30 BEST HIKES IN MADEIRA – The Ultimate Guide
Madeira Island is a hiking paradise. With over 3000 kilometre of hiking trails in Madeira, you can be busy for weeks exploring all the best walks in Madeira. We have been living for 7 months on the island, and still have some new Madeira hiking trails left that we need to discover. With great hiking weather year round, Madeira is one of the best hiking destinations in Europe. From easy levada walks through the UNESCO Laurissilva forest, to epic coastal hikes or steep mountain trails, Madeira has it all! In this ultimate guide I share with you our 30 best hikes in Madeira with all the information you need such as hiking maps, what to prepare and all detailed information about the hiking trails in Madeira.
General travel must haves for Madeira
Before we dive into the best hikes in Madeira, let’s check a few things to make your travels in Madeira easy and safe.
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?
- Check out this great tool to compare prices of hotels on different platforms from around the world and book your favorite hotel
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.
Where to stay in Madeira
There are several towns in Madeira that are great to stay while exploring the island. Funchal is the capital town of the island with the most restaurants around. It has a charming old town and all sorts of facilities you might look for such as a boulevard, shopping centre, cafe’s and nightlife. It is a great place to base yourself with plenty of culture and beautiful old buildings and charming streets to explore. There are also a few beaches in Funchal to enjoy the ocean. However these beaches are from pebble stones.
→ Check out this great tool to compare prices on hotels around the world and book your favorite hotel!
We have stayed in The Vine hotel and Okulus villa which are both beautiful locations. The Vine has the comforts of a hotel including breakfast and is located right in the city centre. Okulus villa is located in the Old Town with the most amazing ocean and city view.
→ Book your stay at Okulus villa here
→ Book your stay at The Vine hotel here
If you want to be based near a sandy beach in Madeira, then Calheta is a great place. While Funchal is more to the east of the island located, Calheta is more to the west of the island located. So eventually you can also stay a few days in both towns depending the total length of your stay in Madeira. Calheta has an atmospheric marine with restaurants offering great spots to watch the sunset and enjoy a meal.
We have stayed a few weeks at Calheta Boutique Houses during our 7 months living in Madeira. Highly recommend these private villa’s as you have all the amenities you have at home as well. The modern design and amazing ocean views makes it a perfect vacation home.
→ Book your stay at Calheta Boutique Houses here
Small villages in nature
If you want to experience really small towns to stay in Madeira, then check out the accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio. Take into account that there will be less restaurants around but you will be completely immersed in the local life and nature.
→ Check here the available accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio
Best Madeira island tours
If you want to explore the best of Madeira with a guide then here some great tours I recommend. 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
Best time for hiking in Madeira
Madeira is also known as the island of eternal spring with temperatures around 18 degrees in the European winter months. Therefore you can easily hike in Madeira year round, but there are a few things to be aware of. After living in Madeira for 7 months we have experienced most of the seasons. Therefore we can give you a detailed advice in which are the best months for hiking in Madeira.
With the different seasons in Madeira, nature is changing as well. If you want to see wild flowers in bloom during your hikes in Madeira, you should come in the spring months April and May. Temperatures are also most comfortable for hiking in Madeira during the spring months.
Overall the warmest temperatures in Madeira are in the summer months of June, July and August. During midday the temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees which makes hiking in the mountains uncomfortable hot. So in the summer months you should definitely start hiking in the early morning.
For beautiful orange, yellow and red colours in the trees you should come during the autumn months September, October. And to see the waterfalls of Madeira in full power, you have to come in the winter months or right after rainy season which is January, February, March. But in the winter months there can be snow in the mountains which covers the narrow hiking paths and makes it dangerous to hike. Therefore some of the hiking paths in Madeira can be closed in the winter months. So, if you want to enjoy most of the hiking trails in Madeira with the best weather conditions, the spring and autumn months are the best.
Best months for hiking in Madeira are April, May, June, September and October.
30 BEST HIKES IN MADEIRA
Vereda Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike PR 1
The most famous and popular hike on Madeira Island is the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike. This 11 kilometre out and back Madeira mountain trail is some of the most epic hikes you will ever do! And if you’re lucky you will be even walking above the clouds.
Starting at Pico do Arieiro on 1818 meters height, you will make your way through the heart of Madeira’s mountain range, conquering many steps and tunnels to the highest peak of Madeira Island. Pico Ruivo on 1862 meters. With over 1000 meters of incline throughout the hike, this Madeira mountain trail is not for everyone. However, we’ve seen young and old completing this hike, and it’s definitely something you can’t miss in Madeira. Don’t get fooled by the height difference between Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo of “only” 44 meters, because during the hike you will constantly go up and down the mountain which makes the total incline more than 1000 meters.
Book your private guided Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike here
Book your transfer to Pico do Ariero with pick up at Teixeira here
Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, some of the best hikes in Madeira
It’s highly recommended to first watch the sunrise at Pico do Arieiro and then start the hike to Pico Ruivo. This gives you a high chance of being one of the first at Pico Ruivo summit. And you can then enjoy the hiking trails without too many other hikers. In the morning it’s also not super hot yet, especially in the summer months.
If you’re looking for an easier way to get to the highest peak of Madeira Island, then have a look at the shorter and flatter hike to Pico Ruivo from Achada do Teixeira.
Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike key details
Before setting off to the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike: Miradouro Pico do Arieiro where you will see a huge parking lot and cafe.
Hike distance and duration: From Pico do Arieiro to the summit of Pico Ruivo it is 11 kilometre out and back. This will take you anywhere between 3 to 5 hours of hiking depending on your fitness level, how often you take a break and how long you will spend at the top.
Hike difficulty and incline: Although the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Madeira Island, it is also one of the heaviest. The total incline is about 1000 meters throughout the trail. So with untrained legs it’s going to be really really tough. There are lots of steps and uneven parts, so you’ll need your energy and strength until the very end. The hike is overall quite technical with narrow cliff paths and lots of uneven surfaces and dark tunnels. The trail is safe and well maintained with hand rails and signs along the way.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and several layers of clothes. The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Bring a headlamp which you’ll need in the tunnels. Carry at least 1,5 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost. Wear sunscreen if it’s a sunny day.
Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike
This is the easier and much shorter hiking route to the highest peak of Madeira Island. From Achada do Teixeira it only takes about 30 minutes of hiking over a distance of 3 kilometres to Pico Ruivo. That is why this hiking route is mostly used to watch sunrise at Pico Ruivo. The Achada do Teixeira route takes you along the ridge that separates the cliffs of Faial and those of Santana. To the left you can look into the Ribeira Seca valley on a clear day topped by Pico das Torres, and Pico do Arieiro in the background.
