Updated: Jan 15
Madeira Island is a true hikers' paradise. With over 3,000 kilometers of hiking trails, there's no shortage of breathtaking landscapes to explore. As residents of the island for over 2 years, we've had the opportunity to experience the best of Madeira's hikes, and we're still discovering new trails to conquer. In addition to our own personal hiking experiences, we also offer guided hiking weeks on Madeira and are the founders of Home Office Madeira, a unique accommodation option for both co-living and co-working. With ideal hiking weather year-round, Madeira is a top European destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
In this ultimate guide, we'll take you through our top 30 hikes on the island, complete with detailed information such as hiking maps, what to pack, and the best time to go. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just starting out, there's something for everyone on this beautiful island. From easy levada walks through the UNESCO-protected Laurissilva forest, to coastal hikes with stunning ocean views, and steep mountain trails, Madeira has it all. So come along with us and discover the best hikes on Madeira Island.
Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo Hike
The Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is a must-do for any adventurous traveler visiting Madeira Island. This 12,2 kilometer out and back trail takes you through the heart of the island's mountain range, and offers some of the most breathtaking views you'll ever see.
Starting at Pico do Arieiro, which stands at 1818 meters, you'll be challenged by steep inclines and rocky terrain as you make your way to the island's highest peak, Pico Ruivo, at 1862 meters. With over 1000 meters of incline, this hike is not for the faint of heart, but the sense of accomplishment you'll feel once you reach the summit is worth every step.
It's recommended to begin your hike at sunrise, as this not only allows for cooler temperatures, but also the opportunity to beat the crowds and enjoy the trail in relative solitude. If you're looking for a less strenuous option, there is also a shorter and flatter trail to Pico Ruivo from Achada do Teixeira.
The trail is well-maintained with handrails and signs along the way, but it's important to come prepared with sturdy hiking boots, layers of clothing, a headlamp for the dark tunnels, at least 1.5 liters of water per person, a snack for energy, and sunscreen.
Starting Point: Miradouro Pico do Arieiro, where you'll find a large parking lot and a cafe.
Duration: 3-5 hours, depending on fitness level and time spent at the summit.
Difficulty: The hike is challenging with steep inclines, rocky terrain, and narrow cliff paths. It's suitable for experienced hikers.
Length: 11 kilometers out and back.
Incline: 1000 meters.
Pack Tips: Wear sturdy hiking boots, several layers of clothing, a headlamp, at least 1.5 liters of water per person, a snack, and sunscreen.
Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike
Embark on a journey to the top of the island with the Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike. This is the perfect hike for those looking for an easier and shorter alternative to the popular Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike.
Starting at the Achada do Teixeira parking lot in Santana, you will make your way to the highest peak of Madeira Island, Pico Ruivo, in just 1.5 hours. This out and back trail is 5,6 kilometers long and offers a relatively flat path with only 260 meters of incline, making it a family-friendly hike.
As you make your way to the summit, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the island. Look to your left and you'll see the Ribeira Seca valley with Pico das Torres and Pico do Arieiro in the background. Along the way, you'll also find various shelters and picnic areas where you can take a break, eat, or seek shelter in case of dense fog. Unlike the Pico do Arieiro hike, you won't have to walk through any tunnels on this trail.
This hike is a must-do for anyone visiting Madeira, especially for those staying at our Home Office Madeira. Imagine to finish work and watching the sunset from the top of the island, it's an experience you won't forget.
And remember to wear sturdy hiking boots, bring layers of clothing, at least 1 liter of water per person, and sunscreen. Happy hiking!
Levada das 25 Fontes Hike
The Levada das 25 Fontes hike is a popular destination for visitors to Madeira Island, however it is also one of the most touristy hikes on the island. At Homeoffice Madeira, we recommend looking for alternative hikes that offer a more authentic and secluded experience. However, as this hike is often recommended in guidebooks and by tour operators, we will provide an overview of the trail.
The hike begins in Rabaçal and takes you through the valley and into the forest, where you will pass a number of waterfalls along the way. The two most notable waterfalls are Risco and the 25 fountains waterfall, which is the source of the levada and where the hike gets its name. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to see a variety of plant and animal species that are native to the region. The Risco waterfall is particularly impressive, but only if there has been recent rainfall. During the summer months, the waterfalls on this hike tend to be dry and less impressive.
This is a point-to-point hike, meaning that you will retrace your steps on the way back to the parking lot. It is a relatively easy hike that is suitable for families, with a total distance of 11 kilometers and an incline of 300 meters. The trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, and it takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete.
