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20 BEST TOURS ON MADEIRA ISLAND

20 BEST TOURS ON MADEIRA ISLAND

Madeira Island is one of the best travel destinations in Europe. With stunning coastal views, hiking trails for all levels, and rich culture, Madeira has something for everyone. As a result, the island boasts diverse adventure offerings and local experiences for the intrepid traveler. I based in Madeira for six months to explore as much of the island as possible and came up with these 20 best tours on Madeira. Hopefully, with this list, you’ll be able to find the best ways to experience this volcanic island in the Atlantic.

QUICK PICKS: TOP 3 TOURS ON MADEIRA

Don’t have time to read my entire article about the best tours on Madeira? No worries! All in all, these are the most popular Madeira Tours.

Dolphin & Whale Watching

  • Departs from Funchal
  • Catamaran Cruise
  • Top Tour on Madeira

Skywalk, Porto Moniz, & Fanal Tour

  • Swim in Volcanic Pools
  • Visit UNESCO Forest
  • Highest Sea Cliff in Europe

Level 1 Canyoning Adventure

  • Hike Through Canyons
  • Rappel down Waterfalls
  • Swim in Natural Pools

20 BEST TOURS ON MADEIRA COMPARISON TABLE

To summarize, here’s a table listing the top 20 tours on Madeira and their rates per person.

BEST MADEIRA TOURSRATES
Dolphin and Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise€ 30
Skywalk, Porto Moniz, & Fanal Tour€ 70
Level 1 Canyoning Adventure€ 70
Hike Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo€ 43
Garajau Reserve Kayak and Snorkel Tour€ 35
Swimming with Dolphins€ 54
Best of Madeira’s West Tour€ 34
Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains€ 43
Flagship Tour of Santa Maria de Colombo€ 35
Enchanted Terraces and Porto Moniz 4WD€ 52
Levada Walk in the Rabaçal Valley€ 39
Full Day Jeep Safari Tour€ 45
Botanical Garden Cable Car Ticket€ 9
Half-Day Off-Road Buggy Tour€ 68
Madeira Scuba Diving Experience€ 80
Northwest Madeira 4×4 Tour€ 58
Nuns Valley, Monte and Sleigh Ride Tour€ 35
Madeira Peaks Mountain Walk€ 39
Madeira Half-Day Coasteering Tour€ 60
Desertas Islands Full-Day Catamaran Trip€ 80

20 BEST TOURS ON MADEIRA

The following are the 20 best tours on Madeira. From levada walks and catamaran cruises to off-trail adventures and enchanted forests, the island undoubtedly has something for everyone. Get Your Guide is the most popular booking platform for tours on the island and one I highly recommend to book these tours. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find the perfect Madeira excursion for you in the following guide.

DOLPHIN AND WHALE WATCHING CATAMARAN CRUISE

Dolphin and Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise: this is the most popular tour on the island of Madeira, and for good reason. This catamaran cruise departs from Funchal, and takes passengers on a journey to explore the stunning coastline. In addition to dolphin and whale watching, guests can swim and snorkel with provided equipment. Drinks are also available for purchase at the onboard bar.

Finally, even if the whales and dolphins remain elusive, guests can enjoy sailing along the beautiful blue waters surrounding the island. It’s an excellent way to spend a day on the island, and one of the top Madeira excursions.

Dolphin & Whale Watching

  • Departs from Funchal
  • Catamaran Cruise
  • Top Tour on Madeira

Skywalk, Porto Moniz, and Fanal Tour

Skywalk, Porto Moniz, and Fanal Tour: This tour is one of the best Madeira day trips out there. Starting in Funchal, guests travel towards São Vicente in the north coast, stopping at Veu da Noiva falls. After that, is a stop at some of Madeira’s most scenic locations, the volcanic pools at Seixial and the lava pools of Porto Moniz. Once guests have had their fill of swimming in the crystal clear waters of these natural pools, the tour continues to the highest plateau on the island, Paul da Serra. Many travelers opt for lunch at the overlook.

