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Hiking Madeira: The most beautiful tours and lots of information about hiking!

Wild & adventurous: Madeira, the rugged island in the Atlantic Ocean, is not only known for its spectacular scenery and mild climate, but also for its first-class hiking opportunities. With a multitude of well-marked hiking trails, breathtaking views and rich flora and fauna, Madeira is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. In this article, I recommend the best routes as well as some tips and recommendations for your unforgettable hiking experience on this magical island.

best madeira hikes

Contents

1. Overview of madeira

2. Top 10 of the most beautiful hikes in madeira

3. How to get there

4. Weather and best time to visit madeira

5. Further informations

6. Wild camping in madeira

7. Is hiking in madeira dangerous

8. Hiking madeira and corona

9. Hiking madeira and the sights

10. MHiking madeira where to stay

11. The most beautiful multi-day tour in madeira


Overview of Madeira

Before we turn our attention to the hiking trails, let's take a brief look at the island of Madeira itself. It is located about 1000 kilometers southwest of the Portuguese mainland and is part of the autonomous Região da Madeira. Madeira is famous for its mild subtropical climate, which offers pleasant temperatures all year round. The island is of volcanic origin and boasts a dramatic landscape characterized by rugged coastlines, steep mountains and lush valleys.

As always, I recommend my video. It shows my 105 km hike from east to west:

Top 10 of the most beautiful hikes in Madeira

Whether you are an experienced hiker or just want to enjoy nature, Madeira has something for every taste and fitness level. You can embark on adventurous trails that lead to remote heights or choose more leisurely routes that take you through picturesque villages and green valleys.

1.From Pico Ariero to Pico Ruivo, the highest mountain in Madeira

At 1,862 meters, Pico Ruivo is the highest peak in Madeira and offers hikers an unforgettable experience. The ascent to the summit is challenging, but the reward is breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the sea. There are various hiking trails that lead you to the summit, including the Pico do Arieiro - Pico Ruivo trail, which is considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.

Length: min. 11 km but can be extended as desired!

Duration: min. 6-8 hours (or shorter depending on the route)

Difficulty level: Medium (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: Pico Ruivo 1862m

Top highlight: Sunrise and sunset on Pico Ruivo

Accommodation: Tent or hut

Starting point: Recommended at Pico Ariero

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Note local restrictions! There may be snow in winter!

I recommend my sunrise video on the highest mountain in Madeira:

2.Hike to the Risco waterfall and its 25 springs

The Rabaçal forest in the west of Madeira is a real treasure for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. It is home to two of the island's most impressive natural attractions: the 25 springs and the Risco waterfall. These two destinations attract numerous visitors every year who want to experience the unique beauty of this region. The Rabaçal Trail takes you through dense forests, along levadas and past lush vegetation landscapes. The trail is well marked and relatively easy to complete, making it accessible to hikers of all fitness levels. There are always fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys along the way.

Length: min. 9 km (there and back)

Duration: min. 2 hours

Difficulty level: easy (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: Pico Ruivo 1878m

Top highlight: The Risco waterfall and the surrounding springs

Accommodation: Hotel and apartments in the area

Starting point: By the road to the Rabaçal forester's lodge

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Please note local restrictions!

Risco waterfall madeira

3.The eastern cape: hike on the São Lourenço peninsula

The hike on the São Lourenço peninsula, also known as the Eastern Cape, is an absolute must for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts in Madeira. The breathtaking coastal landscape with its bizarre cliffs, rocky bays and turquoise blue water offers you an impressive backdrop. The well-marked trail leads along the coast and offers spectacular views of the sea and the surrounding mountains. The peninsula's unique flora and fauna, including rare plant species, birds and lizards, make this hike an unforgettable nature experience.

Length: min. 8 km (there and back)

Duration: min. 2.5 hours

Difficulty level: easy (sure-footedness required)

Maximum altitude: 125m

Top highlight: The bizarre rock formations

Accommodation: Hotel and apartments in the area

Starting point: At the small traffic circle in São Lourenço

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Please note local restrictions!