When planning your hike, we recommend starting early to avoid the crowds, and to bring sturdy hiking boots, at least 1 liter of water per person, and snacks for energy. There is a cafe called Casa do Rabaçal located at the start of the hike where you can grab a coffee or a bite to eat before or after the hike.
Ponta do Sol: Levada Nova and Levada do Moinho Hike (PR7)
Embark on an adventure of a lifetime with the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova hike in Madeira. This 9 km circular hike is a must-do for nature enthusiasts and offers a unique experience of exploring the island's beautiful landscapes. The hike starts in the picturesque village of Ponta do Sol, home to the white Igreja da Lombada da Ponta do Sol church, where you'll find ample parking.
One of the highlights of this hike is the stunning waterfall that pours over the trail, carved into the cliff wall. As you make your way through the hike, you'll be surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful valley views. Unlike other levada walks in Madeira, this hike doesn't take you through a dense forest, which makes it an ideal hike for those who want to take in the island's beauty without getting lost in the jungle.
The hike is relatively easy with only 150 meters of incline via concrete stairs and is suitable for the whole family. The path is well-maintained and clearly marked, making it easy to navigate. You'll have plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of nature, and even take a break for a photo or lunch at the waterfall.
The total distance of the hike is 9 km, and it takes around 3 hours to complete, depending on your pace. Keep in mind that there is no public transport that goes to the start of this trail, so you will need to either have a rental car or take a taxi.
When planning your hike, make sure to wear sturdy hiking boots and bring at least 1 litre of water per person, as well as a banana or dried fruits for energy. A rain jacket or cover for your backpack is also a good idea to keep your valuables dry when hiking under the waterfall.
The Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço hike / The Dragons Trail
The Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço hike is one of the most breathtaking coastal walks on Madeira Island. Known for its rugged cliffs and stunning viewpoints, this 7 kilometre out and back trail is perfect for nature lovers and families alike.
The trail takes you through a unique Martian-like landscape, unlike anything else on the island, and offers some of the most captivating views of the Atlantic Ocean. The best time to do this hike is during the morning, as the trail is completely open with no shade or shelter, and can get quite hot in the afternoon. But it can also be a great hike during the afternoon to watch sunset afterwards.
Starting point Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço: The trailhead for this hike is located on the eastern tail of Madeira Island, easily accessible from the roundabout where there is ample dedicated parking available.
Hike distance and duration: The Vereda Ponta de São Lourenço hike is a 7 kilometer out and back trail that can be completed in 2-3 hours, depending on your pace and if you take any breaks along the way.
Hike difficulty and incline: The trail is relatively easy with only a few hundred meters of incline, however it can be challenging on windy days as there is no shelter along the way. The path is mostly rocky and uneven, so it's important to pay attention to every step. There are some drop-offs along the trail, but these areas are protected by a railing.
Caldeirão Verde Waterfall Hike (PR9)
Around the beautiful town of Santana, known for its traditional thatched houses. The town is located in a valley and is surrounded by lush green forests, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of hiking.
The hike itself starts at Queimadas Forest Park, where you'll find the trailhead for the Levada do Caldeirão Verde. The trail is clearly marked and well-maintained, making it easy to follow even for first-time hikers. The first part of the hike takes you through a beautiful forest, where you'll be surrounded by lush green vegetation and the sound of running water.
As you continue on the hike, you'll come across several small waterfalls and streams.
The highlight of the hike is the Caldeirão Verde waterfall, a beautiful waterfall that cascades into a natural pool. This is the perfect spot to take a break and enjoy the stunning views.
After reaching the Caldeirão Verde waterfall, you have the option to either return to the trailhead or continue on to the Caldeirão Inferno. This is an 8.7-kilometre hike that takes you to another waterfall and offers even more beautiful views.
Overall, the Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike is a must-do for any nature lover visiting Madeira. With its beautiful scenery, easy trail, and stunning waterfalls, it's the perfect way to spend a day during your stay on the island.
Starting point: Queimadas Forest Park, Santana
Distance: 12 km out and back
Duration: 4-5 hours
Incline: 100 meters of incline.
Vereda dos Balcões PR 11
Hike highlights: The highlight of the Vereda dos Balcões hike is the viewpoint itself. The Balcoes viewpoint offers an incredible panoramic view of the Ribeira da Metade valley, the island’s central mountain range, and the ocean. On a clear day, you can even see the Penha D’Águia cliff in the distance. The fairytale-like forest you walk through on the way to the viewpoint is also a highlight in itself. The forest is full of lush greenery, and it feels as if you are walking through a magical land.
Weather and best time to hike: The best time to hike Vereda dos Balcões is during the spring and autumn months when the weather is mild and the chance of rain is low. The hike can be done year-round, but be aware that the viewpoint can be covered in clouds during the winter months. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you go and to bring a rain jacket just in case.