Along the way you will find various shelters and picnic areas where you can take some rest, eat or take shelter in dense fog that sometimes covers the whole area. During this hike you don’t have to walk through tunnels in contrast to the many tunnels from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. With only 260 meters of incline, the Achada do Teixeira hike to Pico Ruivo is very straight forward and easy to complete with the whole family.
Read our complete guide about the Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike here
Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike key facts
Before setting off to Pico Ruivo from the Achada do Teixeira parking lot, below some key facts of the hike.
Starting point Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo: Achada do Teixeira parking lot in Santana.
Hike distance and duration: The total hike distance of this out and back trail is 6 kilometres on a relatively flat path. Only the last 10 minutes of the hike are concrete stairs to reach the platform on Ruivo. In total the hike shouldn’t take you more than 1.5 hours, depending on the time you take to relax at the summit.
Difficulty and incline: This is actually one of the easier hikes in Madeira but gives you some of the most incredible views of the island. It’s awesome that a view like this and the possibility of standing on the highest peak on the island is for so many people available! Therefore the Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike is a very family friendly activity on Madeira.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and several layers of clothes. The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Carry at least 1 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost. Wear sunscreen if it’s a sunny day.
Levada das 25 Fontes PR 6
The Levada das 25 Fontes hike is one of the most popular levada walks on Madeira Island. It’s not a typical flat levada walk because there’s some incline involved. The hike starts in Rabaçal and leads via the valley into the forest where you’ll pass many waterfalls along the way. The two most impressive waterfalls (after rainfall) are Risco waterfall and the 25 fountains waterfall. This is the source of the levada which is where the name ’25 fountains’ comes from.
During this hike you can admire a wide variety of different species of the flora and fauna of the region. Risco waterfall is definitely one of the most impressive Madeira waterfalls, but only after some days of rain. In the summer months you can expect the waterfalls of the Levada das 25 Fontes to be much drier and less impressive. Overall the hike levada walk is easy to do for the whole family. Because this is a point to point hike, you will walk the same way back to the parking lot.
Book your guided Levada das 25 Fontes walk here
Read our complete guide about Levada das 25 Fontes here
Levada das 25 Fontes, some of the best waterfall hikes in Madeira
Levada das 25 Fontes hike key facts
Before setting of to the Levada das 25 Fontes hike below some key facts!
Starting point Levada das 25 Fontes hike: The start of the Levada das 25 Fontes is in the popular Rabaçal area where many other hiking trail starts. It can be busy here, especially during the summer months when many tourists are visiting Madeira islands. Best advice to have a quiet nature experience is to start the hike as early as possible.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Levada das 25 Fontes hike is 11 kilometers (4.6 kilometres one way) and will take you around 3 to 4 hours.
Difficulty and incline: Because the Levada das 25 Fontes hike is one of the most popular Levada walks on Madeira, the paths are well maintained and clearly marked. There is only about 300 meters of incline on the stairs, which is not a big deal but you will feel it. For more detailed information about routes and hikes in Madeira you might want to use maps.me or the walkmeguide App.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring at least 1 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost. There is a cafe called Casa do Rabaçal where you can have a coffee or snack at the beginning or end of the levada walk.
Levada do Alecrim PR 6.2
The Levada do Alecrim hike, also known as ‘Lakes of Madeira Island’ is a beautiful and easy levada walk to a few waterfalls. Located in the Rabaçal area, you will have outstanding views over the Rabaçal valley and Ribeira da Janela (Janela Creek) during the hike. You’ll feel immersed in nature while walking in the characteristic greens of the Laurel Forest which is classified as Natural World Heritage by UNESCO since December 1999. This forest trail leads you to the serene Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall and pool that feeds the Lagoa do Vento via the river below. You can actually combine these two hikes together as one bigger loop. More about that in our complete guide about Levada do Alecrim.
Book your private guided Levada do Alecrim walk here
Levada do Alecrim key facts
Before setting off to the Levada do Alecrim hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Levada do Alecrim: Same parking lot as where the Levada was 25 Fontes starts from.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Levada do Alecrim hike is a little less than 7 kilometres out and back. It will take you somewhere between 1,5 – 2,5 hours depending on your pace and how long you stay at the different waterfalls. It’s a great little adventure for the whole family.
Difficulty and incline: Levada do Alecrim is a very safe and well maintained levada walk with clearly marked trails. There is some incline involved and some stairs here and there, but not more than 160 meters of elevation in total. So no heavy uphill hike, therefore I can recommend it to young and old!
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring at least 1 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost. If you feel like swimming in the lagoon, then don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and a towel!
Lagoa do Vento hike PR 6.3
The Lagoa do Vento hike is a lovely short forest hike in Rabaçal with a beautiful waterfall and lagoon. It’s only 3.3 kilometres one way to get to the waterfall, so Lagoa do Vento is a perfect hike for young and old. As mentioned above, you can easily combine the Levada do Alecrim hike with the Lagoa do Vento hike as you walk a part of the same route. Once arrived at Lagoa do Vento, you can swim in the lagoon at the base of the waterfall. But be prepared for the cold mountain water! The area around the lagoon is perfect for a lunch break and the trail is well maintained and signposted. This are has some of the most popular hikes in Madeira, so it can get busy on the trails. Therefore it’s recommended to start as early as possible.
Book your private guided Lagoa do Vento hike here
Read more about the Lagoa do Vento hike in our complete guide
Lagoa do Vento key facts
Before setting off to the Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike: Same parking lot as where the Levada was 25 Fontes and Levada do Alecrim starts from.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike is 7 kilometres out and back. This will take you about 2 – 3 hours depending on your walking speed and the time you spend relaxing at the lagoon. You can easily combine the Lagoa do Vento hike with Levada do Alecrim which are both connected via the same trail.
Hike difficulty and incline: The Lagoa do Vento hike is not very difficult and only has an incline of about 300 meters. This consists of winding natural stairs through the forest. The overall trail is clearly marked and doesn’t have scary drop offs or other moments of danger. Because most of the trail is on natural soil, it can be slippery in the forest part after rain. But as with every hike in Madeira, put on your hiking shoes and you will be fine.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring at least 1 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost. If you feel like swimming in the lagoon, then don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and a towel!
Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova PR 7
The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova hike is a nice levada walk where you will find a very unique waterfall along the way. Located in Ponta do Sol, this 9 kilometre circular hike is quite easy. It only has about 150 meters of incline via concrete stairs. The main point of interest during this hike is the part of the trail that has been carved into the cliff wall and where a waterfall pours over the path. The rest of the hike is along the two levadas with valley views. In contrast to the other levada walks in Madeira this isn’t a real forest walk, which makes the ‘jungle’ feel a little less, but it does give you open views all the way along the walk. Definitely some of the most interesting hikes in Madeira considering the unique waterfall!
Book you private guided Levada Moinho hike here
Read more about the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova in our complete guide
Levada do Moinho key facts
Before setting off to the The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Levada do Moinho: The trailhead of this levada walk is in Ponta do Sol with the address Casa Carreira 24, Ponta do Sol. The trail starts next to the white church named “Igreja da Lombada da Ponta do Sol” where enough parking spots are available. There isn’t public transport going to the start of this trail, so you either have to go by your own rental car or with a taxi. The closest Rodoeste bus stop is “Ponta Do Sol Rotunda”, from which it takes another 30 – 45 minutes to reach the levada trail.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of this circular hike is 9 kilometres with the same start and finish point. It will take you around 3 hours to complete this hike, depending on your pace and if you take a photo and lunch break at the waterfall or somewhere along the way.
Hike difficulty and incline: The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova hike is an easy trail with only 150 meters of incline via stairs. The concrete levada path is well maintained and is most of the parts accompanied by a fence. There are some spots with exposure to the cliff edge, but it’s nothing to be worried about.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring at least 1 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost. To be sure your valuable stuff won’t get wet when hiking underneath the waterfall, bring a rain jacket or cover for your backpack.
Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço PR 8
One of the most beautiful coastal hikes in Madeira is the Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço hike. It is one of the most popular hiking trails in Madeira and can be a great family activity. There’s not much incline and the 7 kilometre out and back trail isn’t too heavy. This rugged coastal trail takes you along the volcanic cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço with stunning viewpoints along the way. You can perfectly combine this Madeira walk after watching sunrise at Ponta do Rosto, as hiking in Madeira during the morning is most advisable. Especially along this trail where there is no shade and shelter. But Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço can also be a great hike during afternoon to watch sunset afterwards.
Book here your private Ponta de Sao Lourenco guided walk
Read more about the Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço hike in our complete guide
Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço, some of the best coastal hikes in Madeira
Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço key facts
Before setting off to the Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Ponta de Sao Lourenço: The Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço hike starts on the eastern tail of Madeira Island and is well marked on Google Maps. This rugged headland has a unique mars like landscape, completely different than the rest of Madeira Island. The trail starts at the roundabout where there is plenty of dedicated parking spots for your car.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço is 7 kilometres out and back which will take you about 2 to 3 hours. But you can also take a long break at the restaurant for lunch for example which will add up to the total hours spend at Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço.
Hike difficulty and incline: The Vereda Ponta de Sao Lourenço is not a steep or difficult hike with only a few hundred meters of incline along the trail. But the risky part is that the trail is completely open without any shelter, so on windy days it can be tricky. The path is mostly rocky and uneven so its important to pay attention to every step. There are some drop offs along the trail, but those parts are protected by a railing. We did this hike two times, and once it was super windy and not comfortable to walk. With hard winds we sometimes almost felt as if we could get blown away literally. So I would suggest to do this hike on a calm day when its not too hot because there is no shelter along the way.
Ponta do Rosto viewpoint hike
This short but sweet hike provides some amazing views on the most eastern tail of Madeira. This must be one of the shortest hikes in Madeira, but it does offers some of the most epic views! The Ponta do Rosto hike brings you to the São Lourenço photoshoot spot overlooking the complete dragon tail of Madeira. This is a famous Madeira sunrise spot, so if you’re up for an early morning adventure, then definitely head out for this spot with sunrise! It’s only 1,5 kilometre one way, but you will have to climb the hills to get to the summit with the epic view.
Read everything about the Ponta do Rosto viewpoint and São Lourenço photo spot
Levada do Caldeirão Verde PR 9
The Caldeirao Verde waterfall hike is one of the most popular and beautiful hikes in Madeira. What makes this levada walk so unique are the many waterfalls you will see along the way. Combined with the beautiful lush green jungle, this Madeira hike is one of a kind. You’ll have to pass a few tunnels and walk underneath little waterfalls. So be prepared with a rain jacket, flashlight or headlamp. The total distance of this flat levada walk is 12 kilometres out and back. With only a little 100 meters of incline this hike is perfect for all ages, providing some of the best valley views and waterfalls on Madeira!
Book here your private guided Levada do Caldeirao Verde walk
Read everything about the Levada Caldeirao Verde waterfall hike in our complete guide
Levada do Caldeirao Verde, some of the best waterfall hikes in Madeira
Levada do Caldeirão Verde key facts
Before setting off to the Levada do Caldeirão Verde, below some key facts!
Starting point Caldeirão Verde hike: The parking of this levada walk is in Queimadas Forest Park which is located along the north coast of Madeira in Santana. From Funchal it will take you about 45 minutes to get to the parking lot of the Caldeirão Verde hike.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Caldeirão Verde hike is 12 kilometres out and back which will take you about 4 to 5 hours depending on your speed and breaks.
Hike difficulty and incline: The best things about the Levada do Caldeirão Verde is that most of the trail is flat with beautiful jungle views along the way. There are only a few stairs involved with about 100 meters of incline. This makes Caldeirão Verde a perfect levada walk for all ages, as long as you’re a bit adventurous! The paths are very well maintained because its one of the most popular levada walks on Madeira. Along the narrow paths or with a drop off there’s always a safety railing. Some of the obstacles of this hike are the four tunnels you need to pass. So bring a flashlight or headlamp. Also after heavy rain there is a chance that a waterfall will pour directly on the path. You might want to prepare yourself for this with a rain jacket and hoodie.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and several layers of clothes. The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Bring a headlamp which you’ll need in the tunnels. Carry at least 1,5 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost.
Vereda dos Balcões PR 11
The Vereda dos Balcões is a short but beautiful walk to a stunning viewpoint. With only 1,4 kilometre one way through a fairytale like forest you will be rewarded with an incredible view on the highest peaks of Madeira on a clear day. From the balcony you’ll have a beautiful view on the Ribeira da Metade valley, the island’s central mountain range and all the way towards the ocean with the Penha D’Águia cliff as another landmark. Being such a short walk, this hike is a perfect activity for every age. But you have to be a bit lucky with the right weather to enjoy the best views at the balcony.
