Looking to spend 3 days exploring Santana in Madeira? Then you’re in for a real treat! On this trip, you’re going to see everything from the traditional Santana homes to some of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island not to mention the tallest peak in all of Madeira.
Santana is a little more quiet, off the beaten path, and remote and that’s exactly what makes this little part of Madeira so special.
You’ll get the chance to walk through beautiful forests to some of the most hidden waterfalls on the island, try out some delicious Madeiran food at local restaurants and, of course, visit the famous Pico Ruivo (the highest peak in Madeira) which is just a short drive from Santana.
In this post, we’ve got the perfect, detailed itinerary for you. Your two nights and three days in Santana will be packed with adventure and highlight the best of what this incredible island in the Atlantic Ocean has to offer.
Disclosure: This post has been created in collaboration with Visit Madeira. Everything in this post is based on our personal opinions and experiences. This post also contains affiliate links which means if you decide to use the links and make a valid purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
3 days of exploration in Santana, Madeira
This 3-day itinerary to Santana in Madeira is filled with outdoor activities, some cultural spots, and a few off-the-beaten-path waterfalls that you need to visit while you’re on this part of the island.
Santana is one of the most beautiful, outdoorsy destinations in all of Madeira and we absolutely loved spending a few days here! Bring your cutest outfit and your hiking gear, and get ready for a packed itinerary!
Day 1: Relaxing and Exploring local viewpoints in Santana
This first day in our 3-day Santana itinerary is all about getting familiar with Santana, making time for some serious relaxation, and maybe checking out a few viewpoints near the hotel you end up staying at.
We stayed at Hotel Quinta do Furão in Santana because of its amazing coastal views, its focus on sustainability, and its incredible pool. It’s a beautiful hotel located on a vineyard right on the coast of Santana.
It’s our top-rated recommendation for this part of the island but there are also plenty of other good hotels in Santana.
No matter where you end up staying, you’re only a short drive away from everything in this itinerary since Santana is quite a small town.
Check into your hotel in Santana
First things first! Start by checking into your hotel so you can drop off all the stuff you don’t need sitting in your car while you go explore Santana.
If you end up staying at a hotel with a pool then maybe a quick dip before heading out for the afternoon isn’t a bad idea.
Stop by Miradouro Rocha do Navio
The Miradouro Rocha do Navio viewpoint is one of the most beautiful places on the island.
From this viewpoint, you have an incredible view of a waterfall and the east coast of Madeira that leads all the way to the Dragon’s Tail aka Ponta de Sao Lourenco (PR 8 hike in Madeira).
At certain times of the year, there is a teleferico (cable car) that runs from Rocha do Navio Viewpoint down to Chão da Rocha. Unfortunately, it was closed while we were there but if the cable car is running it is 100% worth going down to Chão da Rocha (given that you’re not afraid of heights).
If you are up for a bit of an adventure you can also hike down from Miradouro Rocha do Navio along the Vereda da Rocha do Navio. The trail IS NOT maintained and does have some erosion from time to time so go at your own risk.
For more information about the trail, you can look here on Alltrails. You can read the comments and see what people who recently did the Vereda da Rocha trail have said about the hike and its conditions.
On a clear sunny day if you take your time and are aware of everything you should be fine doing the trail. We just wanted to let you know though since it’s not an official trail (those are usually marked as ‘PR’) and there are warnings about erosion on the trail.
Regardless if you hike down, take the cable car, or just enjoy the view from the viewpoint you’ll get to experience one of the best viewpoints in Madeira. The best part is it’s only a few minutes’ drive from Santana.
Find the hidden waterfall – Cascata da Agua D’Alto
For this first day of exploring Santana, we have one more little adventure for you: Cascata da Agua D’Alto!
This is a short hike up to an incredible off-the-beaten-path waterfall that we randomly stumbled upon when researching things to do in Santana. The hike to this waterfall is a much shorter hike than the hike down the Vereda da Rocha trail and should take you less than an hour return.
The hardest part of Agua D’Alto was actually finding the trailhead. We got slightly lost up on the mountain roads above Faial (just next to the town of Santana). It was slightly confusing until we realized we had driven right past the trailhead.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why not many people hike up to Cascata de Agua D’Alto. We only saw 2 other people on the trail while we went. It really is a hidden waterfall in Madeira!
For more accuracy to share the exact point of the waterfall, we use Mapy.cz. It has all the paths and trails which you can’t really see on Google Maps (which is what got us lost lol). The exact point of Cascata de Agua D’Alto is right here.
We recommend parking your car right here next to the trailhead.
It’s on a narrow mountain road and all the locals use it so make sure you do a good park job. We parked on the side next to one of the houses where we didn’t interfere with their driveways or anything.
