Looking out over the mountains from viewpoint in Madeira

Activities, Road trips

Madeira Road Trip


Journey through luscious green valleys and over Europe’s highest sea cliffs as you make your way around the island of Madeira. This circular road trip starts and ends in the capital of Funchal showing you the natural beauty this island has to offer all within one glorious day. So don’t forget your camera!

View over the cliffs at Cabo Girao, Madeira

Set off along the VR1 to Cabo Girao, the world’s second highest sea cliff.  Make your climb for 20 mins and look to your left for amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. Once you reach the top the braver passengers might want to try the Skywalk, a glass-bottomed walkway that suspends you 500m over the sea below.

View over Ponta do Sol at night in Madeira

Safely back in the driving seat, continue along the south VE3 road passing through traditional villages like Ponta do Sol. Turn right onto the ER209 and start making your way inland up a 1500m ascent to the highest point of the journey. Unlike the surrounding hills, this flat plateau sits on top and gives you 360° views of the island with plenty of places to stop and take pictures. Many of the well-known levada walks start here too so if you fancy a break, follow the aqueducts for an adventure on foot.

Looking out over the cliffs and sea in Porto Moniz, Madeira

To journey on, wind your way downhill for 35 minutes on the ER110 through green hills and rocky outcrops until you reach the north-western point of Porto Moniz. Black sandy beaches as well as little lava rock pools make for a perfect pit stop to stretch your legs and get some fresh sea air – and also for a paddle if you brought your bathing suits. If you’re starting to feel peckish try out some fresh limpets at a local café, a true Madeiran delicacy.

Mountain village of Sao Vicente, Madeira

From the most north-westerly point to the most northern village, travel along the VE2 for 16 minutes to reach Sao Vincente. Madeira may not necessarily be known for its beaches but its caves, caverns and coves are truly magical to explore. So make sure to jump out and walk around Sao Vincente’s enchanting coast moulded by its volcanic past 400,000 years ago.

Roads passing through the mountains in Serra de Agua, Madeira

As you make your way back south to Funchal, take the VE4 through deep valleys passing towns like Encumeada and Serra de Agua. These winding roads travel in between green hills filled with flora and fauna and are truly enchanting to drive though.

A glass of Madeiran poncha, with a backdrop of green mountains

Don’t make your way back to your villa just yet! Just before you reach Funchal, pop into Camara des Lobos and pick up the famous Poncha spirit. A lemony and honey flavoured drink, it’s a perfect way to relax back at your villa after a fun-filled day.

Ready to explore Madeira for yourself? You could soon be hopping in your hire car and discovering this wonderful island on an epic road trip of your own! Find your villa in Madeira and start dreaming of an exotic escape.

Bethan Evans

Bethan Evans is a Brand Executive at James Villa Holidays.

I’ve always loved to travel and have been very lucky to visit over 20 countries so far....

See all articles by Bethan Evans

See all articles by Bethan Evans

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