Book here your private guided Vereda dos Balcoes walk
Read everything about Vereda dos Balcões in our complete guide
Vereda dos Balcoes, some of the shortest hikes in Madeira with the best views!
Vereda dos Balcoes PR 11 key facts
To be well prepared for the hike to Balcoes viewpoint, below some key facts!
Starting point Vereda dos Balcões: Balcões is located in the Ribeiro Frio forest park which is the starting point of various levada walks. From the main town of the island, Funchal, it is about 50 – 60 minutes driving to the starting point of Vereda dos Balcoes.
Hike distance and duration: The Balcoes hike is one of the shortest and easiest walks in Madeira. The total hike is 2,7 kilometre which will take you less than an hour back and forth. Of course the total time you spend at the Balcoes viewpoint is not included in this time. Make sure to calculate at least 20 minutes to spend at the viewpoint, especially on a clear day. It’s just so beautiful, and you definitely want to take it all in. There is also another reason to spend some more time at the Balcony viewpoint, but more about that later in this blog post!
Difficulty and incline: A said before, the Balcoes hike is one of the easiest and shortest hikes in Madeira. There is no incline involved, the paths are wide, flat, well maintained and clearly marked. It really is a family activity as this walk can be done by young and old.
Salto do Patagarro waterfall hike
Salto do Patagarro waterfall hike is a very fun and challenging hike in Madeira. The reward of this upstream hike is a beautiful 3 tier waterfall tucked away in the Ribeira de Santa Luzia valley. It is quite challenging to get to the bottom of the waterfall. But if you are an experienced hiker and you love waterfalls, this is a must do! You basically walk through a dry river bed in the first part, but later along the hike you have to cross a smaller river a few times.
So be prepared to get wet feet or jump if you can. It is very important to only do this hike when it hasn’t been raining for a few days and with good weather conditions during the day. Otherwise the river might be too strong and in worst case scenario you might get in trouble. Salto do Patagarro is definitely one of our most favorite waterfalls and some of the most fun hikes in Madeira!
Salto do Patagarro waterfall hike key facts
Starting point Salto do Patagarro hike: Salto do Patagarro waterfall is located in the Ribeira de Santa Luzia valley and is only a short drive from Funchal. Drive to the small village Corujeira to Caminho da Levada dos Tornos and park the car next to some of the houses. The levada starts directly at the back of the houses and in only ten minutes or less you will get to the first waterfall, Pisão. Keep following the trail deeper into the valley over the boulders and in between the huge concrete piles that prevent mud floods. Keep following the river bed for about 4 kilometre until you see Salto do Patagarro.
Hike distance and time: The total distance is 9 kilometres for this hike, but take into account that you have to climb boulders and cross rivers. Depending on your speed it will take you around 4 – 5 hours in total.
Hike difficulty and incline: I would say this is moderately difficult as it’s technical with climbing some boulders and crossing the river a few times. There is a little incline gradually but that is nothing to worry about.
Vereda do Fanal PR 13
Another great forest walk in Madeira is Vereda do Fanal. It offers a lot of variety along the way as you walk through the enchanting UNESCO-listed Laurissilva Forest. Via open paths with incredible views on the Rabaçal Valley you will reach the Fanal Forest as spectacular finish. This 11 kilometre moderate point to point hike gives you a perfect experience of what Madeira nature is about. But for waterfalls and coastal views you need to choose one of the other hikes in Madeira.
Be prepared that there are some stair climbs involved, and make sure to plan your hike taking the weather into account. The Paul da Serra plateau where Fanal Forest is located on 1,150 meters above sea level, is known for being covered in fog often. Although it does create a very mysterious vibe in the forest, it won’t let you view the landscapes throughout the hike. For more specific information about the mystical Fanal Forest, read our complete Fanal Forest guide.
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To know more about this hike, then head over to our compete guide about Vereda do Fanal
Vereda do Fanal hike key facts
Before setting off to the Vereda do Fanal hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Vereda do Fanal: This hike is point to point which means you either have to hike back the same way back where your car is parked. You can also try hitchhiking. Or what we did, go with a friend that has a car as well. Then you can park one car at the start of the trail and the other car at the finish. So the starting point of Vereda do Fanal is either at Fanal Forest which you will find at the ‘Faial parking’ on Google Maps. Or you start at the sign PR13 Vereda do Fanal along the ER209.
Hike distance and duration: Vereda do Fanal is a point to point hike which means you need to have a plan how to get back to your car. So you will either have to double the distance to get back to your car, go with two cars and park them at both start and finish points or hitch hike back to your car. Vereda do Fanal is 11 kilometres long which will take you about 3 hours.
Difficulty and incline: This hike is not difficult but has some stairs involved which will make you feel your legs. With a total incline of about 460 meters when you end at Fanal forest it’s nothing to be worries about. The whole trail is clearly marked and there are no dangerous parts throughout the hike. We saw families with young and old on the paths, and Fanal Forest makes it a lovely picnic spot to end the hike on a sunny day.
Levada dos Cedros PR 14
Close to Vereda do Fanal is Levada dos Cedros located. This stunning, flat forest walk ends by a few stunning waterfalls after 6 kilometres. You can do this hike out and back the same route, or add another part to Fanal forest to it. The Levada dos Cedros is definitely a fun hike for young and old. It offers varied views along the way. You will see stunning viewpoints, jungle bridges and waterfalls at the end of the levada walk.
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Levada dos Cedros PR14 hike key facts
Before setting of for the Levada dos Cedros hike below some key facts!
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the hike out and back is about 12 kilometres with several points of interest along the way. The total time for the Levada dos Cedros hike is anywhere between 3 – 4 hours.
Difficulty and incline: This hike is very flat if you take the same route back along the levada. But there is another option in which you include Fanal forest on your way back although you have to include 400 meters of incline on well maintained stairs. You can choose which one fits your program! We did the route via Fanal forest which was beautiful, but also heavy with the 400 meters of stairs. I wouldn’t really recommend this route, because you have to walk over the road for a long time. So you can better choose to do the out and back route on the same levada path.