Following the panoramic views of Paul da Serra is a visit to Fanal, the enchanted laurisilva forest and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, and a must-visit while on Madeira. Finally, the last stop of the tour takes guests to Cabo Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe, and the second highest in the world. The suspended glass-floor viewpoint makes for a great last photo-opp of the day and is a surreal sunset location.

Skywalk, Porto Moniz, & Fanal Tour

  • Swim in Volcanic Pools
  • Visit UNESCO Forest
  • Highest Sea Cliff in Europe

Level 1 Canyoning Adventure

Level 1 Canyoning Adventure: It just so happens that Madeira is one of the best canyoning destinations in the world, and this canyoning adventure is a great intro to both. The tour includes a pickup, then takes you into the mountains where you’ll receive your canyoning gear and briefing. The adventure starts with a small hike through the mountains, before beginning the waterfall rappels.

Along the way, there are lush natural pools to swim through and jump into, as well as natural water slides. Once at the end of the tour, guests change back into their dry clothes, before being taken home after one of the most adventurous Madeira day trips.

Level 1 Canyoning Adventure

  • Hike Madeira’s Canyons
  • Rappel Down Waterfalls
  • Natural Swimming Pools

Hike Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

Hike Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo: Pico to Pico is one of Madeira’s most iconic hikes, and one of the most popular Madeira hiking tours. This tour includes a pickup from your hotel accommodation before taking you to the starting point of the hike just below Pico do Arieiro. A cafe here provides the opportunity to fuel up before the moderately challenging hike up to the highest point on Madeira.

Rising to 6106 ft (1861m), Pico Ruivo is the third highest point in Portugal. But despite being the highest peak in Madeira, it sits at the end of a beautiful and well-maintained trail. The drop-offs are a bit intense, but a certified mountain guide will be on hand to assist. Following the summit, the tour exits via Teixeira for a gentle end of the hike. After that is a celebratory stop for poncha, the Madeiran drink of sailors to finish the day. This is one of the most popular Get Your Guide Madeira tours.

Hike Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

  • Highest Point in Madeira
  • Amazing Views
  • Traditional Bar Afterwards

Garajau Nature Reserve Kayak and Snorkel Tour

Garajau Nature Reserve Kayak and Snorkel Tour: Garajau is a protected marine habitat, and this kayak and snorkeling tour is a wonderful way to explore the reserve. This Madeira Island tour begins with a hotel pick-up, dropping guests off at the Funchal Harbor for a quick briefing. Before departing to Garajau, guests learn everything they need to know about kayaking.

In any case, you’ll be ready for the 40-minute paddle to Lazareto. Once there, you can relax at the pebble beach between swims and snorkels. The protected nature reserve is home to the best diving in Madeira and offers crystal clear waters and rich marine life. Some guests take this time to try cliff diving, before calling an end to the day. The tour then finishes with a return transfer to your hotel after a great day in the sun and sea.

Garajau Kayak & Snorkel

  • Kayaking Tour
  • Snorkeling with Gear
  • Cliff Diving

Swimming with Dolphins

Swimming with Dolphins: is one of the most popular Madeira Island tours. Trips depart from the new Funchal Marina and are hosted by a team of experienced divers. Madeira has strict regulations for swimming with wild dolphins in order to preserve the natural habitat, and due to this, entering the water is not guaranteed. But in case swimming is not possible, guests receive a refund between the price of the observation trip and the swimming trip. Additionally, if no whales or dolphins are spotted, you can reschedule for free or receive a voucher valid for two years.

That being said, the rate of successful trips is quite high at 90%. And for successful tours, guests have the opportunity to swim with two species of dolphins, common dolphins and spotted dolphins. Upon entering the water, swimmers remain safely connected to the boat at all times and can enjoy gliding alongside dolphins in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is easily one of my favorite Madeira tours.

Swim with Dolphins

  • Swim with Dolphins
  • Eco-Friendly
  • 2 Species of Dolphins

Best of Madeira’s West Tour

Best of Madeira’s West: this is another beautiful Madeira day trip that explores the west coast of the island. The tour departs from Funchal and passes through the charming fishing village of Câmara de Lobos. Following that, Cabo Girão Skywalk (the tallest seacliff in Europe) is next on the itinerary. Here, you can enjoy stepping out on the glass floor observation deck for jaw-dropping views below. The journey then continues up to Encumeada, where guests can enjoy sweeping views of both the north and south coasts of the island.

