you can check out a personal travel blog post about my first days in Funchal and visit to the Botanical Gardens. Here you can read more about the mountain hike to the highest point of Madeira, and the Madeira Island West tour. I’m still working on a follow-up personal blog post to that one with my stay in Garajau, hiking the 25 fountains, doing the Madeira East tour and Nun’s Valley. Next up are the Azores islands!
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Safe travels, happy bubbles & enjoy Madeira Island!!