Why Visit Cape Girao in Madeira? Is it Worth a Visit?
The cliffs of Cabo Girão in Madeira are one of the most famous attractions on the island, especially with the recently built glass platform. There are no words to describe the view from the highest cliff in Europe!
Actually, there are many great ways to explore the cliffs at Cabo Girão. The Skywalk is probably the most visited and easily accessible by car. But you can also use Cabo Girão cable car (Teleferico do Rancho) to go down. You can also go on a boat trip to go swimming by the high cliffs.
Here is our full guide to help you plan your visit to the highest cliff in Europe.
About the name:
Girao means “Big bend”. The name dates back to the first exploration of the coast by Zarco in 1420. Legend has it that in his diary he referred to an imposing dark object where demons and evil spirits lived…
Here is a drone view of Cape Girao:
WHAT TO SEE AT CABO GIRAO?
1. Visit the skywalk of Cabo Girão
Let’s start with the most famous attractions: the glass platform known as the Skywalk.
How to get there?
There is a parking area right in front of the skywalk. You can hardly miss it. The parking is free.
Renting a car is the easiest option to visit Madeira, however, you can also get on a hop-on/off bus from Funchal to explore part of Madeira.
Useful info about the skywalk
- Opening Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or 7 p.m. in winter)
- Price: free (however they have a barrier system, as we heard you sometimes need to pay. Not sure why…)
- Duration: Allow 20 minutes to admire the view. From the parking lot, you just need to walk about 1min. Which is very convenient.
- Restaurant: there is a very nice cafe right before the skywalk. Perfect to enjoy a good cup of coffee on top of the highest cliff in Europe!
About the view
The platform was built above the cliffs, around a tree. It’s very pretty when you get up close. If you are too scared of heights, you don’t have to walk onto the glass. From behind, the view is already mesmerising.
2. Visit Cabo Girão by cable car
Another great option to admire this impressive cliffs, is by taking the cable car (Teleferico do Rancho). The cable car is only 4km from the Skywalk, at a slightly lower altitude.
Useful info about the cable car
- There is a small car park near the cable car station for free.
- Cabo Girão cable car opening hours: Tues to Fri – 8am to 8pm – Sun 9am to 8pm
- The price of the Cable car is 5€ for a return trip.
- Location (google map): here
Before taking the cable car, you can check the viewing platform to admire the scenery. You’ll have a clear view of the lower fajas (cultivated land at the foot of the cliffs). The cabins of the cable car are modern and pretty with a nice red color. There is only 1 cabin that goes up and another that goes down.
3. Fajas do Cabo Girão
At the foot of the cliffs, you will reach Fajas do Rancho and Fajas do Cabo Girão. The Fajas are small plots of land at the foot of the cliffs. The volcanic soil is quite fertile and the locals have established gardens there. You can find many more all around the island.
Before the cable car was built, locals would join the Fajas by boat from Câmara de Lobos.
There is a nice walking path through the Fajas and pebble beaches.
4. Explore Cabo Girão by boat
Another option to admire the huge cliffs of Cabo Girao is to book a dolphin and whale watching excursion that includes a swim under Cabo Girão.
The boats, mainly catamarans, go first to observe dolphins and whales. And on the way back, they stop under the Cabo Girâo so that customers can take a swim.
Tours last approximately 3 hours. To book a tour, check out your options here.
Others things to see nearby:
Now that you’ve explored Câmara de Lobos, continue your visit to the surroundings area. There are lots of things to see.
1. Câmara de Lobos
Discover the charming seaside town of Câmara de Lobos in Madeira. Winston Churchill’s favourite town. In Câmara de Lobos you will see a beautiful traditional village by the sea with colourful fishing boats, cobbled streets, seaside promenade, a beach and a lot more which we invite you to discover in this post.
2. The Miradouro da Torre
First, you can drive for a few minutes up to higher ground and reach the Miradouro da Torre. A viewpoint which offers a magnificent view of the city with its orange roofs and its port.
Even from here you can see how colorful the boats are!
3. Faja do Padres
Faja do Padres is one of the 7 cable cars in Madeira. As you may have read already, Madeira is famous for its many cable cars around the island. Due to the landscape and very high cliffs, taking a cable car is sometimes the only way to reach certain places.
Faja do Padres is one of the most touristic and for good reason. After taking the cable car down the beach, you can access a beautiful garden and restaurant.
The view from the cable car is also stunning.
You can book several circuits including the visit of the gardens and the fruit tasting. See the official website.
4. Levada Do Norte
Levada do Norte is a beautiful hike which starts just below Cabo Girão (here we added a pin for the start of the hike, which is not easy to find). After going down the stairs take a left and follow the levada.
Levada do Norte offers incredible views of Madeira but you will also be able to explore the local farmers and the many plantations along the way. We walked about 1h and then turned back. However, Levada do Norte is one of the longest levada hike in Madeira with 65 kilometres in length and several tunnels. It crosses most of the island.
Best places to stay near Cabo Girão
If you want to stay near Cabo Girão, then we recommend a place in Câmara de Lobos. As there aren’t many things to do besides visiting the cliffs in Cabo Girão, Câmara de Lobos would be much more pleasant.
Here are 2 fantastic hotels which we highly recommend:
1. Pestana Churchill Bay
One of our favourite hotels in Madeira is actually located in Câmara de Lobos: Pestana Churchill Bay. This old fish market was transformed into a gorgeous hotels right by the harbour. The location is perfect, the hotel is stunning and they have an amazing rooftop pool overlooking Câmara de Lobos.
2. Pestana Fisherman Village
Another fabulous boutique hotel in Câmara de Lobos is Pestana Fisherman Village. This hotel is located in he picturesque historic centre.
The hotel offers several living rooms, a library, a cloister, a patio with a water mirror and a terrace with a panoramic swimming pool on the rooftop. Check the availability Pestana Fisherman Village here.
In conclusion about Cabo Girão
Cabo Girão is truly impressive and should definitely not be missed during a trip to Madeira.
So, if Cabo Girao is the highest cliff in Europe, you might be wondering where is the highest cliff in the world. This title goes to different locations, depending on your definition of cliffs.
But officially, the Guinness World Records lists Kalaupapa in Hawaii as the world’s tallest sea cliff reaching 1,010 meters!
For more information on things to do in Madeira check out: THE 30 BEST THINGS TO SEE IN MADEIRA.
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