Madeira Island is one of the top all-year hiking destinations in Europe with a combination of easy levada walks, forest adventures, coastal routes, and steep mountain treks. With lush UNESCO-listed Laurissilva forests and consistent cloud inversions, you will be in constant amazement while enjoying this list of the Best 60 Hikes on Madeira Island.
I based myself on Madeira for six months to explore all of the hiking trails on offer. In this blog post, I have detailed my favorite 60 hikes on Madeira so that you can pick a couple that stand out to you, making it possible for you to head off and explore the stunning hiking trails all around this incredible island!
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS ’60 BEST HIKES ON MADEIRA’ BLOG POST
Before you dive into this epic list of the top hikes on Madeira there are a couple of things to know about this blog post. Here are a few pieces of handy information you need to know before looking at the list of my favorite 60 hikes on Madeira.
- INDIVIDUAL BLOG POSTS: Each one of the Madeira hiking trails listed in this blog post has a description and a link to a more detailed individual post I have created with instructions, directions, lots of photos, and everything you need to know about that hike. So, if you see a hike you like, then go ahead and click on the link for all the details about that specific hike and read my full review/experience of the hike.
- APPS: The best apps for navigating on the Madeira hiking trails is the WalkMe App, which works offline if you pay $4 for the pro version. It has about 50 of the main hikes and is a very valuable tool that I used a lot. I also used AllTrails and Wikiloc to discover some other routes people had done in the past. I used both depending on their availability on a specific trail, along with Maps.me for offline directions while on the trail.
- WEMBCAMS: There are lots of webcams around the island that can help you decide whether it’s a good moment for a certain hike regarding clouds, rain etc. You can see all of the Madeira webcams here.
- A GUIDE: I did some of these hikes by myself but often had my local guide (also a great friend) called João with me. He’s lived in Madeira his whole life and knows all of the unique trails (not just the popular ones). Many of these trails require some local knowledge for the directions so I recommend a guide. Want to contact João to be your guide for this hike or any of the hikes I’ve done on Madeira? You can contact him on Instagram here: João Let’s Hike or by email: [email protected]
- PORTO SANTO: Porto Santo Island (2-hr ferry trip from Madeira Island) is considered part of Madeira but to avoid confusion, I’ve left it out of this guide. However, I created the largest ever guide for hikes on Porto Santo Island, which you can check out by clicking here.
- WHERE TO STAY: I’ve written an extensive guide about Where to Stay on Madeira for all budgets including top luxury picks, family/value, and budget backpackers. Regarding accommodation and best-hiking hubs, there will be tips at the bottom of the post but if you are looking at which region to base in and where to stay, check out this blog post.
60 AWESOME HIKES ON MADEIRA
Okay, let’s get into it. I dedicated a lot of time and effort to create this guide and to doing these hikes over a 6-month period on Madeira. Blood was shed, several hiking shoes destroyed and many ponchas were consumed. I hope you enjoy my Madeira Hiking Guide: 60 Best Hikes on Madeira.
As I mentioned earlier, each hike on this list has a short description and a link to a more detailed individual post, so if you see a hike you like then go ahead and click on the link for all the details about the hike and my full review/experience of that particular Madeira hiking trail.
PICO DO ARIEIRO TO PICO RUIVO (OUT AND BACK)
Known as ‘Pico to Pico’, the hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo is the most famous hike on the island of Madeira. This tunnel-route leads hikers along narrow pathways, up and down ominous staircases, and through dark tunnel chambers. The best way to experience this hike is to drive up to Pico do Arieiro for sunrise and then begin the hike to Pico Ruivo, which is the highest point on Madeira at 1,862 meters. It’s 550 meters of incline each way so you will gain a vertical kilometer after you return to Pico do Arieiro.
Because of its altitude and the weather patterns of Madeira, it is common to find yourself above the clouds as you make the journey between the peaks, which is an amazing phenomenon. This hike an adrenaline-filled test of endurance with steep inclines. I truly believe this is one of the best official day-hikes in the world. If you are up for the challenge, I promise you it will be the highlight of your trip to Madeira.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PICO DO ARIEIRO TO PICO RUIVO
CALDEIRAO VERDE WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike is one of the best levada walks (not too steep) on Madeira island with lush jungles and several amazing waterfalls! This levada trail is one of the most popular hikes on the island due to its incredible waterfall, dense jungle surroundings, and most importantly, it’s relatively flat without too much incline. I really enjoyed this hike and would highly recommend it, especially for those who enjoy walking but don’t want a huge uphill trek. It really gives you so many great views and a huge waterfall without leading you up stairs or steep hills. It can get a bit busy in peak season, but it’s near the top of my list because it’s a real crowd pleaser and it’s popular for a reason!
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CALDEIRAO VERDE WATERFALL HIKE
VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO HIKE
The Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike is one of the top three most popular hikes on Madeira Island and one I like to call ‘The Dragon’s Tail’. This coastal track takes you along a narrow stretch of rugged coastline to the most eastern point of Madeira Island, well at the least the furthest point you can hike to. The hike is a seven-kilometer route with a number of stunning viewpoints, which highlight the volcanic erosion over millions of years throughout the coastline. It’s a great sunrise hike but is also an underrated sunset spot on Madeira.
