Nestled in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira Island, a Portuguese gem, is a paradise that boasts a unique blend of diverse landscapes and microclimates. For those who have visited multiple times or are considering their first journey, Madeira promises to leave you captivated by its ever-changing environments and breathtaking beauty. In this blog post, I'll guide you through the 10 essential locations to visit on Madeira Island, each offering a distinct perspective on the island's extraordinary diversity and natural splendor. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Madeira has something extraordinary to offer everyone. Join me as we embark on an unforgettable voyage to discover the most captivating destinations on this remarkable island.

1. Miradouro do Véu da Noiva (The famous waterfall at the coast)

How to get here: RW83+FW Seixal, Portugal

Discover an exquisite viewpoint in Madeira with unparalleled views of the mesmerizing Véu da Noiva waterfall. This natural wonder is nestled on the stunning north coast of Madeira Island, just a short distance from the charming city of Seixal, along the scenic road connecting Seixal and São Vicente. The landscape here is nothing short of breathtaking, offering a captivating display of nature's finest artistry along the picturesque shoreline. With its crystal-clear waters cascading down the rugged slope, Véu da Noiva, which translates to "Bride's Veil" in Portuguese, takes on an ethereal beauty that is simply enchanting.

For photography enthusiasts and nature lovers, this location is a hidden treasure. Simply park at the lot adjacent to the waterfall viewpoint, and you'll be treated to a wealth of stunning photo opportunities that capture the magic of this natural wonder.

2. Natural pools in Seixal (The less known natural pools)

How to get here: RVGQ+WM Seixal, Portugal

Explore these hidden gems, the lesser-known natural pools near Laje beach in Seixal, Madeira. While they might not boast the same popularity as the renowned natural pools in Porto Moniz, they come with their own unique charm. One of their most appealing features is the tranquility, as they are typically less crowded, offering a peaceful escape. Moreover, these pools are accessible to visitors for free.

These alluring pools, born of volcanic origin, have been thoughtfully adapted for public use, ensuring safety and preservation of their natural beauty. However, it's important to exercise caution, especially when the waves are high, to minimize any potential risks. The rocks surrounding the pools can be slippery, so take extra care, especially when entering the left pool.

The water in these pools is a testament to nature's purity, offering a refreshing, crystal-clear seawater experience. This setting provides an abundance of photographic opportunities, including the picturesque arch in the left pool, making it a haven for photography enthusiasts.

For a unique perspective, consider bringing a drone. The pools in Seixal offer the chance to capture breathtaking aerial shots, and you might just snap one of your favorite photos from your entire trip. Whether you're an adventurer, a nature lover, or a photography enthusiast, these hidden pools in Seixal have something special to offer.

3. Fanal moody forest (magical forest with loads of fog)

How to get here: RV54+J9 Seixal, Portugal

Nestled in the heart of the enchanting Laurisilva forest on Paúl da Serra, Fanal is a place of extraordinary beauty located in the northern region of Madeira Island. To reach this natural wonder, follow the road from Porto Moniz and São Vicente, driving through Ribeira da Janela, and then ascend the picturesque mountains on road ER209 towards Paul da Serra. After a few kilometers, the forest will come into view on your left, where a small parking lot awaits.

As you explore this pristine area, you'll be captivated by the remarkable diversity of the Laurissilva forest, home to magnificent species like Tis (Ocotea foetens), Folhados (Clethra foetens), Laurel (Laurus azorica), and Vinháticos (Persea indica). Some of these ancient trees have stood for over 500 years, adding to the area's profound sense of history and wonder.

To make the most of your visit, consider arriving early in the morning, around 8 am, as the chances of experiencing the forest's ethereal charm are significantly higher during this time. Be sure to bring a rain jacket and warm clothing, as Fanal is known for its brisk winds. The unique weather patterns often result in the fog being pushed to the northern side of the island, occasionally obscuring the morning sun. However, this only adds to the mystical ambiance of the forest.