4.Coastal hike from Canical to Porto da Cruz along the cliffs

The coastal hike from Canical to Porto da Cruz along the cliffs is a spectacular route that rewards you with breathtaking views. The route takes you along the north-east coast of Madeira and offers a unique combination of wild nature, steep cliffs and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.

The hike begins in the picturesque coastal village of Canical, known for its charming harbor and relaxed atmosphere. From there, you follow the hiking trail along the rocky coast, which leads through a varied landscape of volcanic rock formations and lush vegetation. The path is well marked and relatively easy to follow, but care should be taken as some sections can be steep and slippery. The high cliffs offer spectacular photo opportunities and the chance to observe the impressive force of the waves crashing against the rocks. Along the way, you may also come across various bird species, including seabirds gliding elegantly over the waves.

After around three hours, you will finally reach the end of the hike: Porto da Cruz. This picturesque town is known for its charming atmosphere and its famous sugar cane factory.

Length: min. 8 km (there and back)

Duration: min. 2.5 hours

Difficulty level: easy (sure-footedness required)

Maximum altitude: 125m

Top highlight: The bizarre rock formations

Accommodation: Hotel and apartments in the area

Starting point: At the small traffic circle in São Lourenço

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Please note local restrictions!

5.Hiking along the gorges from Rabaçal to Fanal

The hike along the gorges from Rabaçal to Fanal is an impressive adventure that will inspire you. The trail leads through dense laurel forests and along picturesque waterfalls. The gorges offer you a breathtaking backdrop with steep rock faces and lush vegetation. The highlight of the hike is a visit to the magical laurel forest in Fanal, where the bizarre giant trees create a mystical atmosphere. Tip: It's most beautiful there when it's foggy!

Length: min. 11 km

Duration: min. 4 hours

Difficulty level: easy (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: 1420m

Top highlight: The mystical trees of Fanal Pond

Accommodation: Hotel and apartments in the area

Starting point: The start is at an altitude of 1,420 meters at Pico dos Assobiadoures, in a small hiking parking lot on the regional road E.R 209.

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Please note local restrictions!

Fanal pond hiking

6.Hike on the Encumeada Pass to Pico Ruivo

The Encumeada Pass hike to Pico Ruivo is a challenging yet fascinating route for experienced hikers. The trail starts at the Encumeada Pass, a spectacular viewpoint, and takes you through a diverse landscape of dense forests and steep mountain peaks. The route is challenging as it involves steep climbs and narrow paths, but the effort is rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountain landscape. The highlight of the hike is the Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest peak, from where you have an incomparable view over the island.

Length: min. 14 km

Duration: min. 6 hours

Difficulty level: demanding (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: 1820m

Top highlight: Pico Ruivo 1878m (highest mountain in Maderia)

Accommodation: A mountain hut and a campsite on Pico Ruivo

Starting point: Encumeada

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Note local restrictions! There may be snow in winter!

Hike on the Encumeada Pass to Pico Ruivo

7.Pico Ariero to Encumeada

The hike from Pico Arieiro to Encumeada is an impressive but challenging route that takes you through a diverse landscape. The trail starts at Pico Arieiro, the third highest peak in Madeira, and runs along a ridge with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and peaks. The route passes through picturesque laurel forests and steep slopes before ending at the Encumeada Pass. Along the way, you can enjoy the beauty of nature and experience the tranquillity of the mountains. This hike is a great way to explore Madeira's impressive mountain landscape and collect unforgettable impressions.

Length: min. 25 km

Duration: min. 10 - 12 hours

Difficulty level: challenging - difficult (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: 1820m

Top highlight: Pico Ruivo 1878m (highest mountain in Maderia)

Accommodation: A mountain hut and a campsite on Pico Ruivo, Encumeada Apartments within a 5km radius

Starting point: Parking lot at Pico Arieiro

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Note local restrictions! There may be snow in winter!

8.Levada do Norte: a leisurely day of hiking on Madeira

The Levada do Norte offers a relaxed and leisurely day of hiking on Madeira. The Levada trail runs along the canal that brings water from the north of the island to the agricultural areas. The route offers gentle climbs and magnificent views of the surrounding landscape. You can enjoy the lush vegetation, the blooming flowers and the fresh mountain air. There are also charming little villages along the way where you can take a break and get to know the local culture.

