Machico, Madeira’s second-largest city, is a coastal beach resort nestled within lush mountains and natural wonders. Located in the Eastern part of Madeira, Machico is home to one of the very few golden sand beaches in the country. But there is so much more to this town, and I am here to prove it to you. Here is my list of 10 awesome things to do in Machico.
Machico is where the story of Madeira starts. It was here that Portuguese explorers lead by Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, disembarked in 1419 when Madeira was first discovered. This event marks the beginning of the era of Portuguese discoveries and the beginning of the story of Madeira island.
Legend has it that Robert Machim and Anna d’Arfet, two lovers who escaped from England, had found refuge here a century before this discovery. Robert Machim was a knight of King Edward III of England’s court and was in love with Ana de Arfert, an English Lady. Ana was to marry a nobleman by the will of her family. Machim and Ana, therefore, escaped just before the wedding and took a boat to France.
But the lovers were surprised by the storm and were drifted all the way to the island of Madeira, where both died. When the Portuguese explorers came a century later, they discovered the wooden cross and the inscription. They built the chapel in that place and gave the city the name of Machico in honour of Robert Machim and his lover.
Modern Machico, nestled at the heart of a fertile valley, is a lovely seaside town very popular amongst tourists. Although not as lively as Funchal, there are loads of great things to do in Machico.
If you are after lively nightlife and shopping promenades, Funchal is probably a better choice. But if you are looking for a relaxed fishing town, with good restaurants, sandy beach and great hiking opportunities – Machico is your choice! Located just 25 km from Funchal, it is an excellent escape from the city.
I stayed in Machico for ten days, and I was not bored once. There is so much to do and so many places to explore!
9 Awesome Things to do in Machico
Visit Ponta de São Lourenço
Machico is very well placed for people looking to visit Ponta de São Lourenço. In fact, this is one of the best things to do in Machico, that are not in Machico 🙂
Vereda Ponte do Sao Lourenco walk is one of the most breathtaking hikes in Madeira and one not to be missed. This trail is located at the easternmost point of Madeira, where you will hike along a long thin peninsula of dry, sandy land characterised by dramatic cliffs.
The selling point of that hike are definitely stunning and dramatic views of the ocean combined with unusual land formation. A must-do hike in Madeira!
Soak up the sun at The Machico Beach
The beach of Machico, also known as Praia da Banda d’Além, is very popular for either swimming or sunbathing due to its beautiful yellow sand, which was exported from Western Sahara in North Africa. This is one of the very few golden sand beaches in Madeira.
Right next to it, you will find a pebbled beach which is more typical of Madeira. This part is quite popular amongst windsurfers.
Machico beach also features a boardwalk with small restaurants, beach bars and ice cream stands. Great for an evening stroll, meal or a drink by the beach at the end of the day.
Enjoy water sports or take a boat trip
Machico is pretty popular amongst windsurfers and other water sports enthusiasts. By Machico beach, you will find shops and stands offering windsurfing, sea kayaking, scuba diving, paddle boarding and other water activities.
You can also take a boat trip and see whales in their natural environment. Totally sustainable and respectful towards those beautiful animals.
Sealife and activities are a big and important part of life in Machico. You can find many activities and trips in the area, so you are in for a treat if you are a sea lover.
Exprore the town of Machico
Machico is a very charming town with a relaxed vibe and many great restaurants. Here, I really felt how humans live in complete harmony with nature. With very few modern hotels and architecture blending into the surrounding mountain slopes, this town reminds us of how we should live and how far we migrated from this harmony.
Being the oldest town in Madeira, Machico has a bunch of interesting sights to look out for as you stroll around.
Chapel of Saint Roque (Capela De São Roque) was established in 1400 and then was restored in the middle of the 18th century when tile plates (famous Portugues azulejos) were installed. They portait Tristao Vaz Teixeira, the man who discovered Machico.
Igreja Matriz de Machico – this church is one of the oldest monuments in all of Madeira. There’s loads of 15th-century Gothic architecture to admire and get the feel of the beginnings of the island.
Solar do Ribeirinho – In 1998, the relics of a 17th-century estate in Machico were excavated, and archaeologists found a wealth of artefacts from the town’s past. The constructions were restored and turned into a museum. The objects displayed here give a clear picture of Madeira’s colonial life. You will find glazed pottery, preserved sugar from 400 years ago, tiles, coins, horseshoes, and so much more.
There is an old town quarter not far from the beach where you can have a meal or traditional Poncha while watching the people pass by. My favourite thing to do in Machico after a day spent hiking.
Suppose you stay in Machico for more than a day. In that case, it’s worth visiting a sleepy fishing village of Canical where a couple of lovely beaches are also located. Village of Canical is famous for its harbour, seafront walks and Whale Museum. You can visit Praia da Ribeira Natal or nearby Prainha beach or simply enjoy a seafood meal by the waterfront.
Prainha Beach is a natural black sand beach hidden in a beautiful cove and accessible by a pedestrian path. This beach is definitely worth a visit, but you would have to take a bus or a car (or taxi) to get to the starting point of the path.
In the centre of Canical, you can enjoy the seaside promenade and visit Praia da Ribeira Natal. This pebbled beach also offers incredible views!
From Canical you can also go on and hike the Ponta do Sao Laurenco so you could make it a whole day trip.
