Madeira Island is filled with the most beautiful nature with waterfalls flowing over the side of cliffs and breathtaking Levada trails that can be found all across the island. And off the coast of Madeira, you can find dolphins and even whales if you’re lucky.The variety of tours in Madeira that you can go on is amazing!
You’ll find anything from hikes, boat trips, food tours, and even free walking tours in Funchal that are all worth doing!
If you’re an outdoor lover, the trips to Levada 25 Fontes or the Fanal Forest should be on the top of your list. For any animal and ocean lovers, the dolphin and whale boat tours should be a priority. And just to get a taste of what life is like in Madeira, and specifically Funchal, the free walking tours really dive deep into that!
We can guarantee you that no matter if you’re spending a week or two months (like we did) in Madeira you won’t be getting bored anytime soon. For not being a huge island there really is a lot to do and see and the island will keep you coming back for more. Even some of the hikes we did we can’t wait to do again because nature there is just so insanely beautiful!
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8 unique tours to do in Madeira
Pro tip: most tours in Madeira book out in advance during the summer months. We recommend booking your tours at least a few weeks in advance if that’s when you’re travelling!
#1 Funchal: Dolphin and Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise
⛵️ Book: Your Dolphin and Whale watching cruise from Funchal here
⏰ Time: Roughly 3 hours
💸 Cost: €30
One of the best ways to see the beauty of Madeira is from out at sea. To experience these beautiful mammals in their natural habitat is incredible. There are almost always some dolphins and whales along the coast. Between May and September, it’s the peak season for dolphins and whales so if you’re lucky to be in Madeira around that time, you are more likely to see bigger and more pods.
So on this 3-hour catamaran cruise, you’ll go searching for dolphins and whales while enjoying the sun. And if you’re lucky they may even swim up and play next to the boats. The dolphins have really gotten used to the boats of the coast of Funchal so they quite often come to say hi.
After spending some time enjoying the marine life, you’ll make your way under Cabo Girão Skywalks which is a famous viewpoint in Madeira. This area has some crystal clear water and is great for snorkelling during the summer months when the water is warm! More options to see some cool marine life 😉
To finish the trip off you can buy a drink onboard and enjoy the coastal views as you cruise back towards Funchal.
#2 Funchal: Best of Madeira West Tour
🚘 Book: Your Best of Madeira West Tour from Funchal here
⏰ Time: Roughly 8 hours (full day)
💸 Cost: €34
The best of the west is actually what this tour is all about. For some reason, the west side of Madeira doesn’t get as much love as the east. Maybe because Funchal is more on the east side of the island and more accessible than the west side which takes a little longer to get to. But the west coast of Madeira is stunning and you’ll soon see why.
We went on this Madeira West Tour with Lido Tours which takes you to some of the highlights along the west coast of the island. If you like heights and beautiful viewpoints, you’ll love one of the first stops at Cabo Girão which is one of the highest capes in the world – and the highest in Europe!
On this tour, you’ll also make your way to some cute coastal towns. Two of the towns you will see are Camara de Lobos and Ribeira Brava. Camera do Lobos is a cute little fisherman town and is famous for creating a few alcoholic drinks! You will drive through this town just before reaching Cabo Girão. After that, you will stop at Ribeira Brava for a bit where you can enjoy a yummy Portuguese coffee and a light lunch.
This west coast trip is really packed with a bunch of cool and unique things to see. It’s a full-day adventure where you’re going from place to place. You really get your money’s worth on the Madeira West Tour.
#3 Funchal: Free Walking Tour
👞 Book: Your Free Walking Tour from Funchal here
⏰ Time: Roughly 1.5-2.5 hours
💸 Cost: Tip what you want
The Funchal free walking tour is the perfect way to see Madeira’s capital city from a local’s perspective. It’s a great way to figure out all the best spots while also learning about the history and stories of Funchal.
There are two different tours that both run twice a week. That means there are 4 out of the 7 days of the week that these tours operate.
One of the free walking tours in Funchal is about the Old Town and the other one is Funchal Essentials so they both offer something unique and different.
Most people know this but the tour guides work for free. So if you enjoy the free tour it’s always nice to leave a few €€ as a tip! It goes a long way for these locals!
#4 Funchal: Sunrise Hike from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
🌄 Book: Your Sunrise Hike from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo here
⏰ Time: Full day (roughly 7 hours)
💸 Cost: €33.5
This sunrise hike is hands down one of the best hikes on the island and the PR1 Pico Arieiro has always been one of the hikes we recommend to anyone visiting the island for the first time. The fact you get to be up at one of the tallest peaks in Madeira for sunrise is absolutely incredible!