You won’t have to leave your car for long though since the hike should take an hour max return if you don’t spend hours like us taking pictures!
The whole trail is roughly 1.4 kilometres long (which is 0.86 miles). It’s mostly flat but the trail isn’t in the best condition and gets quite narrow at times. So make sure to take your time. This also isn’t an official trail in Madeira so it doesn’t get maintained besides maybe by a few of the locals.
Once you get to the end you’ll see why this is one of our favourite waterfalls in Madeira. The size, sound, beauty, and the fact it’s a bit of a hidden gem in Madeira make it all that much more special.
This is why we love Santana! It’s a bit more untouched, hidden, and flat-out beautiful. So take it all in because this is truly one of Madeira’s hidden gems!
Enjoy a delicious dinner at Restaurant Quinta do Furão
Even if you don’t end up staying at Hotel Quinta do Furão we recommend eating dinner at their restaurant. It’s separate from the hotel and it’s actually one of the most famous restaurants on this side of the island.
This is partially due to the incredible views from the outdoor terrace but also because the food there is delicious!
The restaurant actually started back in 1993 even before the Quinta do Furão hotel was built. Now, thanks to the hotel, the restaurant is even more popular.
We had the portobello burger and the chicken with potatoes – and both meals were excellent! With the meals, we had a glass of red wine (the waiter suggested the house wine) and a Brisa! Quinta do Furão restaurant is a great place to get a taste of a nice, authentic Santana.
We also want to mention here that for what you get, the price is very reasonable! It was about €40 for both of our meals, water, and drinks.
If you go on a nice summer day we highly recommend booking in advance! Ask for a table out on the terrace because the view of the coast is incredible. And if you have a night with a beautiful sunset you’ll see the sky dancing with different shades of pink, purple, orange and blue.
A dinner at Quinta do Furão restaurant is the perfect way to end the first day in Santana!
With an awesome viewpoint and one of Madeira’s best waterfalls, you’re off to a great start on your Santana trip!
Day 2: Historical Santana and the highest point in Madeira
On the second day of this 3 days in Santana itinerary, we’re going more local!
Today we’re seeing a bit of the local side of Santana, visiting the highest point in Madeira (Pico Ruivo), and spending time at the hotel enjoying the views and the sound of birds chirping while you relax by the pool.
If you stay at Quinta do Furão, breakfast is included and it’s absolutely delicious! Fresh fruit, pastries, buffet breakfast and a meal from their a la carte menu should keep you full for a few hours! 😉
The breakfast was definitely one of the highlights for us as it was so good! We’d get the Eggs Benedict with freshly brewed coffee and supply with some fresh fruit and a pastry. It was SO GOOD! (And it definitely filled us up for the adventurous day ahead).
Most other hotels should also offer breakfast if you don’t stay at Quinta do Furão! Otherwise, there’s a Continente (grocery store) in Santana where you can grab some food for breakfast.
Hike up and enjoy the view from the top of Pico Ruivo
Now that you’re done with your breakfast, it’s time for a little drive! Bring your hiking boots, sunscreen, and water and then head out on the first adventure of the day.
Pico Ruivo is the tallest mountain in all of Madeira and the hike to the peak is a part of the PR 1 from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike. PR 1 is probably the most famous hike on the island because you hike from and between 2 of the tallest peaks on the island.
But since you’ll be on the Santana side of the island we recommend a much shorter hike than the full PR 1. Instead, we suggest you do the PR 1.2 hike from Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo.
We actually hiked up to Pico Ruivo for sunrise on a separate trip and it was absolutely incredible. In the morning if the weather is good it’s absolutely perfect. Some people also say this is the best sunset spot in all of Madeira. We might agree with that too!
The drive from Santana to the Pico Ruivo parking lot takes about 20 minutes. You can see the directions from Santana to Pico Ruivo here.
The hike from the parking lot to the top of Pico Ruivo and back takes roughly 5 hours with breaks and pictures. You can see the trail map for Pico Ruivo here and also a full description of the Pico Ruivo hike here (we’ve written it as a sunrise hike but the trail details are the same).
We do recommend hiking to the top since it’s the highest peak of the island with one of the best views in Madeira.
If you had enough hiking the first day then you can also drive up and enjoy the views from close to the parking lot. It’s still totally worth going to the Achada do Teixeira parking even if you are not in the mood to hike.
If you decide to not hike up though you can still walk on the PR1.2 for a few minutes and take in the views. Even from near the parking lot on a clear day, the views are incredible. The area is incredible and we absolutely love it up in the mountains here!
