your source for travel in madeira
your source for travel in madeira

portugal info

Portugal > Travel > Madeira > What to Do
Madeira Related Links

Golf Courses
Guest & Manor Houses
Holiday Apartments
Holiday Resorts
Hotels & Spa
Night Life
What to Do


General Index
Guest & Manor Houses
Holiday Apartments
Holiday Rentals
Holiday Resorts
Hotels & Spa
Luxury Hotels

Other Links

Vehicle Hire

Home Link

Portugal - Home

Madeira - What to Do

Balloon Rides - Funchal has a panoramic balloon that goes up to 150 meters to show visitors a different perspective of the wonderful city bay and the surrounding areas. With capacity for approx. 30 passengers, Madeira’s latest sight seeing attraction also comprises a museum at the station showing the history and traditions of the island.

Big Game Fishing - The Madeira Island being ideally located on the migratory routes of big game fish, record size catches of Blue Marlin (with more than 1,000 lbs) and Big Eye Tuna are not uncommon during the season from June to September. Other species to be fished in the bountiful waters of Madeira are White Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna, Blue Fin Tuna, Long Fin Tuna (Albacore), Blue Shark, Hammerhead, Mako, Dolphin, Barracuda, Bonito, Spearfish, Swordfish, Dolphin and Wahoo. Due to the rapid drop in depths excellent fishing grounds can be found already within about 5 minutes after leaving the harbour.

Cable Cars & Elevators - Funchal is connected to the beauty of Monte situated in the hills above the city. This is an exciting way to show Madeira's hidden beauty without doing any harm to the environment. The departure station is at the Almirante Reis Park located in the old part of the town. The Monte station is situated near Monte Palace Tropical Garden. The inclined course, which takes approximately 15 minutes, is 3,718 metres (around 12,000 ft), long and has a vertical rise of 560 metres (1,837 ft). The 39 cabins, with eight seats each, can transport 800 passengers per hour, and the reduced speed at both stations makes it easier for disabled passengers to climb aboard or disembark.

The cable car at Achadas da Cruz (Porto Moniz) is an attractive experience making the connection between Achadas da Cruz and the beach. Don't be surprised if you see farmers coming up with their crops. Many locals have their lands down there and to facilitate their access was one of the main reasons that led to the installation of this cable car. The Achadas da Cruz cable car runs everyday between 10.00 hrs. and 18.00 hrs.

The cable car at Rancho (near Cabo Girão) is a means of transportation for farmers. There are two cabins with 6 seats each connecting Rancho and Fajãs do Cabo Girão. Descending by cable car to this lower area may be a daunting experience for those not impressed by heights, but on arrival the beach is definitely worth a swim. Rancho is located at Estrada de Santa Clara and is open everyday (Sunday - 09.00 hrs. to 19.00 hrs; Monday - 08.00 hrs. to 09.00 hrs. and 17.00 hrs. to 20.00 hrs; Tuesday to Friday - 08.00 hrs. to 19.00 hrs.)

The new cable car system at the Botanical Gardens links this highly popular tourist attraction with the charming village of Monte. The new cable car consisting of 12 cabins, each with 8 seats, takes the visitors on about 14 unforgettable minutes (round-trip) on a new panoramic route with extraordinary views of the Funchal Bay and over the River of João Gomes, an area of rare exotic beauty including the important Laurissilva forest. An additional asset of this new cable car is that it also provides a faster access to the levada walks of Tornos, Bom Sucesso and Curral dos Romeiros, which are very popular with keen walkers.

Golf Courses - Golf is available on three courses, the Palheiro Golf Course and the Santo da Serra Golf Club on Madeira Island, and the Porto Santo Course on the island of the same name. The Santo da Serra is the annual host of the PGA Madeira Open. The Porto Santo Course is the most recent and was designed by Seve Ballesteros.

Helicopter Rides - Several sightseeing circuits which range from 10 to 45 minutes are being operated everyday until sunset. A minimum of 4 persons (maximum of 5) and good weather conditions are required for take off. Flights to Porto Santo Island can also be organized. This package includes a two-way flight of about 45 minutes and a 2-hour stop in Porto Santo to give you the opportunity to visit Madeira’s neighbour island. Instead of flying back, it is also possible to return free of charge with the ferry ‘Lobo Marinho’. Please arrange this alternative with the ticket seller when booking your trip. Further information can be obtained from the small Santana house at the liners’ pier (Pontinha) in the harbour of Funchal or call +351 291 232 882.

