Known as the flower island, Madeira offers diverse sceneries and a pleasant climate all year round. On our Coastal and Levada Trails of Madeira walking holiday, you will follow Madeira’s unique network of narrow irrigation channels known as levadas, and its ancient coastal footpaths. This walking holiday in Madeira incorporates the best hiking trails on this beautiful volcanic island, located in the Atlantic ocean.
The dry east, the cool north, the barren mountains, the moist high plateaus and the sunny south all invite you to come and explore this wonderful island. All year long, there are different flowers and trees blooming at different altitudes. The friendly locals invite you to get to know their country and their culture. Discover the various faces of the island on a walking holiday to remember!
- Unique coastal views
- Levada trails
- Exotic flowers
- Natural sea swimming pools made from lava rock
- The lively capital, Funchal
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Day 1: Arrival in Porto da Cruz
Depending on arrival time, you can relax on the black sandy beach in the small fishing village of Porto da Cruz. You can visit one of the last remaining sugar mills where you can try the popular Poncha – a local drink made from sugar cane liquor, honey and freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Accommodation: Costa Linda or similar
Day 2: Circular walk along the wild north coast | 15 km
After a short transfer to Machico, you will walk along the impressive north coast on one of the old supply routes, which was previously used to access the vineyards. Today one of the nicest footpaths runs along this route to Porto da Cruz. Enjoy the breath-taking views from the path.
- Accommodation: Costa Linda or similar
- Walking for the day: approx. 4.5 to 5 hours, 15 km, ↑550 m ↓550 m
Day 3: Santana – Sao Jorge – Sao Vicente, the quiet north coast | 15 km
You will start today’s stage in the traditional town of Santana, which is famous for the unique architectural style of its houses. Accompanied by amazing panoramic views, you ascend from the wild coastline, further upwards past small fruit gardens and vineyards until you reach a spectacular viewpoint.
From there, you can see across the entire northern shore stretching from Porto Moniz to Ponta de Sao Lourenco. If the weather is good, you will also be able to see the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, which is located north of Madeira. The stunning King’s Levada then leads you through jungle-like vegetation to the waterfall and springs of Ribiero Bonito.
- Accommodation: Estalagem do Vale or similar
- Walking for the day: approx. 4.5 to 5 hours, 15 km, ↑650 m ↓150 m.
Day 4: Sao Vicente – Porto Moniz, Paul da Serra high plateau | 11 km
Transfer to the Paul da Serra high plateau. Today’s walk brings you closer to Madeira’s green mountains. You will walk along high-altitude paths rich in spectacular views, through shady laurel forests, which are a UNESCO world heritage site. An amazing hiking trail takes you through colourful blooming broom bushes to Fanal, a fairytale-like wood forest and pasture area: crooked trees, green meadows and grazing highland cattle create a mystical atmosphere.
In the afternoon, you reach the coastal village of Porto Moniz with its wonderful views of the blue sea. This charming place is well-known for its natural swimming pools formed by the ocean in the black lava rock.
- Accommodation: Moniz Sol or similar
- Walking for the day: approx. 3.5 to 4 hours, 11 km, ↑150 m ↓350 m.
Day 5: Porto Moniz – Calheta, Levada Nova, south west coast | 17 km
Today you will walk along the south-west coastline via green hills, which steeply drop into the sea. In this part of the island, you will discover the original way of life of its inhabitants. Prazeres is known as one of the loveliest villages of Madeira island. On your walk through fragrant eucalyptus forests, you will keep seeing Callas, Amarryllis and Agapanthus growing wildly. You will stay overnight in the lively coastal village of Calheta. It has a fine sandy beach and an elegant marina.
- Accommodation: Hotel Savoy Saccharum or similar
- Walking for the day: approx. 4.5 to 5 hours, 17 km, ↑50 m ↓650 m.
