3 Day Madeira Itinerary: Best Way to Spend 3 Days in Madeira

I recently spent 3 days in Madeira and got to visit some of the best places on the island. From lush waterfalls to amazing views to dramatic cliffs, Madeira is a photographer’s heaven. I’m here to share with you the best 3 day Madeira itinerary you’ll find.

Known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal comprising of 4 islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Most people have never heard of Madeira and I hardly saw any non-European tourists in Madeira when I was there.

This off the beaten path island is the perfect getaway and vacation spot. Although 3 days in Madeira seems short, you can still see the best places in Madeira from the beach to the natural pools to top of the mountains and eat plenty of great food in Madeira.

Follow along my 3 day Madeira itinerary to see the best of Madeira and I also include many pro tips based on my personal experience in Madeira to make your trip as smooth as possible.

This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Madeira Itinerary: 3 Day Overview

This 3 day Madeira itinerary is based on what we did and it is suitable for almost everyone. There is no hard hikes involved and we drove all around Madeira to explore the best towns and photo spots. This Madeira itinerary assumes you have 3 full days to explore the island and that you have a car (or a private driver/ taxi) to take you around Madeira because there are a lot of driving involved.

  • Day 1: Explore Funchal: cable car, botanic garden, markets, beach sunset
  • Day 2: Visit Pico do Arieiro, explore the North and East side of Madeira
  • Day 3: Explore North and West side of Madeira

Is 3 Days Enough for Madeira?

3 days is short for Madeira if I am completely honest, especially if you are flying into/out of Madeira during these 3 days.

Madeira is not a small island and there are a ton to see and hike, but if you are super efficient and are willing to get up early and drive around, then you can see the highlights in 3 days. But you probably won’t really have time to do the beautiful hikes on Madeira.

If you want to fully explore Madeira (especially if you like to hike), then you should spend a week in Madeira.

Where is Madeira Island?

Where is Madeira - Madeira Map

I don’t blame you if you don’t know where Madeira is. I didn’t either! Madeira is an island that is actually closer to Africa than to Europe. It’s about an hour and 45 minute flight from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Madeira is also very close to the Canary Islands of Spain.

There are four islands in “Madeira”, which includes Madeira Island, Porto Santo, the Desertas, and the Savage Islands. The Desertas and Savage Islands are not really inhabited and are quite barren. So when people refer to Madeira they really are talking about Madeira Island, although you can also visit Porto Santo, which has a sandy beach.

3 Day Madeira Itinerary in Detail

Without further ado, here is the perfect Madeira itinerary based on our personal experience! This 3 day Madeira itinerary is fairly packed since I want you to see all the best things on Madeira Island.

This Madeira itinerary also assumes that you will not be doing any hiking in Madeira. If you are interested in hiking in Madeira, check out my guide on the best hikes and levada walks in Madeira.

Madeira Itinerary: Day 1

Highlights of Day 1: Explore Funchal: Funchal Cable Car, Gardens, Old Town

You will spend your first day in Madeira explore Funchal, the biggest city in Madeira.

Funchal is a fantastic city because it has a little bit of everything, from mountains to ocean to architecture and amazing restaurants.

There are also many fun family-friendly activities in Funchal so your entire family can enjoy Funchal.

In addition, Funchal is very easy to get around. There are buses and car ride services that you can take in Funchal so even if you do not drive, you can still have fun in Funchal.

Stop 1. Madeira Cable Car

Madeira Cable Car View of Funchal

The Madeira cable car (Teleferico) is one of the most popular things to do in Madeira because it takes you high above the ocean to visit Monte as well as two gardens there.

The Teleferico opens 364 days a year from 9am to 5:45pm and costs 12.50 Euros one way & 18 Euro round trip for adults (6.50 Euro one way and 9 Euro round trip for children 7-14). Children under 7 can ride for free!

The entire cable car ride takes about 20 minutes each way with 3200 meters of cable and the view is amazing when you roam above the orange rooftops with the view of the deep blue sea.

I suggest that you purchase the round trip cable car ticket unless you plan to take a taxi back down.

There is a large paid parking structure (with multiple levels) right next to the Madeira Cable Car station so you can leave your car there all day. There are also many restaurants around the cable car station.