Levada Fajã do Rodrigues PR 16
This beautiful jungle trail located in São Vicente takes you to the levada’s origin in the canyon of Ribeira do Inferno. Along the way of this 8 kilometre hike you will have panoramic views over the valley of São Vicente. But the weather can change quickly here, so be prepared for every weather circumstance. Levada Faja do Rodrigues involves some tunnels so a flashlight is necessary. Overall this trail is easy, well maintained and a fun levada walk where you can explore some beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Read everything about Levada Fajã do Rodrigues in our complete guide
Levada Faja do Rodrigues key facts
Before setting off to the Levada Faja do Rodrigues, below some key facts!
Starting point Levada Fajã do Rodrigues: The address of the levada is Caminho Velho das Ginjas in Sгo Vicente. But you can also find the starting point by putting in the name of the levada in Google Maps. There is no public bus going to the start of this levada walk. So you will definitely need a rental car or pay for a taxi. At the trailhead is enough parking space and you’ll quickly see the first signs directing you to the start of the trailhead.
Hike distance and duration: Levada Faja do Rodrigues is an out and back trail which means you’ll walk the same way back to the parking. The total distance is 8 kilometres, so about 4 km one way. Because there is no incline during this hike you can maintain a quite fast walking pace. It will take you anywhere between 2 to 3 hours to complete this hike.
Hike difficulty and incline: With well-maintained levada paths and only 95 meters of incline, the Faja do Rodrigues hike is quite easy. However officially this levada trail is classified as “moderately difficult” because of the long tunnels. Especially the last tunnel which is about a kilometre long and takes approximately 20-25 minutes to cross. For tall people it’s not very comfortable to walk through these tunnels. You’ll have to bend over all the time, and the tunnel is quite narrow.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and several layers of clothes. The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Bring a headlamp which you’ll need in the tunnels. Carry at least 1,5 litre of water per person and a banana or dried fruits as energy boost.
Bica da Cana Pináculo hike PR17
Bica da Cana Pinaculo hike is just a short part of the PR 17 hike on the Paul da Serra plateau. This trail follows along the levadas of Serra and Norte with beautiful views on the Sao Vicente valley on a clear day. But when we did the Bica da Cana hike there was a sea of clouds. So we were literally walking above the clouds during the whole hike! A very spectacular sight. Along the hike you will pass some of the high-altitude vegetation and the native UNESCO protected Laurisilva forest of Madeira.
You will also walk under a little trickling waterfall, so be prepared to get a little bit wet. When you reach the end of the path at the Pináculo, you’ll have an outstanding view of the Ribeira Brava Valley. But you can also see the two highest peaks of the island, Pico Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. A short but sweet hike! I definitely recommend to first watch sunrise at Bica da Cana viewpoint and then continue to do this hike for a nice morning walk.
Read everything about Bica da Cana hike in our complete guide
Bica da Cana PR17 hike key facts
Before you decide to do the Bica da Cana hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Bica da Cana hike: Bica da Cana hike is located on the Paul da Serra plateau in the municipal county of Ponta do Sol. The parking lot at Bica da Cana is small. But a bit further down the road is an abandoned house with some more parking spots.
Bica da Cana hike distance and duration: Starting on the plateau of Paъl da Serra the total distance of this circular hike is 4.5km which will take you about 1,5 hours. The most scenic route is in our opinion the one along the valley. So you can choose to hike the same way back. The other trail goes a bit through the forest and ends on the plateau which is less spectacular. Some of the parts of the Bica da Cana hike are a bit slippery, so pay attention while walking!
Bica da Cana hike difficulty and incline: The Bica da Cana trail is not too hard as it’s almost flat all the way to the pinnacle along the valley. However, if you decide to take the route through the forest back to the car park, be prepared to have about 150m of incline. When we did this hike, the thorny bushes at the plateau were a bit overgrown. So long pants are recommend to wear on this hike.
Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal PR 17
The Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal hike is 18-kilometers long with more than 700 meters of incline. The trailhead is at Encumeada Viewpoint (Miradouro da Encumeada) where also Vereda Encumeada starts. Along the Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal you will get a mix of Laurissilva Forest, tunnels, waterfalls, valley views and epic ridge lines. It is the longer version of the previous discussed Bica da Cana hike.
Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal PR 17
Starting point Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal hike: Encumeada Viewpoint (Miradouro da Encumeada).
Hike distance and time: The circular route is 18km and will take you anywhere between 5 and 7 hours.
Hike difficulty and incline: With a length of 18 kilometres, this hike is only for the fit ones. The incline of 700 meters is not too heavy, but with uneven sections, wooden stairs and long dark tunnels, there are some interesting parts during this hike.
Levada do Rei PR 18
Levada do Rei is also known as the ‘Kings Levada’. It got this name because it was built by King D. Carlos I in the late 19th century to irrigate the fields of São Jorge and feed the existing water mills. Located in Santana, Levada do Rei is a beautiful lush trail that follows the Ribeiro Bonito stream through Madeira’s Laurissilva forest. You can enjoy the beautiful views of the São Jorge and Santana farmlands along this easy and flat Levada walk. During the Levada do Rei hike you will see the unique and varied vegetation of this UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site which ends in a beautiful gorge with waterfalls. Levada do Rei is an easy walk with mostly wide and well maintained paths. Therefore it’s being done by almost every age, from younger kids to older hikers.
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Levada do Rei PR18 key facts
Before you decide on doing the Levada do Rei hike, below some key facts!
Starting point Levada do Rei: The trailhead of Levada do Rei is located in Santana. There is a cafe called ‘Quinta Levada do Rei’ where you can park your car, have a coffee or lunch and go to the toilet before or after the hike.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Levada do Rei walk is 9.7 km which will take you about 2-3 hours to complete. It depends how long you rest at the end point or how long it takes you to explore the gorge. This hiking trail is a back and forth walk which means you will walk the same way back to the parking lot. This might feel a bit boring for some people, but still there is enough to see along the way.
Difficulty and incline: Levada do Rei is an easy walk and is basically flat the whole way through. There are only about 30 stairs to climb in the beginning of the Levada walk and the total elevation is about 72 meters. The path is well maintained and clearly marked because it’s one of the more popular Levada walks on Madeira.
Vereda do Larano
The Vereda do Larano hike along the east side of Madeira turned out the be one our favourite coastal hikes in Madeira. This easy but beautiful cliff side trail offers some amazing views on the rugged coastline with impressive vertical cliff drops into the ocean. Besides these impressive coastal views you’ll also pass waterfalls and walk through the forest. There are a few options to do this hike with the official route leading you from Levada do Caniçal to Vereda do Larano with Porto da Cruz as finish point. But the levada part is reported to be very boring. So we advice you to start in Larano, Porto da Cruz, at the cable car so you’ll skip the ‘boring’ part along the levada. This gives you immediate access to the most beautiful part of the trail along the coast and makes it easier to return to your car.