Walk Vereda do Larano to Porto do Cruz
Vereda do Larano is probably one of the most epic and best things to do in Machico. This trek takes you all the way to Porto da Cruz. After you reach the Viewpoint of Boca do Risco in the second part of the walk, you will be taking a coastal trail offering a breathtaking view overlooking the vast Atlantic Ocean. This part is not for those with fear of heights, although it is safe given the path is relatively wide.
The route to Porto da Cruz from Boca do Risco is a stunning route from the landscape point of view. Still, it offers inherent risks that deserve extra care. Many guides warn that this route can be dangerous. Therefore please exercise caution if you decide to take the hike.
The whole hike takes around 4 hours including photo and snack stops. The trek ends at Porto do Cruz, so make sure you leave early enough to be able to enjoy the town before heading back.
See the plane landing from Pico do Facho
Pico do Facho is not only a great point to watch planes landing and taking off from the nearby airport. This spot also offers an excellent view over Machico valley, stretching to the central part of the island’s peaks and covering Ponta de São Lourenço.
The Madeira Islands used to experience violent attacks by pirates. The cruellest of them all was the one that happened in August 1617, committed by an Algerian fleet. Nine hundred inhabitants were taken hostage and sent to Algiers, leaving only eighteen men and seven women. Pico do Facho was the only place where the surveillance was possible. Signalling was made by day through bundles of branches and at night by burning torches and bonfires. Succeeding fires were then set aflame on peaks all the way to Funchal, giving the capital a good few hours’ warning before the attack. Hence the name – Pico do Facho (‘Peak of the Torch’).
It’s a bit of a steep walk but really worth taking on. The views are mesmerising and it’s a great photo opportunity.
Admire Machico vista from Miradouro Francisco Alvares Nóbrega
I was lucky, and maybe unlucky (depending on how you look at it), to stay right next to Miradouro Francisco Alvares Nóbrega, which is located at the top of the hill on the eastern side of Machico. It has a wonderful view over Machico Bay and the São Lourenço peninsula.
It takes around 20 minutes of a steep hike to get to this viewpoint but it’s so very worth it.
Once there, make sure you visit Décio Lounge Bar for a snack or glass of wine (or Poncha) where you can also enjoy lovely views and get some plane spotting.
Walk the Levada
Like anywhere in Madeira, also in Machico, you can enjoy the Levada walks. Given its surroundings, taking walks and enjoying nature is one of the best things to do in Machico.
Levadas are usually easier, and without too much incline, they can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of the level of fitness or age. You will walk by the edge of a mountain, following a water channel and be able to enjoy Madeira’s spectacular views. Levadas that can be enjoyed near Machico are Levada do Castelejo, Levada dos Maroços, Levada Nova and Levada do Canical.
Levada walks are not only one of the best things to do in Machico, but one of the best things to do in Madeira!
For starting points and exact routes, I like to use the AllTrails app (not sponsored 🙂 ). I found it the easiest to navigate around and pretty easy to use. Even the free version is brilliant for as long as you are connected to the internet. I often walk on a feel around Madeira as many tracks are well-signposted, yet those few times I wasn’t sure, this app saved me a lot of time and guided me well.
If Machico is the only town you stay in Madeira, you need to take a day trip to Funchal. However, I do recommend staying a few days in Funchal to fully experience and enjoy this beautiful capital city of Madeira.
Funchal is only around 25km from Machico centre, and there is a direct bus going from Machico bus station. Go early and visit the main part of the city as well as the Old Town and if time will allow the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. You won’t regret it!
There is a ton of awesome things to do in Machico, and although many decide to visit just for a day, I recommend spending a few days here. Especially if you are a nature enthusiast, Machico is your place to be.
Madeira Know before You Go – Important Information and Travel Tips
- Currency – Euro
- Language – Portuguese but English is widely spoken (don’t take it for granted though, it’s always good to learn few basic terms)
- Power plugs and sockets – Type F (European). The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
- Driving – on the right-hand side. Watch this video before renting a car
- Climate and Weather – Madeira is called the island of eternal spring. It enjoys a subtropical climate with mild weather all year round. It is never too cold nor too hot. The temperature hardly ever falls below 15 degrees in the winter or exceeds 25 degrees in the summer. Sea temperature varies between 17 and 21 degrees throughout the whole year. Expect more humidity and rainfall at the North of the island. For lounging by the pool, visit between April and October.
- What to pack -Hiking trousers and shorts, rain jacket, walking shoes, one warm sweater or hoodie, one pair of sandals, some light summer clothing, warm dawn jacket if you go up the mountains, camera (you won’t forgive yourself if you don’t!), adventurous spirit.
- Most popular supermarkets – Continente Modelo and Pingo Doce. Pingo Doce in Madeira has a great restaurant section as well. Much better than in mainland Portugal. You have to try the Octopus!
- Remember Trave Insurance. I recommend SafetyWing especially for those nomads and long term travellers among us. No need to specify the destination not the duration of travel. And you can cancel at any time.
- For accommodation search, I recommend Bookings.com and Hostel World. Although a dorm room is not always the option especially these days, however, I still prefer to stay in a hostel as I get to meet and befriend other travellers. Most of the time I book a small private room in a hostel. This is my preferred form of accommodation. But on both websites, you will be able to find anything from a dorm room bed to a self-catering apartment for the best prices.
- You cannot say you have visited Madeira if You didn’t try Poncha, Espada or Lapas. Check this article for the dishes you need to try in Madeira.