The best way to discover this paradise island in the North Atlantic Ocean
4 nights on the South coast and 3 nights on the North East Coast
Thrilling, scenic driving on Madeira’s excellent road network
Choose from different walks according to your abilities and preferences
Relaxing after your walks with fresh seafood and a glass of the local fortified wine
Explore the wonders of Madeira at your own pace with this specially crafted self-drive, walking as much or as little as you want. You will be based in two seafront accommodations on the north and south coast.
Madeira is a true walker’s paradise. Situated 600 miles south of Portugal and 400 miles from the coast of Morocco, the island emerged 8 million years ago from a volcanic hot spot. Covered by an immense primitive forest (Madeira means “wood” in Portuguese”), the Portuguese spent years and then centuries carving intricate terraces into the steep hillsides and creating a 2000-mile network of scenic canals (known as Levadas) to grow a variety of crops on the island’s rich and volcanic soils.
Your journey will take you along the jagged coastline where towering cliffs jut out of the ocean; through the storybook village gardens where yam and sweet potato meet papaya and avocado, along the endlessly pleasant Levadas, through the mysterious subtropical laurel forests, and finally to the high peaks above the forests, looking down on a sea of clouds. And, of course, there is always the option of just resting for a day and enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings!
|8 DAY TOUR||From €399 per person sharing*|
*A high season supplement will apply during peak booking periods.
|ACCOMMODATION||In charming hotels/guesthouses on a bed & breakfast basis. All rooms are en-suite.|
The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If a hotel is fully booked, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can also book additional nights at any of the hotels along the way.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start your trip on any day of the week (subject to availability) throughout the year.|
This holiday is rated as easy to moderate overall. Nevertheless, due to the jagged nature of the terrain, and some of the cliff-side paths (unavoidable in Madeira), hikers should be sure-footed and not prone to vertigo. The narrow, cliff-side paths are secured by a system of posts and cables. All of the proposed paths are well-worn, well-marked, and there’s no scrambling (needing to use your hands) along the way. Walking poles may be useful for the lengthy ascents and especially descents.
Day 1: Arrival in Madeira and drive to Porto da Cruz
Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive (20 mins) to Porto da Cruz where you will spend the next three days. This picturesque seaside village is situated on the north eastern coast, surrounded by steep cliffs and terraced slopes. Porto da Cruz has some nice beaches (rock and sand), as well as two natural swimming pools.
Porto da Cruz hotel for 3 nights.
Days 2-4: Explore the north coast and mountainous interior
During the next 3 days, you have the possibility of discovering the north and the center of the island.
The steep north coast and its Mediterranean vegetation, the deep valleys where small hamlets cling to the slopes, with their mosaic of terraces with tropical crops, banana and sugar cane irrigated by the “levadas”. High above, the mountainous foothills, pierced by gorges, are covered with a unique and original endemic forest.
Choose between a large selection of hikes:
Option 1 : Coastal hike on the São Lourenço peninsula:
Distance: 7 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m | 3 hrs approx.
This walk explores the finest cliff scenery on Madeira, with amazing colors and shapes. The semi-arid climate and its exposure to North winds have sculpted the low vegetation and explain the lack of trees, which distinguish this area from the rest of the Island. Swimming opportunities on a small sandy beach.
Option 2 : Hiking Queimadas – Caldeirao Verde
Distance: 12 km | Ascent: 90 m | Descent: 90 m | 3½ hrs approx.
One of the most spectacular Levada routes on the island
From the botanical park of Queimadas, the trail winds its way through the UNESCO World Heritage Reserve into the ”green cauldron” (Caldeirao Verde) ; a jungle canyon with waterfalls and prehistoric forest, lily-of-the-valley trees, giant dandelions, laurels and miniature ferns
Option 3: Ribeiro Frio hike
Distance: 12 km | Ascent: 300 m | Descent: 300 m | 3½ hrs approx.
Through the heart of the primary forest with superb views over the Faja de Nogueira valley and the peaks of Madeira.
Option 4: Castelejo hike
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m | 5 hrs approx.
Discover the authentic rural life of Madeira, along a levada lined by terraced plantations and traditional dry stone houses.
Option 5: Pico Ruivo and Pico Arriero Moutain hike
Distance: 9 km | Ascent: 900 m | Descent: 900 m | 5½ hrs approx.
The Pico Ruivo is the highest point on Madeira, standing at 1,862 m above sea level. The summit provides spectacular views over the entire island. This spectacular hike takes you along the central ridge of the island in an awe-inspiring landscape of volcanic peaks.