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Read all the in depth information about Vereda do Larano in our complete guide
Vereda do Larano, some of the best coastal hikes in Madeira!
Vereda do Larano hike key facts
Before setting off to the Vereda do Larano, below some key facts!
Starting point Vereda do Larano: You can either start at Levada do Caniçal or from the cable car at Larano. This will bring you immediately on the best part of this hike.
Hike distance and duration: With the explanation of above now you know there are different versions of this hike possible, all with a different distance and duration. We started this hike in Larano, Porto da Cruz at the cable car. From this starting point in Larano towards Boca do Risco it is 5 kilometres one way which took us about 2,5 hours with lots of photo stops along the way.
Hike difficulty and incline: The Vereda do Larano coastal hike is mainly flat but with a little incline at some parts. The trail is quite well maintained with safety railings along most of the path. Some parts are a bit narrow, but nothing dangerous or to be scared about. We met plenty of other hikers along the way, varied from young families to some older hikers.
Vereda Boca do Risco to Ponta do Bode hike
Some of the most epic coastal hikes in Madeira is Vereda do Larano, and you can even extend this hike from Boca do Risco to Ponta do Bode! The trail then ends at a Mars like landscape with red rocky terrain. These cone-shaped red rock formations have been formed by years of erosion and are now an interesting geodiversity site. If you only want to visit Ponta do Bode as viewpoint, then you can also hike from the cemetery do Caniçal in Machico to Ponta do Bode. This is only a kilometre up the red rocky hill with 145 meters of incline. Ponta do Bode is also a fantastic sunrise viewpoint in Madeira with incredible views over Ponta de São Lourenço.
Hike up this Mars like landscape towards Ponta do Bode for an epic view
This is the sunrise view from Ponta do Bode towards Ponta de São Lourenço
This is the view from Ponta do Bode towards the unique cone-shaped red rock formations which is an intersting geodiversity site
Levada do Paul
Levada do Paul hike is one of the flat and easy levada walks on Madeira island that’s doable for everyone. Out and back the trail is 11 kilometres and offers stunning views on the Rabaçal valley on a clear day. Along the way you will see a lonely tree that stands on the side of the path. Looking out over the hikers beneath him and the ocean aside of him. This is definitely worth a photo stop. Overall the Levada do Paul hike is not very exciting. However, it is a nice and easy walk with wonderful valley views.
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Read everything in our complete guide about Levada do Paul
Levada do Paul hike key facts
Before setting off to the Levada do Paul hike below some key facts!
Hike distance and duration: The total distance out and back ofLevada do Paul is 11 kilometers and could be easily done in 3 hours walking or less. It depends on your pace and how long you will spend at the end point and several viewpoints.
Difficulty and incline: The Levada do Paul is mainly flat with just a little incline of 150 meters via stairs. Overall this levada walk is easy to follow and has pretty new levada paths.
Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike
The is one of those very fun hikes in Madeira that will challenge you a bit! Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike in Ponta Delgada Madeira is an 8 kilometre off the beaten path loop. You are completely immersed in Madeira’s jungle on the north coast and will pass along several waterfall and enchanting streams surrounded by lush greens. This hike is quite technical and challenging, so I would only advice it if you have experience with hiking. The waterfalls you will see along the way are stunning though, so if you’re in for a little adventure then this hike is a must do.
Read everything about Poço das Pulgas in our complete guide
Poço das Pulgas, some of the most adventurous waterfall hikes in Madeira
Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike key facts
Before you set off for this off the beaten path waterfall hike, check the key facts below!
Starting point Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike: Poco das Pulgas is located in Ponta Delgada, on the beautiful green north coast of Madeira. The hike starts at the Parque das Merendas picnic area which offers free toilets, waste bins, a bbq area and seats. Follow Estrada das Fontes (Cova do Bardo) until you enter the forest where the real trail starts. From this part there are signs along the way, and you can always follow maps.me which shows the exact route on the map as well.
Hike distance and time: If you do the loop like we did from Parque das Merendas to Poзo das Pulgas waterfall and back to the car park it is a little less than 7 kilometres. This seems like a moderate hike distance. But because the trail is quite wild with lots of uneven slippery steps and narrow paths with a steep ascent and descent, the complete hike will take you about 3 – 4 hours depending on how long you take a break to enjoy the waterfalls.
Hike difficulty and incline: In terms of difficulty this hike is quite difficult and I would only advice to go if you’re a more experienced hiker. The hike is very technical and you have to walk with care and attention. There is a part where you need to climb up a rock via a rope. It’s nothing too serious but you will need some basic core and arm strength. The total incline is about 600 meters.
Levada Ponta do Pargo
Located on the western side of Madeira Island, levada Ponta do Pargo is a wonderful coastal hike. There is a lot of variation during this levada walk with forest and incredible sea cliff views. I would highly suggest to do this levada walk in the afternoon. In that case you can watch sunset on the Ponta do Pargo cliff when the hike is done. It’s maybe not one of the most spectacular levadas in Madeira, but definitely one you should do if you love a more quiet hiking trail.
The viewpoint at the end of this levada walk is actually very spectacular with 180 degree views and seriously impressive cliffs. You can perfectly combine a visit to the Garganta Funda waterfall together with this levada walk. And if you do this hike in the afternoon, then it’s highly recommend to have dinner at O’Forno in Ponta do Pargo. That is without a doubt some of the best restaurants in Madeira!
Levada Ponta do Pargo key details
Starting point Levada Ponta do Pargo: Ponta do Pargo is quite a long drive from Funchal, taking about 50 minutes. The trailhead is marked on Google Maps but there is not really a dedicated parking lot. So you will have to find a spot close by the trailhead.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the Ponta do Pargo hiking trail is 10 kilometers for the round trip. It will take you anywhere between 3 to 4 hours to complete. But as said above, you can perfectly combine it with a visit to the Garganta Funda waterfall which is only an extra 2 kilometers extra at the end.
Difficulty and incline: The Levada Ponta do Pargo is not difficult and has about 500 meters of incline for the circular route. But that was including the detour of Garganta Funda waterfall. You can also drive to the parking of the waterfall if your legs are tired after the levada walk.