After that, the tour continues to wind up to Madeira’s highest plateau, and then down along the rugged north coast to São Vicente. A leisurely stop at Porto Moniz’s natural pool for lunch is next. Finally, the tour finishes at Paul da Serra to view one of the biggest natural reserves in the world, before returning to Funchal. All in all, it’s easy to see why it’s a best-selling Get Your Guide Madeira tour.

Best of Madeira’s West Tour

  • Visit Skywalk
  • See Encumeada
  • Swim in Porto Moniz

Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains

Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains: also known locally as 25 Fontes, is an excellent Madeira walking tour. This guided hike includes a hotel pickup, followed by a scenic drive to Rabaçal. The laurel forests of this valley are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provide an enchanting atmosphere for visitors. Specifically, a levada trail takes hikers through the forest and past 25 natural springs and waterfalls cascading down the mountainside. In a word, it’s a magical afternoon spent amongst the nature of Madeira.

Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains

  • 25 Springs & Waterfalls
  • UNESCO Site
  • Levada Walk

Flagship Tour of Santa Maria de Colombo

Flagship Tour of Santa Maria de Colombo: A fun fact is that Christopher Colombus lived on Madeira’s neighboring island of Porto Santo. In fact, he married the governor’s daughter there, and it’s said he learned much about sailing while living off the coast of Madeira. Given that, it’s no wonder the following is one of the most popular Funchal tours.

The tour of Santa Maria de Colombo is a sailing trip aboard a replica of the Santa Maria, a 15th-century ship owned by Colombus. The tour includes a boat ride along the dramatic coastline to Cabo Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe. Following that is a swim in the sea, with water temperatures remaining temperate year-round. Additionally, dolphins and whales are occasionally spotted while sailing. Finally, the trip includes a taste of Madeira wine and honey cake to top off a beautiful day cruising the Atlantic.

Santa Maria de Colombo

  • Colombus Ship Replica
  • Sail to Cabo Girão
  • Dolphins & Whales

Enchanted Terraces and Porto Moniz 4WD

Enchanted Terraces and Porto Moniz 4WD: This is an adventurous spin on the earlier Madeira tours of Fanal and Porto Moniz. The group meets in Funchal and drives via 4WD to the northwest of the island. While in transit, the tour stops through some of Madeira’s most breathtaking vistas. Winding roads lead up to Encumeada, providing panoramic views of the north and south coasts. Meanwhile, the journey to Fanal transports you to another world within the ancient laurisilva Forest.

Following the highlands, this Madeira jeep tour continues down to the volcanic pools of Porto Moniz and the black sand beach of Seixal. The north coast of Madeira is known for its dramatic and rugged coastline, and the drive to São Vicente in the 4WD feels straight out of Jurassic Park. To be sure, it’s one of the most unique Madeira excursions, and a novel way to experience the island.

Enchanted Terraces & Porto Moniz

  • Drive Along Enchanted Roads
  • Laurissilva Walk
  • Porto Moniz / Seixal Swim

Levada Walk in the Rabaçal Valley

Levada Walk in the Rabaçal Valley: This is another great Madeira walking tour of the Rabaçal Valley and the 25 Fontes. The tour departs from Funchal and brings guests to the plateau of Paul da Serra. From here, the hike begins down to the Rabaçal guesthouse. The levada trails in the valley are descendants of the traditional irrigation system used by early Madeirans and now double as gentle walking trails throughout the island.

Once on the levada walk, the trail leads to Levada do Risco, the first waterfall of the day. After that, the group makes its way to the famous 25 Fountains. Featuring 25 springs flowing into a beautiful natural pool, the spot is a lush wonderland. Hikers can take photos and cool off in the pool, and admire the steep cliff rising above. Finally, the tour exits through an old tunnel, taking another path back to the plateau above. As far as Madeira hiking tours go, it’s pretty solid.

