Some of the best hikes in Madeira include the beautiful Vereda do Pico Ruivo, the Vereda do Areeiro, and the Vereda do Areeiro hiking trails. The Island is also known for its naturally beautiful Levada walks which we’ll outline in this guide!
When we spent two weeks on the stunning island of Madeira, we knew that we had to at least tick a couple of walks and Madeira hiking trails off our list of top things to do on the island.
It is no secret that Madeira is an incredibly beautiful island, and in my view, one of the best Islands in Europe to visit, blessed with naturally diverse beauty. Around every corner, and across every mountain you’ll find the ever-changing landscapes and views simply breathtaking. Outdoor lovers and hiking enthusiasts will especially fall in love with this stunning Portuguese island.
This is why I have decided to create this Madeira hiking guide, to outline some of the best Madeira walks & hiking trails that you can explore when visiting the island.
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Hiking in Madeira: Most Epic Hiking Trails in Madeira
Madeira, a true hiker’s paradise with its impressive landscapes, offers some of the best hikes in Portugal. Hikes in Madeira vary in difficulty with plenty of trails available for beginners and those with more experience. Moreover, most of the Madeira hiking trails can be accessed at little to no cost, saving you some money on your Portugal trip.
Take in the most spectacular views while exploring the island’s verdant mountains and narrow valleys. To help you find the most epic trails, here are my favourite Madeira hikes.
Vereda do Areeiro (PR1 Madeira) – Difficult Madeira Hike
The most beautiful and probably the hardest hike on Madeira is Vereda do Areeiro which runs between two of the island’s highest peaks — Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. As much of the hike takes place high above the clouds, you will truly feel like you’re on top of the world.
The hike is said to take about 3,5 hours to complete. However, if you’re stopping to take in the breathtaking views (which you definitely should), it can easily take you the entire day.
The hike itself is fairly strenuous as it involves lots of climbing, difficult steps and sheer drops. The effort to complete this Madeira hike, however, is offset by the spectacular views which the route provides. Also, you do not need to complete the entire hike to admire Madeira’s beautiful landscapes.
To access the trail, you will need a car. Alternatively, for an exclusive hiking experience, check out this private full-day hike. Other things you’ll need for this hike are hiking shoes, sunscreen, a raincoat and a torch or headlamp for the tunnels. You will also need to pack some snacks, as well as lots of water.
If you’re up for a challenge, or simply wish to see Madeira from a totally different perspective, then this stunning hike in Madeira is a must. It’s truly a fulfilling and unforgettable experience.
Vereda do Pico Ruivo (PR1.2 Madeira) – Hiking in Madeira For Gorgeous Views
Similar to the Vereda do Areeiro hike, this trail takes you to the island’s highest peak — Pico Ruivo. Starting at the Achada do Teixeira parking lot, however, the Vereda do Pico Ruivo hiking trail is much shorter. From the top of Madeira’s highest peak, you can take in the island’s beauty.
On this trail, walk above the clouds and enjoy panoramic views of the island’s remarkable landscapes, as well as the villages and sea below. And do not hesitate to take pictures, as the weather can change at any minute, obstructing your view.
There are several shelters along this ascent in case you get caught in really bad weather. The shelters are also a great spot to stop for a rest.
The PR1.2 hiking trail is 3 hours in length and of moderate difficulty. For less experienced hikers who wish to admire the spectacular views which Pico Ruivo provides, this is a great alternative. It is also a lovely trail for families with children.
So put on your hiking shoes, pack in snacks and head up this wonderful trail. Just be sure to check the weather forecast for Pico Ruivo before you do. And do not forget to take a sweater or rain jacket.
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço (PR8 Madeira)
As far as hiking Madeira goes, this trail was one of my favourites to complete. This magnificent trail follows the rocky Madeira coastline towards the easternmost point of the island. On this hike, you can discover and enjoy an abundance of unique fauna and flora species, as well as marvel at the volcanic rock formations and turquoise sea.
A breathtaking and unique spectacle which you will witness on this hike is the many viewpoints showcasing the gorgeous seascapes of the north and south of the island. The contrast between the calm south sea and the rough north sea is truly something to behold. For the most amazing views, opt for a sunrise or sunset hike on this Madeira Hiking trail.
Despite what the numbers suggest, his 4-5 hour hike is not all that easy. With constant winds, the burning sun and changing elevation throughout the walk, the trail difficulty is moderate at best.
Luckily, after walking some distance, you will be able to head down to the sea where you can enjoy the tranquillity of the fresh Madeira water. You can also cool off with a refreshing swim.
For this hike, bringing along a rain jacket, sunscreen, food and water is highly recommended. To access the trail, travel by car, taxi or bus from Caniçal. Alternatively, you can check out this Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço Trail Walking Tour.
Best Madeira Walking Routes – Levada Walks in Madeira
In addition to its epic hiking trails, Madeira is well-renowned for its flat Levada walking trails. The term “Levada” in Portuguese translates to “carriageway”, or “mini-canal”. This refers to the irrigation systems developed to distribute rainwater from the wetter regions in the north to the dryer regions in the south of the island.
The Levada walking trails follow along the maintenance paths beside these canals, passing through the verdant Madeira mountains and offer some of the most picturesque and best walks in Madeira.
Detailed below are some of the best Levada walks in Madeira to help you find the most amazing trails on the island.
Levada do Caldeirão Verde (PR9 Madeira Walk)
With its lush green surroundings and spectacular waterfalls, the Levada do Caldeirão Verde is one of the most popular trails on Madeira. While the beginning of this hike may not be the most exciting, it only gets more interesting the further you go. Passing by beautiful smaller waterfalls, as well as through some long and dark tunnels, you’re in for a wonderful jungle adventure.
Although the trail is mostly flat, the hike is considered moderate as certain sections are quite narrow and slippery. At some of the steeper, more slippery parts of the trail, there are railings to hold onto.
Towards the end-point of this hike, you will find yourself at the massive Caldeirão Verde waterfall. Surrounded by nature, enjoy a lovely picnic and perhaps a swim. Completing this hike is more than rewarding and is sure to be an experience that you will never forget.
For this walk, it is recommended that you wear waterproof hiking shoes as the path gets more muddy and slippery the further you go. It’s also best to take a rain jacket, as well as some food and water. And do not forget your flashlight, you’ll need it for those dark tunnels!
Levada das 25 Fontes / Levada do Risco (PR6 & PR6.1)
Popular amongst locals and tourists alike, this Levada walk is an absolute must for anyone visiting Madeira. The two hikes which make up this walk are fairly short and can be easily combined. Visit the lagoon of 25 springs (Lagoa das 25 Fontes) and head back to the crossing and take a walk towards the 100-meter high Risco waterfall, or vice versa.
The 25 Fontes is a Madeira waterfall with 25 streams pouring down into a pool where many hikers love to swim. The large Risco waterfall cannot be accessed and can only be viewed from the path. Despite this, the trail is still more than enjoyable and a close-up view of the giant waterfall is something you do not want to miss.
Like most Madeira Levada walks, the walk is predominantly flat, with certain areas being muddier and sometimes slippery. The greater challenge on this hike is the large number of tourists that visit here. To get the most out of your hike, I suggest going very early as larger tour groups arrive at these trails around 10 am.
If you’re more in favour of a guided tour or booking some Madeira walking tours, take a look at this 25 Fontes Walk and Jeep Safari from Funchal option instead.