Exploring Madeira by jeep has to be one of the most exciting ways to see the wonders of the island. We’re usually hiking by foot in search of hidden waterfalls, peaks, and viewpoints but we decided to try out what it’s like offroading in the back of a jeep around the island – and we loved it!
This jeep tour in Madeira took us down some roads a Fiat Panda rental car definitely would not enjoy or probably even make (if you’ve been to Madeira, you know what we’re talking about).
We thought we’d been to some pretty remote parts of Madeira before this tour but we definitely experienced some new trails and roads that are only accessible by an offroad vehicle such as a jeep.
On this jeep tour, we got to see some of the most beautiful viewpoints by Sao Lourenco and Porto da Cruz, drove off-road in between eucalyptus trees and huge ferns, drank coffee like a local, and had a delicious traditional Madeiran meal at the end!
It’s definitely an experience we’ll remember for a long time!
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.
Full-day private jeep tour in Madeira
We had the chance to experience Madeira by jeep with True Spirit where we explored the east side of the island. There are plenty of other full-day and half-day tours the company does.
Each tour has a bit of off-roading where you’ll get the chance to stand up in the back and enjoy the Madeiran fresh air which is the highlight of the day!
After going on a jeep tour around the island, we truly feel like this is an experience not to miss in Madeira!
You’re surrounded by mountains, the ocean, and amazing nature in an open vehicle while learning about Madeira’s history, culture, and nature. What more could you possibly ask for?
In this post, we dive into our jeep tour experience here on the island and the stops we visited.
When you book a private tour you can either use one of the recommended routes the guides have planned or you can ask them if it’s possible to create a route that fits the places you want to see.
On our tour, our guide was happy to switch up the itinerary a bit and in this post, you can read about all the stops we made! This is similar to their East Coast Tour but since we had just spent 3 days in Santana we skipped out on that part and did a few other fun things.
Stop #1 – View Overlooking the Coastal town of Canical
One thing to know about Madeira (if you don’t already) is that the island is full of micro-climates. If it’s raining on one side of the island it may be sunny on the other. Even 5-10 kilometres away the weather can be totally different!
One thing the tour guides do is check the weather before heading out. If the weather isn’t looking too good in one area, they try to change the route a bit and plan the trip according to the weather in each location.
So from Funchal, we decided to go straight east because the weather was looking really good over there.
The first stop was a famous viewpoint overlooking the coastal town of Canical and Madeira Airport.
One of the coolest things here is watching flights fly over the island and land on the famous runway.
This viewpoint is also next to the famous PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hiking trail. It’s one of our favourite hikes in Madeira. You can get a little taste of it and see what the views look like on this jeep tour but we recommend coming back to hike the whole thing one day.
Stop #2 – Viewpoint at Miradouro da Ponta do Rosto
It’s safe to say that Madeira has what feels like a thousand incredible viewpoints (Miradouros in Portuguese).
The Miradouro da Ponta do Rosto Viewpoint in particular is really cool! You get to see some of the most beautiful coastlines in Madeira.
To the right, you have a portion of the Dragon’s Tail which is where the PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike takes place and to the left, you have these wild sea cliffs (which is what you see in our images above).
If you’ve done the Vereda do Larano hike from Machico to Porto da Cruz you may even be able to see the hiking trail you went on in the cliffs.
There’s not a whole lot of walking to do around this viewpoint since the tour guide will drop you off right at the top so it’s nice and convenient. It’s another great spot to see planes flying over the island as well!
The last thing you’ll be able to see at the Miradouro da Ponta do Rosto is the mountains in the background that make up the center of the island.
Those mountains are where the next part of the tour takes place. Deep in the Madeiran forest! 😉
Stop #3 – Offroading through the mountains above Machino
This may or may not have been the highlight of the private jeep tour around the island. It may be because it was our first time cruising around the island by jeep or the dirt roads we went down but this part of the trip was epic!
The roads we drove on were used back in the day in case of fires as emergency roads. Nowadays they’re used for offroading, hiking, and exploring.
The ride does get a little bumpy but when you’re in the back of the jeep with your hair flying and your body bouncing all over the place you don’t really care! It’s so fun!
Most jeep tours will have a section that takes you off-roading because that’s one of the main parts of being in an awesome open vehicle. You can take it to the most remote parts of the island where regular tours can’t go.
It’s truly what a jeep tour is all about and it was definitely one of the highlights of the day trip!
Stop #4 – Coffee and Viewpoint at Miradouro do Portela
You may know this spot if you’ve ever hiked the PR5 Vereda das Fonduras hike or the Levada do Furado to Levada Portela.
This viewpoint is quite famous because of the view you get overlooking Porto da Cruz and the famous Eagle’s Rock.
This viewpoint is also a popular spot for paragliders so you may even see a group of them in the air making their way to Porto da Cruz.
On top of that, there’s a little local cafe you can stop at and have a coffee. Bring the coffee outside and enjoy the view overlooking the ocean.
