Hiking in Madeira is a must if you want to explore the island’s most beautiful places. The canyons, impressive landscapes and waterfalls that are hidden in the lush forests and mountains can’t be seen from the road. Especially the levada walks are very popular. There are about 2500 kms of levadas (irrigation canals) so if I tell you there are over 100 hikes spread over the Portuguese island, you know I don’t exagerate. In a week time I wasn’t able to do all these hikes (imagine that!) but I did some pretty impressive walks that I really want to share with you!
Hiking in Madeira: bucket list
Vereda do Arieiro (PR1)
This is probably the hardest hike on the island leading you from Pico do Arieiro (1818 m) to Pico Ruivo (1862 m) (and back) with a height difference of 320 meters (1542 m – 1862 m). Websites say it takes about 3,5 hours to do the walk. But if you really want to enjoy the sights and take photos like I do, it will take a day (It took me from 9 am to 4pm and I stopped after the last tunnel because I heard I had done the most beautiful part and you can reach Pico do Ruivo from Achada do Teixera). It’s a challenging walk for those who are afraid of heights and if you are in bad physical shape (lots of climbing and difficult stairs) . So I can say I’m very proud I did it. The views on your way are absolutely breathtaking and you’re mostly above the clouds. This made me feel as if I could rule the world. If you have a good physical condition don’t hesitate to do this hike! You won’t be disappointed.
Starting point: Pico do Arieiro
Distance: 12 km
Levada do Caldeirao Verde (PR9)
Hiking in Madeira also means waterfall chasing! So of course I picked this hike because it ends with a waterfall! What I didn’t know is that there were waterfalls on the way to the Caldeirao Verde as well! So this was a nice surprise! This hike doesn’t have that much climbing to do, but there are some parts that are quite scary when you’re afraid of heights and it also has some tunnels that are very long and dark! So don’t forget your flash light and watch out for your head! I loved the end point which is a “cauldron” with a massive waterfall of 100 m.
Starting point: Queimadas near Santana
Distance: 13 km
Levada das 25 Fontes / Levada do Risco (PR6 & 6.1)
These two hikes don’t take that long so they can be easily combined (at a certain point the path splits, so after you did 25 Fontes you just return to the crossing and then turn to Risco) Make sure to arrive very early, because around 10 am busses full of tourists arrive to do these hikes in groups of 30. How you can enjoy nature this way is something I can’t understand, but if you want to avoid the crowds, go early like I did and you’ll have the 25 Fontes all to yourself! The 25 Fontes is a 30 m waterfall of many different streams in a “cauldron” just like Caldeirao Verde. The impressive Risco waterfall makes a drop of 100 m and can only be seen from a path. You can’t reach the bottom (unfortunately). These hikes are very easy. The only “hard” part is the stairs to get back from 25 Fontes.
Starting point: Rabaçal
Distance: 9,2 km
Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenço (PR 8)
This time no waterfall, but a dramatic and extraordinary walk along the cliffs of the narrow peninsula of Sao Lourenço formed by lava. Strong winds, the burning sun and the many stairs are the challenge here. The rock formations and the color contrast with the blue wild ocean water are a true sight to see! I loved this walk and nature here is rough and unspoiled.
Starting point: E.R. 109 (Baía d’Abra – Caniçal)
Distance: 8 km
Vereda do Pico Ruivo (PR 1.2)
Since I didn’t make it to Pico Ruivo from Pico do Arieiro I walked up to Pico Ruivo from the parking lot of Achada do Teixera. (Hiking in Madeira doesn’t always need to be hard!) This hike is of moderate difficulty with awesome views above the clouds. Never hesitate to take pictures and never think, I’ll take the picture on my way back, because in less than an hour the weather can change and clouds can obstruct the view! In the beginning find the path to the Homem Em Pe rock formation.
Starting point: Achada do Teixera
Distance: 5,6 km
Hiking in Madeira: gear you’ll need
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