This tour itself isn’t guided the whole way. The driver will drop you and the other participants off at the beginning of the hike and pick you up again at the end. Once you’ve completed the hike, the tour guide will drive you through Santana and show you some of the iconic traditional Santana houses.
We love the fact that it’s more of a shuttle service with a bit of information about Madeira along the drive. It’s a good combination and gives you the freedom to (more or less) hike as fast or slow as you want from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo.
Once you’ve completed the hike, you’ll meet up with the other guests at the pickup stop. You have more than enough time to enjoy the hike and take some breaks along the way.
There’s also an option to go on a full guided tour where a guide will do the hike with you and share stories and information along the trail. You can book that specific Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo guided hike here (this is the one we did and LOVED).
#5 Madeira: Level 1 Canyoning Adventure
This is the perfect entry-level canyoning tour for a first-time canyoner or someone who’s tried it just once or twice before! Some people actually say Madeira is in the top 5 places in the world for canyoning so you’re really in for a treat!
This Level 1 Canyoning trip starts in Funchal and the team will drive you and the other guests up into the Madeira mountains (which are incredibly beautiful by the way). From there, you’ll hike a little bit through the mountains to the starting point where all the fun begins!
This may not even sound real but on this trip, you’ll have the chance to jump down waterfalls, swim in natural pools, and slide down some natural waterslides. The canyons up in the mountains are incredible and this is hands down one of the wildest tours in Madeira.
If you’re an adrenaline chaser or want to experience some of Madeira’s beauty that not everyone gets to experience, then try this level-1 tour. You don’t need any experience and as long as you’re comfortable jumping from small heights and aren’t afraid of water, you will absolutely love this tour in Madeira!
We definitely don’t consider ourselves as crazy adventurous and this tour wasn’t bad at all. There are a few sections that get your heart racing a little but the guides are there to help you along the way. We can definitely recommend level 1 if you’ve never done it before. We went with EPIC Madeira and they were amazing!
Of course, they also have level 2 & 3 for more advanced canyoners who have done it a few times before.
#6 Funchal: Food and Wine walking tour
Who doesn’t love a good food and wine tour?! Madeira has some pretty unique and wonderful food you have to try and there’s no better way to do this than by having a local take you around.
This food & wine tour in Funchal takes you to a variety of different restaurants and shops where you get to try out some of Madeira’s finest treats and foods. In the 3 hours, you’ll end up at 9 different places to sample 11 different foods and 6 different drinks.
You’ll have the chance to try some of the best chocolate made right here in Madeira along with Madeira’s best cookies and a few other sweets that pair perfectly with the Madeiran wines.
You’ll also get to try some local dishes and learn about the Madeiran cuisine from a local guide and even local chefs.
If you’re a foodie or just like trying out new food you’ll love this experience! It highlights some awesome spots in Funchal and the guide will give you PLENTY of other recommendations. That way, once the tour is done, you have a bunch of different places to try.
#7 Madeira: Levada walk to the 25 Fontes in Rabaçal Valley
💧 Book: Your Levada 25 Fontes walk in Rabacal Valley here
⏰ Time: Full day (roughly 8 hours)
💸 Cost: €39
The PR6 Levada 25 Fontes is another iconic trail and one of the most popular hikes in Madeira. There are some hikes on the island that are easy to get to and do by yourself. But for the 25 Fontes, a guided tour is the way to go.
The tour guide will pick you up at or near your accommodation in Funchal. Once the whole group is picked up you’ll stop at a cafe on the way to the hike before hiking through some of the most beautiful nature on the island.
A few highlights of the trip are seeing Risco Waterfall, Levada 25 Fontes, and then walking through an 800-meter-long pitch-black tunnel. We had the best day hiking to all the falls and seeing this part of the island.
This tour in Madeira is probably one of our favourites (the link will lead you to the exact tour we went on). We love hiking and being outdoors and the nature on the island is absolutely incredible. Also, seeing the Risco waterfall (which is the tallest waterfall in Madeira) up close is something else.
Near the end of the tour, you’ll walk through the 800-meter-long tunnel through the mountain which is also very unique. Make sure you have a battery on your phone to use as a flashlight. Or else you’ll have to stay next to the tour guide. And watch your head!
After the hike, you’ll stop by one more cafe before the trip back to Funchal. This is definitely one of the best outdoor tours you can do on the island!