I would suggest starting at sunrise for this one as you will get some beautiful colors but getting there early also helps you avoid the crowds. This one can get busy by mid-morning so it’s best to get out and enjoy it early if you want a peaceful walk.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: VEREDA DA PONTA DE SÃO LOURENÇO HIKE
PENHA DE ÁGUIA HIKE IN PORTO DA CRUZ
The Penha de Águia hike is one of my favorite hikes on Madeira and I actually did it three times, hunting for the perfect sunrise. It’s a pretty steep climb to the top of the rock that sits in between the two towns of Faial and Porto da Cruz on the east coast of Madeira Island. Penha de Águia actually translates to the Eagle’s Nest, which the mountain does resemble from afar. A 400-meter climb to the top gives you stunning views over Porto da Cruz and all the way to São Lourenço, the most eastern tip of the island. The hike then crosses the top of the rock to finish by leading you down into Faial. It’s a little wild but offers amazing coastal views.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PENHA DE ÁGUIA HIKE
VEREDA DO LARANO COASTAL HIKE
The Vereda do Larano is an awesome coastal hike on Madeira that follows a cliff-side trail along the eastern side of the island. You can enjoy the huge drop-off to the ocean below, all from the safety of a well-maintained trail on the side of the mountain. The hike is 13 kilometers one way from Caniçal to Porto da Cruz with only a little bit of incline so it’s great for families or casual hikers. It’s best to do this one on a sunny day with no wind, which isn’t every day on that part of the island but it’s worth waiting for clear conditions on this trail as you don’t want to miss the ocean views.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: VEREDA DO LARANO COASTAL HIKE
PICO GRANDE HIKE
If you are up for a steep climb, challenge yourself to reach Pico Grande where you will have an incredible campsite, views of Pico do Arieiro & Pico Ruivo, and amazing stargazing from the summit. This 15-kilometer out-and-back route begins at Encumeada and has almost 1500 meters of vertical gain throughout the entire course. It can be done as a day-hike but to enjoy sunrise and sunset at the peak, it is best to camp overnight at Pico Grande.
There are a number of different routes you can take to reach Pico Grande but they are all steep so there’s no shortcut to this beautiful spot. It’s right in the center of the island and has 360-degree panoramic views, so you can get a sense of how the layout of the Madeira looks.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PICO GRANDE HIKE
ESPIGÃO AMARELO: EPIC COASTAL RIDGE HIKE
Espigão Amarelo is one of my favorite coastal hikes on Madeira. It truly has it all. Beginning on the famous Vereda do Larano, this trail takes a secret detour up onto the gnarly ridge of Espigão Amarelo. Five hundred meters of up and downs through the forest then drop you back at the end of Vereda do Larano where you can turn back to complete the loop. This trail ended through some ‘Mars’ like landscapes with red rocky terrain but truly had it all from cloud forests, cliff-edge coastal views, and vast plains.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: ESPIGÃO AMARELO HIKE
VEREDA DO FANAL FOREST HIKE
Vereda do Fanal is one of my favorite moderate-difficulty hikes on Madeira Island because it has a bit of everything. You have viewpoints over Rabacal Valley, strenuous stair climbs, an immersive experience in the UNESCO-listed Laurisilva Forest, and a spectacular finish at the magical Fanal Forest. It ticks a lot of boxes all throughout one trail when it comes to seeing the sights of Madeira.
The route is 11 kilometers one way so it’s best to have two cars to organize this one but worth the preparation. Try starting at Fanal Forest during the morning, where you can expect to have a fog-filled ancient forest to explore before embarking off on your hike.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: VEREDA DO FANAL FOREST HIKE
ENCUMEADA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
The journey from Encumeada to Pico Ruivo takes you on a wild adventure along steep stairways, to the top of peaks, and through the incredible forests of Madeira Island. If you are lucky, you will emerge through the cloud cover to summit Pico Ruivo, which is the highest point on the entire island. The route is not for the faint-hearted with an out-and-back journey of 20-kilometers and almost 2000 meters of vertical climbing.
It’s a long day of hiking if you do this as an out and back but I prefer it as a less-busy alternative to the popular ‘Pico to Pico’ hike. You’ll only need to share the trail with a couple others and will have a much more wild journey while still on a well maintained route.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: ENCUMEADA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
SNOW HIKE TO PICO DO ARIEIRO
This one might sound a bit crazy but it’s true, it does snow on Madeira once or twice a year. Often the snow isn’t too heavy but up on the top peaks of the island, you can get some great snowfall. The snow was predicted and even began the night before, so we drove up the mountain as far as possible, not even reaching Poiso. At 430 am, we started hiking and it was a 10-kilometer trek through the snow to reach Pico do Arieiro. We just followed the road so it was easy to find the route but everything was completely white.
At the summit, there was no-one but we found the satellite and the entire place covered in snow. It was a pretty wild adventure and definitely something unique. If snow is forecasted while you are on Madeira, you should try and plan a snow adventure like ours. You can check out the full vlog of our snow adventure in the video below.
LAGOA DO VENTO WATERFALL HIKE IN RABACAL
The Lagoa do Vento waterfall hike is a great adventure for those looking for a big waterfall without a monstrous hike. After just 3.3 kilometers on the trail, you will get to enjoy a swim in the massive lagoon at the base of Lagoa do Vento waterfall, which is a pretty magical spot for a lunch break. Although there are some stairs in the forest that are not easy to climb, this is a trail most hikers will feel comfortable with so it is great for families and older hikers.
It’s a good one to combine with the Lagos da Madeira and Levada do Alecrim. You can add all three hikes into one big route and it is still under 15-kilometers for the entire journey.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LAGOA DO VENTO WATERFALL HIKE
CAMINHO REAL DA ENCUMEADA HIKE (PR12)
The Caminho Real da Encumeada is an incredible, mountainous trail that leads you along an ancient path with views of Madeira’s highest peaks! I really love this trail because it is one of the King’s Paths, which were commissioned by the King to help link certain parts of the island together. This means the path has ancient stonework for most of the route. The Caminho Real da Encumeada is a scenic hike through the mountains but also a journey back in time, walking the steps of Madeira’s brave ancestors.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CAMINHO REAL DA ENCUMEADA HIKE
BICA DA CANA PINACULO HIKE ‘THE PINNACLE’
The Bica da Cana Pinaculo hike is one of the less popular trails on Madeira Island but it offers some incredible views. After enjoying the Bica da Cana viewpoint with scenes of the cloud-filled valley below and views out to Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro, you can then head off on the 4.7km loop trail. The hike takes you to the base of the Pinnacle, a striking rock formation that most people admire from the ground but I decided to free-climb the pinnacle to the top.