Levada Walk in Rabaçal Valley

  • Levada Walk
  • 25 Fontes
  • Old Tunnel Exit

Full Day Jeep Safari Tour

Full Day Jeep Safari Tour: This Madeira Jeep Tour is an awesome way to see the best of the island in an off-beat way. The tour begins with a pickup in Funchal by your guide. Following a quick briefing, you depart for the sunny enclave of Ponta do Sol. There’s time for a coffee break before starting the drive up to Paul da Serra. Afterward, the safari heads to Santa viewpoint for a sweeping view of the north side of the island.

From there, the tour rumbles down the mountainside to the natural pools of Porto Moniz. Guests generally take the chance to grab lunch and take a dip in the volcanic pools, before drying off and continuing the journey. After that, the safari proceeds along the north coast to Seixal and São Vicente. The sea cliffs of Cabo Girão mark the final stop for the tour, before heading home to Funchal. To sum up, it’s an adventurous way to see some of the best coastlines in Madeira.

Full Day Jeep Safari Tour

  • Visit Ponta do Sol
  • Swim in Porto Moniz
  • Cabo Girão Lookout

Botanical Garden Cable Car Ticket

Botanical Garden Cable Car Ticket: The Botanical Garden is a whimsical escape just minutes away from the hustle of Funchal. It’s also one of the most affordable tours on Madeira at only € 9/person. The cable car itself is a few minutes’ walk from downtown Funchal, and takes 15 minutes to reach the village of Monte. Along the way, guests are treated to panoramic views of the Bay of Funchal. And Monte, at 1,025m above sea level, provides a stunning vista of the city and sea below.

Once at the top, you can choose to take the cable car back down or opt for a traditional Madeiran toboggan ride. These sleigh rides are a whirlwind journey through the past, and feature local men to steer you through the streets. Evidently, it’s a must-do on the island, and a quick way to return to Funchal! For all these reasons, the Botanical Garden cable car ticket is one of the best Funchal tours available on Get Your Guide Madeira.

Botanical Garden Cable Car Ticket

  • Cable Car Ticket
  • Views of Funchal
  • Monte & Botanical Garden

Half-Day Off-Road Buggy Tour

Half-Day Off-Road Buggy Tour: This off-road adventure is a wild way to experience Madeira’s rugged terrain. As far as Madeira tours go, this one skips most of the sightseeing and focuses instead on one experience – the off-roading! To begin with, guests are picked up and brought to the track near Cabo Girão. Each buggy requires a driver with a license, but a guide will be there to offer assistance. Safety gear is provided as well, leaving you to focus on enjoying the ride.

The buggies explore mountain tracks and jungle trails otherwise inaccessible. The tour stops at several viewpoints along the way, and includes GoPro coverage of the adventure. All in all, it’s a lively way to tread the less traveled roads of Madeira, and a great alternative to Madeira jeep tours.

Off-Road Buggy Tour

  • Off Road Adventure
  • Cabo Girão Lookout
  • Panoramic Viewpoints

Madeira Scuba Diving Experience

Madeira Scuba Diving Experience: Scuba diving in Madeira is extremely underrated. The island happens to be one of the premier diving sites in the world, and this discovery dive is one of the best tours on Madeira. New divers will enjoy learning about the theory of scuba diving, before practicing some skills in a swimming pool. Once comfortable, you’ll be ready for the open water dive.

The dive will be around 45 minutes or less depending on your oxygen consumption and ocean conditions, with a maximum depth of 12 meters. In that time, you’ll experience the beauty of the underwater world, with your instructor safely by your side. To conclude the discovery dive, you’ll receive a stamp that can go towards an open water certification in the future. It’s one of the most unique and overlooked Madeira excursions out there, and one I highly recommend.

Madeira Scuba Diving Experience

  • Discovery Dive
  • Pool Session
  • Open Water Session

Northwest Madeira 4×4 Tour

Northwest Madeira 4×4 Tour: This 4×4 adventure is a great full-day Madeira jeep tour. To start, you’ll be picked up at your hotel in a 4×4 vehicle. The journey then begins with a drive to Serra d’Água, before continuing to the village of Ginjas. After that, the jeeps climb to the heights of Paul de Serra for beautiful views of the laurel forests.

