The Vereda do Larano hike along the east side of Madeira turned out the be our favourite coastal hike on the island. 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. This is 13 kilometre one way with the 5 kilometre Vereda do Larano trail as highlight. The other 5 kilometres along the Levada do Caniçal is reported being quite boring. So to skip this part you can choose to only hike along the Vereda do Larano out and back starting from Larano in Porto da Cruz. Read in this blogpost everything you need to know about the Vereda do Larano hike and the different ways to do this coastal hike.
Vereda do Larano hike key facts
Before setting off to the Vereda do Larano, below some key facts! Take into account that you can do different variations of this hike, which is officially a 13 kilometre point to point hike. This means you either have to hike the same way back to the car, adding an extra 13 kilometres, OR you order a taxi to bring you back to your car in Machico. However what we did was shorten the hike and start in Larano, Porto da Cruz at the cable car. From there we walked towards Boca do Risco viewpoint and then back to this parking. This part of the hike is only about 5 kilometres and the most beautiful part of the trail along the coast. After exploring Boca do Risco you can hike the same 5 kilometres back to your car, but with different views as you came!
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. From Machico, Levada do Caniçal to Vereda do Larano with Porto da Cruz as finish it will take you about 4-5 hours one way. If you take a taxi in Porto da Cruz back to Machico it will cost you about 10 euros. Of course you can also hike back to Machico, but this will add another 13 kilometres and about 4 hours. So what we did instead, was starting in Larano, at the Cabo de Larano viewpoint, Google Maps coordinates Q56X+5R Machico, Portugal.
With this we skipped the ‘boring’ levada part and walking on the road towards Porto da Cruz. 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.
If you don’t want to figure out the logistics of this walk by yourself and not want to risk to get lost, then book your private guided Vereda do Larano walk here including pick up and drop off.
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. What you always should be careful about are landslides. They happen quite often in Madeira, especially after heavy rain. Which is what we experienced when doing this hike after days of rain. We came across two different piles of soil and rocks that has been falling down along the mountain with rain. This is not to scare you at all, just to make you aware of natures power and to always keep your eyes and ears out during hiking.
How to get to the Vereda do Larano hike
This totally depends from which side you want to start hiking the Vereda do Larano trail. As said in the introduction, you can choose to do the whole hike starting in Machico. This will take you along the Levada do Caniçal to Vereda do Larano with Porto da Cruz as finish point. A total of 13 kilometres one way, so you either have to hike 13 kilometres back to your car in Machico, or call a taxi to bring you back.
However what we did was starting at Cabo de Larano viewpoint (Google coordinates Q56X+5R Machico, Portugal). 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. Below a screenshot of the exact place you need to go to start your hike at Larano. The arrow is where we had parked the car and where the trail of Vereda do Larano starts.
Best time to do the Vereda do Larano hike
Located on the north eastern part of the island, Vereda do Larano is a perfect hike for the mornings. Depart as early as you can and enjoy the first sunlight of the day along this trail. The later you’ll start this hike, the more you’ll be walking in the shade. For very hot summer days maybe better, but personally we always prefer to hike in the morning. Take into account that after heavy rainfall the waterfalls along this hike might overflow the path a bit.
What to expect during the Vereda do Larano hike
As mentioned earlier in this post, you can start this trail from two different sides. From the tunnel in Machico where you follow the Levada do Caniçal to Boca do Risco viewpoint, and then join the coastal trail towards Porto da Cruz. Or start in Porto da Cruz, Larano, and join directly on the best part of the Vereda do Larano along the coast. Which is what we did in the early morning light.
From the road near the cable car in Larano you join from a wide dirt path onto the narrower coastal trail. If you’re lucky the highest peaks of Madeira are visible in the back which was the case when we did this hike. It was incredible to see Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo clearly from this distance. Check out the photos below.
Incredible coastal views on the Vereda do Larano
The trail follows along the coast with incredible views on the rocky cliffs. On a clear morning you can look all the way towards the rocky outcrops of Ponta da São Lourenço. This is one of the reasons why we recommend to do the Vereda do Larano hike from Porto da Cruz to Boca do Risco. In combination with the soft morning light this creates amazing photo opportunities!
The trail of Vereda do Larano varies during the hike from dense forest to an exposed cliff edge trail. Despite a few sections along the trail miss a safety railing, the path felt safe for us all the way along the hike.
The Vereda do Larano waterfalls
At two points during the hike you need to cross a waterfall stream which can feel quite adventurous. When we did the Vereda do Larano hike after a few days of rain the waterfalls were a bit wilder than normal. That resulted in an overflown pool and quite strong stream of water. It was a fun extra challenge on this hike! And although there wasn’t much risk involved, we are always very careful when crossing water with our backpacks full of gear.
Vereda do Larano viewpoints along the trail
After about 3 kilometres into the hike (from Larano cable car), you’ll arrive at the first ‘unofficial’ viewpoint. Of course there are views all the way along this hike, but at this point we were both blown away by the incredible coastal views. Here we stopped for some time to capture the fantastic coastline and take in the views. Have a look at the photos below we took here.