Lunch up in the Madeira Mountains
Whether you end up hiking to the top of Pico Ruivo or not we recommend coming up the mountain because of the lunch spot. Next to the parking lot for Pico Ruivo, you’ll find the Achado do Teixeira Mountain Spot Café.
They don’t have a big menu but they have everything you need for a delicious lunch. They have a few different sandwiches and then you can pair it with freshly pressed orange juice and maybe a yummy cake for dessert.
The best time to go is on a sunny day because you can sit outside and watch the clouds move quickly around all the mountain peaks.
If you hike up all the way to the top of Pico Ruivo you may get hungry before you come down. It is a 5-hour round trip but there is a little hut called Casa de Abrigo do Pico Ruivo right before the final stretch to the summit that you can stop at.
You can grab a coffee or snack to keep you fueled for the final stretch of the hike and then back down to Achado do Teixeira.
Having lunch up here in the mountains is one of the highlights of our 3-days in Santana itinerary. It’s such a cool part of the island and even doing just a portion of the PR1 to get a feel for the views is amazing.
Down to Santana to see some traditional houses
This is a fun activity and a must-do when visiting Santana! Santana is famous for its traditional A-framed houses, often in red and blue colours! They’re super cute, very unique, and very small compared to a standard western house.
Back in the day, you could easily find 3 generations living in one of these traditional houses!
There are a few different places you can see these houses so we have a few stops we highly recommend for you to get an idea of what typical Santana homes were like back in the day. You might also be able to meet and talk with some of the locals whose parents used to live in them.
The first one we recommend is the Santana Old House! We’ve gone there twice now and the owner was there both times. He shares his stories about his parents living in this exact home and what that was like. Both times he also offered us to try his homemade coffee liquor and it was honestly really good!
Unfortunately, it was a little hard for us to communicate with him as he speaks Spanish and Portuguese but no English – and we don’t speak either language. He is super friendly though and even tries to translate some stuff on his phone to help explain things in English.
Even though it’s a bit of a tourist stop it’s still super authentic and gives you a good look into the traditional Santana.
The next stop is only a few minutes away from the Santana Old House. It’s right in the heart of Santana where you can find a group of typical Santana Houses. The place is Casas Tipicas de Santana where you’ll find a group of these houses together.
There are some locals, vendors, and food stands. It’s quite a touristy place in Santana but it’s nice to walk around for a few minutes and get a taste of Madeira.
After visiting these two spots in Santana we recommend going to relax somewhere in the sun with a drink or coffee or back at the hotel for a few hours!
Local dinner in Santana
After a bit of relaxing at either your hotel or in Santana, we have one more recommendation for your last night in Santana. You can either go to Quinta do Furão again if you really enjoyed the food. But if you want to try a more authentic local place for dinner then we have a great recommendation for you.
Adega do Compadre is a cute little local place right on the main road in Santana. The food isn’t fancy or expensive and the place has a more casual local feel to it.
You can tell in the evening that Santana quiets down and most day trip tourists are long gone and back in Funchal. When we went to Adega do Compadre we were just two of four guests so it was nice and chill.
At the restaurant, you can try most of the typical and traditional Madeiran dishes. Black scabbard fish with banana (Espada) and meat on a skewer with salad and fries (Espetada) are just a few of the classics that we recommend here.
It also doesn’t hurt to start with the Bolo do Caco (potato bread with garlic butter) if you are hungry and want to try it all. For drinks, try a Brisa (a Madeiran passionfruit soda) if you haven’t already. It’s delicious!
There will probably be a few locals chatting away over a glass of wine at the bar. If you’re looking for an authentic experience give Adega do Compadre a try.
If you’re looking for something a bit more fancy and high standard then we recommend going to Cantinho da Serra (which unfortunately was under construction when we went) or back to Quinta do Furão one last time. It is that good!
After a yummy dinner, it’s time enjoy your last night in Santana. There are still a few more plans for the last day but for the rest of the evening, you can just relax and take in the peacefulness of Santana.
Day 3: One last waterfall and one last taste of Santana
It’s crazy how fast 2 nights and 3 days can go by when you’re having a good time!
Start your last day in Santana by having a yummy breakfast at your hotel and maybe get a quick dip in the pool before heading out.
We recommend doing a quick, short hike to a stunning waterfall and then a bonus stop if you still have the time before you leave Santana.
Hike down to a local waterfall in Santana
This hike is even shorter than the hike to the first hidden waterfall you’ll go to in Santana. This one is actually located right on the outskirts of Santana and we believe it’s connected to the waterfall you saw on the first day.
The Aguage Waterfall is located just off one of the main outskirt roads of Santana and is pretty easy to get to. Driving by you’d have no idea there’s a waterfall in between all these country houses. Santana is always full of surprises.
