A great year-round walking destination and a paradise for nature lovers
Discover the contrasts of the ‘Flower Island’, with its lush green interior and rugged coastline
Stroll along volcanic crests, high above the ocean
Walk the Levadas (a network of narrow canals unique to Madeira) that crisscross the island.
Explore Funchal’s cobbled streets and browsing the flower market
Trekking in Madeira: Self-guided walking holiday
Madeira is the perfect year-round hiking destination due to its mild climate and diversity of landscapes. In just a few hours walking, you will go from immense volcanic mountains to a subtropical oceanside. Towering peaks rise from the laurel forests, separated by lush, deep valleys with excellent hiking trails.
Madeira is nicknamed the “Pearl of the Atlantic” and is famed for its beautiful endemic vegetation (such as the Madeira orchids, digitalis and blueweed). This volcanic island is incredibly fertile and produces crops from bananas and sugar cane to yams and sweet potatoes. The “poios” (terraced lands) are still worked and harvested by the locals in even the most remote areas of the island.
Hiking the Levadas
The irrigation system is possible thanks to the many Lévadas – small canals – that gather the water from endless water streams of the North of the island. These canals offer a perfect way to discover this island, thanks to the many paths that run along them – forming a network of walking trails across this sub-tropical island. These make for fantastic walking routes, taking you to many spectacular viewpoints.
The island was colonised in 1425 by Portugal. Towns and villages were constructed during the golden age of the Portuguese empire. Towns such as Funchal are a wonderful example of this type of Portuguese colonial architecture.
|8 DAYS/7 NIGHTS||From €699 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for groups of 3 or more. Please enquire for prices.
|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.|
Day 1: Arrival in Madeira & transfer to Machico
You will be welcomed at the airport and transferred by taxi to Machico. Machico, the first town founded in Madeira, is the former capital city of this island. Today it is a small peaceful seaside resort. Depending on your arrival time, you will have the opportunity to wander in the village and walk along the beachside promenade. Have dinner in one of the excellent local restaurants, which serve fresh seafood and agricultural produce of the island.
Day 2: the Boca do Risco balconies
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 250 m | Descent: 350 m | 4 hrs 15 mins approx.
Beginning your week with one of the most beautiful walks of Madeira, on a footpath 300 metres above the ocean. After the terraced pastures of the Ribeira Seca valley, the coastal path of Boca do Risco gives you a birds eye view over the backwash and creaks below. The walk finishes with a descent to the ocean and to the charming fishermen’s village of Porto da Cruz, located along the northern coast of the island in one of the few places where the cliffs do not drop directly into the Atlantic.
Transfer to Santana, famed for its typical thatched houses.
Overnight: Santana (dinner included)
Day 3: Caldeiro Verde
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 90 m | Descent: 600 m | 4½ hrs approx.
Beginning with a short transfer, today you will discover one of the most spectacular Levada hikes of Madeira. Walking gradually into the famous Laurisilva – remains of the humid subtropical laurel forest that was once widespread across the globe but is now only found in Madeira, the Azores and the western Canary islands. In the lush interior of the island, you will spot many examples of the endemic flora, including large photonias and Madeira laurels, heather, orchids, isoplexis and blueweed of Madeira.
After several tunnels and cliffside passageways (safe), you will reach the famous Caldeiro Verde (“Green Cauldron”). You can swim in the source, at the foot of an 80m-high waterfall if you are brave enough! Then, you will go back on the path to begin your descent to the isolated village of Ilha. You will enjoy incredible vantage points over the ocean all the way on your descent.
Return transfer to Santana.
Overnight: Santana (dinner included)
Day 4: Pico Ruivo
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 550 m | Descent: 1240 m | 6 hrs approx.
One of the nicest mountain hikes of the island! From Achada do Teixera, the path will lead you to the summit of the island – Pico Ruivo – and later to the crests of the mountain chain that crosses the island from west to east.
On several occasions, the path follows the northern and southern slopes giving you great vantage points of the coasts of the island. You will pass through different ecosystems, such as the laurisilva and mountain forests. Arrival at your accommodation located on the central plateau, where you will stay for the next two nights.
Overnight: Encumeada (dinner included)
Day 5: Col d’Encumeada / Pico Grande / Boca da Corrida
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 750 m | Descent: 450 m | 4½ hrs approx.
Possibility to walk up the Pico Grande, +/-360 m and 2h extra of walking time.
Today you will be hiking on the flanks of Pico Grande and the col of Boca da Corrida. You will have stunning views of the crests of the Curral das Freiras.
Overnight: Encumeada (dinner included)
Day 6: Jardim do Mar / Prazeres / Paul do Mar
Distance: 8 km | Ascent: 650 m | Descent: 650 m | 3½ hrs approx.
Possibility to extend the hike by 45 mins by walking on the groyne (2 km).
This morning you will start the day with a hike up to the rocky and volcanic faces to get to the farmland and village of Prazeres. Feel free to have a much-earned break at the Quinta Pedagogica of Prazeres to enjoy a cha de limao (a tea infused with aromatic lemon peel). Descend to the desert plateau of Paul do Mar via a spectacular path surrounded by poios (terraced pastures). This path is part of a great network of “royal” paths that were used, in the past, by the Paul do Mar fishermen who wanted to go to other villages to sell their catch. Depending on the tide, you can get to the village of Jardim do Mar via the groyne (man-made sand barrier) or by taxi (payable on site).
Overnight: Jardim do Mar (dinner included)
Day 7: Funchal
Transfer to Funchal. A free day to explore Madeira’s capital; a charming town built amphitheatre-style around the bay. The town’s name originates from the word fennel (Foncho in Portuguese) that was growing in this bay when the Portuguese disembarked there. It is very enjoyable to wander through its narrow streets and alleys, its colourful gardens and its seafront promenade. Also not to be missed is the ‘Mercado dos Lavradores’, a colourful fruit and fish market.
Other optional possibilities (to be paid on site):
- Some of the best views of Funchal can be observed from the cable car that takes visitors from the seafront to the mountain village of Monte.
- Return from Monte to Funchal’s city centre on a “Carreiro do Monte”, a traditional wicker-made sledge, used by locals to get, quickly, to Funchal.
Day 8: Departure
A taxi transfer will take you to Madeira airport for your return flight.