The best independent guide to Madeira
The best independent guide to Madeira
The cliffs of Cabo Girão are some of the world's highest, with a near-vertical drop of over 500 meters down to the raging waters of the Atlantic Ocean far below.
At the top of the towering Cabo Girao cliffs is a glass-floored skywalk, which could be considered one of the most terrifying tourist attractions of Madeira! This glass walkway extends out over the cliff's edge and offers an exhilarating 580m downward view the ocean and illusion of walking in the air.
If you can turn yourself from just looking down, the Cabo Girão cliffs are also a spectacular viewpoint, (known as the Miradouro Cabo Girão) with magnificent views along the entire south eastern coastline of Madeira.
The beach and terrace fields at the base of the Cabo Girao cliffs are accessible via the Teleferico do Rancho cable car, but the cable car station is a 4km drive from the viewpoint.
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The view directly down from the Skywalk
The glass walkway is only for the brave….
Miradouro Cabo Girão viewpoint looking down on Câmara de Lobos
The Cabo Girão skywalk is a well-run tourist attraction with ample parking, modern facilities and enthusiastic staff.
The site is open every day between 08:30-20:00 (summer) or 08:30 -19:00 (winter). Presently there is no admission fee, and the Skywalk is free to enter (there may be an admission fee when you visit, as a fee of €0.50 was charged during the peak season of last year).
The skywalk is perfectly safe, but the glass bottom floor will induce minor vertigo in most sane people.
The Skywalk has become Madeira's most popular tourist attraction, and this means it can be very busy between 10:00 and 14:00 during the peak season, when the coach tours arrive. When the site is busy much of the allure of the experience is lost.
Our advice is to visit either early in the day or later in the evening when it will be much quieter.
It is always best to try to visit when it's quiet, as there is only so much space when a tour bus turns up
At the site is a large café, two souvenir shops, and paid public toilets (€0.50). There is a large free car park, which quickly fills when the tour buses arrive; if you have your own transport, try to avoid the peak times.
If you do visit Cabo Girão as part of an organised tour, expect to spend 20-30 minutes here. This is sufficient to walk over the Skywalk, scare yourself and take a few photos.
The souvenir shops and café to the rear of the skywalk and viewpoint
Once you have seen the viewpoint and walked over the Skywalk, there is not much else to do at Cabo Girão, so typical visits only tend to be 15-30minutes.
A visit could be extended by riding the Teleferico do Rancho to the base of the cliff, but this it is not within walking distance of the viewpoint and is an 8-minute drive down the hill.
The Cabo Girão is only 3km (as the crow flies) from Câmara de Lobos, but the twisting uphill route is 6.5km and takes around 15 minutes to drive.
The Cabo Girão cliffs dominate the skyline of Câmara de Lobos and it’s a long meandering drive to the summit
If you do not have a rental car there are bus services from Funchal or Câmara de Lobos. The most useful bus route is the number 7 service which connects Funchal to Ribeira Brava and stops in Câmara de Lobos and Cabo Girão. This service is operated by Rodoeste, and the latest timetable can be seen on their website:
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The hop-on-hop-off buses in Funchal provide extended routes that include the Cabo Girao cliffs. For the Yellow Bus company there is a tour route which departs from Câmara de Lobos for €12, or the 3:1 ticket which departs from Funchal (€18 and includes the Funchal tour, Câmara de Lobos tour and Cabo Girao tour). The red City Sightseeing tours provide a 48-hour ticket which covers Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Cabo Girao for €20.
The Fajas de Cabo Girao are the terraced fields that lie directly below the Cabo Girão. These fields traditionally cultivated vineyards, as the cliffs provided both shelter and favourable growing conditions.
The Fajas de Cabo Girao were only accessibly by boat until the construction of the Teleferico do Rancho in 2003.
A return ride on the Teleferico do Rancho costs €5.00 and the dramatic route descends down the side of the cliff. The Rancho cable car station is on the coastal road to east of Cabo Girão (GPS 32.652555, -16.992476), but to descend the hill it does a massive loop and is 4km (8min drive) away.
At the base, there is not much to see apart from a stony beach and a couple of coastal footpaths.