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 a surprising levada walk with beautiful views, a fun hanging bridge to cross the river and a wonderful immersion into the local life of North Madeira. Read here everything about the Levada do Castelejo. 

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. 

The fun hanging bridge of Levada do Castelejo and below a picnic spot

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!

How to get to Levada do Castelejo

Levada do 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. 

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Best time to do the Levada do Castelejo

Because there is lots of shade along the Levada do Castelejo, you can do this walk on any time of the day. However, I always advice to start hiking in Madeira after breakfast, pack lunch and have a stop along the trail. Then you’ll have most chance of finishing the levada walk around noon so you’re not walking on the hottest part of the day. 

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What to expect at Levada do Castelejo

Just as with every levada walk in Madeira, you should only go out when the weather is calm and it hasn’t been raining in the days before. Especially in the Porto da Cruz area which is prone to landslides. When we did Levada do Castelejo there was still a landslide on the levada path, but we could safely cross it. Always check the weather forecast or ask a local guide to go with you. 

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If I must divide the Levada do Castelejo in 4 parts of 5 kilometres and explain how they are it would look as following. The first part until the hanging bridge which is about 5 kilometres is a quite easy and flat cliffside path with wonderful views. At the beginning you walk along rural homes, farmlands and you can see the iconic Penha D’Águia rock of Porto da Cruz. The views across the valley towards the ocean are wonderful. Especially on a clear sunny day! 

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After the levada path bends to the left, you will see an incredible view on the highest peaks of Madeira across the green valley. There is even a waterfall visible which makes it a picture perfect moment. When we did the Levada do Castelejo there was still some snow high up in the mountains of Madeira. So we were treated with these unique views of Madeira’s snow-capped peaks. 

Hanging bridge of Levada do Castelejo

The trail continues deeper into the valley along the cliffside path until you reach the hanging bridge. You will see the signs making it clear you need to cross some boulders to reach the next path. After this you will see the hanging bridge of Levada do Castelejo. Here you can relax at a picnic table and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. There is a small lake in the river which is formed by the pure and crystalline water from the mountains.  

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The trail then dives deeper into the forest with some incline. You basically go up a bit and then descend again. So from this part it gets a bit heavier, but nothing too strenuous. 

But not for too long until you reach the end of this forest trail. You will then get back to the village along some rural farmland shacks with views on the imposing Penha D’Águia rock. From this point you have to follow the signs of São Roque do Faial to get back to the trailhead. I also suggest using the maps.me app which perfectly shows the walking paths. 

Back to the trailhead of Levada do Castelejo

There are a few options to get back to your car at the trailhead of Levada do Castelejo. The easiest and fastest way would be with a taxi. But although the last kilometres are up and down through the local villages, it is definitely worth to experience this. The last part is a mix between a levada path and concrete stairs. First you descend into the valley, which means you have to work your way up again along the road to get back to your car. That’s the reason I mentioned in the beginning that you have to keep some energy for the last part of this levada walk! 

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When you descend down into the valley, you will come along a narrow cliffside path. There is a rope attached to the cliff so you can grab it while walking along this narrow trail. There are other options to get back to your car from Levada do Castelejo, but that’s up to you! We didn’t want to walk on the road which is why we had a look on Maps.me for an alternative walking route.

The final meters back to where you parked the car is some incline again. You will sleep like a baby after this fun adventure of Levada do Castelejo!

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.

Happy hiking!!

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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. 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. You can choose from many different levadas in Madeira which are all worth to explore!

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