This is a short hike but my number one tip for this trail is to first watch sunrise at the Bica da Cana viewpoint, which is just a couple of minutes from the trailhead. You won’t regret it.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: BICA DA CANA PINACULO HIKE
CLIMBING TO THE PICO DAS TORRES SUMMIT
There are hundreds of incredible hikes on Madeira but sometimes you need to take it up a level and reach new heights. On this adventure, I headed up from Pico do Arieiro to the summit of Pico das Torres. There was some scrambling, abseiling and some basic rock-climbing involved in this ascent, which was done as part of a tour with local legend, Gonçalo Silva. On this day we were lucky to have incredible weather in the morning before the clouds came in to create a dramatic atmosphere up amidst the tallest peaks on Madeira.
Because this route is a bit more than just a hike, we used harnesses for added safety to abseil down some steep parts of the journey. Our guide led us through the route and provided the gear. If you want to find out more about this hike you can click through the blog post in the link below or contact my guide here Endemicxperiences.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CLIMBING TO THE PICO DAS TORRES SUMMIT
QUEBRADA DO NEGRO – CRAZY COASTAL CLIFF HIKE
The Quebrada do Negro hike is a coastal trail on the western side of Madeira Island that is sure to get your heart racing. After passing through the small coastal village of Achadas da Cruz, a narrow trail winds it’s way up the side of the coastal cliffs. At times you have huge drop-offs down to the crashing waves below while you carefully traverse the narrow track on the cliff-edge. This trail is not for the faint-hearted and I suggest going with a local who knows the way or an official guide. There have been a few people who have gone without a guide and got completely lost so I don’t say to go with a guide just for the sake of it! Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well and can lead you through it.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: QUEBRADA DO NEGRO – CRAZY COASTAL CLIFF HIKE
WATER’S KISS AND THE FOUR STREAMS HIKE IN RABAÇAL
The Water’s Kiss waterfall hike takes you on a wild journey through the region of Rabaçal as you cross the four main streams that run into the larger river, Riberia da Janela. This 10-kilometer hike takes a number of common paths but often detours onto some wild, rarely touched routes across streams and up steep slopes with ropes. It’s an adventurous way to visit Rabaçal valley but if you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth it.
The unique aspect about this hike is the waterfall you find near the end of the trail. Two streams diverge together and at the final moment, when they pour into the pool below they cross paths and kiss. It’s a fun highlight on the hike and something you don’t see too often. It is a tough one to follow yourself because of the many unsigned turns but Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well (and actually created it) and can lead you through it.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: WATER’S KISS AND THE FOUR STREAMS HIKE
ACHADA DO TEIXEIRA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
Pico Ruivo is the highest point on Madeira Island, reaching 1,862 meters above sea-level. Towering above the ridges and valleys of the rugged island, Pico Ruivo is a great place to watch the sunset and sunrise. While there are many different routes to the Pico Ruivo summit, the easiest and quickest is the Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike, which is just a 6-kilometer round-trip. The route isn’t too steep with just 260-meters of incline for the whole hike and the path is well maintained making it easy to hike in the dark before sunrise or after sunset.
This is a great alternative to the much more difficult ‘Pico to Pico’ hike. You will still reach Madeira’s highest peak and also be above the clouds (if you are lucky) but don’t have to hike more than six kilometers.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: ACHADA DO TEIXEIRA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
POÇO DAS PULGAS WATERFALL HIKE
The Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike is an off-the-beaten-path adventure through the jungle to explore several incredible waterfalls. If you choose, there is an extended route option to the Rocha dos Pombos viewpoint, which looks down over the town of Ponta Delgada. On my hike, I also combined the trek with a visit to Caldeira de São João, another massive waterfall. This is a truly wild setting and the lush forest that surrounds these waterfalls create a very magical atmosphere. I did this hike with Madeira Wonder Hikes for the extended route to the viewpoint but if you do the smaller route for just the waterfalls, it could be possible by yourself.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: POÇO DAS PULGAS WATERFALL HIKE
PICO DO CIDRAO
Pico do Cidrao is one of the lesser-known routes on Madeira, although most tourists pass directly underneath it. Just after the famous stair section on the Pico to Pico hike, the trail passes under a prominent peak, which is Pico do Cidrao. It’s not a hiking-accessible peak but you can go on a guided trip with Goncalo from Endemic Experiences. The route involves some basic climbing and abseiling. No prior experience is required and they provide all the gear. The views from the top of Pico do Cidrao are arguably the most expanse on the island and provide a complete panorama of the central massif.