Once you get off the Madeira Cable Car, you can visit several points of interest:

  • Madeira Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico)
  • Monte Palace Tropical Garden (Jardim Tropical Monte Palace)
  • Carro de Cesto: fun adventure riding down the oldest transport in Madeira
  • Igreja do Monte: Beautiful church

Stop 2. Madeira Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanico)

Madeira Botanical Garden
Source: Wikipedia.com

Madeira Botanical Garden is a large garden on top of the mountain. This botanical garden used to be owned by the family of William Reid, but it opened to the public in 1960.

The Madeira Botanical Garden has more than 2000 exotic plants including some of the plants that are exclusive to Madeira, Azores, and other Atlantic islands. There are also exotic and rare birds in the Madeira Botanical Garden that you won’t see anywhere else.

The Garden is open all year round from 9am to either 6pm or 7pm depending on the months (6pm from October 1 to April 29th). There is an entry fee to the Madeira Botanical Garden.

You can also buy a combo Cable Car ticket + Botanical Garden ticket (saves you a few Euros to buy it together).

If you want to visit the cable car and Botanical Garden but you don’t have a car, you can always take this fantastic private tour and get picked up.

If you are short on time, I would suggest skipping this Botanical Garden and go to the tropical garden below. Personally I think the Tropical Garden (mentioned below) is more impressive, but why not do both if you have the time.

Stop 3. Monte Palace Tropical Garden

Another garden that you can (and should) visit after you get off the Madeira cable car is the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden Japanese vibe

There is no combo ticket with the cable car so you will need to buy a ticket to Monte Palace separately, but trust me, this place is worth visiting. I personally think the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is the best place to visit in Funchal since it is so beautiful and lush.

Monte-Palace-Madeira Fountain

The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is huge: it occupies 70K square meters and has a large exotic plant’s collection, an African sculpture exposition, a central pond with swans, villa, Japanese styled bridges and a large collection of tile panels placed along the walkways.

We actually spent about 2.5 hours in Monte Palace Tropical Garden just walking around and taking photos. I wish we could’ve spent more time there if we didn’t have plans after.

Stop 3 (Alternative). Monte Tropical Garden & Tobaggan Ride

Another way to explore Monte Tropical Garden is to do a tour, which includes the super famous Tobaggan Ride. We didn’t do this ourselves but we did see other tourists doing this.

Essentially the Toboggan ride is a somewhat thrilling “ride” that goes downhill on a Tobaggan from Monte. You have a couple of people that will “guide” the Tobaggan ride as you go downhill super fast.

If you are interested in combining the Toboggan ride with Monte Tropical Garden, then you should check out this cool tour.

Stop 4. Old Town of Funchal

Funchal has a very charming old town that is great to walk around in. There is apparently some interesting history of the old town and it has to do with sugar cane. I honestly didn’t study too much about the history of Funchal but I certainly liked to just walk around and exploring the old town. A few interesting spots in old town Funchal that I would like to point out below.

Rue de Santa Maria

Rue de Santa Maria is directly behind the Funchal-Monte Teleferico, so it’s perfect to explore after you get off the cable car.

There are a lot of restaurants on Rue de Santa Maria and here is also where you will find the most colorful walls and doors.

Av. Arriaga & R. do Aljube

Av. Arriaga (which becomes R. do Aljube) is the heart of downtown Funchal and one of the most happening streets in Funchal.

There are generally a lot of people walking around, and there are many restaurants and shops along the streets (and in the side streets).

Funchal Street with Flowers Flower Festival

When I was there in end of April, the city of Funchal was preparing for a Flower Festival in May and the streets were lined up with yellow flowers on top.

Walking down this street will also eventually lead you to Funchal Cathedral, a Gothic style cathedral that was built in 1514.

You can totally explore Funchal on your own but if you prefer a guided tour, I would recommend this tour so you don’t miss any important spots!

Stop 5. The Farmer’s Market (Mercado dos Lavradores)

Funchal’s famous Farmer’s Market was inaugurated in 1940 and is now one of the best things you can do in Funchal.

At the market there are all sorts of products sold. The Funchal farmer’s market is closed on Sunday and public holidays and generally is open either 7 or 8am to 7 or 8pm depending on the day and is only open from 7am to 2pm on Saturdays.

Mercado dos Lavradores has a variety of fresh produces, flowers, fish among other things (like souvenirs). You will be impressed by all the colors, smell and sound in the market.

