20 BEST LEVADA WALKS IN MADEIRA – The Ultimate Guide
Madeira is hiking paradise with its incredible and varied nature. There are so many amazing levada walks in Madeira, you can be busy for weeks! Besides the amazing Madeira levadas, there are also plenty of other hikes in Madeira for all sorts of levels. Most of the Madeira levadas are suitable for every age because they are flat and well maintained. But some of them are longer or with more incline than the other. In total there are about 2500 kilometre of levadas in Madeira that guide you through UNESCO Laurissilva forest and along some of the most amazing Madeira waterfalls and viewpoints. In this complete guide you will find the 20 best levadas in Madeira with all the information you need!
What is a levada
A levada is simply said a canal that transports water from the heart of the Laurissilva forest to the most rocky slopes. They are developed to distribute water from the wetter regions on the north of Madeira to the drier and sunnier areas of the south where lots of plantations are located. Some of the levadas in Madeira were created in the 15th century before the first roads on the island. That shows how important these little canals are and how far their history goes back. The levadas in Madeira cover a total distance of about 2500 kilometres.
Nowadays the levadas are also a great way to discover Madeira’s stunning nature. You will see beautiful landscapes and different species of flora and fauna along the way that are unique in the world. Levada walks are very popular in Madeira as they are very well maintained paths running along these water carriageways making it a calm and refreshing experience with scenic views.
20 BEST LEVADAS IN MADEIRA
After living for 7 months on Madeira Island we have explored most of the levada walks in Madeira. In this complete guide I summarise the 20 best levadas in Madeira, and most of them have a separate blog post with more detailed information about what to expect and more. If we must choose a top 3 of best levada walks in Madeira, it would look like this.
As you can see, Levada das 25 Fontes did not make it to our top 3, maybe because its one of the most popular Madeira levadas. We mostly prefer the more secret spots, so therefore I think Levada Castelejo is really underrated.
Levada do Caldeirão Verde PR 9
This amazing waterfall hike in Santana is a true adventure where you will pass tunnels, walk underneath waterfalls and be immersed in the Laurissilva forest of Madeira. The Caldeirão Verde levada walk is one of the more popular Madeira levadas. What makes this hike so unique are the many waterfalls you will see along the way and the beautiful lush green jungle surroundings. The total distance of this flat levada walk is 12 kilometres out and back which will take you anywhere between 4 to 5 hours to complete. 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! Be prepared with a rain jacket and headlamp because the weather can be very unpredictable here. You will pass one long tunnel where you’ll be happy to have a flashlight or headlamp with you.
Located in the mountains of Santana, the Caldeirão Verde levada begins in Queimadas Forest Park. From Funchal it will take you about 45 minutes to get to the parking lot of the Caldeirão Verde hike. But you can also choose to stay in the nearby Quinta do Furão hotel which is only 12 minutes away from the entrance. Once arrived at the parking lot you will see a gate, this means you’ll have to get a parking ticket from the machine and pay 1 euro parking per hour or 3 euros for the maximum stay. Before the trailhead of Levada do Caldeirao Verde starts, you’ll see a cafe with picnic area. Here you can grab a coffee or snack before or after the hike.
Vereda dos Balcões
This short but very beautiful hike is a great family activity. With only 3 kilometres out and back, the hike can be done by everybody. Although the name Vereda dos Balcoes doesn’t have the word levada involved, this Madeira walk does follow a levada for the first part. It guides you to some of the most amazing viewpoints in Madeira, especially with clear weather.
On this balcony you have views on the highest peaks of Madeira and the Ribeira da Metade valley, the island’s central mountain range. On your right side you can see all the way towards the ocean with the Penha D’Águia cliff as another landmark.
Fun thing is that you can feed the Madeiran chaffinch birds here which are very used to people. If you put some seeds in your hand palm and you have some patience, they will come and eat out of your hand.
Balcoes 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. The parking is well marked on Google Maps, so you can’t miss it!