CURRAL DAS FREIRAS (NUN’S VALLEY) TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
Hiking up from Curral das Freiras (Nun’s Valley) to Pico Ruivo is a journey for adventurous hikers that takes you on a steep climb to Madeira’s highest peak and back. The route winds up through the incline of Nun’s Valley before you burst over the ridge to join the famous ‘Pico to Pico’ trail that links Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. Using this popular trail, the route sends you to Pico Ruivo before returning on a lesser-known forest track as you descend swiftly back into Nun’s Valley. There is some serious incline on this hike and this specific route isn’t a well-known track but there are a number of route options to reach Pico Ruivo from Nun’s Valley. I did this route with the guys from Madeira Wonder Hikes who showed me the way.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CURRAL DAS FREIRAS (NUN’S VALLEY) TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
CALDEIRÃO DO INFERNO WATERFALL HIKE
The Caldeirão do Inferno waterfall hike is one of the best levada walks on Madeira island with lush jungles and several amazing waterfalls! This adventurous levada trail is one of the most popular hikes on the island due to its incredible waterfalls, dense jungle surroundings, and most importantly, it’s a relatively flat trail without too much incline. The Caldeirão do Inferno hike is the same as the Caldeirão Verde hike but you continue on for another 2.4-kilometers to reach an incredible canyon and then one final, massive waterfall. I really enjoyed this hike and would highly recommend it, especially for those who enjoy walking but don’t want a huge uphill trek with dangerous conditions.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CALDEIRÃO DO INFERNO WATERFALL HIKE
FAJÃ DO AMO HIKE IN SÃO VICENTE
The Fajã do Amo hike in São Vicente takes you through the lush Laurrisilva forest up a very steep climb before finishing at an epic coastal viewpoint perched on the cliffside. Throughout the hike, there are a number of dangerous rock climbing sections and also thick, overgrown trails. The viewpoint is also precariously positioned on the cliffside with no fences or maintenance. This is a hike for experienced adventurers looking for a beautiful tour in the São Vicente region in the north of Madeira Island. I did this route with the guys from Madeira Wonder Hikes who showed me the way.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: FAJÃ DO AMO HIKE IN SÃO VICENTE
PICO CANÃRIO HIKE
The Pico Canãrio hike is a physical challenge that will provide uniquely epic views of Madeira from perspectives you’ve never seen. Even after five months on the island, some of the landscapes surprised me. This loop is a strenuous 26-kilometer route with 1800 meters of incline. If you’re up for a battle through the forest you will be rewarded on this incredible journey throughout Madeira’s central massif.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PICO CANÃRIO HIKE
PICO DA RODA HIKE IN CURRAL DAS FREIRAS (NUN’S VALLEY)
The Pico da Roda hike is a very adventurous, alternative path in Nun’s Valley with incredible views of the tallest peaks on the island of Madeira. The short but very steep course takes you up from the valley onto the ridge to find several unique rock formations such as Pico da Roda before descending along an overgrown trail back into the valley.
The path on this track is quite crumbly and there are large drop-offs, so it is a hike that I suggest is only good if you are with a local who knows the way or a guide. I did this route with the guys from Madeira Wonder Hikes who showed me the way.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PICO DA RODA HIKE
HIKING THE MADEIRA ISLAND ULTRA TRAIL IN 4 DAYS
Hiking the Madeira Island Ultra Trail was one of the toughest trails I’ve ever done. 115 kilometers from Porto Moniz to Machico, visiting many of the island’s tallest peaks along the way. 8000 meters of incline made the four-day journey a brutal adventure through some of Madeira’s most beautiful regions. This route is a race every year for ultra-distance trail runners. The record is just under 13 hours but most participants take closer to a full day of non-stop motion to reach the finish line.
We packed our camping gear including tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, hiking gear and food four the four-day journey across the island. For three nights we camped, had a fire and recovered overnight for the next day of hiking.
Below, you will find the video I created while we were hiking. I hope it gives you an insight into the journey and what the Madeira Island Ultra Trail is all about.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING THE MADEIRA ISLAND ULTRA TRAIL
CAMINHO REAL 23: MADEIRA’S ROYAL PATH
The Caminho Real 23 was a route commissioned by the King of Portugal in the 19th century. It was essentially a road or passage designed to be used for walking, carrying items, and for sleds pulled by strong oxen. The road, hand-built with stones, takes you around the perimeter of the island for 170 kilometers with approximately 8000 meters of vertical gain on the route. Nowadays, many parts of the route are unpassable, eroded, or in need of repair. Hikers need to find alternative detours around some sections in order to link up to the original roads of the Caminho Real 23.
We did this hike in 7 days and camped along the way. It was an incredible tour of Madeira and you can read more about the experience by clicking on the huge article I wrote about the journey below.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CAMINHO REAL 23: MADEIRA’S ROYAL PATH
LEVADA FAJÃ DO RODRIGUES WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada Fajã do Rodrigues hike on Madeira Island takes you through some incredibly lush forest paths to many amazing waterfalls. The trail begins quietly beside the levada but quickly escalates with a number of tunnel passages. The final destination is an epic canyon, which hides multiple waterfalls. It’s one of my favorite levada walks on Madeira and although it is quite easy, you feel like it’s a big adventure because of the tunnels, and immersion into the depths of the forest. This would be a great hike for beginners or a family.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LEVADA FAJÃ DO RODRIGUES WATERFALL HIKE
LEVADA DO MOINHO TO LEVADA NOVA WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike is a peaceful trail along the levadas where you will find an incredible waterfall you can actually walk behind! The walk only has 150m of elevation, which makes it quite a leisurely trail along the levada. You will no doubt enjoy walking along the path, which is carved behind the waterfall making it the main attraction of this hike. The path follows a levada for the majority of the trail but there are a lot of moments of exposure with big drop-offs so while it is a levada walk, it is not one of the ‘easiest’ levada walks on Madeira.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LEVADA DO MOINHO TO LEVADA NOVA WATERFALL HIKE
CAMINHO DO PINÁCULO E FOLHADAL WATERFALL HIKE
The Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal waterfall hike takes you along the Lombo do Mouro trail with epic ridges, several waterfalls, and incredible views! It’s a long one with 18-kilometers of trail and more than 700 meters of incline throughout the route. It’s a great trail for a sunrise start and if you are lucky you may enjoy some mystical cloud cover over the valley below! The path often carves its way through huge stone walls and narrow tunnels before delving into the Laurissilva Forest. It’s a very immersive trail and you get a bit of everything on this long journey.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: CAMINHO DO PINÁCULO E FOLHADAL WATERFALL HIKE
LEVADA DAS 25 FONTES AND RISCO WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada das 25 Fontes is arguably the most popular ‘easy’ hike on the island of Madeira, attracting a variety of tourists from around the world. They come from far and wide to see enjoy the iconic levada trail that leads hikers to the 25 fountains, which are the source of the levada. The weeping wall of 25 streams pours down into a pool where hikers can take a very refreshing dip in the cool water. The giant Risco Waterfall can be viewed from a viewpoint along the route and further cements this hike as one of the best on Madeira.