If you happen to be in Madeira for Christmas, then you have to visit Mercado dos Lavradores on December 23rd at night as people will be dancing and singing outside of the market at night so it’s super festive!

Stop 6. Funchal Waterfront

Funchal Beach Promenade sunset

Funchal waterfront is a really nice area to walk around especially during sunset and it’s one of my favorite things to do there. There are some shops and restaurants/ food stalls and on the weekend you can occasionally come across free outdoor concerts and festivals.

There is also a small fort/ light house type of structure along the water front and you can walk up to it. A lot of local teens and young people hang out by the water around sunset time.

Madeira Itinerary Day 2

Highlights of Day 2: Pico do Arieiro, Balcoes Viewpoint, Santana, Ponta do Rosto View Point

Day 2 of our 3 Day Madeira trip is another very packed day and I do suggest that you start as early as possible because we will be seeing the eastern half of the island in one day.

There will be a lot of driving involved but I really think you will like what you see in Madeira on this day.

Stop 1. Pico do Arieiro Sunrise

Pico do Arieiro Sunrise

Start your morning super early from Funchal to Pico do Arieiro for the best sunrise in Madeira. Pico do Arieiro is the third highest peak in Madeira at 5,965 feet (1818m) and is the only peak in Madeira that you can actually drive to (instead of hike to).

As with all the other mountains in Madeira, Pico do Arieiro sits sort of in the middle of the island where it’s very mountainous. There is a large cafe and view point area for visitors to drive up to and enjoy the stunning view of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Given its ease of access, many photographers come to Pico do Arieiro for the amazing sunrise. You don’t necessarily need to come for sunrise, but if you do want to watch sunrise in Madeira, Pico do Arieiro is the place to be.

In addition, since Pico do Arieiro is the only peak that you can drive to, so it tends to get really crowded during the day. There is also a wonderful hiking trail from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo (the highest peak on Madeira island), so parking may become an issue later in the day.

It takes about 50 minutes to drive from Funchal to Pico do Arieiro. If you follow the direction from Google Maps, most of the drive actually won’t be too bad and only the last 20 minutes will be hilly and a bit narrow (not too bad to be honest).

Pico do Arieiro Hike at Sunrise

The only thing is part of the drive will be in the fog so visibility may be low. Don’t be discouraged if you are driving in the fog even when you are almost at the peak.

When I visited for sunrise, the fog literally cleared 2 minutes before the parking lot!

If you don’t have a car and don’t want to hike, you can just do a sunrise tour (and check out a few other spots mentioned on this itinerary with the tour).

selfie at Pico do Arieiro

Since you only have 3 days in Madeira, this itinerary will assume you are only going to stop for a short amount of time at Pico do Arieiro.

The cafe and bathroom at Pico do Arieiro won’t be open during sunrise but will be later during the day.

If you have more than 3 days in Madeira and are interested in hiking, you should check out my blog on hiking from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo on PR1 trail.

Lastly, if you plan to visit Pico do Arieiro during the day, you can check the Pico do Arieiro web cam for current conditions at the observation point. You can also check the weather at Pico do Arieiro on from this website.

If you don’t have a car and still want to hike PR1 Pico do Arieiro, you can always book a morning pick up and transfer. You will get 5 hours to hike and get picked up at the end (Pico Ruivo) and get dropped back off in Funchal.

Stop 2. Balcões Viewpoint in Madeira


Not too far of a drive from Pico do Arieiro is another amazing viewpoint that people often overlook, the Balcões Viewpoint.

The Balcões Viewpoint is a stunning viewpoint that allows you to see the Ribeira da Metade valley, the central mountain ranges, as well as Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo.

The Balcões Viewpoint is a “hiking trail” called PR11 Vereda dos Balcões that starts in Ribeiro Frio. Although it’s a hiking trail, the trail is so flat and wide and it only takes about 20 minute leisurely stroll to get to the viewpoint.

I’ve seen people pushing strollers on the walk so no matter what type of physical condition you are in, I would highly recommend you take this walk especially early in the morning when there is nobody there.

Stop 3. Explore Santana

Santana traditional houses in Madeira

Santana is a cute coastal town on the north east side of Madeira. A quick drive from the Balcões Viewpoint will get you to Santana.

Most people come to Santana to check out the traditional houses as well as take a cable car down to the beach.

Reserva Natural da Rocha do Navio is a a natural reserve created to protect marine fauna and preserving nature of the coastal area of Santana.

