Madeira, known as Portugal’s gem, might be predominately seen as a honeymoon destination for newlyweds; but there is so much more to this little island. A hiker’s dream, Madeira’s tropical weather matched with its numerous interesting walks, makes it perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Be aware that if you plan to complete multiple hikes on the island, some buses only travel once a day. To get around easily, either catch a blue-and-yellow-striped taxi or hire your own car.
“A hiker’s dream, Madeira’s tropical
weather matched with its numerous
interesting walks, makes it perfect for
anyone who loves the outdoors.”
Here are just 5 of our favourite hikes on the island:
PICO DO ARIEIRO
Known as the climb above the clouds, the hike up Pico do Arieiro is definitely worth it for the views. As you reach the top of this 1818m peak – the third highest on the island – you are literally above the clouds looking down onto the island. On a good day, you can even see Porto Santo, a neighbouring island.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can carry on with your hike into the sky by following the trail to Pico Ruivo – Madeira’s highest peak. Keep in mind that the higher you get, the more unpredictable the weather becomes, so be sure to be prepared for the worst. You’ll also need to bring a torch, as some parts of the hike will involve tunnels.
All in all, the round trip will take you approximately five or six hours and you will cover 12km.
25 FONTES & LEVADA DO RISCO
For a shorter hike with lots of amazing scenery, the 25 Fontes and Levada do Risco are two parallel hikes that begin at the same point – regional road – and both go down to the House of Rabaçal before separating into two trails. Both trails cover 9km and will take you around 3 hours to complete at a moderate pace.
If you take the PR6 trail, you will reach the 25 Fontes; a lagoon filled with waters that have travelled down the Paul da Serra from 25 springs. The lagoon even holds a superstition that anyone who dives into the waters will never surface.
Take trail PR 6.1 and you’ll hike 1000m above the sea towards a beautiful waterfall. This waterfall is so powerful and falls so horizontally that it’s created a ridge in the rock.
PONTA DE SAO LOURENCO
If you’re looking for a relatively easy hike, then Ponta de Sao Lourenco could be your perfect day out. At just 2.5 to 3 hours long, this hike makes for a pleasant afternoon or evening. Indeed, in the evening it makes for a very peaceful walk – just be careful you don’t get lost in the dark.
The hike itself is on the eastern tip of the island, and winds round a peninsula near a lighthouse. As you’re so close to the edge of Madeira, expect to see lots of sea birds and beautiful cliffs.
LEVADA DO ALECRIM
Another short and pleasant walk, Levada do Alecrim, also known as the Lakes of Madeira, is a short 2-hour round trip of 6km (there and back). An easy hike for those of all abilities, you can expect to see vast areas of local vegetation and wildlife. You’ll also get superb views of the Rabacal along the way. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic and relax.
VEREDA DAS FUNDURAS
For more experienced hikers, the Vereda das Funduras is a rewarding walk with stunning views, particularly of Madeira’s north coast. This 8km, 3-hour hike of moderate difficulty will take you through the forest roads of the Funduras mountain range, and into the spectacular Laurissilva Forest.
Madeira isn’t just a great hiking destination; it is also an island of culture, great food and black volcanic beaches. With the sun shining all year round in this tropical Portuguese island, you can visit at any time. Although you should keep in mind that July, August and September are particularly hot and humid.
For lovers of the outdoors, this would be a great destination to camp in. However, you should keep in mind that wild camping is illegal in Portugal, and that there is only one main camping site, which is located in the northwest – Porto Moniz. Instead, you may prefer to opt for a local home rental, which are dotted all along the island – some even come with their own private mountain-view gardens.
Did you know Madeira has been crowned ‘Europe’s Leading Island Destination’ (World Travel Awards) several times? Most recently in 2016. With such a wide range of walking trails, with the most spectacular views, it’d be hard not to choose Madeira for your next hiking holiday.
Would you love to hike Madeira’s beautiful mountain walks and trails?
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