Bica da Cana viewpoint is one of the amazing sunrise viewpoints in Madeira. Also known as Miradouro Bica da Cana, this place at a height of 1,560m above sea-level will blow your mind. With views on the highest peaks of Madeira Island and continues changing weather, Bica da Cana will always deliver different views.
We went many times to Bica da Cana in the 7 months we lived on Madeira and were treated with a different view each time. The most magical view is in our opinion with low clouds. But it’s not always guaranteed that you will have the right weather circumstances for low hanging clouds. In this blog post I will try my best to explain how you can predict if there will be clouds or not. But disclaimer, you really have to be lucky. Besides that you will find in this blog post all the information you need about Bica da Cana viewpoint.
How to get to Bica da Cana viewpoint
Bica da Cana is located on the plateau of Paúl da Serra, along the regional road ER110. From Funchal it is about 45 minutes of driving, but from Calheta it’s only 25 minutes. The Bica da Cana hike also starts at this point, so don’t get confused by walking the wrong path.
When you arrive at the parking lot, you will see a sign of the Bica da Cana Pináculo hike with a dirt path leading down. Don’t go here! This is the start of the hiking trail. For the Bica da Cana viewpoint you need to walk up on a wider cobbled road as you can see on the picture below.
Here you see the two paths both leading to a different viewpoint of Bica da Cana. The first, small path that leads through the forest takes you to the natural viewpoint. But if you keep following the cobbled path to the left you will get to the viewpoint with wooden fence and picnic table.
Usually you will see a chain across this road blocking cars from driving further up. So a little incline is necessary to get to the viewpoint.
The first picture shows the start of the little hike to Bica da Cana viewpoint. The second picture shows the path to the lower viewpoint. If you keep following the cobbled road towards the left, it will take you to the official Bica da Cana viewpoint.
Best time to go to Bica da Cana viewpoint
Any time is a good time to visit Bica da Cana viewpoint, despite when it’s raining or too cloudy. Then you will most likely see nothing. But the most magical time of the day to get to Bica da Cana viewpoint is without a doubt sunrise! Watching the sun rising from behind the highest peaks of Madeira and eventually with a sea of clouds beneath you is something you will never forget! I am still contemplating if I think Bica da Cana is even a better sunrise viewpoint than Pico do Arieiro…
But another great time to visit Bica da Cana is an hour before sunset! We have been on several time frames to this viewpoint. We can confirm that also in the afternoon you have a chance of a sea of clouds beneath you. During this time you will have the sun is in your back. This will light up the mountain range in a golden tone.
To get a sea of clouds at this viewpoint which is on 1,560m above sea-level, you have to be a bit lucky. But you can check the webcam at Pico do Ariero and from São Vicente to see if there are any clouds. Cloud forming and how high or low they are have a lot to do with temperature, but I will not go too deep in this theoretical knowledge. The weather at Pául da Serra plateau is so unpredictable, and in general on an island like Madeira you can have 4 seasons in one day. It is hit or miss, same at Pico do Arieiro where you’re also sometimes lucky with the clouds, and sometimes it’s completely clear which also has it’s charm!
What to expect at Bica da Cana viewpoint
Once arrived at the parking of Bica da Cana, take into account that it is about 10 minutes walking to the actual viewpoint. Especially when going for sunrise I suggest you to arrive about 30 minutes before sunrise at the spot so you’ll have enough time to walk and install your camera if you plan to take photos.
With views towards the eastern side of the island you will have a perfect straight sunrise vantage point. On your left side you’ll see São Vicente valley on a clear day. Bica da Cana viewpoint is a great alternative for the more famous sunrise viewpoints Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. If you are lucky, there will be a sea of clouds in the São Vicente valley making it feel as if you’re in heaven. Or at least, that was my feeling when we got to Bica da Cana viewpoint the very first time and were treated with this incredible view!
Different Bica da Cana viewpoints
There are actually two different viewpoints at Bica da Cana. One is a bit higher with a picnic table and platform with a wooden fence around. But the other viewpoint is a bit lower without any facilities, so also no fence at the edge. If you are really afraid of heights I would suggest to go to the higher “official” Bica da Cana viewpoint. But if you are more days in Madeira and you want to explore the other viewpoint, then definitely check out this spot as well!
The first photo is from the official Bica da Cana viewpoint with wooden fence as you can see. The second photo is from the other viewpoint which has no fence near the precipice.
There is a small path to the left going into the bushes when you followed the cobble stone road. Follow this short forest path for about 5 minutes until you get to the other viewpoint. This is a perfect place to take pictures as well. It’s hard to say which spot is better. The only reason I would say this second, lower, viewpoint is better than the higher “official” one, is because there is no fence around the viewpoint. Which is sometimes better for professional photography. That also brings me to the next subject! Photography tips at Bica da Cana viewpoint.
Bica da Cana photography tips
Whether you’re a professional photographer or fanatic amateur photographer, you can indulge yourself with some amazing photo sessions at Bica da Cana viewpoint. With every different weather condition you can create something new here. The clouds are always in motion, so a time-lapse or long exposure picture of the clouds can work very well. And if there are no clouds, you’ll have an amazing clear view on the São Vicente valley and highest peaks of Madeira. Bring your tele lens if you have one and zoom in on the mountains to focus on these pointy peaks.