Feel free to ask your tour guide about some stories or facts about Madeira. The guides are always super excited to share their knowledge with you about the island. From our experience, the guides at True Spirit are super friendly and always love to have a chat!
Enjoy the viewpoint and coffee! 😉
Stop #5 – Visit one of the highest points in Madeira: Pico Arieiro
Normally one of the stops would be to visit the famous Pico Arieiro which is potentially the most iconic spot on the island!
As we mentioned earlier though, the weather can be very unpredictable and random all around the island.
Before the drive up to the peak, our tour guide checked out the weather cameras and the weather didn’t look promising at all so that plan had to be cancelled for us.
In case the same thing happens on your tour you can always do the PR1 Pico Arieiro as a hike on a different day.
It’s absolutely beautiful up there and even if you’re only on the island for a certain amount of time you should at least try and visit the peak or hike the famous PR1 Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo.
Stop #6 – Drive through the beautiful nature around Ribeiro Frio
Once you (hopefully) get a chance to visit the peak of Pico Arieiro you’ll drive back through Ribeiro Frio, a municipality located in the interior of Madeira.
It’s mostly known for its trout farm and also the starting point of many awesome hikes such as Levada do Furado and PR11 Levada dos Balcoes.
The area is also popular for canyoning and it’s actually where we tried canyoning in Madeira with EPIC Tours on one of their level 2 tours.
You’ll see why people love this part of the island (when the weather is nice) because there are so many beautiful spots to pull over and enjoy the view.
That’s exactly what you’ll do while cruising around Ribeiro Frio in the jeep. There are waterfalls, viewpoints, and a delicious restaurant that locals, expats, and the tour guide recommended.
Stop #7 – Enjoy a yummy local lunch at Abrigo do Poiso
The Abrigo do Poiso restaurant (also known as “the pink house”) has quite a rich history in Ribeiro Frio.
Before it was a bar and restaurant it used to be used as a place for the locals to stay the night while they were up in the Madeiran mountains.
Now it’s evolved and is more of a tourist stop for people to enjoy a poncha (local alcoholic drink) and some lunch!
You will still see locals enjoying a drink or an espresso in the bar part of the building but the restaurant side of the building is very cozy and exactly what you’d expect from a nice restaurant up in the mountains.
The menu is actually quite big so there are plenty of options but the “meat on the skewer” is definitely a top recommendation. Their soups also came highly recommended so that’s what we had! There are plenty of other meals that are yummy and veggie-friendly as well!
If you haven’t tried one, it may be time to have a “Poncha” which is a famous local drink made in Madeira
This is the last stop before heading back to Funchal. The beauty of a private jeep tour in Madeira is that you can change up the itinerary depending on the weather.
You may not end up at Restaurant Abrigo do Poiso as your last spot for the day but you may stop there earlier in your jeep trip and then have lunch somewhere else.
The trips can be customized and changed due to the weather on any given day.
Stop #8 – Back in Funchal
Depending on where you want to go after the tour, the tour guide will be able to drop you off in downtown Funchal or back at your accommodation. During our trip, we stayed right in the heart of Old Town Funchal so we got dropped off by the cable car downtown.
The guides are super friendly so just chat with them and see what works best for you and they will try their best to accommodate your desired drop-off spot!
A good idea for when you’re back if you’re feeling a drink could be to stop at Rei de Poncha right in the old town!
Other guided jeep tours around Madeira
True Spirit is one of a few jeep companies around Madeira and they do offer quite a few other tours – not just private day trips.
Private trips are great especially if you’re a bigger group that can fill up a jeep (up to 6 people) or just looking for something a little more personal and customizable.
But if you’re looking for a regular full or half-day jeep tour then True Spirit also offers some awesome jeep adventures around the island.
Half-Day Jeep Tours
Amazing Skywalk, Cliffs, and Valleys
On this trip, you’ll visit the famous Cabo Girão which is the highest sea cliff in Europe standing at 580 meters.
You’ll also drive up some remote roads to a crazy elevation of 1200 meters above sea level!
On top of all that you’ll stop at some famous viewpoints and stop by Camara de Lobos – a fisherman town next to Funchal where famous “Poncha” and “Nikita” drinks were invented.
Stunning Pico Arieiro and Nun’s Valley
On this half-day trip, you make the drive up to the famous Pico Arieiro viewpoint which overlooks pretty much the whole island.
Along the way, you’ll drive up some beautiful and scenic mountain roads while experiencing the offroad adventure of cruising in a jeep.
You’ll also have the chance to stop at a local trout farm, a tea house, and incredible views over all the local terraces and properties up in the mountains.
Skywalk and Wine Experience
If you’re into wine then this is the tour for you! On this half-day jeep trip, you’ll make your way to the north side of the island passing by and stopping in some of the coastal towns.
You’ll then get to taste Madeiran wine and learn a little bit about the process from Madeira’s main wine producer.
Then you’ll finish up at the sky deck of Cabo Girão where you’ll be able to test your fear of heights. Since Cabo Girão is the highest sea cliff in Europe the drop-down is quite uhh… intimidating let’s say.