Levada dos Tornos
This 13 kilometre point to point route leads you through the beautiful lush valley of Boaventura with a varied scenery along the way. Levada dos Tornos is one of the beautiful and diverse hikes in Madeira that goes through the UNESCO Laurissilva Forest. Along the way you’ll see a great mixture of several waterfalls and viewpoints. The trail is moderate because of its length but not dangerous by any means. There are a few uneven surfaces and huge drop offs, so you will have to be careful on these parts. The waterfalls you will see along Levada dos Tornos are maybe not the biggest, but they are definitely worth a stop and picture. Keep in mind that after rainy days the waterfalls in Madeira are much bigger than in the summer season. Some of them might have even dried up!
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Levada dos Tornos key facts
Starting point Levada dos Tornos: This part of Levada dos Tornos with the most waterfalls is located in the valley of Boaventura. From Funchal it will take you about 45 minutes to get there. The trailhead can be found at the end of the road in the valley of Boaventura. Here you can park your car on the side of the road and you will see Levada dos Tornos signposted.
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of this point to point trail is 13 kilometers and will take you about 4 hours to complete.
Difficulty and incline: The Levada dos Tornos is moderately difficult with some uneven surfaces beside the levada with big drop-offs. There is a railing at most of the parts, but you should always be careful on the narrow paths.
Levada do Castelejo
Levada do Castelejo is a beautiful levada walk that begins in a small village near Porto da Cruz. This 20 kilometre round trip takes you along the varied landscapes of Madeira. From agricultural fields with amazing views on the Penha d’Águia rock and the highest peaks of Madeira, into the forest and back along a fun cliffside path. Or at least, that’s the route that we took back to the car and the start of the trail. It is one of the surprising hikes in Madeira with beautiful views, a fun hanging bridge to cross the river and a wonderful immersion into the local life of North Madeira.
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Read more about Levada do Castelejo in our complete guide
Levada do Castelejo key facts
Before setting off to Levada do Castelejo, below some key facts!
Hike distance and duration: The total out and back trail is about 20 kilometres and will take you anywhere between 3 to 5 hours to complete. At the hanging bridge is a peaceful place to relax. Here you can enjoy your lunch and recharge for the route back to Porto da Cruz. Keep in mind that with the route we did, you still have to do quite some decline and incline again on the way back.
Hike difficulty and incline: Levada do Castelejo isn’t the easiest levada walk but also not the most challenging. There is some incline along the way that actually only begins in the second and last part of the walk. After you’ve crossed the bridge, there is some elevation in the forest. But also the last part through a local village has some incline. I wouldn’t advise this levada walk to people that have little experience hiking. 20 kilometres is a long hike. Combined with the incline and especially tough last part up and down, you really need your energy until the end!
Cascada Água D’alto waterfall hike
This short levada walk leads you to a beautiful waterfall called Agua d’Alto. Located in a canyon in Faial, this 150 meters tall waterfall is perfectly tucked away surrounded by lush greens. With only 10 minutes of walking, you can’t really count this as a big hike in Madeira. But, if you love a little walk ‘off the beaten path’ towards a waterfall, then this short walk on a wild levada path is something for you!
Read everything about Agua d’Alto waterfall in our complete guide
Agua d’Alto is one of the shortest waterfall hikes in Madeira
Cascada Água D’alto waterfall hike key facts
Starting point Cascada Água D’alto waterfall hike: The Agua d’Alto waterfall is located in Faial, in the north of Madeira and is about a 40 minute drive from Funchal. Take the road up which is opposite of the CAM do Lombo Galego 1A bus stop. You can choose to park you car somewhere closely to this road, or drive all the way up to the parking lot from where the levada starts. Make sure to drive carefully up and down this steep road!
Hike distance and time: It’s only 1,5 kilometre one way, so the total distance is 3 kilometres out and back which will only take you a 20 minutes of hiking. But depending on the time you spend at the waterfall, I would at least count an hour in total for Água D’alto waterfall.
Hike difficulty and incline: With no incline and an easy to follow levada path this hike is pretty simple and doable by every age. Only thing to keep in mind is that the levada path can be a bit overgrown, so keep an eye on where you put your feet.
Vereda Encumeada to Pico Ruivo
Vereda Encumeada is a bit more of a demanding hike traversing the beautiful mountain ridge of Madeira Island to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of Madeira island. But it’s absolutely worth it if you’re fit enough. You will see extremely beautiful landscapes as you cross two types of ecosystems. The Central Mountain Massif and the Laurisilva Forest.
During this amazing hike you can admire some of the most impressive valleys that Madeira has to offer. Curral das Freiras, Serra D’Água valley to the south and São Vicente valley to the north. The total distance is 11.2 kilometres one way and takes around 6 to 8 hours to complete if you hike back to Encumeada. You can also arrange someone to pick you up at Achada do Teixeira which is the easiest route to Pico Ruivo. In that case it’s only 30 minutes hiking from Pico Ruivo instead of 3 hours hiking back to Encumeada.
Vereda Encumeada hike key facts
Starting point Vereda Encumeada hike: The hike begins directly from the Encumeada Viewpoint (Miradouro da Encumeada) where you will find a little souvenir and coffee shop.
Hike distance and time: The out and back distance of this hike is 21 kilometres to
Hike difficulty and incline: As said before, the Encumeada hike to Pico Ruivo is a tough hike with more than 1800 meters of incline. One way it’s 11 kilometres to get to Pico Ruivo. But from there, you have to make the choice to return to Encumeada which adds another 11 kilometres. Another option is to hike further to Achada do Teixeira and have a pick up there. The terrain is a mixture of stairs, grass and gravel paths. So nothing too difficult or dangerous.
Penha de Águia hike
The Penha de Águia hike is a pretty brutal 400 meter uphill climb to the top of this impressive rock in Porto da Cruz. The trail is a combination of rocky terrain and uneven surfaces with epic coastal views. Although the path can be a bit overgrown, it is well signposted along the way. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you will see stunning views towards the east. On a clear day you can see all the way to Ponta de São Lourenço. If you’re a sunrise lover, then head out on this trail to catch the sunrise on top. But be prepared for the steep climb.
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Penha de Águia hike key facts
Starting point Penha de Águia hike: The hike starts at Katrepa’s Bar in Porto da Cruz along a levada and through a banana plantation. But after a few hundred meters you will see a wooden sign pointing you up the dirt path towards the summit of Penha de Águia.
Hike distance and time: The total circular route of Penha de Águia is 8 kilometres and will take you anywhere between 3 to 4 hours.