*possibility to extend the hike by an additional 2 hrs by continuing to the island’s second highest peak, Pico Arierro (1,818 m).
Option 6: Boaventura hike
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 450 m | Descent: 450 m | 5½ hrs approx.
A walking trail through the largest and wildest area of Laurisilva forest on the island.
Option 7: São Jorge walk
Distance: 8 km | Ascent: 300 m | Descent: 300 m | 3 hrs approx.
From the village of São Jorge, discover the traditional farmer’s thatched cottages and terraced crops. Enjoy magnificent viewing points over the whole west coast.
On day 4, after your walk, you will drive along the spectacular north coast road. You can stop and visit the elegant 17th century church of Sao Jorge whose interior is adorned with azulejos (ceramics) and choir carved with gilded wood, characteristics of Portuguese art.
You will pass by the villages of Boa Ventura and São Vicente, before crossing the Encumeada pass leading to the island’s south coast. You will stay 3 nights in the village of Jardim do Mar, an authentic jewel of a town, filled with colourful wildflowers and surrounded by steep cliffs.
Settle in your charming 3* hotel with pool, where you will spend the next 3 nights, optional massage treatments available with supplement.
Day 5 &6: Discovering the south of Madeira
During the next 2 days, you may discover the south of the island : a sunny coastline of pretty villages and tropical crops (banana, avocado, papaya and mango). The hills and villages climb up to the plateau of Paul de Serra at 1500 m, with its lunar landscape of moors and canyons.
Again, you have a large selection of hikes to choose from:
Option 1: Jardim do Mar to Paul do Mar
Distance: 7 km | Ascent: 600 m | Descent: 600 m | 3 hrs approx.
After a steady climb along the rocky volcanic cliffs, you reach the village of Prazeres. From here, you begin a descent on what is perhaps the most stunning of the island’s cobbled paths. In tight zigzags set beside vertiginous cliffs, the path descends 500 vertical meters to the fisherman’s village of Paul do Mar. You can either walk back to the charming village of Jardim do Mar, following the shore (pebbles, rocks) or you can take a taxi (not included).
Option 2: The Levada of 25 Fontes (25 springs) and the Risco waterfall
Distance: 10 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m | 4 hrs approx.
In the gorge of Janela, following the levadas, you dive into a world of waterfalls in the heart of the lush and humid subtropical forest .
Option 3: Paul de Serra
On the Paul de Serra plateau, you can choose from 3 small loops that can be easily linked in the same day:
- Ascent of Pico Ruivo de Paul (1h20 +/- 150 m)
- Exploration of the exuberant vegetation and waterfalls from Bica da Cana to Pinaculo (1h45 +/- 150 m)
- Exploration of Fanal, a place of rare beauty and tranquility in the middle of the Laurissilva Forestlaurels (1h10 +/- 75 m)
Option 4 : Ponta do Pargo
A hike on the north-west coast to Ponta do Pargo, which follows the peaceful Levada Nova, through a forest of eucalyptus and pine trees and forgotten hamlets (3h45 walk, altitude difference +450 m – 450 m).
Day 7: Jardim do Mar to Funchal
Another scenic drive along the south coast to the island’s capital, Funchal. You may stop in Calheta to visit its remarkable 17th century church and the ancient rum distillery. A little further along, do not hesitate to stop in Camara dos Lobos, a picturesque fishing village. Arrival in Funchal where you are going to spend your last night in the city center.
Funchal means fennel, which is what the Portuguese found growing here when they first arrived. Today the city is home to half of the island’s population. Visit of the old town center and the colorful market that is filled each morning with fresh fish and fruits, including a stunning variety of maracuja (passion fruits). If you have enough time take the cable car that leads you 300 m above the sea. Up there you may visit the Tropical Garden (cable car and entrance fees to the garden not included).
Day 8: End of your trip in Funchal
Drive to the aiport and drop off your rental car.
Getting to Porto da Cruz
|Madeira’s only international airport is Funchal Airport.|
You can either fly direct or get a connecting flight via Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, or elsewhere. There are direct flights to Funchal from many European cities.
|This is designed as a self-drive hiking holiday, which means that you will require a rental car to get around. You can either arrange this in advance yourself or we can arrange it for you.|
Porto da Cruz is about 14 km from the airport and the drive takes 20 mins approx. We will send you an information pack with itineraries, maps and all information you need to navigate your way around the island.