This route takes you through some flat forest paths and then up and down some small sets of stairs to reach the pool and waterfall at the final destination. It’s worth the hike but it will be busy. I would suggest starting just after sunrise for this one as getting there early helps you avoid the crowds. This one can get busy by mid-morning so it’s best to get out and enjoy it early if you want a peaceful Madeira walk. It’s also a good idea to visit this one in the rainy months as it can be quite dry in the summer.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LEVADA DAS 25 FONTES AND RISCO WATERFALL HIKE
LEVADA PONTA DO PARGO HIKE ON MADEIRA ISLAND
Levada Ponta Do Pargo trail is a coastal hike on the western side of Madeira Island. It’s an epic route for sunset with incredible views of the sea cliffs and azure blue waters. As well as the coastal scenery, the trail leads you up into the forest as you follow the Levada through the rolling hills, all the time with ocean views. This hike is great for sunset and if you want a trail with some hills but not a crazy incline. The viewpoint at the end of the trail is quite a spectacular spot too.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LEVADA PONTA DO PARGO HIKE
EMPENAS HIKE IN NUN’S VALLEY TO ‘THE WINDOW’
The Empenas hike is a challenging ascent in Nun’s Valley to reach a small passageway between two huge rock walls, which is known as ‘The Window’. The route involves lots of bouldering, using safety ropes, and over a vertical kilometer of climbing as you navigate your way up the steep, crumbly cliff-side.
This hike is in the difficult category. The main reason for this is the many sections of trail that require ropes for safety. There’s lots of scrambling and bouldering. The incline is more than a vertical kilometer, which is a challenge in itself. The route is not clear at all and not signed. I went with a hiking group who led the way and cut invasive plants where necessary. Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well and can lead you through it.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: EMPENAS HIKE IN NUN’S VALLEY TO ‘THE WINDOW’
PICO DO ALTO RIDGE HIKE IN BOAVENTURA
The Pico do Alto ridge hike is one of the most incredible adventures on the north coast of Madeira Island. The ridge will test the vertigo of hikers while providing incredible views of Sao Jorge on one side of the ridge and Boaventura on the other side. The ocean and mountains combine to make this one of the most scenic trails on the island.
This hike is one I would list as moderately difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly the incline is 769 meters, which is a pretty steep journey. Secondly, the terrain is a mixture of rocky stairs, muddy tracks, and slippery descents. You have to be prepared for it all. There are a few moments of exposure and lots of scrambling. The guys from Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well and can lead you through it as they actually created this trail.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PICO DO ALTO RIDGE HIKE
FAJÃ DA OVELHA HIKE ABOVE PAUL DO MAR
The town of Paul do Mar on the southern coast of Madeira is one of the most scenic spots on the entire island. With towering cliffs looking down over the small beach town, it is incredibly picturesque. This Fajã da Ovelha hiking trail starts at one end of the town, climbs up to the ridge above, traverses along the ridge, and then drops back down into the other end of the town. You visit several viewpoints along the way along the Vereda da Atalaia and the Vereda dos Zimbreiros hiking trails. This isn’t a well signed or official route but you can find the way via Maps.me or a with a guide from Madeira Wonder Hikes.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: FAJÃ DA OVELHA HIKE ABOVE PAUL DO MAR
ACHADAS DA CRUZ HIKE
The Achadas da Cruz cable car takes you down a huge cliff to an incredibly unique spot on Madeira, which is the traditional village of Fajá da Quebrada Nova. Nestled away on the north-western coast of Madeira, the small parish was once home to hundreds who tended to their livestock and agriculture. Today, many of the small, traditional homes have been unoccupied for years making it an incredibly unique and unusual place to explore.
Most people take the cable car up and down to the village but there is a small hiking trail to the side of the village that was used many years ago before the cable car. It’s a zig-zagging series of switchbacks. The map can be found easily on Maps.me and it wasn’t too dangerous in my opinion but there are no safety railings and there is some exposure.
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LEVADA DA RIBEIRA DA JANELA HIKE
The Levada da Ribeira da Janela hike runs from the coast to the mountains through an enormous canyon with scenic cliff-side levada paths throughout the journey. The 11.5-kilometer journey can be done as a point-to-point hike or doubled as a mighty 23-kilometer out and back trail. If it’s been raining recently, you can expect to meet quite a few waterfalls that will cascade onto the trail. Bring a raincoat and get ready for an adventure on this canyon hike that offers a relatively flat levada, for the majority of the route.
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LEVADA DOS CEDROS WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada dos Cedros hike follows a levada through one of the most beautiful forest sections on Madeira until you finally reach an incredible waterfall! This shady, forest hike winds through lush greenery for 6-kilometers before you will discover a multi-tiered waterfall for a refreshing dip.
The trail is fairly straightforward with no moments of danger. You have safety railing whenever there is a drop-off. The path is always following the levada so the route is clear but often the trail is rocky or muddy but nothing to worry about. If you take the return route via Fanal, you will have to endure 400m of an incline up the steep stairs.
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LEVADA DO REI WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada do Rei waterfall hike leads you on a peaceful trail into a jungle wonderland where you can find several stunning waterfalls! The trail follows the Ribeiro Bonito (Bonito River) through the jungle until you reach an atmospheric gorge featuring several small cascades and waterfalls. At the very end of the gorge, you will find a giant hidden waterfall that is accessible with some basic climbing, clambering, and a sense of adventure.
This trail is one of the easiest Levada walks on Madeira. There is only a little bit incline, the trail is clearly marked and there are no moments of danger on this very popular tourist route.
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LEVADA DO BRASILEIRO TO LEVADA DO MOINHO HIKE
The Levada do Brasileiro to Levada do Moinho hike is a circular route winding through the Laurisilva UNESCO Forest with incredible scenery! I really loved the first section of the trail as we had to adventure through the twisted vines and incredible trees from within the forest.
The trail is moderate on the difficulty scale. It’s not dangerous by any means but there are a few components that make it a little interesting. There are uneven surfaces beside the levada with big drop-offs. There is a wide path but you have no railing or safety fence so you need to stay vigilant. You also have a few downhill sections on slippery dirt through the forest, which will test out your balance.