Full-Day Jeep Tours
25 Fountains, Levada, and Skywalk
On this full-day jeep tour, you’ll make your way to Rabacal where you’ll hike the famous Levada 25 Fontes trail. There you’ll get the chance to see Risco Waterfall which is the tallest waterfall in all of Madeira.
You’ll have a chance to eat at a local restaurant in Paul de Serra and finish off the day you’ll stop by Cabo Girao Skywalk near Funchal.
Beautiful Skywalk, Porto Moniz, and Volcanic Lava Pools
On this tour, you’ll visit one of Portugal’s 7 Wonders! The volcanic natural pools in Porto Moniz are one of the coolest places on the island and a great place to go for a swim if you want to feel the cool Atlantic ocean.
After your swim, you’ll have time to explore the Fanal Forest (famous Laurel trees) and offroad on some of Madeira’s hidden roads before finishing up at the Cabo Girão Skywalk.
Santana Biosphere Reserve and Pico Arieiro
This trip starts with a nice elevation gain from Funchal all the way up to Pico Arieiro. A roughly 1800-meter incline drive that takes you to one of the highest points on the island overlooking all of the peaks of the island as well as the ocean.
From there you’ll make your way to Ribeiro Frio home to the Laurel trees which are famous on the island and classified as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Lastly, you’ll end up in the beautiful town of Santana home of the a-frame homes. In Santana, you’ll have lunch and explore the biosphere located in the heart of the town.
You’ll have a chance to explore the history of Santana and the island of Madeira while admiring all the beautiful nature.
Madeira Wine Tasting and Skywalk
This tour starts with a trip to Serra d’Agua which is a valley in the middle of the island.
From there, the off-road journey will begin where you’ll drive on roads that are meant only for 4×4 vehicles. You’ll have a chance to stand up in the back of the jeep and enjoy the fresh Madeiran air.
Then you’ll make your way to Sao Vicente to try local Madeira wine from the major wine producer on the island.
As you finish up on the north side of the island you’ll make your way back to Cabo Girão to experience what it feels like to be scared of heights.
This skywalk is 580 meters above sea level and is actually famous for being the highest sea cliff in Europe!
Why True Spirit Jeep Tours + their sustainable approach
There are quite a few good jeep tour companies around the island of Madeira. In general, most tour companies on the island are great, professional, and friendly so it’s hard to find ones that stick out.
We found that True Spirit has a big focus on sustainability and you can see that by the international awards they are recognized for.
We wanted to do a little more research into True Spirit’s sustainable approach and we asked our tour guide about it to give us a better understanding of what the company does.
A few things True Spirit does to be more sustainable:
- They use a certain % of biofuel in all their jeeps
- They spread out the timing of the tours to not overpopulate busy areas
- The team also does a coworking event where they go to busier areas and pick up garbage
- True Spirit has a collaboration with TUI where they go and plant trees on one of their jeep tours!
Other related questions to jeep tours in Madeira
What is the best jeep tour in Madeira?
There are plenty of amazing jeep tours around Madeira that bring you to some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the island.
To have the best possible experience on a jeep tour it may be best to book a private tour with a company and plan the trip with that company.
That way you’ll be able to see exactly what you want to see with the recommendations of your tour guide.
We personally went with True Spirit based out of Funchal and had an amazing private tour experience with one of their guides.
Can you go on a half-day jeep tour?
There are all sorts of different jeep tours you can do in Madeira, from half-day to full-day tours around the west or east side of the island.
You can also go on a private jeep tour around Madeira or group jeep tours that you can book in advance with a tour company.
What part of the island do jeep tours go to in Madeira?
There are jeep tours that go all over Madeira from the east coast near Sao Lourenco all the way to Porto Moniz on the northwestern part of the island.
Most of the jeep tours will start right in Funchal but you can also ask to get picked up elsewhere for a small fee.
From your pickup location, you’ll then go and explore popular landmarks around Madeira as well as off-the-beaten-path trails and roads that only jeeps can go on.
You may also like…
- How to Explore Madeira in a Sustainable Way
- 8 Unique Tours in Madeira You Must Try
- What It’s Like Driving in Madeira
- 12 of the Best Hikes to Do in Madeira
- 28 Best Things to Do in Funchal, Madeira
Private Jeep tour in Madeira recap
This itinerary is an example of something you can do with True Spirit here in Madeira. You can customize the trip to your liking if there’s anything specific that you want to see during the trip.
The guides are all locals and know everything about the island so it’s worth reaching out to them to see what they recommend and what fits your schedule.
Since there are half-day, full-day, and regular tours that run all the time there are endless possibilities.
If you’re a group of 5-6 or looking for something unique and personal, a private jeep tour is a perfect way to explore the island.
Get ready for the offroading experience! It’s a whole lot of fun.
If you have any questions about booking a jeep tour in Madeira, activities to do around Madeira, or simply anything related to the island then reach out to us.
The best way to reach us is to DM us on Instagram @redwhiteadventures or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
We hope you have an amazing time in Madeira and have a fun experience 4×4 around this beautiful place.
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