Madeira Top 5 Hikes

  • 7 days
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Solo
  • Couple
  • Friends
  • Faune and flora
  • Adventure / Sports & Leisure
  • Medium

Madeira's subtropical climate has favoured the development of the island's natural biodiversity. Its lush vegetation and brightly coloured flowers dazzle the hiker. Madeira's unique landscape rich with its famous levadas that wind their way down to the lush green valleys offers hikers an unforgettable experience in the heart of the primeval forest, a preserved treasure listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its fauna and flora offer many endemisms that it is pleasant to find at the foot of the levadas, under its trees and tree ferns, in its flowery valleys. Its volcanic origins have shaped its jagged cliffs and dizzying mountains that offer equally fascinating landscapes. Here is a panorama of the most beautiful hikes on the island:

Photo gallery

Funchal Botanical Garden. Church Santa Maria Maior. The ocean seen from the village of Jardim do Mar, west of Madeira. View of Porto Moniz and its natural pools. View of Arco de São Jorge. On the streets of Funchal.

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  • Funchal
  • Ponta do Sol
  • Prazeres
  • Porto Moniz
  • São Jorge
  • Santana
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Details of the stay: Madeira Top 5 Hikes - 7 days

Day 1 : Piornais, between town and valley

Route: this is a small walk between town and nature, ideal for those who want to get some fresh air without leaving Funchal. As is often the case in Madeira, the path is clear: all you have to do is go up the Levada current. The first part of the path takes place behind a residential area, giving the walker a glimpse of the flowered gardens, the new city a little further away and the ocean in the background.

Departure: from Funchal, take bus no. 24 on Avenida do Mar, in front of the São Lourenço Palace. After 10 minutes of travel, ask the driver to let you get off at "Bairro de Ajuda". Then walk to the overhanging buildings: the levada dos Piornais passes just above. You can also take bus no. 45 (or no. 8) to Estádio dos Barreiros (Barreiros Stadium). The hike begins just above, at the crossroads of the levada and the road to Nazaré.

Back: if you don't want to go the other way all the way back: after turning around, take the road again and go under the bridge again. After 5 minutes along the levada, you will cross a road in a curve. Bus number 24 returns to Funchal.

Distance-Duration: about 7 km one way, 2 hours.

Day 2 : In the heights of Ponta do Sol

Departure: from Funchal, take the coastal road to the village of Punta do Sol, then head for the heights: Lombada da Ponta do Sol. Take the Solar dos Esmeraldos mansion as a drop-off point. The levada dos Moinho starts just behind the church next to it. From Funchal, the Rodoeste bus No. 142 (or bus No. 146) stops at Ponta do Sol - Lombada.

Return: the Nova levada brings you back to 150 m from your starting point.

Distance-Duration: about 10 km. 3 hours.

Route: the levada do Moinho used to supply the sugar mill of the Solar dos Esmerados manor near the church (moinho = mill), now a school. No time to think, the ride begins on the hats of wheels by throwing the walker at a beautiful altitude. The whole walk takes place on a small not very wide wall, and in some places the security barrier is missing. Vigilance and concentration are therefore required! The mountain rises on your right as the murmur of the Ribeira da Ponta do Sol river below rhythms the pace. Generous nature and vertiginous spaces are at the rendezvous. All along the way we can guess the levada Nova which runs a bit like a floor above the one you are surveying here. After 45 minutes of walking, you reach the source of Levada Nova and the noise of the water on the rock is the signal to take the stairs climbing on the right, to attack the second part of the path.

The high point of the walk is revealed here: after narrow zigzags on the mountainside, a waterfall appears, rolling its powerful waves in the middle of the path (even more in winter or after heavy rains)! If showering seems inevitable, damage will be limited by digging into the rock to skillfully cross the water obstacle. The second highlight of the walk is in the form of a 200 m tunnel: flashlight lit, we sink into the darkness of this mineral gut to find the daylight 5 minutes later.

Day 3 : Jardim do Mar: stairs overlooking the Ocean

For the more sporty, the walk from Jardim do Mar to Prazeres and then Paul do Mar is a good alternative in the western region of the island. The return to Jardim do Mar will take place along the beach, on pebbles. Beware of the tides!

Distance-duration: 7 km. 3:30 a. m.

Day 4 : The North Coast: in the river gorge

From Porto Moniz, take the ER 101 for 3 km towards Funchal, turn left towards "Levada Ribeira da Janela - Lamaceiros", then after 3.4 km drive, park near the Lamaceiros water tower. Bus numbers 80, 139 and 150.

Return: this levada hike is a round trip

Distance-Duration: about 25 km round trip. 5 to 8 hours

Route: this beautiful walk is easily accessible and follows the "Levada Central da Ribeira da Janela", one of the best maintained on the island. At several points along the route, there are tables for picnics and even a few bins! To begin, go up the levada that runs on the right of the huge water bottle of the Lamaceiros water tower. As soon as the first bend has passed, a magnificent panorama of the houses framed by the terraced crops of the valley is revealed to the walker, the ocean in the background! It's easy to find your way around: follow the levada that runs straight into the interior of the island and its dense vegetation, where hydrangeas and agapanthes rub shoulders with fruit trees and tree ferns...

Day 5 : From the Levada do Rei to the crystal clear waters of the Ribeiro Bonito

Departure: It is at the water Purification Plant of Quebradas, a place located near São Jorge, which begins the hiking of Levada do Rei. This superb hike in the northern part of the island follows the "king of the king", one of the most beautiful Levadas in Madeira. The Quebradas water reservoir, where hiking begins, caters for the water needs of the São Jorge region. Follow the sign "PR 18 - Levada do Rei" and engouffrez yourself in the lush vegetation of the humid primeval forest. Some éclaircies in the vegetation offer magnificent views over the cultures of São Jorge and the cultivated Santana lands. This course is famous for its biodiversity, where a variety of plant species are flourishing, consisting of endémismes and species established by man. Of course, there are the centuries-old laurels of the Laurel, where the finches of the trees and the orange crête roitelets are émoustillent. The road ends on the idyllic Ribeiro Bonito, the "beautiful river" with crystal clear waters and a gentle waterfall.

Day 6 : Visit of Funchal

Return to Funchal, rest and walk in the capital of the island

Day 7 : On the departure

Return journey. 

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