Prepare to immerse yourself in the magic of Fanal and savor the captivating beauty of this ancient Laurisilva forest. It's a journey into a world untouched by time, where nature's wonders await your discovery.

4. Pico do Arieiro (Your chance of taking photos above the clouds)

How to get here: P3MC+RF Curral das Freiras, Portugal

Pico do Arieiro, standing at an impressive altitude of 1,818 meters, claims the title of the third highest peak on Madeira. The best part is that you can easily access this breathtaking location by car. A quick search for "Pico do Arieiro" on Google Maps will guide you along a scenic mountain road either from Funchal or via Ribeiro Frio in Santana.

Once you arrive at the summit, you'll be treated to truly spectacular views of Madeira's rugged landscape. Parking is a breeze with a designated parking lot, ensuring convenient access to this natural wonder. We made the journey to this incredible spot three times, as weather conditions can be unpredictable. To make the most of your visit, plan your trip on a clear day, and consider arriving in time for the magnificent sunset.

The magic of Pico do Arieiro truly shines during sunset, as you have the chance to witness the dramatic entrance of clouds rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. If luck is on your side, you'll soon find yourself surrounded by these ethereal formations, creating a backdrop for one of the most memorable sunsets of your life.

For those seeking an adventure, there's a popular trail that leads from Pico do Arieiro to Pico do Ruivo. This trail is especially enchanting during sunrise, offering a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of this remarkable landscape in the early morning light.

5. Pico ruivo (The highest peak of Madeira)

How to get here: Q354+HQ Curral Das Freiras, Portugal 

Pico Ruivo, proudly claiming the title of the highest summit in the mountainous wonderland of Madeira, soars to a remarkable altitude of 1,862 meters above sea level. This majestic peak offers an unparalleled vantage point, treating visitors to breathtaking views that span the entire island.

To embark on your journey to the summit, the most convenient route is via Achada do Teixeira. You can easily access this trail by following the road from Santana in the northern part of the island. Adjacent to the Pico Ruivo government house, you'll discover a network of three additional trails, each leading intrepid hikers to various corners of the island.

As you ascend the trail, you'll find yourself traversing the ridge that separates the awe-inspiring cliffs of Faial from those of Santana. This vantage point grants you a magnificent view to the left, where the Ribeira Seca valley is beautifully framed by the towering Pico das Torres, with Pico do Areeiro gracing the background. The upper reaches of the trail are especially captivating, allowing you to witness the mesmerizing spectacle of clouds rolling in on clear, sunny days.

In addition to the stunning landscapes, keep an eye out for the delightful local birdlife, as these hills often play host to charming birds in pursuit of their next meal. Pico Ruivo is an enchanting destination that promises a blend of natural beauty, adventure, and the joys of birdwatching.

6. Risco waterfall (the hidden treasure in the middle of the island)  

How to get here: QV6G+2Q Lombo Do Doutor, Portugal 

Risco Waterfall, while not the most powerful cascade on Madeira, boasts a strikingly impressive appearance. This natural wonder features two distinct cascades of water, both of similar height, descending gracefully along a nearly vertical cliff.

The upper cascade creates a breathtaking blue-green lake known as Lagoa do Vento, adding a touch of enchantment to the landscape. At the base of the lower cascade, visitors can find a viewing point that offers an exceptional perspective of the waterfall, as well as an inviting small pool for those seeking a refreshing dip.

Situated within the unique laurisilva region, a tropical rainforest, Risco Waterfall is a true gem. This particular rainforest is primarily preserved in regions such as Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the Azores. It is not uncommon for this lush paradise to be shrouded in a mystical veil of mist and fog, creating an ethereal atmosphere that adds to the allure of the waterfall and its surroundings.

7. Vereda da Ponte de São Lourenço

How to get here: P7VX+7H Canical, Portugal

Ponta de São Lourenço stands as one of the most iconic and captivating destinations on Madeira, situated at the island's easternmost tip. This remarkable location marks the point where the boundless sea and the expansive sky converge, set against a backdrop of striking volcanic formations.

