13 Best Hikes in Madeira You Need To Do

So, you are looking for the best hikes in Madeira, well you’ve come to the right place. Trekking in Madeira is truly awe-inspiring. 

There are more than 3,000 kilometres of hiking trails just waiting to be explored. Find yourself wandering through the forest, along the coast, and up steep mountains. 

Pass by spectacular vistas, waterfalls, and landscapes that will convince you that you’re no longer in Portugal.

There are a plethora of Madeira hiking trails for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are searching for the best Levada walks in Madeira or some tougher sweat-inducing treks there’s something for you. 

Check out these 13 best hikes in Madeira for when you next visit the island.

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QUICK SUMMARY – BEST HIKES IN MADEIRA

best hikes in Madeira

Vereda do Areeiro (Pico Ruivo), PR1

hike pico de areeiro in Madeira

Let’s start with the very best hike in Madeira: the PR1. This hike is often referred to as the Pico Ruivo hike because it goes all the way to the top of the highest mountain of Madeira, Pico Ruivo.

But the reason why this hike is by far the best is that it’s incredibly scenic and allows you to discover many peaks.

You will be starting at the Pico do Areeiro which is the third highest peak in Madeira.

You can easily get there from Funchal by car. It takes about 40 minutes. 

PRO TIP: Try to get there early. There aren’t that many parking spots and it would be a shame to miss out on the hike because you can’t park your car.

From Pico do Areeiro, you will discover stunning views of the mountains. There are a couple of views points where you can take beautiful photos.

pico ruivo hike

On the left-hand side, you will see the start of the hiking path. You can take it and start your adventure.

The path is pretty well maintained however, it’s important to mention that it also includes some rocky parts, steep stairs and a few tunnels.

The scenery is incredibly stunning, breathtaking even, but it’s not an easy hike so you need to be prepared for that.

After 5.5 km walk, you will find a café (that’s actually where the alternative walk PR1.2 join the PR1). It’s a good spot to have a break and a hot drink.

After that, you only have 500 metres to go and you will be at the very top of Pico Ruivo. The views are absolutely stunning! It’s so worth the effort.

pico ruivo flowers

PRO TIPS: The weather on Madeira changes very quickly and very drastically. For this reason, you might experience all seasons during your hike. Make sure to wear good shoes and layers.

It’s also highly recommended to take a rain jacket in your backpack.

If you are walking in the clouds and don’t get to see anything for a while, make sure to keep pushing through (unless there is a storm and you think it’s not safe to do so).

The weather changes very quickly and it’s not because you start the walk in the clouds that you will finish it in the clouds.

Please note that while this is a challenging hike, it’s actually not that hard if you just do one way. What makes it hard is to walk all the way back.

If you don’t want to have to do that, you can opt for a guided tour which includes the transfer and the guided walk. You will start in Pico Arieiro but will go back down from Pico Ruivo the short way (via PR1.2) instead of walking all the way back.

It’s very interesting and less physically challenging.

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  • Distance: 6.1 km (+ 6.1 km return)
  • Duration: 3h (+3h return)
  • Elevation: 1,180 m
  • Level: Hard

Levada das 25 Fontes, PR6

25 fonte hike waterfall

This is the most famous levada walk in Madeira. Located in the Rabaçal valley, the 25 fountains walk is known for its levada but also for the 25 waterfalls along the way.

This is the perfect walk if you want to discover what Madeira is all about. You will drive up the mountains, all the way to Rabaçal where you can park your vehicle and start the walk.

At the beginning, you will follow the road down and will then start taking the walking path. You will walk through the forest all the way down to the levada.

Once you reach the levada, the path is going to become much narrower so you will have to stop a lot to let people go and vice versa.

The waterfalls are all along the path but the most impressive one is by far the last one, named Lagoa das 25 Fontes.

It’s absolutely stunning. There are many rocks there and it’s in the shade, making it a great spot for a picnic.

You can then make your way back up to the car.

Another alternative for this popular walk is to book a guided tour. The guide will come to your hotel to pick you up and bring you to the carpark.

