One-week Madeira itinerary without a car

Madeira, a part of Portugal, is a compact island that can be discovered in a week. The island has a lot to offer: warm sunny weather, beautiful landscapes, great food and drinks, and a lot of activities. 55 km (34 miles) long Madeira Island has a width of 22 km (14 miles) and a coastline of about 144 km (90 miles). Its highest point, Ruivo Peak, rises 1,861 metres (96,106 feet) above sea level. Because of the privileged geographical position and mountainous relief, it has a mild climate. So why go to Madeira? In my opinion, it’s because of amazing landscapes, stunning views, and exceptional Levada walks. Madeira is a mountainous island, and if you, like me, come from a flat country, it’s better to enjoy tours of local travel agencies in full instead of renting a car. So here is my advice for a one-week Madeira itinerary without a car.50 catamaran tour madeira P1122762

Day 1. Funchal

Before you see Funchal, visit a local travel agency to set your whole trip up. When it’s done, you are ready to see Funchal. My first choice was going up by cable car to Monte.35 funchal madeira P1122151 My second choice was to visit Tropical gardens.36 funchal madeira P1122269 Afterwards, I saw Our Lady of Monte Church.38 funchal madeira P1122403 Then I had a ride of about 2 km (1.2 miles) on the toboggan, an exceptional experience of Funchal. 39 funchal madeira P1122422After quite a long walk to the city centre, I suggest not missing the street art on de Santa Maria Street and taking the opportunity to visit at least one fortress of the city. 40 funchal madeira P1122538Visit the Cathedral and Farmers market as well. 30 funchal madeira P112264331 funchal madeira P1122710It may be too much for one day, so visit some of these sites the next morning.

Day 2. Funchal and catamaran tour

In the morning, visit the sights of Funchal you missed on your first day. In the afternoon, take a catamaran dolphin watching tour. Despite me not being able to spot any dolphins, the tour was worth it because of the great views of Madeira Island from the ocean.51 catamaran tour madeira P112281552 catamaran tour madeira P112286754 catamaran tour madeira P112288355 catamaran tour madeira P1122930

Day 3. West tour

Take the West tour visiting Cabo Girão, the second highest sea cliff in the world and the highest sea cliff in Europe.61 west tour madeira P1132973 Afterwards, see Ribeira Brava and head north, up through the valleys of Serra D'Agua. Then see São Vicente, one of the most predominant villages on the northern coast of Madeira. 62 west tour madeira P1133019The next stop is at the beautiful village of Porto Moniz, where you can admire the amazing volcanic swimming pools.64 west tour madeira P1133073 After that, you will see Madeira's highest plateau with all its spectacular panoramas before going back to Funchal.66 west tour madeira P1133204

Day 4 Levada tour

Levadas are narrow irrigation channels that supply water from North to South of Madeira. There are footpaths next to the channels. Levadas in Madeira are about 3,000 km (1,864 miles) long, and about 300 km (186 miles) are walkable. If you have just one day for Levada walk, take the opportunity to go on Rabacal Risco, 25 Fontes full day walk. Just remember to have some light with you for getting through the tunnel and be prepared for crowds as it’s the most popular Levada walk in Madeira.80 25 fontes levadas P113368483 25 fontes levadas P113372485 25 fontes levadas P1133786

Day 5. East tour

The first stop of the tour is Terreiro da Luta.70 east tour madeira P1133266 Then head to the mountain Pico do Arieiro. At an altitude of 1,818 metres (5,965 feet), it’s the third highest peak on the island and has breathtaking views.71 east tour madeira P1133294 Have a lunch in Santana that is characterised by its small thatched triangular houses. 72 east tour madeira P1133406After that, go to Ponta de São Lourenço, situated in the eastern part of the island; this is the place where you can admire a fantastic combination of rocks and sea.74 east tour madeira P113351275 east tour madeira P1133542 The last town on this trip is Machico. The town offers a stunning view of the bay and the golden sandy beach.

Day 6. Full or half-day Levada tour

My choice was Maroços/Mimosa Valley half-day levada walk. On this walk, you get magnificent views over the Valley of Machico where the Portuguese sailors landed on the island for the first time. 93 half day levadas P113388992 half day levadas P1133887Along this trail, you will also see farmlands with vegetable gardens and fruit trees mixed with exotic flowers along the way.96 half day levadas P114395995 half day levadas P1143944Use your afternoon to visit some more places in Funchal.

Day 7. Half-day Nuns Valley tour

The first stop of this tour is at Pico dos Barcelos viewpoint, located at 355 metres (1,165 feet) above sea level. From this splendid location, you will experience a 360o view of Funchal.103 nuns valley P1144051 The next stop is Eira do Serrado viewpoint, located at an elevation of 1,095 metres (3,593 feet). From there, you have a stunning view from Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley) and the majestic mountain of the central massif that surrounds it.105 nuns valley P1144074 The next stop is the picturesque village of Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley). 111 nuns valley P1144117In the end, there is a short break in Câmara de Lobos. The beautiful fishing village is known for its magnificent bay with colourful fishing boats. Here you may try some local drinks, like poncha or Madeira Wine. I recommend taking more time to explore Câmara de Lobos and maybe having lunch there. 113 nuns valley P1144190Then just return to Funchal by public bus.

Practical information

The island is quite small and the tours offered by different travel companies are very much alike. You can book tours around Madeira on the internet or in person on arrival. When planning your tours, just be mindful that some of them are only offered on specific days of the week; check with the tour office in advance to avoid disappointment. I visited the travel company office on the day of my arrival and booked all the tours for my trip there. I used Lido Tours for most of the tours I had and was satisfied with their service. 60 west tour madeira P1132961They also sold me a dolphin watching tour done by WMT Madeira. I booked the Nuns Valley tour from the Happy Tours travel agency. What to expect from the tour? Well, a driver is a guide. If you do walking tours, then you have a driver and a guide. Group size usually is from 5 to 15 persons and the price for a day tour is about 25 euros and a half-day tour from 15 euros at the time of publishing. Day bus ticket in Funchal is 5 euros.

Disclaimer. I paid in full for all tours described in this article.

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What did you think? Have you visited Madeira? I’d love to hear from you so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on December 03, 2021

    Author: Anita Sāne

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Your photos are so amazing. I have not seen this area and I would love to visit.
    A superb round-up of the beautiful sights of Madeira. Many of my friends in the UK have headed to Madeira this year and I am tempted to book a trip for 2021. Lovely photos bringing your trip to life.
    I hope to make it to Portugal in the next few years. Your post gives lots of great tips on ways to spend my time and must-see places.
    I spent a week hiking in Madeira in January 2020. It is an otherworldly place high in the clouds when you reach a summit. Love this island!
    Gorgeous photos as usual. I'm going to save this for my portugal trip in future
    Great post! Madeira has been more & more on my radar this year & hearing & seeing your photos & itinerary have only cemented that further. Maybe 2022 is my year!
    Wow this is really interesting & helpful! I always thought you need a car to travel any island but apparently it's totally doable without :)
    Wow! All the photos are incredibly beautiful.

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