Reserva Natural da Rocha do Navio - Santana Cable Car down

There is a cable car that will take you down to the beach where you can walk around. Or you can simply walk down the steep path to the beach, although sometimes the wave can be big so you need to be careful.

Note that there is sometimes an old lady on the road to the Teleferico that will invite you to her house. Don’t go in as many people say she’s trying to extort money from the tourists. In addition, the cable car to Reserva Natural da Rocha do Navio is closed from 1pm to 2pm for lunch break.

Stop 4. Ponta do Rosto View Point (Eastern Madeira)

Madeira itinerary: Miradouro-Ponta-do-rosto-view-point

Continue driving east towards Caniçal and you will reach Ponta do Rosto viewpoint, one of the most beautiful view point on Madeira island.

You may have seen those crazy cliff views of Madeira from Instagram and most of the time that photo is taken from Ponta do Rosto Viewpoint on the most east side of the island. This is actually one of the reasons why we wanted to visit Madeira, just for this view and the photos!

Most people are not familiar with this viewpoint and instead they drive straight to the start of PR8 Hike – Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco.

If you don’t want to do any hiking but still want stunning views, Ponta do Rosto Viewpoint is the place to go. You can simply drive up to the view point, take the shot, and walk around the area. However be warned that this area is pretty windy so wear layers when you go.


When we went around 6:30pm there really was nobody in sight and we had the entire place to ourselves. Although not really a sunset spot, it was still quite pretty during the sunset hours.

The other side of the view point (requires 5-10 min walking)

If you are interested in hiking and have more than 3 days in Madeira, you may be happy to know that the hike to Sao Lourenco Point not far from this viewpoint is one of the most popular day hikes in Madeira. Check out my blog on everything you need to know about the Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourence (PR8) hike.

After Ponta do Rosto viewpoint, drive back to Funchal and it should take you about an hour.

Madeira Itinerary Day 3

Highlights of Day 3: Bridal Veil Falls, Seixal Natural Pools, Ribeira de Janela, Fanal Forest, Garganta Funda View Point, Camara de Lobos

On your last day in Madeira we will be exploring the western side of the island. Again, Day 3 in Madeira will require a lot of driving so get up early!

Stop 1. Bridal Veil Falls (Véu da Noiva waterfall )

Bridal Veil Falls is a splendid waterfall on the north side of Madeira. It’s a beautiful waterfall off the coastal cliffs and there are two major view points for this waterfall.

Most people will drive to Miradouro do Véu da Noiva and have a nice view of the waterfall. Most tour buses also stop by this view point because there are two parking lots and some shops there.

Miradouro do Véu da Noiva
Miradouro do Véu da Noiva

However if you want a better view of the Véu da Noiva waterfall (and ANOTHER water fall) without anybody around, head down to Ponta do Poiso, a very secluded spot.

We saw this view point on Google maps but there literally is no road to get there, so we were very confused. While we were walking back to our car at the larger parking lot (there are 2 parking lots, we parked in the further one that has a large round about) and I accidentally saw a very hidden path that goes down hill.

It hit me that it may be the trail to go down to Ponta do Poiso, so we followed the narrow steps which became a hidden trail that led us more and more north along the coast.

Hidden path to Ponta Do Poiso
Hidden path to Ponta do Poiso
Ponta do Poiso hidden path

While we were walking down we started seeing the waterfall on the right hand side with another fall (you cannot see the second fall from Miradouro do Véu da Noiva). We were literally the only people on this trail (not a long trail and can do it wearing flip flops and skirts).

Ponta-do-Poiso waterfall view point

Stop 2. Seixal Natural Pools

There are a number of natural pools on Madeira island and these natural pools are formed from volcanic rock. The most famous natural pool is actually at Porto Moniz but the one we will go to is the one in the sea side town of Seixal.

The reason we really wanted to visit this natural pool is because….as you guessed it…a nice photos pot! We saw the photo of people standing in a natural cave with waist-high water level and we knew we had to check this out.

Seixal natural pool from the top

The Seixal natural pools are very hard to find as they do not show up on Google Maps. We literally drove back and forth on the old country road trying to find this pool but only ended up finding the black sand beach instead.