Length: min. 12 km

Duration: min. 4 hours

Difficulty level: medium (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: 580m

Top highlight: Sometimes very scary paths

Accommodation: Hotels and apartments at the start in the surrounding area

Starting point: Near Câmara de Lobos, between the vineyards of Estreito Canara

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Please note local restrictions! There may be snow in winter!

Levada do Norte hiking

9.Levada from Porto da Cruz to Ribero Frio

The levada hike from Porto da Cruz to Ribeiro Frio is a scenic route that will delight you. The trail leads along the levada channel and offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The route takes you through lush vegetation, past picturesque waterfalls and through charming villages. Along the way, you can breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the beauty of nature to the full. Ribeiro Frio is a popular stopover where you can admire the unique flora and fauna of the laurel forest. This levada hike is a perfect combination of nature experience and relaxation.

Length: min. 16 km

Duration: min. 8 hours

Difficulty level: medium (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: 880m

Top highlight: Levada section through the rock

Accommodation: Hotels and apartments at the start in the surrounding area

Starting point: At Porto da Cruz

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Note local restrictions! There may be snow in winter!

10.Along the Levada do Rei to Ribeiro Bonito

The Levada do Rei is a popular hike in Madeira that delights nature lovers. The trail runs along the Levada channel and offers a picturesque backdrop of lush vegetation, dense forests and refreshing waterfalls. The route is well marked and relatively easy to complete, making it suitable for less experienced hikers. Along the way, you can admire the diversity of flora and fauna and enjoy the tranquillity of nature. The Levada do Rei is a perfect choice for a relaxing day surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Madeira.

Length: min. 10 km

Duration: min. 3 hours

Difficulty level: medium (surefootedness required)

Maximum altitude: 680m

Top highlight: Levada section through the rock incl. waterfall

Accommodation: Hotels and apartments at the start in the surrounding area

Starting point: At the Caminho do Curralinho parking lot

Permit: Not required

Guide: Not absolutely necessary

Best time to go: Basically feasible all year round! Note local restrictions! There may be snow in winter!

Levada do Rei to Ribeiro Bonito

How to get there

It is best to take a flight to Funchal, to Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (FNC). From there, you can take public transport, walk or take a cab to the starting point of your hike. If you need a cab, I would recommend "Bold*.


I recommend the workouts on my YouTube channel for optimal preparation for any tour:

Weather and best time to travel to Madeira

Madeira often has a mix of sun, wind and clouds. Temperatures are always between 18 and 30 degrees. The months with the least rainfall are July and August. The months of April, May and June are also ideal for hiking. In general, you can complete the tours all year round, although there may be snow on the mountains in winter. So find out before you start your tour.

Further information

ATMs and credit cards are available in many places. You should still take cash with you on your trip.


Water: Unfortunately, you won't always find it. Make sure your water container is always well filled. I usually had around 2.5 liters with me. You should only drink the water from the lavedas in an absolute emergency. This is industrial water for agriculture. I drank it, but I pressed it through a water filter first. Sometimes there are also waterfall basins or fountains along the way. However, you should definitely use a water filter. No matter how clear the water may be, it can still contain impurities such as animal excrement or dead animals. However, you can also boil the water.

Animals or pests: There are practically no pests on the island and it is free of dangerous insects and bugs. But be careful when pitching your tent. I had a damn big spider in the undergrowth. It was a bit of a scare.


Surefootedness: To be safe on the trail, sure-footedness and the right footwear are the most important factors - after all, falls due to tripping and slipping are the most common cause of accidents when hiking. So remember: the right footwear and the right walking technique are therefore incredibly important. You are sure to find the right footwear in the article below!


Long-distance hiking trails in Europe: 90 routes, all countries

Wild & adventurous: these are the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in Europe.


