It’s not easy to escape the crowds in Madeira. It is a popular tourist destination in Europe, especially for people who love to hike. So it’s no surprise a lot of tourists can be found at its best known sites and walking routes. Fortunately this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Madeira’s nature in its purest form with no one else around. If you are well prepared, it’s easy to escape the crowds. Here’s how I managed to enjoy Madeira with not too many people around.
How to escape the crowds in Madeira
Wake up and start hiking early
This is my golden rule to avoid crowds everywhere; wake up early. I knew most tours start around 9-10 am, so I made sure to arrive at the hike starting points around 8 am. That way I had enough parking space to choose from, no oncoming cars in roads where just one car can pass (there are a lot of these roads on your way to hike parking lots) and no crowds during my hikes. Even at 25 Fontes, which is one of the most popular waterfalls in Madeira, I had the place to my own. When I had enjoyed this place to the fullest and had taken all my pictures, the crowds started to arrive. So on my way back, I encountered a lot of 20-30 person groups (but the guides walking in front always told them to move aside for me, which was very convenient!). I couldn’t understand how people can actually enjoy hiking this way.
Rent a car, don’t book tours
If you book a tour, you’ll join 20-30 people to do the hikes and you’ll be surrounded by people talking loudly and not being able to enjoy the sounds of the water, the leaves and the birds. They just go and don’t make time to stand still and enjoy the environment. Renting a car gives you all freedom of time and space. You can start early before the crowds, you walk at your own pace and you can actually hear the sounds of your surroundings.
List all tours with timings
It may seem crazy but knowing when most tours visit certain places is actually perfect to plan your hikes. What I did was simply Google “walking tours Madeira” and I made a schedule listing all the days in the horizontal column and hikes in the vertical column, putting check marks behind the right hike and day for each tour company. That way I knew when each hike was visited the least, so I picked those days to do them.
Find a smaller more local restaurant
I don’t like big touristy restaurants and Funchal has a lot of them. So I walked up to the end of the old town near the Fort and I found a restaurant with a nice terrace, that hadn’t pictures on the menu and had a cosy vibe. I loved this place and its food. I’ve spend a very nice evening there and the last day I decided to have lunch there as well. Take your time to find a less crowded, more pleasant place to eat.
If you like the pictures from my how to escape the crowds in Madeira article I suggest to follow my Instagram account where you can find a lot more!