The textures on these mountains made us think about pictures we had seen from the Napali coast in Hawaii. So we tried to kind of recreate close ups of the several lines in the mountains with our drone and 100 – 400 mm zoom lens. Below a selection of the best minimalistic landscape photos we took along the Vereda do Larano.
Vegetation along the Vereda do Larano trail
After this open part on the hike you’ll dive back into the dense forest with little surprises along the way. There are many different wildflowers and vegetations on the rock wall and if you keep your eyes out you’ll even see this little floating garden! Many people will just walk by, but how beautiful is this little floating garden hidden along the trail?
Boca do Risco viewpoint
When you enter Boca do Risco you will see a beautiful rocky platform where you can sit down and take in the stunning views. This is where we had our breakfast and lunch in one! It’s a perfect spot to recharge and eat some food you brought here. We took our time to look around, find different photo angles and of course we flew the drone! Below some of the pictures we took at Boca do Risco. As you can see on one of the drone pictures you can look all the way towards the most eastern tail of the island, Ponta da São Lourenço.
Returning to Porto da Cruz from Boca do Risco
After exploring at Boca do Risco it’s time to head back to Larano, Porto da Cruz, where the car is parked. Of course you can also walk further onto the Levada do Caniçal and through the old tunnel that connects Machico. But if you walk back towards Porto da Cruz you can expect different views than on the way to Boca do Risco. And that’s what I like the most about this hike. Despite you do it as an out and back hike from Larano to Boca do Risco, you’ll have different views on both ways! When we arrived back in Porto da Cruz the clouds came in and covered a part of the village. It were wonderful sights to see the clouds slowly hug the mountains. Below some photos we took of Porto da Cruz after we finished the Vereda do Larano 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. Book your guided Vereda do Larano walk here
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best Madeira island tours
If you want to explore the best of Madeira with a guide then here some great tours I recommend. During these tours you will pass by some of the best viewpoints which I share in this complete guide. All of these tours include transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes the entrance fees if applicable. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Customized 6 hour Madeira tour. On this six-hour tour you can choose the different areas you want to visit on Madeira island. Pick the landmarks and iconic places to make your own itinerary with the help of your local guide/driver.
- West Madeira private tour. Starting in the fishing town of Câmara de Lobos you will drive via Cabo Girao, the highest cape in Europe, to the beautiful view of Serra d’Agua valley. From there you will head to São Vicente to explore the Laurisilva forest. Continuing north, you will visit Porto Moniz, known for its natural lava pools where you can swim. As last stop you will visit the famous rocks at Ribeira da Janela.
- East Madeira tour. Visit Pico do Arieiro viewpoint, make pictures at the Santana houses and the beautiful viewpoints at Porto da Cruz to finish the day at the impressive volcanic landscape of Ponta de São Lourenço.
- Canyoning adventure with transfer from Funchal. Get the thrill of canyoneering and explore Madeira’s untouched nature. follow a river as you walk, rappel, slide and jump through hidden waterfalls with streams that cross endemic forests. A super fun and adventurous day!
- Ponta de São Lourenço hike with pick up in Funchal. Explore the most eastern tail of Madeira island with its unique volcanic rock formations to understand how the island was created.
- Funchal 48-hour hop-on hop off bus tour. Explore the lush landscape of Madeira and the sights of Funchal at your own pace with a 2 or 5 day ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus.
- Tuk-Tuk tour to Monte Tropical Garden with Toboggan ride from Funchal. Explore Funchal Old Town with a Tuk Tuk before making your way to the mountains to the stunning Monte Tropical Garden. There you will explore over 70,000 square meters of exotic plants. At the end of the tour you will enjoy the thrilling ride down the hill with a Toboggan ride.
- Funchal Old Town walking tour. Learn about the history of Funchal and Madeira on a guided walk through the city’s medieval center. Visit the farmer’s market, the Campo Almirante Reis. The Fortress of St. James, and a number of other sites as your guide provides commentary.
- Dolphin & Whale watching Luxury Catamaran Cruise from Funchal. Enjoy the views of Funchal from a luxury catamaran. Look out for whales and dolphins in their natural habitat as your relax on board and explore the underwater world with a snorkel.
- Scuba diving Madeira. Explore the underwater world of Madeira island. A theory lesson and practice in swimming pool is included. This before you will dive about 12 meters for 45 meters in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Sunset tour from Funchal by Catamaran. Watch the sunset off the coast of Madeira on a 3-hour evening catamaran cruise from Funchal and spot dolphins (guaranteed, or you get a 2nd trip for free).
General travel must haves for Madeira
Have you thought about how to get around in Madeira? A car is the easiest way to drive around the island.
- Book your rental car here and compare the providers to get the best deal.
- Book your scooter or motorbike here to get around in Madeira. Most of the scooters you can drive with driving license (A1/A2/A) from 18 years old, or from 25 years old with a car (B) license. The motorbikes have a minimum age of 20 or 21 with A (moto) license.
Do you prefer a private driver for the day and the freedom to create your own itinerary?
Did you already book your accommodation?
- 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.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this full guide about the Vereda do Larano coastal hike.
For more Madeira travel inspiration and the must visit destinations, head over to our other blog posts about Madeira island.