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FAJÁ DOS PADRES TRAIL: MOST DANGEROUS HIKE ON MADEIRA
There are many scary ridges, crumbly climbs, and slippery slopes but the Faja dos Padres trail is up there as the most dangerous hike on Madeira. The narrow path, often less than 1-meter wide, ascends up the crumbly, coastal cliff above the Fajã dos Padres village. The quiet town below is in stark contrast to the intensity of the drop-off as you wind your way up this perilous cliff-side.
This trail is rated very difficult and not for inexperienced hikers. There are very dangerous drop-offs, unstable ground, crumbly rocks, overgrown cactus, and waterfall crossings just to name a few. I don’t recommend this hike unless you are very experienced and even then you can be unlucky with falling rocks or landslides, so do be as careful as possible. It was pretty scary at times.
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FAJÃ DO NOGUEIRA LOOP HIKE
The Fajã da Nogueira loop hike is a spectacular trail that begins and ends at the electricity plant in the center of the island. The route leads you up, high above the canyon, and follows a levada along some sketchy, narrow paths through tunnels and underneath waterfalls. A backdrop of the highest peaks on the island creates a dramatic view as you traverse the landslide-prone region.
This hike is one I would list as moderately difficult for a number of reasons. The levadas and trail are pretty wild. There are lots of landslides in this area so the fencing and pathways are often missing or with big holes. There are many huge drops and lots of places to make one wrong slip and fall a long way. It’s probably not the best route for kids or those who aren’t experienced with staying safe close to edges with a big drop-off.
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MONTE TRIGO HIKE IN SAO VICENTE
The hike on Vereda do Monte Trigo takes you up through the dense forest of Sao Vicente to several incredible rocky viewpoints overlooking the valley. Expect some scrambling and bouldering on this trail with the assistance of chains and ropes throughout the track. We had incredible conditions with fast-moving clouds floating through the valley while we stood on the huge boulders at the top of the trail!
This hike is one I would list as moderately difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly the incline is 992 meters, which is a pretty steep journey over just 6 kilometers. Secondly, the terrain is a mixture of rocky stairs, muddy tracks, and slippery descents. You will have to use ropes and chains that are installed to ascend and descend up boulders and steep, rocky stairs. Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well and can lead you through it as it is not signed at all.
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PICO DO JORGE HIKE
Pico do Jorge is a lesser-known peak in the center of Madeira Island. There are many different routes you can take to reach this mighty peak but I chose a loop route beginning in Curral das Freiras (Nun’s Valley). We looped up from Nun’s Valley, passed Boca das Torrinhas, summited Pico do Jorge and then went on to Pico Grande before circling back down a long descent into Nun’s Valley. You get everything on this 16.5-kilometer journey, which has 1,550 meters of incline throughout the route.
This hike is one I would list as difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly the incline is 1,556 meters, which is very steep for most hikers. Secondly, it’s quite long on top of the incline with 16.5 kilometers to cover. The terrain is a mixture of rocky scrambling to nice grass paths to slippery descents. You have to be prepared for it all. There are a few moments of exposure but there wasn’t anything very technical on this hike. Summiting Pico do Jorge isn’t necessary but involved a bit of technical scrambling and adventuring off the path.
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CHÃO DA RIBEIRA WATERFALL HIKE
Chão da Ribeira is an incredible plateau in the mountains above Seixal on the north coast of Madeira Island. It’s such an incredible valley of lush forest that it’s known to locals as ‘The Sanctuary’. As soon as I arrived after the winding drive up from the coast, I could sense it was a special place. We hiked on one of the common trails to a series of waterfalls and streams, often passing through small tunnels along the way.
This hike isn’t too dangerous but also not entirely easy. The hike isn’t very well signed at all, so you will need my map or to be with a local guide. There were almost 500 meters of elevation all at once up the initial climb, which was pretty steep. There are a few drop-offs but I never felt like I was in danger as the path was always wide enough or with railings. You will want a headlamp for the tunnels but they were quite safe and had good clearance overhead. The toughest part of the hike was the optional stream exploration at the halfway point. Here we had to scramble and boulder up the stream to explore and find the extra waterfalls.
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RIBEIRA DE SÃO JORGE TO ILHA UPSTREAM HIKE
Ribeira de São Jorge to Ilha is an upstream hike and one hell of an adventure on Madeira Island. The hike begins inside the canyon and you follow the Ribeira de São Jorge for almost 10 kilometers until you make the steep ascent out of the canyon and join up with the Ilha trail to wind your way back down the ridge to Ilha. It’s very adventurous, you will be submerged in water many times and need to scramble up steep and muddy ascents.
The difficulties on this trail are the terrain for the most part. While there are no drop-offs or moments to be afraid of heights, it’s the slippery nature of an upstream hike that will get most people. Slippery rocks, walking through water, and scrambling up and down boulders require some technical skills. The ascent was very steep and you should be comfortable scrambling on all fours while holding on to trees for stability. This hike is recommended for experienced hikers I would say although it was nothing super technical. Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well and can lead you through it.
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VEREDA DAS FUNDURAS HIKE FROM PORTELA VIEWPOINT
The Vereda das Funduras hike begins at Portela Viewpoint, which has a great view over the iconic Penha d’Àguia rock formation in Porto da Cruz. The trail itself is mostly through the forest with the scenery highlighted by beautiful ferns and lush vegetation of the UNESCO Laurissilva Forest. This is a great trail for families, beginner hikers, and trail runners with low difficulty and only a slight incline throughout the route.
This hike has a low difficulty. The trail is relatively flat and the terrain was about as flat as it gets for a forest path on Madeira. There were no big drop-offs and I would suggest this one for families, trail-runners and you could even take your dog on this hike.
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HIKING TO ROCHA DO NAVIO COASTAL VILLAGE
Rocha do Navio is a Fajã in Santana, which is on the north coast of Madeira Island. A Fajã is a flat depression near the coast that is used for farming. There is a cable car that takes tourists up and down to the coastal village below but you can also take the more adventurous route on the steep but short hiking trail. The name Rocha do Navio comes from the Dutch shipwreck that occurred there in the 19th century.