Hike difficulty and incline: Considering how steep the trail is with 400 meters of brutal incline and some rocky uneven parts, I would suggest this hike only to the experienced ones.
Vereda do Pesqueiro hike
This fun coastal loop trail in Ponta do Pargo brings you to a very remote beach on Madeira’s west coast. Vereda do Pesqueiro is a unique Madeira trail because it’s carved out of the side of the cliff. The hike is physically challenging with 450 meters of incline. So be prepared to feel your legs burning! It’s highly recommended to only do this hike in the morning or later afternoon before sunset. Otherwise it will be too hot and you will be exposed to the sun continuously during this hike. Vereda do Pesqueiro is a 6 kilometres loop trail that starts and finishes at Miradouro do Fio.
At the viewpoint you can park your car and have a drink or meal. The restaurant located at Miradouro do Fio is called O’Fio restaurant. It has great local food and is a perfect place for a drink or meal after the hike. This was one of our favorite restaurants in Madeira because of the amazing view and great local food.
Vereda do Pesqueiro hike key facts
Starting point Vereda do Pesqueiro hike: Miradouro do Fio at Restaurants O’Fio.
Hike distance and time: 6 kilometres loop trail which will take you anywhere between 2 to 3 hours depending the time you spend on the remote beach.
Hike difficulty and incline: Vereda do Pesqueiro is very steep hike down and up the cliff on both sides of the loop trail. That’s why this is a moderately difficult Madeira trail as the brutal incline is 450 meters over 1,5 kilometres. On the beach you have to walk over big boulders that can waggle a bit. So some good coordination is necessary here. Some parts of the trail have loose gravel and drop-offs. But there is usually a very wide path with railing or one side of the cliff wall for safety.
What to pack: Wear sturdy hiking boots and carry at least 1,5 litre of water per person. It can get hot along the coast and you really want to hydrate enough along the trail. If you want to go swimming at the beautiful remote beach, then bring a swimsuit and towel. Wear sunscreen and bring some dried fruits and nuts for extra energy along the trail.
Achadas da Cruz hike
The Achadas da Cruz hike is a fun hike on the west coast of Madeira Island. You can first take the cable car down along a huge cliff to the traditional village of Fajá da Quebrada Nova. This small parish was once home to a few hundred inhabitants who lived there with their livestock and agriculture. But nowadays the small, traditional homes are unoccupied making Achadas da Cruz a unique and unusual place to explore. You can take the cable car up and down to the village. But for the adventurous people, there is a small hiking trail that was used by the inhabitants of Achadas da Cruz. This 2 kilometre zig-zag cliff path is very steep, but great to do for the fit ones. The trail can be found on Maps.me but it was pretty clear how the path goes.
Fajã da Nogueira loop hike
Tucked away deep into Parque Natural do Ribeiro Frio you can find this beautiful but short hiking trail. It goes through the forest and along a beautiful waterfall that pours out of the mountain and follows the river around. It is a short but sweet hike and the waterfall is a great stop for a lunch break or photo stop. The trail begins and ends at the electricity plant station of Fajã da Nogueira in the center of the island.
Difference between Madeira levadas and vereda
When researching the best Madeira hiking trails, you will regularly see the Madeira walks referred to as ‘Levada’ or ‘Vereda’. Maybe you have already heard about the levadas in Madeira which cover more than 2500 kilometre of Madeira walking trails. But you may wonder, what is the difference between Levadas and Veredas? Well, levadas are nature trails that follow the water channels (known as levadas) that transport water from the rainy areas of the island to the drier regions. The levada walks are mostly flat and easy hiking trails in Madeira. Veredas on the other hand are pathways that vary between mountain trails, forests and coastline and can include some incline.
A levada follows a water way known as levada. A vereda is a pathway that varies between mountain, forest and coastline trails
Precautions for levada walks and hiking in Madeira
For a safe hiking experience in Madeira it is important to take the following safety precautions. There have been accidents in Madeira on levada walks and in the mountains in the past. This doesn’t directly make hiking in Madeira dangerous. But, you do always have to keep in mind that the weather in Madeira can change suddenly. Or that landslides take place, branches can fall or paths can be slippery. In case of any emergency you can call 112.
Below some of our tips for a safe Madeira hiking experience
- Wear suitable clothes, always bring an extra jacket and put your hiking boots / shoes on with good grip. “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” is a meaningful hiking quote that makes a lot of sense when you’re out in nature.
- Take enough water and some snacks with you such as nuts, (dried) fruits etc.
- Always bring a headlamp on your hikes in Madeira because some of them include walking through a tunnel.
- Take a whistle with you in case you get lost or slip from the path.
- Book a qualified guide when you want to be sure on your first levada walk. Most of the levada walks are flat and well signposted, especially the well known levada’s in Madeira. You can find a detailed description in our blog about the 20 best levada’s in Madeira. But if you book a qualified guide when walking in Madeira, you will also learn more about the nature.
- When hiking alone on Madeira, prepare yourself and collect all the updated information about the trail you plan to follow. Are the trails open? No landslides? On the website of Visit Madeira you can find the up to date info of the walks which are open and closed.
- Calculate the time you’ll need to finish the hike so you’ll be back before dark.
- Inform the hotel or accommodation you are staying which walk you are going to do.
- Do not go off the designated path.
Best time for hiking in Madeira
While Madeira is a perfect year round destination to visit, some months are better for outdoor activities than others. The summer months from June until August can get really warm during the day, talking about 30 degrees plus. Not the ideal circumstances for long hikes without natural shade. Autumn is a great period for hiking in Madeira. The air is cool and you can see the trees turn orange, red and yellow in the forest.
The winter months from November until February have more rainy days, and in the mountains snowfall is then even possible! This makes the winter months the less attractive months for hiking in Madeira. However, if you come right after the winter months, so in February, March or April, you can expect the waterfalls in Madeira in full glory.
The spring months, from March until May, not only have some of the best temperatures to do outdoor activities, but it is also the season to see all the flowers in bloom. And if you love to do a whale watching tour, then the spring months are also some of the best moments to come to Madeira.
Overall you can have a great time in Madeira at any time of the year. If you come in the summer months, make sure to plan your outdoor activities such as hiking, early in the morning. In the winter months you should always check the weather forecast before going up in the mountains. This to avoid ending up in a snow storm or heavy rain while hiking.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the best hikes in Madeira.
For more information about Madeira, head over to our other travel blogs.
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