I often like it to use the 100-400mm lens to really focus on one subject in the landscape. For example when the peaks are surrounded by clouds that slowly draw away during sunrise, you can create some magical photos when only focussing on a specific subject when zooming in on one of the peaks. The picture below I took during one if the sunrise adventures we had at Bica da Cana. At first the clouds were too high to see anything, but as soon as the sun was rising, the clouds slowly disappeared creating these magical scenes.
Of course you can also fly the drone here if you have one. We would absolutely recommend that because you can get some incredible shots here. One of our pictures has been used by the Tourism Board of Madeira to announce they won the “Worlds Leading Island Destination” award!
Bica da Cana hike
After you’ve watched the sunrise at Bica da Cana viewpoint you can eventually do the Bica da Cana hike towards the Pináculo. This is a short but very sweet hike and a perfect start of the day. Especially when there are low hanging clouds in the valley I would absolutely recommend you to do this hike. In that case you can enjoy the wonderful views even longer.
The total distance of the Bica da Cana hike is only 4.5 kilometres. So it’s nothing too long or strenuous to do after watching sunrise. Just a casual morning walk. The hike will take you to the base of the Pináculo which is visible from viewpoint as well. Along the hike you will pass several waterfalls which you have to pass underneath. You don’t need a morning shower after haha!
Read more about the Bica da Cana hike to the Pináculo in our complete guide.
Best Madeira island tours
If you want to explore the best of Madeira with a guide then here some great tours I recommend. During these tours you will pass by some of the best viewpoints which I share in this complete guide. All of these tours include transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes the entrance fees if applicable. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Customized 6 hour Madeira tour. On this six-hour tour you can choose the different areas you want to visit on Madeira island. Pick the landmarks and iconic places to make your own itinerary with the help of your local guide/driver.
- West Madeira private tour. Starting in the fishing town of Câmara de Lobos you will drive via Cabo Girao, the highest cape in Europe, to the beautiful view of Serra d’Agua valley. From there you will head to São Vicente to explore the Laurisilva forest. Continuing north, you will visit Porto Moniz, known for its natural lava pools where you can swim. As last stop you will visit the famous rocks at Ribeira da Janela.
- East Madeira tour. Visit Pico do Arieiro viewpoint, make pictures at the Santana houses and the beautiful viewpoints at Porto da Cruz to finish the day at the impressive volcanic landscape of Ponta de São Lourenço.
- Canyoning adventure with transfer from Funchal. Get the thrill of canyoneering and explore Madeira’s untouched nature. follow a river as you walk, rappel, slide and jump through hidden waterfalls with streams that cross endemic forests. A super fun and adventurous day!
- Ponta de São Lourenço hike with pick up in Funchal. Explore the most eastern tail of Madeira island with its unique volcanic rock formations to understand how the island was created.
- Funchal 48-hour hop-on hop off bus tour. Explore the lush landscape of Madeira and the sights of Funchal at your own pace with a 2 or 5 day ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus.
- Tuk-Tuk tour to Monte Tropical Garden with Toboggan ride from Funchal. Explore Funchal Old Town with a Tuk Tuk before making your way to the mountains to the stunning Monte Tropical Garden. There you will explore over 70,000 square meters of exotic plants. At the end of the tour you will enjoy the thrilling ride down the hill with a Toboggan ride.
- Funchal Old Town walking tour. Learn about the history of Funchal and Madeira on a guided walk through the city’s medieval center. Visit the farmer’s market, the Campo Almirante Reis, the Fortress of St. James, and a number of other sites as your guide provides commentary.
- Dolphin & Whale watching Luxury Catamaran Cruise from Funchal. Enjoy the views of Funchal from a luxury catamaran. Look out for whales and dolphins in their natural habitat as your relax on board and explore the underwater world with a snorkel.
- Scuba diving Madeira. Explore the underwater world of Madeira island. A theory lesson and practice in swimming pool is included before you will dive about 12 meters for 45 meters in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Sunset tour from Funchal by Catamaran. Watch the sunset off the coast of Madeira on a 3-hour evening catamaran cruise from Funchal and spot dolphins (guaranteed, or you get a 2nd trip for free).
General travel must haves for Madeira
Have you thought about how to get around in Madeira? A car is the easiest way to drive around the island.
- Book your rental car here and compare the providers to get the best deal.
- Book your scooter or motorbike here to get around in Madeira. Most of the scooters you can drive with driving license (A1/A2/A) from 18 years old, or from 25 years old with a car (B) license. The motorbikes have a minimum age of 20 or 21 with A (moto) license.
Do you prefer a private driver for the day and the freedom to create your own itinerary?
Did you already book your accommodation?
Are you insured during your travels?
- Buy your travel insurance here. Safetywing not only includes coverage for travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters and personal liability. But also covers all your medical expenses for hospitalisation.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Bica da Cana sunrise viewpoint.
For more Madeira travel inspiration and the must visit destinations, head over to our other blog posts about Madeira island.