Levada do Castelejo
Located in Porto da Cruz, Levada do Castelejo shows you varied sceneries along the way. It is actually one of our favorite levadas in Madeira. This 19 kilometres trail begins in the village Referta and guides you along farm land until you get on a cliffside path. Here you will have amazing views to Pico do Arieiro, Pico Ruivo and the other peaks on Madeira island. With a waterfall coming out of the cliff opposite in the valley, this is a spot you want to stop and take it all in for a moment. When we did this hike, there was still some snow on the highest peaks of Madeira. Truly a fascinating view! The trail follows alongside the river until you reach a bridge where the path crosses the river. From this point the flat levada walk changes into a steeper forest trail with some incline.
Read our complete guide about Levada Castelejo here
How to get to Levada do Castelejo
Levada Castelejo is located in Porto da Cruz on the north side of Madeira Island. It’s easy to find on Google Maps. And when you get closer to the start of the trail you will see Levada Castelejo signposted. You can park you car right at the start of the trailhead.
Levada das 25 Fontes PR 6
The 25 Fontes levada walk is one of the most popular levadas in Madeira. 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. Halfway the hike and at the end you’ll see some beautiful waterfalls. The two most impressive waterfalls (after rainfall) are Risco waterfall and the 25 fountains waterfall.
25 Fontes waterfall after heavy rain
This is the source of the levada which is where the name ’25 fountains’ comes from. The total distance of the Levada das 25 Fontes hike is 11 kilometers (4.6 kilometres one way) which will take you around 3 to 4 hours. Take notice of the intersection where a sign will point you towards the Risco waterfall hike which is only a few hundred meters extra detour. Totally worth it!
The parking of Levada das 25 Fontes hike is located in Rabaçal, a nature reserve in the southwest of the island. The main starting point of the hike is easy to reach with a huge parking lot. Because the Levada das 25 Fontes is one of the most popular levada walks in Madeira, you can expect the parking to be crowded, especially in high season and later in the morning.
Levada dos Cedros PR 14
The Levada dos Cedros hike is one of the beautiful levada walks Madeira. This stunning forest walk is flat and 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 hike for young and old and offers stunning viewpoints, jungle bridges and waterfalls along the way. The total distance of the hike out and back is about 12 kilometres. There are several points of interest along the way. So depending on the time you spend at the waterfalls, you can do the Levada dos Cedros hike in about 3 – 4 hours.
Levada dos Cedros is a beautiful jungle walk in Madeira
How to get to Levada dos Cedros
Located on the Paul da Serra plateau, the Levada dos Cedros trail begins at the Regional Highway E.R. 209 close to the well-known area of Fanal forest. You can park your car on the opposite of the trail head and explore Fanal Forest after you’ve finished the levada walk.
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 with only 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 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 along the way.
The starting point of the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova hike is in Ponta do Sol on the south coast of the island. The official address of the Levada do Moinho is 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.
Levada do Rei PR 18
Levada do Rei is one of the levadas on Madeira island that you don’t want to miss. This beautiful lush trail located in Santana in the north of Madeira 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. The trail ends in a beautiful gorge with waterfalls which is a perfect picnic spot.
Read everything about Levada do Rei in our complete guide
How to get to Levada do Rei
The startpoint of Levada do Rei is located in Santana, the northern part of Madeira. From Funchal, it takes about 55 minutes driving over a 50 kilometers distance. There is a cafe called ‘Quinta Levada do Rei’ at the trailhead where you can park, have a coffee or lunch and go to the toilet before or after the hike.
Bica da Cana Pinaculo hike PR17
This short but sweet hike is a great family activity. The Bica da Cana hike was definitely one of our favourite hikes on Madeira island. The PR 17 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. After heavy rain you will most likely need a rain jacket… When you reach the end of the footpath at the Pináculo, you’ll have an outstanding view of the Ribeira Brava Valley.
A great thing to do before this short hike is to watch the sunrise from Bica da Cana viewpoint. This incredible sunrise viewpoint on Madeira can give you spectacular views. Especially with low hanging clouds and with the highest peaks of Madeira in the background.
The parking lot of Bica da Cana is at the some spot as for the Bica da Cana viewpoint. It is a small parking, so if it’s full, you can check out the abandoned house a bit further up. Right at the start you will see the map of the hike on a board. It’s a pretty easy to follow hiking route, but if you want to be sure to follow the right directions during hiking in Madeira, I recommend you to download the (payed) app of WalkmeGuide Madeira. In this app you can find all the best Madeira hiking trails offline so you always have a reliable navigation!