While we stopped at a nearby view point, my friend looked down and saw the pool we were looking for! So it turns out the pool is unmarked and the you will need to drive to the Seixal post office in order to go all the way down to the pool

Seixal Natural Pool in Cave Madeira

Since the weather was not hot when we visited end of April, there was literally nobody at the natural pools except two tour jeeps. We literally had the pools to ourselves and the water actually wasn’t too cold. However the cave is super slippery, so if you want to get into the water, it may be better to wear water shoes!

Stop 3. Ribeira de Janela

As you continue driving west, you will come to the coastal town of Ribeira de Janela. The main attraction here is the rock off the coast of a black rock beach. It’s worth stopping by for a quick photo or two.

When we visited the weather suddenly became really stormy, and it literally poured for an hour when we were there. We had to hide in the car and behind a rock just to take these photos.

Besides the rock (in the first photo), there is actually a cave with stairs. From the top of the “cave”, you can see the black rock beach, and that’s where we took the second photo below.

Ribeira da Janela
Ribeira da Janela Rock with Hole

Stop 4. Fanal Forest

Fanal Forest is a beautiful yet quiet forest in the middle of Laurissilva Forest in Madeira. A quick drive from Ribeira de Janela will take you up the hill to the often foggy and mysterious Fanal Forest.

Most people will walk around the forest to the Fanal Pond. Although most people’s impression of Fanal forest is foggy it’s actually not the case. We actually went to Fanal forest twice trying to capture the fog but the first time it was completely clear!

If you have more time in Madeira and want to hike, there is actually a really nice hike (PR6 25 Fontes hike & Levada do Risco) not too far from Fanal Forest. Since we spent a week in Madeira, we were able to hike that trail and then come back to Fanal Forest for the foggy photos.

Stop 5. Garganta Funda View Point

If there’s one thing that Madeira does not lack then it’s waterfalls. There are so many waterfalls in Madeira and some are easy to see whereas others require a hike or two.

miradouro garganta funda waterfall madeira

Ganganta Funda Waterfall is located on the west side of Madeira. To be honest it’s a bit out of the way for most people. BUT I think this waterfall is super cool and unique and I’ve never seen anything like it. We saw this on Instagram and knew we had to visit.

You can follow direction from Google Maps but the viewpoint is actually a bit hidden. Once you are in the town of Ponta do Pargo, you will start seeing signs pointing to Miradouro Garganta Funda.

The road becomes more and more narrow and you can park in an empty space when you see the road becomes too narrow to drive on. The parking space can only fit 2-3 cars but the good thing is usually there is nobody here.

Once you park the car it’s about a 5-10 minute walk on a flat dirt path to the view point. You can see this cliff side waterfall inside a gorge and it almost makes me wonder if you can ever get to the bottom of the waterfall, because that’d be so cool!

Since this waterfall is out of the way, there weren’t many people around. In fact we were the only group visiting this waterfall for a while before another couple came, took their photos, and left. This is a quick visit but totally awesome.

Stop 6. See the Town of Camara de Lobos

From Miradouro Garganta Funda it’s a long drive along the coast all the way to Camara de Lobos, a coastal town not too far from Funchal on the south side of Madeira.


If you have time, walk around Camara de Lobos. There is a fort that’s nice to walk around and also an area with all the boats, which actually kind of reminded me of Cinque Terre.

I suggest spending an hour to two hours in Camara de Lobos to explore.

Camara-de-Lobos Madeira

This concludes your super efficient 3 day Madeira itinerary. This itinerary mostly requires you to have a car, but if you don’t, you can always do some tours and see the entire island.

Now that you know what’s there to do in Madeira, below are some other information, so you can feel free to skip if you already know these facts.

How To Get To Madeira

The easiest way to get to Madeira is to fly. There is an airport not far from Funchal, the capital of Madeira Island.

There are plenty of direct flights to Madeira from continental Europe and the UK and budget airlines like Easyjet flies to Funchal.

There is also a direct flight from New York City to Funchal so if you are visiting from NYC you no longer have to transfer anywhere!

Best Time To Visit Madeira & Madeira Weather

Madeira island enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate and is labeled as having the “Eternal Spring” weather.

Due to its geographical location, Madeira never gets too hot or too cold, although between mid October to mid April there is a good amount of thunderstorm and rainfalls.

This perfect weather in Madeira allows visitors to visit all year round.

Madeira Annual Weather and Precipitation Chart

As you can see from the temperature chart above, July to September in Madeira is the warmest and driest time to visit.