Madeira Story Centre – The Madeira Story Centre located in Funchal visitors can learn everything about Madeira’s history and development up to the present day. An interactive museum allow you to travel a virtual journey and ‘relive’ in chronological sequence the archipelago’s great historic events, from its volcanic birth 14 million years ago to the first hydroplane landing in Madeira. Local and international artists exhibit work. A further attraction is a multifunctional panoramic terrace equipped with telescopes providing views over the Funchal. The Madeira Story Centre is open daily (except on Christmas Day) from 10.00 hrs. to 18.00 hrs.

Madeira Theme Park – The ‘Theme Park’ in Santana includes many attractions for young and old related to history, traditions and culture of the people of Madeira. Covering an area of around 17 acres where visitors can find themed attractions such as a machine, which simulates the island's discovery, a 'zoom-in-zoom-out' circuit, a smaller replica of the Monte train making the connection between these attractions, a bullock cart and a trip in one of the mini boats reminiscent of the Câmara de Lobos fishing boats. In other parts of this village, visitors can practice radical sports such as cable sliding, bungee-jumping, wall climbing, etc. There are also two restaurants and a bar. Opening hours: Every day from 10.00 hrs. to 19.00 hrs. (except on Christmas Day).

Monte Toboggan Rides - Originally a fast means of transport down to Funchal for people living in Monte, these toboggan sledges appeared around 1850. Still in use today, they attract thousands of tourists every year who want to make this exciting experience of sliding at high speed on narrow, winding streets down to Funchal. These two-seater wicker sledges glide on wooden runners, pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, and using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. The downhill journey to Funchal is made in about 10 minutes on a total course of 2 kms, reaching at times a speed of 48 km/hour. Adventurous, yet safe, an ‘old-fashioned’ toboggan ride to make your way down from Monte is the perfect contrast to the high-technology cable car going up to Monte. Find the Monte toboggans at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Nossa Senhora do Monte Church (Tel. 291 783 919).

Museums – (Please Click Here)

Porto Santo Ferry - The Porto Santo Line Company has a new ship that some say that it is similar to a mini-cruise liner. The ship with a capacity for 1153 passengers now makes the journey between the two islands in two hours, cutting an hour off the previous boat's time.

Riding - There are also several private stables offering horse riding on exciting adventure tours and also provide horse riding courses. There is a good Riding Association and for more information the address: Associação Hípica da Madeira at Quinta Vila Alpires - Caminho dos Pretos – Funchal (open from Tuesday to Sunday). This association provides several training levels and organizes riding tours in the area.

Santa Cruz Aqua Park – This ‘Theme Park’ in Santana, is divided in several parts and includes many attractions for young and old relating to the history, traditions and culture of the people of Madeira. It covers an area of about 17 acres where visitors can find attractions such as a machine which simulates the island's discovery, a 'zoom-in-zoom-out' circuit a smaller replica of the Monte train making the connection between these attractions, a bullock cart and a trip in one of the mini boats reminiscent of the Câmara de Lobos fishing boats. In other parts of this village, visitors can practice radical sports such as cable sliding, bungee-jumping, wall climbing, etc. This facility has a capacity for over 1,000 people and boasts five toboggan rides and four fast slides, two swimming pools (one of which reserved for children), a lazy river running round the pools, a bar and locker rooms. There are also two restaurants and a bar. Opening hours: Every day from 10.00 hrs. to 19.00 hrs. (except on Christmas Day).

Santa Maria Ship - The wonderful and unique experience of long passed times you can live on the ‘Santa Maria’, a replica of the 15th century Columbus’ ship, which is cruising daily along Madeira’s beautiful south coast. Rob Wijntje, has built this a replica as close to the original as it was possible and it is 22 meters long, has 3 masts, the tallest of which is 16 meters high, and is built entirely of mahogany wood. The ‘Santa Maria’ serves as an excursion boat, cruising twice a day along Madeira’s south coast, or, it can be privately hires for special charters. During the excursions you will be able to watch a galleon ship crew (who look actually more like pirates… of course friendly ones!) doing their daily routine work while you are enjoying the views over the sea to the island of Madeira with the opportunity to spot dolphins! Free Madeira Wine and honey cake are offered to the passengers during the trip. For more information, please contact their kiosk at the Funchal Marina or call +351 291 220 327.