#8 Funchal: Tuk-Tuk Tour to Monte Gardens with a Toboggan ride
🛷 Book: Your Tuk-Tuk and toboggan tour here
⏰ Time: 2.5 hours
💸 Cost: €70 for 2 people
Toboggan in Madeira? Down a crazy steep road? With two locals guiding the toboggan? Yup, you read that right!
First, let’s back up a little… This tour starts in Funchal where the guide will take you in a little Tuk-Tuk up to Monte Gardens which is a beautiful area next to Funchal up in the mountains. The Monte area overlooks Funchal and the views of the ocean from Monte are epic!
You’ll have time to explore the Monte Tropical Garden and see the Monte Palace while enjoying a nice cup of coffee. If you really enjoy the garden you can always come back yourself and spend a full day exploring this beautiful area.
Once you’re done in the garden, you’ll Tuk-Tuk around a little bit more before making your way to the most exciting part of the whole tour: The toboggan ride down from Monte to Funchal!
If you haven’t heard of this already you’re in for a real treat! Basically instead of tobogganing down a snow-covered hill like most of us are used to, you’re going to toboggan down a very steep road.
We don’t want to give away all the fun but it’s a very exciting little ride. The nice thing is that this tour is just under 3 hours long and starts and finishes in Funchal. It’s a nice little activity to do if you’re looking for something to do one afternoon. It’s also perfect for couples or two friends as the tour is for up to two people.
Other related questions about tours in Madeira
How many days do you need to see Madeira?
It really depends on how much of Madeira you want to see. We recommend spending at least 14 days on the island to really experience Madeira and everything it has to offer. There are so many beautiful hikes, tours to do, and places to see.
The island is an outdoor paradise and if you have 14 days to spend, you’ll hopefully be able to explore all the corners of Madeira. Although you would still only be scratching the surface! We spent 2 months in Madeira and we’re already planning to go back and explore more of it!
What is the most beautiful part of Madeira?
You can’t just pinpoint one specific place to be the most beautiful in Madeira. The island is filled with mountains, waterfalls, banana farms, beautiful beaches in Madeira, and a whole lot more. One area in particular we love is the Rabical area of Madeira where you can find Risco Falls and Levada 25 Fontes.
Can you get around Madeira without a car?
Yes, you can easily get around Madeira without a car. Two ways that can help you get around the island without a car is by using the awesome public transport and also guided tours in Madeira.
With a combination of public transport and guided tours you really don’t ever need to rent a car in Madeira.
How do you get around on Madeira Island?
One of the best ways to get around Madeira is by public transport. Buses are one of the easiest ways to get around Madeira, especially on the east side of the island where the bus system is really good.
Driving in Madeira is also a lot of fun if you enjoy driving yourself. Madeira is actually quite easy to drive around, especially with the addition of the tunnels that get you around the island quite quickly now.
Driving around Madeira is also nice if you want to visit some of the more remote parts of the island. For some of the Levada hikes you really need a guided tour or a car to get to.
Is Madeira worth visiting?
Yes, Madeira is absolutely worth visiting! If you love being outdoors and surrounded by nature then Madeira is the perfect place to visit. Madeira has hiking, beaches, city life, and delicious food!
Madeira is also a very safe island with super friendly people and an awesome island to explore. We highly recommend visiting Madeira if you have the chance.
Is Madeira too touristy?
Madeira is touristy at times especially when the cruise ships are docked in the harbour. Since there is a port right in Funchal the city itself does get very busy at times and very touristy.
Also with more and more people spreading the word about how beautiful Madeira is the island just keeps attracting more and more tourists. The sooner you can go and visit the island the better before mass tourism eventually makes its way to Madeira.
You may also like…
- 12 of the Best Hikes to Do in Madeira
- 26 Best Things to Do in Funchal, Madeira
- 21 Pebble and Sandy Beaches to Visit in Madeira
- The Best Sunrise Spot in Madeira: Pico Ruivo
- What It’s Like Driving in Madeira
Recap of 8 unique tours to do in Madeira
Madeira truly has it all and there’s so much to do on this beautiful island. From whale-watching tours along Madeira’s beautiful coastline to jumping from waterfalls into natural pools there is a huge variety of things to do on the island.
There are plenty of awesome hiking tours and then it doesn’t get more unique than tobogganing down the steepest road in Funchal. There really is something for everyone on this island and if you need help booking a tour or want some recommendations based on your interests then feel free to reach out to us.
You can also get some inspiration from this Madeira packing list if you’re lost for what to pack for your trip or just need a few ideas on what to bring and wear.