For those eager to explore its beauty, there's a scenic walking trail that offers a journey through over an hour's worth of some of the finest cliff scenery you'll find on the entire island of Madeira. The trails are thoughtfully maintained and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the rugged splendor of the landscape. As you traverse these paths, you'll encounter undulating terrain, offering a sense of adventure, but if you have a fear of heights, be mindful of the edges along the way.

The rewards for your journey are countless moments of awe and inspiration, with dramatic views that are nothing short of Instagram-worthy. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a photographer, or simply seeking to connect with the natural world, Ponta de São Lourenço promises an unforgettable experience that celebrates the raw beauty of Madeira's easternmost edge.

8. Vereda dos Balcoes (Balcony with a view)

How to get here: P4R5+JV Ribeiro Frio, Portugal

To access the captivating Balcoes viewpoint, your journey commences in Ribeiro Frio, where you'll follow the meandering path of the Serra do Faial levada. Your adventure begins at the E.R. 103, where you'll ascend a small pathway on the left before continuing into the enchanting forest on the right.

After a brief walk, the Balcoes viewpoint will greet you on your right, unveiling a spectacular panorama overlooking the Ribeira da Metade valley. As you arrive at the Balcões belvedere, you'll find yourself in the midst of a breathtaking scene, where the lush valleys prominently feature the Laurisilva forest—a hallmark of the region's natural beauty.

For fortunate visitors, the chance to spot the charming Madeira firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus maderensis), the island's smallest bird, is a delightful possibility. Additionally, the area is home to a variety of other bird species, each contributing to the vibrant tapestry of wildlife that thrives in this pristine landscape.

The Balcoes viewpoint is a nature lover's paradise, offering an opportunity to connect with the rich and diverse ecosystem of the region while enjoying awe-inspiring views of Madeira's lush, verdant valleys.

9. Ilheus da Janela/ da Rib

(The majestic rock formation on the Northern shore)

How to get here: 8C44VR4X+RR

Just offshore from the charming village of Ribeira da Janela in Porto Moniz, located on Madeira's picturesque north shore, you'll discover a captivating display of dramatic volcanic rock formations. These two striking formations are known as Ilheus da Janela and Ilheus da Rib, and they've gained popularity as an Instagram hotspot.

Standing by these formations, you'll witness the sheer power of the ocean as waves crash directly against the rocks, leaving a truly impressive sight. The immense black rocks offer a captivating contrast against the surrounding landscape, making for fantastic photos that showcase their scale when you stand atop them, gazing into the distance.

This unique location also provides an excellent opportunity for drone enthusiasts. Whether you're seeking to capture the serene beauty of a sunrise or the enchanting hues of a sunset, flying your drone at this spot offers a chance to create stunning aerial footage that showcases the raw natural beauty of the Madeira coast.

The offshore volcanic rock formations near Ribeira da Janela are a hidden gem, offering a dynamic blend of nature's power and beauty, providing an extraordinary backdrop for unforgettable moments and Instagram-worthy memories.

10. Jungle Bridge (The stunning bridge in the middle of the jungle?)

How to get here: Q439+PM Santana, Portugal

Nestled deep within the secluded heart of Madeira, a truly hidden gem awaits those who seek its charm. Although it's a closely guarded secret, I'll gladly share its location with you. To discover this enchanting place, set your course for Santana and embark on a mountainous journey leading to the renowned Balcoes viewpoint. As you make your way up into the highlands, you'll encounter this mystical location near the quaint village of Lombo Galego.

The bridge, shrouded in a lush and verdant canopy, creates an atmosphere that feels as though it belongs to a remote jungle expedition. Its secluded setting adds to the sense of adventure and discovery, making every visit a unique and unforgettable experience.

Once you arrive, you'll be treated to breathtaking views and an ambiance that is truly magical. This hidden bridge is a testament to the hidden wonders that Madeira has to offer, providing an opportunity to bask in the beauty of nature's secrets.

So, take the road less traveled and uncover this hidden treasure, where the views are unparalleled, and the sense of serenity and wonder will stay with you long after your visit. Enjoy the adventure!