This hike is quite short but it is very steep. There is some landslide damage and slippery sections on the trail so I would only recommend it to those with good footwear and comfortable with heights and stairs. There is a cable car that can take you up and down if you prefer not to hike but still want to visit the village/Fajã.
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THE LEVADA DO PLAINO VELHO WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada do Plaino Velho hike on Madeira takes you from Estanquinhos to the stunning viewpoint of Pico Ruivo do Paul da Serra. After the viewpoint, you head down into the Laurissilva Forest along the levada to reach the incredible Riberia do Inferno waterfall and tunnel passageways. The hike loops back up the steep climb to Estanquinhos for a short but incredible hiking route in the center of Madeira Island.
This hike is quite short but it is very steep on the return section. There are some tunnels to pass through where you will need a light. There are a few moments of exposure along the levada where you will need to take care but overall no moments of danger. It’s a moderately difficult hike but most experienced hikers will find it mild. It’s definitely not a basic levada walk! The guys from Madeira Wonder Hikes know this route well and can lead you through it as there are no signs for much of the route.
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PONTA DO ROSTO VIEWPOINT AND SHORT HIKE
The Miradouro da Ponta do Rosto viewpoint is located just before the famous Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço hike. However, you can drive all the way up to this viewpoint, which gives you easy access to one of the best sunrise spots on Madeira Island. If you are like me and love to explore, you can also complete a small, 3-kilometer loop along the coast from this viewpoint or even add it to the larger São Lourenço hike. You can find the details and map of this route by clicking the link below to the dedicated blog post for this hike.
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RIBEIRO FRIO TO CHÃO DAS FEITEIRAS LEVADA HIKE
The Ribeiro Frio to Chão das Feiteiras levada hike is a peaceful journey through the incredibly lush, UNESCO Heritage Laurissilva forest of central Madeira Island. There is no ‘epic viewpoint’ or incredible waterfall on this trail. However, what you will find is a quiet trail where you can become fully immersed in the forest. Hear the noises of the birds, notice the sound of the rain dropping from the leaves as you delve deep into the forest along this levada walk.
Overall this trail was not difficult. It was guided by the levada for most of the way with railings whenever there was a drop-off. The only hard part was staying on track in the second half of the route. Once you make the turn-off, when you begin up the hill for the incline, it is a little less well-defined and I needed to consult the online map a few times to stay on the right path. But in terms of the actual difficulty regarding the trail, there was nothing that should trouble you if 300m of incline is all good for your fitness. Kids, dogs, and families will enjoy this forest immersion.
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SANTO DA SERRA TO LEVADA DA SERRA DO FAIAL HIKE
Santo da Serra to Levada da Serra do Faial is a circular forest walk, which will take you away from busy hiking trails and provide you with a peaceful walk immersed in lush, green surroundings. This hike is far from the most epic or difficult trail on Madeira Island but it’s a fantastic stroll for a cloudy or gloomy day when the fog fills the forest to create a moody atmosphere.
Overall this trail was not difficult. Three of the kilometers are on the paved road and the other seven lead you along a muddy but relatively flat path through the forest with minimal incline. Have the online map ready because there are a number of turns to choose from throughout the hike.
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CASCADA ÁGUA D’ALTO WATERFALL HIKE
The Cascada Água D’alto waterfall hike on Madeira Island is a short walk following a levada to an impressive waterfall. This used to be a popular spot but the trail is now pretty wild and not maintained but easy to follow. The waterfall at the halfway point of the out-and-back route is one of the most impressive waterfalls on Madeira. It’s just a short hike with 3 kilometers in total for the return trip to the waterfall with less than 100 meters of incline.
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VEREDA DO PESQUEIRO HIKE IN PONTA DO PARGO
Vereda do Pesqueiro hike is an incredible coastal trail in Ponta do Pargo on the west of Madeira Island. This is a special trail because it is basically carved out of the side of the cliff and takes you down to a very remote beach where you can take a swim all alone. It’s exciting, physically challenging, and what Madeira is all about. The hike starts and finishes at Miradouro do Fio where you can park your car, have a coffee, or enjoy a post-hike beer and meal.
The trail will have to go in the difficult category but it’s only moderately difficult. The reasons are as follows. Firstly, it isn’t very well signed so you need to use Maps.me to follow the trail. Secondly, you have 450 meters of incline and most of that comes in a 1.5km section back to the top of the cliffs. This can be brutal if you aren’t used to climbing up a steep incline. Thirdly, there is no shade and Ponta do Pargo is known as being one of the hottest places on the islaÏnd so you will be exposed to the sun for most of the hike and it can really wear people down. Finally, the trail is very steep down and up the hill and both sides of the loop trail. Expect loose gravel and some drop-offs although you usually had a very wide path with one side of the cliff wall for safety.
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LAGOS DA MADEIRA WATERFALL HIKE
The Lagos da Madeira is a circular hiking route in Rabacal that takes you to Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall and several other falls in the region. After tracking up and down the Ribeira do Lajeado the final attraction on the loop is the massive man-made reservoir. It’s a good one to combine with the Lagoa do Vento and Levada do Alecrim. You can add all three hikes into one big route and it is still under 15-kilometers for the entire journey.
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LEVADA DOS TORNOS HIKE IN BOAVENTURA
The Levada dos Tornos hike in Boaventura has a great mix of waterfalls, viewpoints, and lush greenery within the UNESCO Laurissilva Forest. It’s a great hike that gives you a variety of scenery along the 13-kilometer point-to-point route through the valley in Boaventura. In this blog post, I will share with you the hiking details, directions, photos, and how to turn this point-to-point route into a circular hiking loop returning on a lower levada.
The trail is moderate on the difficulty scale. It’s not dangerous by any means but there are a few components that make it a little interesting. You have uneven surfaces beside the levada with big drop-offs at times where there is no railing. You need to take care during these sections. There is a wide path but you have no railing or safety fence so you need to stay vigilant. On the return section of the loop route, there are more exposed sections and a few narrow paths that take you under waterfalls.
