Beautiful nature, endless mountaintops and countless viewpoints over the North Atlantic Ocean makes Madeira one of the best places in Europe to visit when you enjoy an active vacation. Not only the many hikes but also just driving around the island gives you extensive photo opportunities. Because of the diversity in climate between the north and south side, vegetation can vary between dry stone formations and forests. To get the most out of your holiday, we have put together a list of 5 must-visit places on Madeira, so you can take home the most beautiful pictures!
Lavada das 25 Fontes – Rabacal
It is no coincidence that the Lavada das 25 Fontes walk is one of the most famous walks on Madeira. With many views over the surrounding mountains, this walk is perfect if you like the forest but don’t want the hike to be too exhausting. Named after the 25 Fontes at the end of the walk, it takes you past the levadas (irrigation system) on a well-maintained path. Walking from the parking spot on the ER211, it takes about 1,5 hours to get to the Fontes. The fastest route from here is through a tunnel, so it is recommended to bring a small flashlight to lighten up the path. During the walk, you will constantly have beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Halfway, you have the possibility to walk a bit further to the Risco Waterfall which is definitely a beautiful photo spot too! At the end of the walk, you can always treat yourself to a cup of coffee or lunch at the Rabacal nature spot café.
*it is recommended to leave early because it can get busy later on during the day!
Funchal is the capital city of Madeira with a population of a little over 100.000. It is famous for being one of the most beautiful fireworks shows in the world during New year’s eve. It is also the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo. Not well-known are the beautifully painted doors and walls on the Rua de Santa Maria, in the old city. This really is a photographer’s playground, great to experiment with different angles and backgrounds. The local market is also a fun place to take photos because of its beautiful red pillars and the open space in the centre of the building. Funchal is a popular destination for tourists to visit during their stay on Madeira, so again, for the best photos, it is recommended to arrive early.
Jardim do Mar
Not as famous as the other recommended places in this blog post, but definitely worth a visit. Jardim do Mar is a little village close to Calheta. With its narrow streets and picturesque squares, it is perfect for photographers who like strolling around the village. Also, it is located at the South-West coast, so photographing the sunset is a must when visiting Jardim do Mar. We especially liked the magnificent view of Paul do Mar, the village located a few kilometres to the west. The sunlight that falls on the mountainside and the waves in the foreground with the church of Paul do Mar in the background. When visiting the town around lunch or dinner time, we would recommend you to visit Joe’s bar. Great food in a relaxed environment!
Ponta de Sao Lourenco
Ponta de Sao Lourenco is a peninsula on the very east side of the island. It is very dry and consists of rock formations in beautiful red and dark tones. The total hike takes about 3 – 4 hours but can be shortened because it is the same route on the way there as on the way back. The difficulty of the hike is decent but is really rewarding because of the high cliffs and rocks surrounded by the sea. Especially when there is not too much contrast because of the harsh sunlight, you can get beautiful photos of the total scenery or details of the many colours. Recommended to go early morning or later in the afternoon. There is no shade, so can get quite hot during the warmest hours of the day!
Madeira has a lot of panorama views, the highest of them all is Pico Ruivo. At a peak of 1861 meters, this viewpoint gives amazing views of the north coast and the mountains to the south. From the parking lot, where the hike starts, it is about 1,5 hours to the top, but don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the amazing views. At the beginning of the hike, there are a lot of viewpoints where you can enjoy the view and take photos from different angles. Especially the sunrise or sunset can be very beautiful, but make sure to be back before it gets dark!
Driving smaller roads inland Madeira brings you to places and viewpoints no one tells you about. It also gives a good impression of the everyday life of local people living on the island. For example, driving the ER 110 from Calheta, via Lombo du Doutor to Porto Moniz is stunning. Many great photo opportunities. A slightly bigger road, but still very beautiful is the E4 from Ribeira Brava to Sao Vicente. Just take an exit into a village where they make Madeira wine or drive through forests that really looks like Costa Rica.