Known as the flower island, Madeira offers diverse sceneries and a pleasant climate all year round. 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. Discover the various faces of the island on a walking holiday to remember!
- Levada trails
- Ribiero Bonito
- Laurisilva of Madeira UNESCO site
- Natural Pools of Porto Moniz
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival in Porto da Cruz
Arrive in the small fishing village of Porto da Cruz. Depending on your arrival time, relax on the black sandy beach or visit one of the last remaining sugar mills and try 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 north coast | 15km
After a short transfer to Machico, walk along the north coast on one of the old supply routes, which was previously used to access the vineyards. Take in the views of the surrounding area from the path, before heading back to Porto da Cruz. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the village or relax with a glass of vinho seco americano, a local product of Porto da Cruz.
- Accommodation: Costa Linda or similar
- Walking for the day: 15km, 4.5-5h, ↑550m ↓550m
Day 3: Santana – Ribeiro Bonito – Sao Vicente | 10km
Start today’s walk in the traditional village of Santana, famous for the unique architectural style of its houses. Begin your ascent, passing small fruit gardens and vineyards, before reaching the viewpoint, which looks out across the entire northern shore, stretching from Porto Moniz to Ponta de Sao Lourenco. In good weather conditions, the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, is visible. Follow the Levada do Rei (King’s Levada) through an area of thick vegetation, towards the waterfall and springs of Ribiero Bonito. Continue on, following the path through a series of short tunnels before arriving in Sao Vicente.
- Accommodation: Solar da Bica or similar
- Walking for the day: 15km, 3h, ↑350m ↓350m.
Day 4: Paul da Serra Plateau – Porto Moniz | 11km
Take a transfer to the Paul da Serra Plateau, where today’s walk begins. Walk along high-altitude paths, surrounded by panoramic views, as today’s route heads closer towards Madeira’s green mountains. Today’s walk passes through the Laurisilva of Madeira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site within the Parque Natural da Madeira (Madeira Natural Park), and the largest surviving area of primary laurel forest. The trail passes an area of the forest known as Fanal, made up of crooked trees, green meadows and grazing highland cattle. Reach the coastal village of Porto Moniz, well-known for its natural swimming pools formed by cooling lava.
- Accommodation: Aqua Natura or similar
- Walking for the day: 11km, 3.5-4h, ↑150m ↓350m.
Day 5: Porto Moniz – Levada Nova – Calheta | 17km
Follow the trail along the southwest coastline, heading over the green hills, on paths with steep drops into the sea. Take a break in the rural village of Prazeres, before heading through fragrant eucalyptus forests, spotting wild flowers such as calla lillies, amarryllis and agapanthus along the way. Arrive in the lively coastal village of Calheta and perhaps end your day with a visit to the beach or the marina.
- Accommodation: Hotel Savoy Saccharum or similar
- Walking for the day: 17km, 4.5-5h, ↑50m ↓650m.
Day 6: Calheta – Levada do Norte – Funchal | 15km
Take a short transfer along the southern coast, to the starting point of today’s walk. Begin your ascent up to Levada do Norte, the longest and widest levada in the south of the island. Walk along agricultural terraces, passing through towns and villages, such as Quinta Grande and Campanario, before reaching the Cabo Girão viewpoint (580m). Cabo Girão is the highest sea cliff in Europe, providing extensive views over the coastline, the terraced fields below and the surrounding towns. Continue walking along the cliff, before arriving in Funchal, the island’s capital.
- Accommodation: Arts In Hotel Conde Carvalhal or similar
- Walking for the day: 15km, 5h, ↑250m ↓150m.
Day 7: Monte circular walk | 8km
Reach the pilgrimage site of Monte by cable car, located high above Funchal. After visiting the church, Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte, watch the famous wicker basket toboggan rides as they leave Monte and slide down the steep hill. Continue following the route, crossing through areas of subtropical island vegetation, before arriving back in the capital. A visit to the botanical gardens is highly recommend, which boast many species of the island’s flora over an area of 35,000 square metres.
Day 8: Departure
Departure after breakfast, or extend your stay with an additional night in Funchal.
What to expect
Accommodation on this tour includes a mix of small, locally-owned hotels, B&Bs and traditional guesthouses. They have been carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including their location, warm hospitality, fine local food or commitment to responsible tourism. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
Click to view default hotels
- Sample Hotels: Costa Linda, Solar da Bica, Aqua Natura
- Optional upgrade: 5-star Savoy Saccharum (or similar) at Calheta, 4-star Arts In Hotel Conde Carvalhal (or similar) in Funchal
Accommodation is subject to availability. In the event of a particular hotel being fully booked for your chosen dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation. A double bed may consist of twin beds pushed or joined together and requests for twin rooms will be accepted, however they cannot be guaranteed.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available en route, lunches and snacks can either be bought from local shops or packed lunches can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available either at the accommodation or from restaurants in the local area.
Difficulty and terrain
This holiday is appropriate for seasoned walkers and requires a reasonable level of fitness, with daily walking distances between 8-17km and an average walking time of 4-5h per day. The routes follow well-built and very diverse paths, which can sometimes be quite narrow and exposed. Many of the paths run along the coastal cliff edges and also along the levadas (irrigation canals). Therefore, sure-footedness is essential in some sections, and the tour may not be suitable for those with a fear of heights (read more about difficulty grades).
We strongly advise you to only follow marked trails and never try to shorten the path through unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed route notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed information on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available all year (06 January-07 December), with departures possible on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only.
Due to its mountainous topography, Madeira has diverse microclimates. The difference in altitude makes it possible to find snow on the top of the mountains in winter, for example, yet sunny weather with temperatures of up to 23C at sea level, or below what’s known as the banana line. Funchal Bay, protected by the highest peaks on the island, gets the most sunshine. Further down the southwest coast, in 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 is sunny and mild throughout the winter.
Our recommended airport for this tour is Madeira Airport (FNC).
- Arrival: from Madeira Airport take the bus to Porto da Cruz (30mins), or take a short taxi ride, costing approximately €30
- Departure: the return bus journey to Madeira Airport from Funchal takes about 1h. A taxi ride takes 30mins and costs approximately €30
- 7 nights accommodation
- 7 breakfasts
- Welcome briefing from our local representative
- Luggage transfers on all walking days
- Transfers according to program
- Bus journey from Cabo Girao to Funchal
- Cable car journey to Monte/Funchal
- Detailed tour materials (one per room), including GPS tracks and route descriptions
- 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 phone calls, extra transfers and tips
- Local tourist tax (payable locally)
- Any items not specifically listed as included
Options, extras and 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, to include multi-course evening meals on all nights
- Extra nights in Porto da Cruz and Funchal
- Optional hotel upgrade