Safety advice

All the safety rules of mountain sports also apply to hiking and trekking! You can find the safety rules in the link below:

hiking madeira

Packing list

Here I recommend the most important hiking equipment that I own, have tested myself and have also bought myself. I pay a lot of attention to the weight and quality of my equipment. The equipment should simply feel good on longer tours and also be light. I can recommend the equipment for women because my wife uses it and it is basically the same as the equipment for men.


Note: Please keep in mind that the packing list is general and you will have to adapt it depending on the season and your needs!


Advertising note: These product links are affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, I will receive a small commission without you having to pay more. This is for the maintenance of my blog and you support me with my project, for which I am very grateful. Thank you very much!


Clothes

Hiking boots

Hiking shorts


Long hiking pants


Functional shirt


Hybridjacket


Fleece-jacket


Rain jacket


Functional underwear


Hiking socks


Other hiking equipment:

Sun cap

Bivouac


Hiking backback (approx. 60 litres or as required)

by EXPED - unfortunately not available on Amazon.

Backback - Ospray (was my old one and is also good)


Technology and orientation:

Compass

• GPS device or GPS watch if necessary

• Binoculars if necessary


Catering:

• Sweets to keep up morale :)


Health & first Aid:

First Aid (small and light)

Tape

Bivouac

• Toilet paper


Other:

• Passport/Insurance certificate

• cash

• Gas cartridge


Film equipment:

Drone

Tripod

Clip

hiking madeira

Wild camping in Madeira

Wild camping is not officially permitted in Madeira. This means that setting up tents or spending the night outside of designated campsites and accommodation is not permitted. The regulation of camping on the island serves to protect the environment and preserve the fragile ecosystems.

However, there are a variety of campsites and accommodations on Madeira that offer a safe and comfortable place to stay. These campsites have facilities such as sanitary facilities, drinking water sources and often a beautiful view of the surrounding nature.

It is important that you respect the applicable regulations and laws to protect both the environment and your own safety. By following the rules and staying at the designated campsites, you can have an enjoyable hiking experience in Madeira while contributing to the preservation of the island's natural beauty.

Is hiking in Madeira dangerous

Hiking in Madeira, like any other outdoor activity, can involve certain risks, but it is generally safe as long as you take the appropriate precautions. Here are some important points to bear in mind:

Know the route: Find out in advance about the chosen hiking route and make sure that you have sufficient knowledge and skills to complete it. Consider the level of difficulty, length and weather conditions.

Proper equipment: Wear suitable hiking boots to ensure good traction and stability.

Pay attention to the weather conditions: The weather in Madeira can change quickly. Therefore, follow the weather forecast and plan your hikes accordingly. Avoid hiking on difficult or dangerous routes in bad weather, fog or heavy rain.

Respect nature: Pay attention to your surroundings and follow the local rules and regulations. Avoid disturbing animals or plants and don't leave any garbage behind.

Emergency preparedness: Find out about emergency contacts and carry a cell phone with sufficient battery power. Share your hiking plan with others so that they know where you are.

By observing these precautions and acting responsibly, you can enjoy hiking in Madeira safely and without any major problems.

Proverb from Madeira. Come into my garden. I want my roses to get to know you. Richard B. Sheridan 1751 - 1816.

Madeira hiking corona

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some precautions must also be taken when hiking in Madeira. It is important that you inform yourself about the current travel restrictions and recommendations. On the island, measures such as wearing masks in public areas and observing social distancing rules may be required. There may also be restrictions on the use of hiking trails or certain attractions.

Hiking Madeira sights

When hiking in Madeira, there are a multitude of fascinating sights to discover that captivate hikers. Here are some of the most impressive highlights you can experience on your hikes across the island:

Pico Ruivo: At an altitude of 1,862 meters, Pico Ruivo is the highest peak in Madeira. The climb may be challenging, but the spectacular view from the summit makes up for any effort. You will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, valleys and the ocean.

Ponta de São Lourenço: This nature reserve in the east of Madeira offers a spectacular coastal landscape with sharp cliffs, bizarre rock formations and diverse flora and fauna. The hike along the Ponta de São Lourenço peninsula rewards you with spectacular views of the ocean and the surrounding coastline.