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LEVADA DO ALECRIM WATERFALL HIKE
Levada do Alecrim waterfall hike on Madeira is one of the best, easy hikes on the island with a beautiful waterfall and swimming pool at the end! This is a great short hike with just 7-kilometers of hiking required for the return trip. The trail takes you along the levada and visits several waterfalls and pools on the way to the main falls.
This trail is very safe and is clearly marked. There were no moments of danger on this popular route although slippery rocks near the pools and waterfall can be a hazard for some hikers. The trail is easy to navigate but not very smooth with a bumpy, rocky ride making it easy to make a false step. As always take care, hike slowly and you will be fine on this one!
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LEVADA DA ROCHA VERMELHA WATERFALL HIKE
The Levada da Rocha Vermelha waterfall hike is a pretty adventurous journey, which leads you through one of the longest tunnels on Madeira before exploring the Rabacal Valley. Several waterfalls can be found throughout the route, but it is the constant views of the epic ridges within the valley that are the highlight of this hike.
The trail is moderate on the difficulty scale. It’s not dangerous by any means but there are a few components that make it a little interesting. First, you have a 1.6km-long tunnel that requires a headlamp and concentration. Then you have uneven surfaces beside the levada with big drop-offs. There is a wide path but you have no railing or safety fence so you need to stay vigilant.
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LEVADA DO PAUL HIKE
Levada do Paul is an easy levada walk near Calheta on Madeira Island. You can expect stunning views of the valley, windmills, and a small waterfall. The hike is an out and back trail and is pretty flat compared to other hikes on Madeira, which makes it a top choice for those who are looking for an easy levada walk on Madeira. I wouldn’t choose this hike if I had just a couple of days on the island but if you are based in Calheta and want a simple walk with some nice views, this one is a suitable pick.
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VEREDA DOS BALCÕES HIKE
Vereda Dos Balcões is the perfect trail for a small adventure with incredible views of the biggest peaks on Madeira. With a small 1.5-kilometer walk to and from the viewpoint, this is a hike great for families and those looking for an outstanding scenic spot without needing to trek for hours. The path leads you through a beautiful forest before finishing at the Balcoes (balcony) with views from the ocean to Pico Ruivo, which is the highest peak on Madeira at 1,862 meters.
This trail is one of the easiest hikes on Madeira. There is almost no incline at all, the trail is clearly marked and there are no moments of danger on this very popular tourist route.
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LAPAS NEGRAS HIKE
Lapas Negras is one of the most epic and also probably up there as one of the steepest trails on Madeira. Located on the coast of Sao Vicente, Lapas Negras leads you directly up the side of a rocky cliff face. It’s a challenging, exposed, and difficult ascent that often seems close to vertical. With more than 300 meters of the incline in less than 800 meters of distance, there isn’t a much steeper trail on the island.
Lapas Negras is a series of black caves, which can be seen from the highway running through Sao Vicente. They are big enough to walk through as you traverse around the cliff to reach the coastal viewpoint. The views of the northern coastline on Madeira are quite remarkable from halfway through the hike. The route finishes off by delving into the forest and looping back around to the parking lot. It’s very overgrown, steep, and quite exposed so this should be done with a local guide or someone who has been previously.
LEVADA DO CASTELEJO TO LEVADA DO FURADO HIKE
Levada do Castelejo and Levada do Furado are both great levada walks in their own right but when combined together on this adventurous route, you are in for a challenging and exciting hike on Madeira Island. The walk begins on the Levada do Castelejo with a cliffside path and views to Pico do Arieiro and the highest peaks on the island. Once at the river crossing, the trail diverts up the steep forest trail where things get interesting before joining up with the scenic Levada do Furado to circle back to the starting point.
Most people will do either Levada do Castelejo or Levada do Furado as an out and back or point to point, which means you are on the levada the entire time. That’s the best option but we combined them and had a very adventurous climb in the middle to link them together. That’s important to know so if you just want a levada pick either of those levadas don’t combine them like I did.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LEVADA DO CASTELEJO TO LEVADA DO FURADO HIKE
I hope you enjoyed this hiking guide to Madeira. It’s been incredible exploring this island, meeting the locals and documenting all of the adventures you have seen in this guide. Leave me a comment below if you think there is a hike I missed that needs to be on this list and I will check it out next time I’m back on the island!
HAVE YOU READ MY OTHER MADEIRA BLOGS?
I spent six months exploring Madeira and the nearby island of Porto Santo. These are some of my most popular guides about the region that you may be interested in.
The best waterfalls on the island: 25 EPIC WATERFALLS ON MADEIRA
My favorite levada walks: 25 BEAUTIFUL LEVADA WALKS ON MADEIRA
Most epic adventure I had: HIKING THE MADEIRA ISLAND ULTRA TRAIL IN 4 DAYS (115KM)
Longest hike on Madeira: CAMINHO REAL 23: MADEIRA’S ROYAL PATH (180KM)
YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT ALL OF MY MADEIRA VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
I created 20 adventure travel videos while on Madeira and some of them were from never-before filmed locations. From hiking in a snowstorm to running on coastal ridges, it’s a playlist of videos you will enjoy. I’ve linked the entire playlist of my Madeira videos below.
WONDERING ABOUT WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA?
Throughout my six months on Madeira, I stayed in multiple accommodations. My favorite regions to stay in were Funchal and Canico de Baixo. I’ve created several guides to help you find the right region for you and a great hotel or apartment.
The ultimate guide: WHERE TO STAY ON MADEIRA: WHICH REGION IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you want luxury: BEST 5-STAR LUXURY HOTELS ON MADEIRA ISLAND
To feel at home: TOP 10 BOUTIQUE HOTELS ON MADEIRA ISLAND
If you want to base in Funchal: WHERE TO STAY IN FUNCHAL: 15 TOP-RATED HOTELS