But if you want to avoid peak touristy season, I suggest that you visit Madeira in May because the temperature is already pretty warm and dry and Madeira is not as crowded.

However, since Madeira is an island, it has its own micro-climate. Different parts of Madeira Island has different weather patterns.

Southern Madeira where Funchal is is generally a lot sunnier and warmer compare to the northern side of Madeira.

Similarly, since Madeira is mountainous in the middle, the top of the mountains is much much colder than down at sea level in Funchal. So depending on which part of the island you are visiting, you need to dress appropriately and bring layers with you.

How to Get Around Madeira

Madeira is a big island and there are various different ways of getting around.

Renting a Car in Madeira

The most convenient way of getting around Madeira is to rent a car and drive around yourself.

Having a car gives you a lot of flexibility and you can explore any part of the islands you want. We had a car in Madeira and was able to see everything we wanted to without waiting for the bus.

If you are thinking about renting a car in Madeira, I recommend using Discover Cars for the best prices and exceptional selection.

Taking Public Transit in Madeira

There are public transit in Madeira that locals and visitors take to get around both urban and interurban areas.

If you are planning to stay in Funchal or go to popular touristy areas but cannot drive, then bus is a great option. There are different bus companies that operate in Madeira and they have different prices and tickets.

I did not take the bus but if you want to find out more about the public transit system in Madeira, you can reference this article.

Private Taxi or Tour in Madeira

If you are not restricted on budget and you cannot drive, it is best to either book private taxis or tours in Madeira.

There are many incredible tours that you can take. For example, if you just want to tour Funchal, then you can take the West Funchal or East Funchal tour. You can also do a hop off hop off tour over either 2 days or 5 days to see different parts of Funchal at your own pace.

Alternatively you can also book private transfer and have the driver take you around Madeira if you cannot drive.

Where to Eat in Madeira

Madeira has a lot of great foods and local specialties so you will have a great time eating in Madeira. I will list a few places that I liked when we were in Madeira.

Restaurants in Funchal

Funchal is the largest city in Madeira so it’s so surprise that there are a lot of great restaurants in Funchal.

Restaurante Armazem do Sal

Restaurante Armazem do Sal is one of the Michelin guide recommended restaurants in Funchal and serves local cuisine. Try the octopus, sea bream and black scabbard there.

Restaurante Casal de Penha

This is another Michelin guide recommended restaurants and we came here purely by accident. However the first night we couldn’t get a seat because we didn’t book ahead of time. So if you want to dine here be sure to make a reservation. We particularly loved its mixed grilled fish as well as the fish stew!

Casa Velha Restaurant

Not too far from Restaurante Casal de Penha is Casa Velha Restaurant. We came here because we didn’t have reservation at the other place. This turned out to be a good choice because the food is equally as good!

Cris’s Place

Cris’s Place is a modern Madeira restaurant that we tried for lunch special. The food was really good and the dessert was amazing.

Cris's Place lunch special

A Confeitaria

A Confeitaria in the old town Funchal is a bakery. We went there to try the Portuguese egg tarts because I read that they have the best egg tarts in Madeira. The egg tarts really were delicious!

Restaurants in Sao Vicente

We actually spent a couple of nights in Sao Vicente in the northern coast of Madeira and tried a couple of local restaurants recommended by our Airbnb host. I have to say the food in Sao Vicente are cheaper but just as good as the food in Funchal, if not better.

Restaurante Caravela

Restaurante Caravela is one of the most popular restaurants in Sao Vicente facing the ocean. When we arrived later during the night the restaurant was still packed. Although the food doesn’t look as fancy as the places we went in Funchal, I have to say the food really was good. We tried the grilled parrot fish and it was so good that it melted in our mouth.

Restaurante Caravela grilled parrot fish

Taberna de Sao Vicente

Recommended by our Airbnb host, Taberna de Sao Vicente is a casual local place with great food. We tried the octopus and it was so tender and it was literally the best octopus we had in Madeira (we had octopus everyday).

Taberna-de-Sao-Vicente octopus dish

sea food pasta at Taberna de sao vicente
Sea food pasta

Restaurants in Canical

Canical is on the east side of Madeira, very close to Ponta do Rosto viewpoint as well as the Sao Lourenco point hike (PR8). We stopped here because it was pretty late and it’s an hour drive to Funchal.