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 hike is a beautiful and diverse levada walk 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!
How to get to Levada dos Tornos
Levada dos Tornos is a long levada that leads through a huge part of Madeira Island. But 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.
Levada Fajã do Rodrigues PR 16
Levada Fajã do Rodrigues is located in the northern part of the island in São Vicente. This lush jungle trail 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. 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. The total distance is 8 kilometres, so about 4 km each way. Because there is no incline during this hike you can maintain a quite fast walking pace. It can take you anywhere between 2 to 3 hours to complete this levada walk.
The Levada Faja do Rodrigues starts at Ginjas which is located in São Vicente on the northern part of the island. From Funchal it will take you about 35 minutes to get there and you’ll drive through the beautiful Ribeira Brava valley. 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.
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. The Levada do Alecrim hike is about 7 kilometres long out and back and a great little adventure for young and old. You can combine this hike with Lagoa do Vento which will take you to another beautiful Madeira waterfall. 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.
The starting point of Levada do Alecrim is at the same parking spot as where the popular Levada das 25 Fontes hike begins. Don’t get confused and follow the crowds down the paved road into the valley, because that is the trail towards 25 Fontes. The Levada do Alecrim hike starts on the right side of the parking lot sideways of the paved road. There it bends into a small trail which goes into the bushes. Fun thing to know is that the Levada do Alecrim actually goes above the Levada 25 Fontes, so at one point you can stand on top of the Risco waterfall with amazing views over the valley!
Levada do Paul
Levada do Paul is one of the flat and easy levadas in Madeira that’s doable for everyone. The out and back trail is 11 kilometres an offers stunning views on the Rabaçal valley below on a clear day. We went on a sunny day and could see all the way until the ocean. 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. Along the way there are not too many points of interest. But the lonely tree and views on the valley are stunning on itself.
First photo is the view on the Rabaçal valley. Second photo is the beautiful lonely tree along Levada do Paul
How to get to Levada do Paul
Located on the Paul da Serra plateau on 1400 meters above sea level, the Levada do Paul walk offers spectacular views. The parking is easy to find on Google Maps but a bit odd because it’s right next to the road.
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.
How to get to Levada Ponta do Pargo
Being located on the western tip of the island, 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. As said above, you can perfectly combine the Levada Ponta do Pargo with a visit to the Garganta Funda waterfall which is close by.
Lagoa do Vento hike PR 6.3
The Lagoa do Vento hike is a beautiful short Levada hikes in Madeira that guide you to 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. 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 because it’s located in one of the most popular hiking areas of Madeira Island. It will take you about 2-3 hours in total to finish the Lagoa do Vento hike depending on your speed and the total time of breaks.
Located in the popular Rabaçal area, the start of the Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike is shared with some other popular Madeira levada walks. Therefore 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.
The Lagoa do Vento trail starts at the same parking lot as the popular levada walks 25 Fontes and Alecrim. But to find the trail of Lagoa do Vento you should not follow the main driveway. You only have to walk a little further to the lower end of the parking lot. There is a small trail on the right that veers into the bushes.
Cascata Agua D’Alto
The hike to Agua d’Alto waterfall is one of the most shortest Madeira levada walks. But it takes you to one of the beautiful waterfalls in Madeira! So if you’re in Faial and you have 30 minutes time, you should definitely check out this Madeira waterfall. In only ten minutes you are immersed in nature at the bottom of the 150 meters high Agua d’Alto waterfall. The levada path was a bit overgrown when we did this walk. But maybe its already maintained.
The Agua d’Alto waterfall is located in Faial, in the north of Madeira island. It is about a 40 minute drive from Funchal. The road you need to take up 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!
Levada do Furado
Levada do Furado is one of the oldest levadas in Madeira. The trail begins on the opposite of Vereda dos Balcoes in Ribeiro Frio at an elevation of 860 metres. Along this hike you will have beautiful views on the Ribeiro Frio valley. But also on the farm fields of Faial, São Roque do Faial and Porto da Cruz. It is a point to point levada walk to the viewpoint of Portela which means you either have to take a taxi back to your car or hike the same way back. In total it will take you about 4-5 hours one way. Bring a headlamp for the tunnel crossing and enough water for along the way!