You will stop at a local café along the way where you can get a sandwich if you don’t have one already.

The guide will then walk all the way with you. He will stop to give you information about the local fauna and flora and will explain everything you need to know about the levadas.

If you opt for the guided tour, you will not go all the way back up to the carpark. Instead, you will take another path down and the driver will pick you up. It’s very convenient.

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  • Distance: 4.3 km (+ 4.3 km return)
  • Duration: 3h return
  • Elevation: 324 m
  • Level: Moderate

Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço, PR8

São Lourenço in Madeira

Located 35 minutes drive from Funchal, the Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço is the easternmost point of Madeira.

It boasts some of the most incredible landscapes on the island and is something you can not miss!

It’s very easy to get there by car. Once you reach the end of the road, you will find a free carpark where you can leave your vehicle.

As soon as you get off the car, you will be hit by the beauty of the place.

FUN FACT: The peninsula of São Lourenço is very similar to Neist Point on the isle of Skye in Scotland. If you’ve been to the Scottish highlands before, you will surely notice the similarities (apart from the fact that it’s not as green and there are palm trees).

PRO TIP: You will find a couple of food trucks in the car park; if you feel a bit hungry or need water, this will be the perfect time to get something. There is a café once you reach the end of the walk (before walking back), but it’s more expensive.

From the carpark at Baía d’Abra, take the walking path in direction of Casa do Sardinha; there are a couple of viewpoints (as indicated on the map) where you can take beautiful photos from.

If you are visiting on a hot day and want to take a swimming break quickly, you will find a path going down to a beach on the right-hand side after a 20-minute walk.

Beach São Lourenço in Madeira Portugal

You can then keep walking until you reach the casa do Sardinha (where the café is) and walk up to the top to get the best views.

The path up to the top is not as well maintained as the rest and can be a bit more strenuous, but as long as you have good walking shoes, you will be fine. Just take your time.

São Lourenço in Madeira Portugal

Once you’re back down, keep walking after the café and you will find a little path on the left going down to the beach. It’s a great place to check out, especially if you want to go for a refreshing swim.

They also have some dolphin-watching tours starting from there.

Once you’re done, go back up to the main path and walk back to the carpark.

  • Distance: 3 km (+ 3 km return)
  • Duration: 2h30
  • Elevation: 101 m
  • Level: Moderate

Levada do Caldeirão Verde, PR9  

Levada do Caldeirão Verde is a stunning Madeira hiking route that’s filled with undulating forested peaks.

The trail starts in the Queimadas Forest Park and it’s considered an out-and-back route. From Funchal, you’ll need to drive around 45 minutes to the Levada Do Caldeirão Verde trailhead.

At the start of the trailhead there are a couple of beautiful cottages and a café.

First things first you may be wondering what Levada is, you’ll be hearing it a lot. Levadas are found across Madeira and are old irrigation canal systems.

A lot of the best walks in Madeira follow these Levadas. 

This is one of those hiking trails in Madeira that doesn’t stop providing you with something to see.

As well as striking, lush forest mountain views, there are a couple of waterfalls, tunnels that cut through the hills, and churning streams. 

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate this hike! You’ll want to come equipped with sturdy walking boots, a raincoat, a torch (or phone light), and plenty of water.

If you are visiting between November and February (Madeira’s rainy season) be warned the trail will be very muddy! 

With lots of undulations this hike could take around 6 ½ hours depending on how fast you go (and how many photos you take).

However, there are no outrageously steep sections so most people will be able to enjoy this hike.

  • Distance: 11.7 km
  • Duration: 6h30
  • Elevation: 1,265 m
  • Level: Hard

Vereda do Pico Ruivo, PR1.2

top of pico ruivo in Madeira

This Madeira island hiking route will have you convinced you are on your way up to Machu Picchu in Peru. The landscape is mountainous, volcanic, and simply breathtaking.

The trail begins at Achada do Teixeira and climbs all the way to Pico Ruivo. 

If you want to reach the very top of Madeira then this is the easiest hiking route to take. Once you’ve reached the top you’ll be standing at 1,862m above sea level, so you are treated to expansive views.