We went to Restaurante Bar Amarelo, a local restaurant with good reviews and we were not disappointed. They were known for their limpets so we got the limpets stew. The restaurant is much cheaper than the ones in Funchal and the menu seemed very local.

limpets stew at Restaurante bar amarelo
Limpets stew

How Much Does Madeira Cost For 3 Days?

Madeira is not a very expensive place compare to most European cities you’d visit. I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is to travel to Madeira (but keep in mind that I live in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world).

I will break down the major expenses based on my own experience.

Flights Cost to Madeira

It is a bit hard to say how much flights to Madeira cost since it depends on where you are flying from, how advanced you are booking the tickets, etc.

However in general, from London it costs about 300-400 USD round trip to fly to Madeira and about USD 200 to fly from Lisbon. It costs about $600-900 USD roundtrip to fly to Madeira from the US.

Cost of Accommodation in Madeira

As with any cities, there are luxury (expensive) accommodation options and there are cheap accommodation options in Madeira.

We mostly stayed in Airbnbs since there were 3 of us and we were able to book 3 bedroom houses for no more than $120 a night.

That is extremely cheap for a 3 bedroom house (at least compare to places like New York, San Francisco, London and Paris).

Cost of Food in Madeira

While we were in Madeira, we went to different restaurants every night.

On average dinner costed between 15 euro to 20 euro per person. However for dinner we generally ordered garlic bread, 3 entrees, 3 drinks and 1 dessert to share.

If you are on a budget you can definitely shop at local super markets and make your own food to save money.

Rental Car Cost in Madeira

Rental car was our biggest expense in Madeira because we ended up upgrading to a better vehicle.

If you get a decent rental car with insurance, you should expect to pay about 60-100 USD per day for rental car from the airport, which is pretty expensive compare to other places.

I highly recommend using Discover Cars for your car rental in Madeira. They have a large selection and we were able to find automatic transmission cars (since you know, we North Americans cannot drive manual).

For your 3 days in Madeira you will need to fill up once which costs about 50+ USD for a full tank.

Where to Stay in Madeira

Madeira is not a small island and as you can see there are things to do in Madeira on every corner of the island. This itinerary has assumed that you are staying in Funchal during your 3 days in Madeira but this doesn’t have to be the case.


Funchal is the largest city in Madeira so you have more options when it comes to accommodation. Most people choose to stay in Funchal because it is convenient and there are a lot of restaurants and bars and shops in Funchal. The luxury hotels such as Belmond Reid’s Palace and the Cliff Bay are located in Funchal.

I personally would recommend you stay in downtown (closer to the water) in Funchal rather than up in the hills. We had rented an Airbnb up in the Funchal hills and we got lost every night going home and ended up in dead ends every evening!

Sao Vicente

Another place I’d recommend that you stay is Sao Vicente on the north side of Madeira. A lot of places on this Madeira itinerary are on the north side so Sao Vicente is an excellent base to explore those waterfalls and natural pools.

I personally stayed at A Casa Estrelícia-Dourada Garcês, a 3 bedroom house with a pool and everything. I have nothing but good things to say about this house and would definitely recommend anyone who’s visiting Madeira to stay there.

Sao-Vicente in Madeira
Sao Vicente

Madeira is an amazing island to visit regardless whether you are there for 3 days or 2 weeks. I personally spent a week in Madeira and I felt that it was not enough.

If you only have 3 days in Madeira then this itinerary shows you the highlights of this amazing island without hiking. If you are interested in hiking then you should consider staying longer.

If you do have more time in Madeira, check out the following guides I have on Madeira including the best things to do in Madeira, the best hikes in Madeira and details of several hikes.

Additional Reading To Plan Your Trip to Madeira

7 Days in Madeira: https://serenaslenses.net/one-week-in-madeira-7-day-madeira-itinerary/

Best Things to do in Madeira: https://serenaslenses.net/the-best-things-to-do-in-madeira/

Best Hikes and Levada Walks in Madeira: https://serenaslenses.net/the-best-hikes-and-levada-walks-in-madeira-that-you-cannot-miss/

PR1 Hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo: https://serenaslenses.net/madeira-hike-pr1-pico-do-arieiro-to-pico-ruivo-one-way-or-round-trip/

PR8 Hike Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenco: https://serenaslenses.net/hiking-in-madeira-pr-8-ponta-de-sao-lourenco-hike-all-you-need-to-know/

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