How to get to Levada do Furado
The trailhead of Levada do Furado is located in the Ribeiro Frio forest park. From the main town of the island, Funchal, it is about 50 – 60 minutes driving. There are plenty of parking spots around and cafes and restaurants for a coffee and snack.
Lagos da Madeira
Another great Madeira hike is the Lagos da Madeira in Rabaçal which is a circular hiking route that you can easily combine with the Lagoa do Vento and Levada do Alecrim. If you choose to combine Lagos da Madeira together with the other 2 Madeira walks, it will still be less than 15 kilometres in total. You will see the several lakes such as Lagoa Dona Beja and then track your way along the Ribeira do Lajeado. The final point of interest during this hike is the massive man made reservoir.
How to get to Lagos da Madeira
The starting point of Lagos da Madeira is at the same parking spot as where the popular Levada das 25 Fontes hike begins. But also Levada do Alecrim has its trailhead here. Don’t get confused and follow the crowds down the paved road into the valley, because that is the trail towards 25 Fontes. The Lagos da Madeira hike starts on the right side of the parking lot sideways of the paved road. There it bends into a small trail which goes into the bushes. Fun thing to know is that the Lagos da Madeira hike actually goes above the Levada 25 Fontes. So at one point you can stand on top of the Risco waterfall with amazing views over the valley!
Levada do Norte
The Serra d’Agua valley is mostly overlooked as Madeira hiking destination. But tucked away in this valley are some beautiful hidden levada walks to explore. Levada do Norte is one of them, which is also one of the longest levadas in Madeira. Being 75 kilometres long, it’s impossible to finish this complete Madeira levada walk in one day. Therefore you can choose to do different shorter parts. For example the one in Serra d’Agua valley. The views along this part of Levada do Norte are incredible with the towering mountains on both sides and views down the valley of Serra d’Agua.
How to get to Levada do Norte
If you want to do the Levada do Norte walk in Serra d’Agua you can park your car at Snack Bar Boca Da Encumeada if you buy something from the restaurant. At this spot more Madeira hiking trails have their start point. The other Levada do Norte walk has its starting point in Camara de Lobos which is pointed on Google Maps.
Levada da Serra do Faial
This is one of the easier levadas in Madeira. This levada walk is partly a forest trail and also guides you along the Levada da Serra do Faial. If you want to get away from the busier Levadas in Madeira, then this is your pick. Levada da Serra do Faial is also perfect to do on a foggy day in the hills. Because then the forest will have a magical feel, almost Fanal Forest like vibes. The complete levada trail is easy with three kilometres on the paved road and the other seven along a dirt path through the forest and along the levada. Make sure to check your map regularly as there are quite some turns to take throughout the levada walk.
How to get to Levada Serra do Faial
The start point of Levada Serra do Faial is a bit of an interesting spot as you basically start at a roundabout. The nearby cafe is a great spot to park your car and to have a coffee before or lunch before / after the levada walk. The first 2-kilometers of the levada is on the road and you finish the last kilometer also on the road.
Levada dos Cardais
Located in the valley of São Vicente, the Levada dos Cardais, also known as Levada Nova, starts on Terra do Galo / Barros. It follows along the valley of São Vicente and ends between Lameiros and Cardais. Along the 9.6 kilometre one way trail you can admire the amazing landscapes of the São Vicente valley. The views reach all the way to Porto Moniz, Ribeira da Janela and Seixal on a clear day. Along this levada walk there is a connection to Grutas de São Vicente, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Fátima and the museum Rota da Cal. These are all interesting points to have a stop, especially if you want to learn more about the geological origin of Madeira island.
Nossa Senhora de Fatima Chapel in São Vicente valley
How to get to Levada dos Cardais
The starting point of Levada dos Cardais is located next to the regional road VE4. Here you can park the car and start the hike.
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, which 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.
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 easy, 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 prefer a qualified guide next to you when walking in Madeira, you will not only learn more about the nature but you will also be 100% safe and don’t have to worry about navigating your way through the forest.
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.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about the best levadas in Madeira.
For more information about Madeira, head over to our other travel blogs.