On a clear day, you can see right across to São Louren ço Point.

This is one of those Madeira hikes where the weather can change rapidly. Because of the altitude, clouds can cover the path very quickly, so be sure to bring a couple of layers to stay warm. 

Whilst hiking this route, the trail passes along a ridge where there’s Faial on one side and Santana on the other. Look to your left and you’ll see the beautiful Ribeira Seca valley with Pico das Torres (Madeira’s second highest peak) standing tall. 

There aren’t any facilities along this route but there are a number of shelters where you can stop for water, snacks, or a breather. 

  • Distance: 5.5 km
  • Duration: 2h45
  • Elevation: 479 m
  • Level: Moderate to hard

Vereda do Urzal, PR2

This is another of the best walks in Madeira. Starting at Fajã dos Cardos in the parish of Curral das Freiras this path was once used by residents to go from the south to the north of Madeira. 

From this trail you can get great views of Pico Ruivo, as well as the picture perfect Curral das Freiras valley.

The initial part of the hike is elevated to be able to reach Boca das Torrinhas, but then it’s downhill towards Lombo do Urzl. 

All the dense forest that surrounds the trail is classified as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. It’s not as popular as some of the other trails in the area, so you won’t encounter as many people. 

  • Distance: 10.3 km
  • Duration: 5 h
  • Elevation: 931 m
  • Level: Moderate to hard

Levada Do Barreiro, PR4               

If you are searching for hikes in Madeira with city views, then this 5.2km Levada Do Barreiro trail is for you.

This hiking trail provides visitors with endless natural views and outlooks over the city of Funchal. 

This route starts at Poço da Neve and ends at Casa do Barreiro. You can start the trail at Regional road 202.

With a mostly descending path, this is considered to be one of the easy Levada walks in Madeira.

Following Levada do Barreiro, this hiking trail will provide you with expansive views of the Ribeira de Santa Luzia valley. 

This is an ideal walking route to complete with the family, as it’s flat and considered to be an easy hike. 

  • Distance: 5.2 km
  • Duration: 2h10
  • Elevation: 675 m
  • Level: Easy

Vereda Das Funduras, PR5

Of the best Madeira hiking routes this one is ideal for families. Much of the trekking in Madeira may be considered too difficult for those with younger kids; however, Vereda Das Funduras is an accessible trail.

The terrain is quite flat, so it’s perfect for trail runners, kids, or those with dogs. 

This trail begins at the Portela Viewpoint and provides magnificent views of Madeira luscious coastline.

But it’s not just coastal views you get to enjoy on this hike, the trail also winds through the Laurissilva Forest.

There are opportunities to make a few quick diversions to viewpoints. Make sure you check out the Larano viewpoint where you can see the charming town of Machico. 

It’s still advisable to put on some walking boots, but it is less essential than some of the Levada hikes. 

  • Distance: 8.7 km
  • Duration: 3 h
  • Elevation: 438 m
  • Level: Moderate

Levada Do Moinho, PR7

If you are searching for Madeira hiking with a waterfall, then this is the one for you. This is one of the easy levada walks in Madeira as it’s flanked by stairs.

This is also one of the circular walks in Madeira that’s got lots of things to see along the way. 

This hike starts near the Church of the Lombada. On Lombada da Ponta do Sol. As you begin this walk you are treated to the traditional farming landscape of Madeira and views of the nearby village.

The highlights of many Madeira walks are the waterfalls. This levada waterfall is super impressive and is carved into two imposing rock faces. You can even walk on a walkway behind the waterfall! 

This is a popular Levada so the trail can become fairly busy. For a more private hike be sure to head out early to avoid the crowds. 

It is also important to be careful on certain parts of the trail. Some of the cliff-side Levadas have no railings so you must be careful and go slower on these sections.

Again, you will also need to come with a strong phone light or torch to guide you through the 200-metre-long tunnel. 

  • Distance: 10.3 km
  • Duration: 3h30
  • Elevation: 436 m
  • Level: Moderate

Vereda dos Balcões, PR11

This is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in Madeira and it’s also a super easy route. Because this is a really popular hike it’s advisable to start out early before the crowds.