Scuba Diving (PADI) - A mild climate all year round and water temperatures of 18 to 23°C (depending on the season), crystal clear waters and the likelihood of viewing species like barracudas, monkfish, dolphins, rays and even mantas, are the main reasons why lovers of this sport. There are several diving schools in Funchal and Caniço de Baixo, which provide courses for all levels, diving excursions for more experienced divers and also equipment hire.

Surfing – Due to its location the Madeira archipelago is a privileged spot to receive swells of the North Atlantic and has all sorts of waves, from point breaks to reef breaks. The coast is rough and steep and the rocks at the bottom of the sea generate not only excellent waves but require also require precautionary measures. If you are a beginner you should be careful with the rock formations and the stones. The subtropical climate is responsible for water temperatures between 59º F (15º C) in the colder season and 21º C (70º F) in the hot season. We advise you to bring a full-length wetsuit. The surfing months are considered low season tourist months, which allows you to choose a hotel or rent-a-car at much cheaper rates.

Tennis and Squash – Almost every large hotel resort has its own tennis courts. Squash courts you will find at Quinta Magnólia, Baía Azul Hotel, Alto Lido Hotel, Ocean Park Hotel, Eden Mar Hotel, Panorâmico Hotel, Clube Naval do Funchal, Madeira Regency Palace, Madeira Regency Club, Galomar and Onda Vital Club (the two latter are in Caniço de Baixo).

Tours – There are approximately 27 locations of natural attraction which are covered by local Tour Companies. It is obvious that some places will offer more than others depending on the interest of the visitor.

The Volcanism Centre is located in São Vicente on the north coast, sitting at the end of the valley where the formation of the island started. This centre manages to convey culture and education in a very entertaining way by providing the visitors with audiovisual demonstrations of volcanic eruptions and the birth of an island. Here, visitors can also visit São Vicente’s famous volcanic caves and walk through the beautiful gardens featuring Madeira’s endemic flora. The caves are composed of a series of lava tubes, result of an eruption that happened 400 thousand years ago. This complex of ‘volcanic tunnels’ represents a development of over 1000 meters length and so far it is the biggest known on Madeira Island. The pedestrian course has a length of 700 meters that takes around 30 minutes to view. A truly amazing walk through the entrails of the earth during which you will be able to admire volcanic stalactites, lava accumulations, known as ‘lava cakes’, and the ‘erratic block’ (a stone carried by the lava that got stuck in one of the lava channels due to its dimensions).

Madeira Island is famous throughout the world for its natural beauty and is often referred to as the "floating garden in the Atlantic". There are a wide variety of gardens and parks that are carefully maintained and exhibit a vast array of flowers, plants and trees. In the year 2000 Madeira – represented by the City of Funchal – received a gold award for the 'European Flowering City 2000'. The main gardens are: Botanical Garden - Dragon Trees Nucleus - Garden of Indigenous Plants of São Vicente - Gardens of Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro - Monte’s Municipal Garden - Monte Palace Tropical Garden - Municipal Garden - Orchid Garden - Quinta das Cruzes - Quinta Magnólia - Quinta Palmeira - Quinta Vigi - Santa Catarina Park - Santa Luzia's Public Gardens.

There are several protected natural reserves which are worthy of visiting. There are: "Desertas" Island’s Natural Reserve - Garajau's Natural Reserve - Laurissilva Forest - Madeira's Natural Park - Ponta de São Lourenço's Natural Reserve - Rocha do Navio's Natural Reserve - Selvagens Islands Natural Reserve.

Travel - A visitor’s options are walking, hire car, taxi or coach or local bus. When considering renting a car or taking a taxi we suggest you also talk to your Hotel Reception to find the best price against those asked by commercial companies. Coach tours can be pre-booked but local buses can be cheaper.

Whale & Dolphin Spotting - Because of its unique location in the mid-ocean the island of Madeira is blessed with the presence of visiting whales and dolphins. Five kilometres offshore the ocean floor reaches a depth of more than 3,000 meters and some of the major species spotted are Fin Whale, Sperm Whale, Sei Whale, Pilot Whale, various kinds of Beaked Whale, Humpback Whale & many others; Oceanic Dolphin, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Bottle Nose Dolphin, Striped Dolphin, Rough Tooth Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin.