9 Major Tourist Attractions in Madeira Islands

Also known as the Island of Eternal Spring and the pearl of the Atlantic, Madeira is a volcanic island boasting white sandy beaches, rugged yet breathtaking coastlines, and a stunning mountainous landscape. Situated in an autonomous region of Portugal, Madeira Island is the largest and most populous of the Madeira Archipelago, renowned for its warm, subtropical climate. With numerous natural pools, adventurous hiking trails, verdant rolling valleys, dramatic cloud-capped mountains, and a tropical ambiance, the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira is a dream destination. Whether exploring the city of Funchal, hiking through the countryside, or indulging in delicious cuisine, there are plenty of activities to keep visitors occupied. Over the years, Madeira has emerged as one of Portugal's most sought-after destinations.

# Funchal

Funchal, the capital city of the Madeira archipelago, is one of the top attractions on Madeira Island. This modern city offers a unique blend of contemporary life and historical charm. Situated on the southern coast of the island, Funchal is a former trading post transformed into a popular tourist destination, renowned for its splendid, lush gardens. Blessed with a subtropical climate, Funchal enjoys mild temperatures year-round. Its most prominent landmark is the centuries-old Cathedral, a stunning example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, featuring intricately carved wooden ceilings. With its rich cultural and historical significance, Funchal stands out as one of Madeira's most beloved tourist destinations.

# Ponta do Sol

Located on the southwestern coast of Madeira Island, Portugal, Ponta do Sol is a picturesque sun-drenched town known for its consistently pleasant climate. Translated as Point or Center of the Sun in English, Ponta do Sol boasts the sunniest weather on the island, making it the perfect spot to capture breathtaking sunset views. Adorned with pastel-colored buildings and a magnificent pebble beach, Ponta do Sol exudes a unique coastal charm. The town hosts numerous events and festivals, including the L Concert, Madeira Dig, and Micro Film Festival. Visitors can relax on the beach, partake in water sports, explore the local church and historic center, stroll across the old bridge to the pier, and admire the lush plantations along the way.

# Pico do Arieiro

One of Madeira's most captivating sights, Pico do Arieiro is the island's third-highest peak, accessible from Funchal. Visitors can either drive or embark on a two to three-hour hike to reach Pico do Arieiro. The peak offers breathtaking panoramic views of verdant forested valleys, rugged mountains, mesmerizing sunrises, a sea of clouds (often), and the ocean on both sides. Pico do Arieiro is renowned for its spectacular sunrise views, as its considerable altitude allows visitors to witness the sun rising above a sea of clouds. During winter, it is one of the few places on the island to experience snowfall. A visit to Pico do Arieiro promises an unforgettable experience and is considered one of the top attractions in Madeira.

# Cabo Girao

Situated along the southern coast of Madeira, Cabo Girao is a dramatic sea cliff and one of the island's most remarkable sights. Among the highest cliffs in Europe, Cabo Girao features a nearly vertical drop of approximately 500 meters. If you're seeking adventure and breathtaking vistas, a visit to Cabo Girao is a must during your trip to Madeira Island. The cliff is equipped with a glass skywalk, allowing visitors to look directly through the floor to the water below. Offering the highest cliff skywalk in Europe, Cabo Girao provides an unparalleled experience for travelers. Entrance to the skywalk is free, and the stunning views and adventurous atmosphere make Cabo Girao one of Madeira's most popular tourist attractions.

# Monte Palace Tropical Garden

One of Madeira's must-visit destinations, the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a vast, multi-level garden featuring exotic trees, flowers, African sculptures, ponds, and a mineral museum. Perched high in the hills above Funchal, the garden was originally established in 1990 adjacent to the former Monte Palace hotel. Home to approximately 100,000 plant species and rare varieties of flowers and trees, the garden's most notable feature is its collection of living fossils known as cycads. Visitors can also encounter various species of birds freely roaming the grounds, including ducks, swans, peacocks, geese, and more. The garden is also home to a museum spanning multiple floors, showcasing everything from minerals from around the world to African sculptures.

# The Valley of the Nuns

Ranked among the best places to visit in Madeira, the Valley of the Nuns is a quaint village nestled within the crater of an extinct volcano. This village served as a sanctuary for nuns seeking refuge when pirates attacked Funchal, seizing their convent in 1566. Located at the heart of Madeira, the village can be reached from two high vantage points - Eira do Serrado and Paredão viewpoints. The Valley of the Nuns hosts an annual celebration known as the Chestnut Festival, which originated when the local community had an abundance of chestnuts. These chestnuts were used in various dishes, including cakes, pudding, soup, and liqueur. The festival remains a popular event among locals and tourists, offering music, dance, delicious food, wine, and a glimpse into the area's past.

# Porto Moniz Natural Pools

Situated in the small coastal village of Porto Moniz on the northwest tip of Madeira, Porto Moniz is renowned for its natural wonders, particularly its lava pools. Formed by volcanic lava and naturally filled with clear seawater, the Porto Moniz Natural Pools are a key highlight of this charming town. In 2018, CNN named these pools one of the 52 best beaches in the world. These pools formed over several years as volcanic lava cooled, creating a unique swimming experience for adults and children alike. Visitors can swim in the crystal-clear waters, capture striking photographs of the panoramic landscape surrounding the pools, and explore the nearby beaches of Madeira.

# Laurisilva of Madeira

Located on the Paul da Serra hill in Fanal, the Laurisilva of Madeira is a dense forest covering approximately 15,000 hectares of the island's area. The name Laurisilva is derived from the Latin words Laurus, meaning laurel, and Silva, meaning forest. In 1999, the Laurisilva of Madeira was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. This spectacular forest is home to many rare plants and trees belonging to the Lauraceae family, including Persea indica, the laurel, Madeira mahogany, lily of the valley tree, and more. The Levada do Rei and Levada do Caldeirao Verde, located in the northern part of Madeira Island, offer stunning views of this forest, which features lush greenery, lakes, waterfalls, and streams, providing visitors with a glimpse into Madeira Island's rich history.

# Machico

As the second-largest city on Madeira Island, Portugal, Machico is a town steeped in history. Located 22 km east of Funchal on the island's east coast, Machico is home to several attractions, including the historic fortresses of Nossa Senhora do Amparo and São João Baptista, and the island's oldest church, Capela dos Milagres. Machico's beach, with its golden sands and crescent shape, is a popular destination for swimming and sunbathing. The town also boasts several viewpoints, including Portela and Pico do Facho, offering breathtaking views of Madeira Island.
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