You can see Aguage Waterfall’s exact location here on the map. The whole hike down to the waterfall and back up to the start is less than 1km. You can find the trail map for Aguage Waterfall right here.
You can park your car right near the trailhead. Just make sure it’s far enough on the side that the locals and other travellers have room to drive around.
It truly is just a short little walk down to the waterfall. There’s a T-intersection once you get down the set of stairs and if you follow the sound to the right you will end up at the stunning waterfall.
It is actually possible to drive to the waterfall if you come from the backway but we personally prefer the short 10-minute walk it takes down.
Similar to Cascata Agua D’Alto there aren’t too many people that make their way down to the waterfall. So there’s a good chance you may not even see anyone else while you’re there.
Even so close to civilization there are beautiful places like this around Santana and that’s what we love about this area. Take in the waterfall and the beautiful surroundings!
Bonus stop at the Santana Cultural Theme Park
This is the last stop on our 3 day Santana itinerary! It’s a bonus stop since we know you may have to get back to Funchal or wherever you’re headed on this last day of your trip.
In the heart of Santana, you can find this cultural theme park that showcases all the highlights of Santana such as the typical Santana houses, Madeiran handcraft, and a simulation of exploring the Madeira Islands.
It is a very family-friendly place with a train ride around the park, a farm, a playground, and much more. The theme park has people of all ages and you can walk around the park and see the different exhibitions and learn about the Madeiran culture.
We recommend at least one to two hours to enjoy the park and check out the exhibitions that interest you the most.
There’s also a little cafe/coffee shop inside the theme park right next to the traditional homes and another cafe right next to the entrance by the ‘lake’.
You can easily spend a few hours at the theme park if you have the time. Of course, this is also a fun activity to do one of the first days if you don’t want to be at your hotel. Instead, you can come to the Santana theme park and enjoy everything it has to offer!
You can check out the Santana Theme Park’s website here to learn more.
Other related questions to Santana in Madeira
Can you do a day trip from Funchal to Santana?
Yes, Santana is a popular day trip from Funchal. Just in a day you can visit the typical traditional Santana houses, explore a hidden waterfall, and even stop by a few viewpoints along the way.
Even if you only have one day, we can highly recommend making a day trip from Funchal to Santana. It’s a more rural and beautiful part of the island with an incredible coastline.
Did people use to live in the traditional Madeira houses?
Yes! It was very common that locals used to live in the traditional Madeiran A-frame homes. Most of them were agricultural workers and would build these homes themselves.
It wasn’t uncommon to see 3 generations living in these houses either. We spoke to someone who used to live in one and he explained to us that they were 8 people living in one house!
Is the Quinta do Furão Hotel in Santana worth it?
The Quinta do Furao Hotel is one of the most beautiful hotels in Madeira! So yes, it is absolutely worth staying at this hotel in Santana.
It offers stunning views of the northeastern coast of Madeira along with a beautiful outdoor swimming pool. The hotel has plenty of activities for its guests such as wine tasting, bread-making classes, and much more.
Everything from the breakfast buffet to the rooms at Quinta do Furão is amazing. And did we mention that the hotel has a very high focus on sustainability? A stay we can highly recommend in Madeira!
What hikes can you do near Santana, Madeira?
We didn’t include Levada do Caldeirão Verde in this itinerary but it’s definitely not because it’s not worth doing – because it is! It is just a full-day activity so this is something we would add to your itinerary if you had 4 days in Santana or more as it will take up pretty much the entire day.
You may also like…
- 5 Beautiful Hotels to Stay at in Santana, Madeira
- 8 Unique Tours in Madeira You Must Try
- Hiking and Chasing Waterfalls – Levada Do Caldeirão Verde Trail
- The Best Sunrise Spot in Madeira: Pico Ruivo
- Staying at the Amazing Quinta do Furão Hotel in Madeira (Hotel Review)
Recap of 3 Days exploring Santana in Madeira
That’s a wrap for these 3 full days exploring the beautiful Santana in Madeira. From hidden waterfalls to hiking to the highest peak in Madeira, the Santana region has it all when it comes to outdoor activities.
Mix in a few cultural sights, a few stunning viewpoints, and some delicious food and you have everything you need for a few days in Santana.
We absolutely love this part of the island and hope you get a chance to explore all the beauty it has to offer!
We know it’s quite full on but we’d rather give you more ideas and options to do than less. You can always skip out on a few and rest by the pool at your hotel and enjoy the views if that’s what you prefer!
If you have any questions about Santana or Madeira feel free to leave a comment below! You can also send us a DM on Instagram @redwhiteadventures if you have any questions.
Enjoy your time chasing waterfalls and exploring the beauty of Santana. It’s a small paradise on one of the most beautiful islands in the world!