Next on the tour is a stop at Porto Moniz. The volcanic and man-made pools here are a relaxing way to spend the afternoon, before resuming the drive with stops at Seixal, São Vicente, and the rock formations at Ribeira da Janela. Finally, the tour stops for a short levada walk past a small village before wrapping up a great adventure day on the island. This is an easy way to see some of the most scenic parts of the island, and one of the top Madeira Island tours on offer.

Northwest Madeira 4×4 Tour

  • 4×4 Adventure
  • Swim in Porto Moniz
  • Try Local Poncha

Nuns Valley, Monte, and Sleigh Ride Tour

Nuns Valley, Monte, and Sleigh Ride Tour: This tour is a wonderful way to see one of the less explored corners of the island. The tour starts with a pickup in Funchal, followed by the viewpoint at Pico dos Barcelos. From the next stop, Eeira do Serrado, you can see into Nuns valley, one of my favorite enclaves on Madeira. The valley features towering rock formations and untouched forests, while traditional homes dot the valley floor.

You can try traditional chestnut cake and pastries, as well as the local poncha (the drink of sailors). After that, you’ll make your way to Monte, where the last Austro-Hungarian emperor is buried. Finally, the tour ends with an exhilarating toboggan ride down Livramento, marking the end of one of my favorite less-traveled Madeira tours.

Nuns Valley, Monte, & Sleigh Ride

  • Nuns Valley
  • Traditional Foods
  • Sleigh Ride

Madeira Peaks Mountain Walk

Madeira Peaks Mountain Walk: This Madeira walking tour is another excellent way to experience the famed Pico to Pico hike on Madeira. Guests can enjoy an air-conditioned van pickup from Funchal that winds up the passes to the lookout at Pico do Arieiro. Here, you can enjoy a coffee or snack, before starting the neatly marked trail to the summit of Pico Ruivo.

Despite its well-maintained nature, occasional landslides and countless sheer drop-offs make this a thrilling trek. The volume of stairs and potential mid-day sun also make this hike unsuitable for the faint-hearted. But for those who seek the summit of the island, this Madeira hiking tour is an unparalleled experience.

Madeira Peaks Mountain Walk

  • Top 3 Madeira Peaks
  • Beautiful Views
  • Ancient Forests

Madeira Half-Day Coasteering Tour

Madeira Coasteering Tour: If you’ve never been coasteering, this tour is a great way to start. To explain, coasteering involves exploring a coastline alongside beaches, cliffs, and open water. Due to Madeira’s volcanic background, it boasts diverse oceanside real estate prime for adventure. Guests can swim, climb, cliff jump, and snorkel along dazzling coastlines. Not to mention, the water is crystal clear and generally temperate.

This particular Madeira tour starts in Caniçal, known for its pristine waters. Guests of all ages are welcome, and guides are on hand to assist and teach safe coasteering. What’s more, the cliff jumps are all completely optional, and range from 1 to 10m high. All in all, it’s an exhilarating way to discover Madeira’s coastline.

Madeira Coasteering Tour

  • Kids Welcome
  • Swim & Snorkel
  • Cliff Diving

Desertas Island Full-Day Catamaran Trip

Desertas Island Full-Day Catamaran Trip: This Catamaran trip is an excellent Madeira day trip to see the neighboring island of Desertas. The tour sets sail along the southern coast of Madeira, treating guests to gorgeous views. Once at the islands, you’ll enjoy a swim along the volcanic beach, before disembarking at Deserta Grande. It’s the only island accessible to visitors, as the larger chain is a protected nature reserve.

Given that, you’ll have the chance to enjoy its pristine waters, and possibly sight one of its protected monk seals. A visit to the conservation center at Deserta Grande then closes out the day before a return sail to Madeira.

Desertas Island Catamaran Trip

  • Sail to Desertas
  • Swim at Volcanic Beach
  • Conservation Center

In conclusion, these are the top 20 Madeira Tours; all of the above are a great way to explore the Island. Hopefully, you found a unique way to enjoy Madeira, and have a wonderful stay in one of my favorite travel destinations in the world!