Ribeiro Frio: This area is home to beautiful laurel forests, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take relaxing walks under the dense canopy and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. A popular route leads to the Balcoes viewpoint, from where you have a magnificent view of the mountains and valleys.

Curral das Freiras: This secluded valley, also known as the Nun's Valley, offers you an impressive backdrop of steep rock faces, green valleys and picturesque villages. You can admire the breathtaking views from various vantage points and enjoy the peace and seclusion of this special place.

Fanal Pond: Fanal Pond on Madeira is an idyllic place that delights hikers and nature lovers alike. The pond is located in the magical laurel forest of Fanal and offers you a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. Surrounded by moss-covered trees and shrouded in mist, Fanal Pond creates a mystical atmosphere. The clear and reflective pond invites you to linger and also offers you a reflection of the surrounding giant trees. Fanal Pond is a truly magical place that will enchant you with its natural beauty and tranquillity.

The levada network: One of the most famous features of hiking on Madeira is the levada network. Levadas are irrigation channels that transport water from the rainy areas of the island to the agricultural land. These canals were built by the colonial rulers in the 16th century and today offer you an extensive network of hiking trails. Along the levadas, you can enjoy spectacular views, hike through tunnels and pass idyllic waterfalls. The paths are usually very well marked.

Balcony: The Balcony of Madeira, also known as the "Miradouro do Balcony", is a popular viewpoint on Madeira Island. It is located near the village of Jardim do Mar and offers a breathtaking view of the sea and the coast. The viewpoint is known for its spectacular panoramic views and its picturesque location on the cliffs. From here, you can admire Madeira's impressive landscape of steep cliffs, green hills and the vast ocean. The Balcony of Madeira is a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the island to the full.

Risco Waterfall: The Risco Waterfall on Madeira is an impressive natural spectacle that fascinates visitors with its majestic beauty. At a height of around 100 meters, the water cascades over the cliffs in an impressive waterfall, forming an impressive spray. The Risco waterfall is located near the village of Rabaçal and can be reached via a picturesque hiking trail. The sight of the thundering water pouring into a lush green valley is absolutely breathtaking. The Risco waterfall is an absolute must for nature lovers and hikers who want to explore the spectacular nature of Madeira.

The sights mentioned above are just a small selection of the many impressive highlights that Madeira has to offer. No matter which route you choose, you will be rewarded with spectacular views, unique nature and unforgettable experiences that reflect the beauty of this enchanting island.

Madeira hiking where to stay

When it comes to hiking in Madeira, there are various options for accommodation. The choice of where to stay often depends on the preferred hiking region and the desired level of comfort. A popular option is to stay in one of the charming guesthouses or bed & breakfasts in the coastal towns of Funchal or Machico. These towns offer a good starting point for hikes along the levadas or into the surrounding mountains. There is a variety of accommodation to choose from, from simple guesthouses to luxurious hotels that offer your legs comfort and relaxation after a long day.

If you are looking for the peace and seclusion of nature, the rural areas of Madeira are a good choice. There are numerous country houses and country hotels set amidst the island's lush countryside. These accommodations often offer a rustic charm and a peaceful atmosphere, perfect if you want to escape the hustle and bustle and concentrate fully on nature.

Another option is to stay in one of the many hiking hotels or guesthouses along the hiking trails. These accommodations are specially tailored to the needs of hikers and often offer hiking guides, maps and useful information about the surrounding routes.

No matter what type of accommodation you choose, Madeira offers a variety of options to ensure you have a pleasant and comfortable stay. From bustling coastal towns to secluded rural retreats, there is something to suit every taste and budget. The most important thing is that you can rest and recuperate after an eventful day of hiking.

The most beautiful multi-day tour on Madeira

The 105km east-west island crossing

Length: min. 105km but can be extended as desired!

Duration: min. 5 days

Difficulty level: Medium

Maximum altitude: Pico Ruivo 1862m

Top highlight: Sunrise and sunset on Pico Ruivo

Accommodation: Tent or hut/hotel/apartment

Starting point: Near Canical

Finish: Port Moniz

Permit: Only for wild camping

Guide: not absolutely necessary

Best time to visit: May - October, but also possible all year round!