Though the viewpoint doesn’t become saturated with people, it’s still just nicer to have the view to yourself. 

From the viewing platform you’ll be able to see Pico do Areeiro, Pico das Torres, Pico do Gato, and Pico Ruivo, some of the mightiest mountain chains on Madeira.

Don’t be surprised to find that many of the peaks are covered in clouds, that’s just the nature of Madeira’s tropical climate.

Definitely pack a raincoat as there may be a downpour at the top.

Hike up on a clear day however and you will not be remotely disappointed. These views are expansive and seemingly endless. 

As you wander through the fairytale-like forest be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. This is a great place to try and spot the firecrest bird, the smallest of Madeira’s birds. 

  • Distance: 3 km return
  • Duration: 1h
  • Elevation: 10 m
  • Level: Easy

Lagoa do Vento

Lagoa do Vento is another fantastic Madeira hike with a rewarding waterfall. This hike starts in the Rabaçal area which is known for some of the best hiking trails in Madeira.

The trail starts at Levada do Alecrim and leads you towards Lagoa do Vento. 

Along the path there are several viewpoints to take photos from. Continue along the path and you will come to the Lagoa do Vento lagoon and waterfall.

This place is hands down one of the most serene and inspiring places in Madeira. This is one of those Madeira walks that should be on everyone’s island bucket list. 

This single drop waterfall is mightily impressive. You absolutely have to pack your swim stuff because cooling off from a hot hike in the lagoon under a waterfall is an epic experience.

Make sure you also pack a picnic because eating lunch surrounded by this view is a must-do activity. 

It’s a great alternative to the 25 fontes walk. You will park your vehicle at the same carpark and just take a different path from there.

Lagoa do Vento is nowhere as busy but offers just as much. Perfect for people looking for hidden gems in Madeira.

  • Distance: 6.7 km
  • Duration: 4 h
  • Elevation: 332 m
  • Level: Hard

Levada do Alecrim

Another of the best waterfall hikes in Madeira is Levada do Alecrim. If you are searching for easy Levada walks in Madeira this is also for you. 

This hiking route’s other name is ‘Lakes of Madeira Island’ and you’ll be treated to a few waterfalls along the way. Another hiking trail that’s in the Rabaçal valley, this hike will leave you wanting to hike more of Madeira’s trails. 

The best thing about this hike is that it’s accessible to all abilities. Walk through vast green vegetation, past countless waterfalls.

The most notable waterfall is Lagoa Dona Beja. Stop at this waterfall for a chilly but refreshing dip in the water and why not also set up a picnic? Relax, eat and enjoy your surroundings. 

This Levada do Alecrim walk is far less crowded than some of the other popular Madeira walking routes.

If you start out early, you may be able to complete most of the walk without encountering any fellow hikers. 

  • Distance: 6.8 km
  • Duration: 2h
  • Elevation: 39 m
  • Level: Easy

Ribeira Da Janela

This is one of the best hikes in Madeira and it covers an array of remarkable landscapes.

This hiking route is considered to be moderate to hard in difficulty. It runs from the coast to the mountains and then through a canyon and along cliffside Levada paths. 

You can either choose to hike this trail from point to point or complete it as a return journey if you’re really feeling energized. 

If you visit during the rainy season, come prepared as many of the small waterfalls will have burst onto the trails.

When hiking in Madeira, always pack for the ever-changing weather. You’ll need good walking boots and a waterproof jacket as a minimum. As there are tunnels, you’ll need a torch or phone light. 

As it’s a long hike so you’ll need to pack some food with you. Luckily there are a number of scenically placed picnic benches that you can stop off at to enjoy your food with a view.  

This hiking trail quickly becomes an adventurous encounter with nature. As you wander through tunnels, the vegetation becomes thicker as you emerge from the openings. Be careful of some of the pathways on this hiking trail as they can get really slippery. 

  • Distance: 10.3 km return
  • Duration: 5 h
  • Elevation: 780 m
  • Level: Moderate to hard

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