Day 6: Calheta – Funchal, Levada do Norte | 15 km
Short transfer along the southern coast before you set off up to Levada do Norte from where you will get amazing views. It is also the longest and widest Levada in the south. You will walk along typical farmed terraces and small villages like Quinta Grande and Campanario to the Cabo Girao viewpoint. This is the highest sea cliff in Europe, revealing fantastic views of the terraced fields below you and of the coastline as far as the capital, Funchal.
- Accommodation: Four Views Baía or similar
- Walking for the day: approx. 5 hours, 15 km, ↑250 m ↓150 m.
Day 7: Circular walk Monte & botanic gardens | 8 km
You reach by cable car the pilgrimage site of Monte, situated high above Funchal. After a visit to the church Nossa Senhora do Monte, you can marvel at the fast wicker basket sledgers before embarking on your final stage. With a stunning view onto the coast of Funchal, the route leads you once again across subtropical island vegetation and back into the capital. We highly recommend visiting the amazing botanical garden, giving you an understanding of the exotic flora of the island on an area of 35,000 square metres.
- Accommodation: Four Views Baía or similar
- Walking for the day: approx. 3 hours, 8 km, ↑100 m ↓550 m.
Day 8: Departure
Departure or extension upon request.
What to Expect
Accommodation is in 3/4-star hotels on five nights and a 2-star family hotel on the two nights at Porto da Cruz. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Click to view default hotels
- Sample Hotels: Costa Linda, Estalagem do Vale, Moniz Sol, Four Views Baía
- Optional upgrade: 5-star Savoy Saccharum (or similar) at Calheta, 4-star Arts In Hotel Conde Carvalhal (or similar) at Funchal
Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation. Rooms may be single, twin or double. A double bed may consist of twins pushed or joined together. Requests for twin rooms will be accepted, however they cannot be guaranteed.
Breakfast is included every day. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.
Difficulty & terrain
This holiday is appropriate for seasoned walkers and requires a reasonable level of fitness; the average walking time is 4-5 hours per day (14-15 km). The daily routes run along well-built and very diverse paths, which can however sometimes be quite narrow and exposed. Lots of paths run along the coastal cliff edges and also along Levadas (irrigation canals), where a head for heights and firm-footing are essential in some sections (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are on waymarked paths and trails and you will be also provided with all the information and GPS tracks necessary to navigate you. You can also call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime if you need assistance.
When to go
This trip is available during the whole year (between 4 January and 12 December), and departures are possible on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only. Due to its mountainous topography, the island has diverse microclimates. The difference in altitude makes it possible in winter to find snow on the top of the mountains, as in Pico do Areeiro, but sunny weather and 23 ºC at sea level or below the ‘banana line’. The bay of Funchal, protected by the highest peaks, enjoys the most sunshine. Further down the south-west coast, at Ribeira Brava, Ponta do Sol, Madalena do Mar, Calheta, Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar, backed by the lower hills of Paul da Serra, the sun shines brighter during the summer months, and it’s sunny and pleasant throughout the winter.
Our recommended airport for this tour is Funchal airport.
- Arrival: From Funchal airport you can take a bus, taking you to Porto da Cruz (30 minute ride) or you can take a short taxi ride costing around EUR 30 per journey.
- Departure: The return journey to Funchal airport from Funchal takes about 1 hour. The taxi costs around EUR 30 and takes about 30 minutes.
- 7 overnight stays with breakfast included (5 nights in 3/4-star hotels, 2 nights in a 2-star hotel)
- Luggage transfers on all walking days
- Welcome briefing
- Transfers according to program
- Bus ride from Cabo Girao to Funchal
- Uphill cable car journey to Monte/Funchal
- Carefully elaborated route description
- Detailed travel and tour documents (1x per room)
- GPS tracks
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the program
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Half-Board supplement: multi-course evening meals on all nights
- Extra nights in Porto da Cruz and Funchal
- Optional hotel upgrade
- Local tourist tax, if due, is not included in the price
We had a lovely time. We would like to make a special mention of our host Darwin, who was absolutely fantastic - you couldn't ask for a better guide to the island! We did find the last two walks before reaching Funchal quite similar - both through a lot of eucalyptus, but other than that the walks were great.