Endless views at the Balcoes viewpoint
As mentioned before, the Balcoes viewpoint is a must-see on a clear day. The view is just stunning, and you’ll feel as if you are on top of the world. But what many people don’t know is that the viewpoint offers even more. The viewpoint is also a perfect spot for bird watching. The valley is home to many bird species, and from the Balcoes viewpoint, you can spot some of them with binoculars.
PR 13 Vereda do Fanal Hike
Vereda do Fanal is a must-do hike for nature enthusiasts visiting Madeira. This 11-kilometre moderate point to point hike takes you through the enchanting UNESCO-listed Laurissilva Forest, offering a variety of landscapes and views along the way.
The hike begins with open paths and breathtaking views of the Rabaçal Valley, leading you to the spectacular finale at the Fanal Forest. Although this hike does not offer waterfalls or coastal views, it provides a perfect experience of the diverse nature that Madeira has to offer.
However, it is important to note that there are some stair climbs involved in the hike, so be prepared for a bit of a workout. Additionally, it is important to plan your hike taking the weather into account, as the Paul da Serra plateau, where the Fanal Forest is located at an elevation of 1,150 meters above sea level, is known for being covered in fog often.
This can create a mysterious vibe in the forest, but it also means that the landscapes may not be visible throughout the hike.
Starting point: Fanal Forest or along the ER209
Distance: 11 kilometers
Duration: About 3 hours
Elevation gain: 460 meters
Pináculo hike PR17
This hike begins at Encumeada and takes hikers through a variety of stunning landscapes and paths, until reaching the Lombo do Mouro, passing through the well-known Pináculo and traversing the Levada do Norte and Levada da Serra.
Throughout its approximately 15 km, the hike has several tunnels and its altitude varies between 930 and 1530 meters, requiring some physical effort at times. However, the breathtaking landscapes and dense vegetation with endemic species of the Laurissilva of Madeira more than compensate for the effort required. Along the way, hikers will pass by a large lake as well as numerous waterfalls.
Upon reaching the Pináculo area, the view is stunning on clear days, with highlights such as the Vale da Ribeira Brava and the two highest peaks of Madeira (Pico Ruivo at 1861m and Pico do Areeiro at 1817m).
The variation in landscapes and surroundings that the path presents as it unfolds surprises and captivates hikers, providing a unique experience and a sense of well-being, in close contact with the purity of this wonderful nature!
Distance: approximately 17 km
Duration: depends on your walking speed
Elevation: between 930 and 1530 meters
Vereda do Larano Coastal Hike
Vereda do Larano hike is a must-do for any nature lover visiting Madeira. This beautiful coastal trail offers a unique experience with breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and vertical cliff drops into the ocean. Along the way, hikers will also have the opportunity to see waterfalls and walk through the lush forest.
One of the best ways to experience this hike is by starting in Larano, Porto da Cruz, at the cable car. This way, hikers can skip the less interesting part of the official route along the Levada do Caniçal and have immediate access to the most beautiful part of the trail along the coast. Plus, it makes it easier to return to your car at the end of the hike.
The Vereda do Larano hike is considered easy with a mostly flat trail, but with a little incline at some parts. The trail is well-maintained and has safety railings along most of the path. Some parts of the trail may be narrow, but it is nothing to be concerned about. The hike is suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.
The hike is approximately 5 kilometers one way and takes about 2.5 hours to complete, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the stunning views.
This hike is perfect for those looking to escape the stresses of the daily grind and immerse themselves in nature, especially during a home office stay in Madeira.
Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike
The Poço das Pulgas waterfall hike in Ponta Delgada, Madeira is a must-do for adventure-seekers visiting the island. This 8 kilometer loop takes you off the beaten path and immerses you in the lush jungle of Madeira's north coast. Along the way, you will pass by multiple waterfalls and enchanting streams, surrounded by verdant greenery. This hike is quite challenging, so it's recommended for experienced hikers. The waterfalls you'll see along the way are stunning, making it a great choice for nature enthusiasts.
Before setting off on your hike, make sure to familiarize yourself with the following key facts:
Starting point: The hike begins at the Parque das Merendas picnic area, which offers free toilets, waste bins, a bbq area and seats. Follow Estrada das Fontes (Cova do Bardo) into the forest where the real trail starts. From there, there are signs along the way, and you can also use maps.me to help guide you.
Distance and duration: The complete loop from the Parque das Merendas to the Poço das Pulgas waterfall and back is approximately 7 kilometers. The hike is challenging, with uneven, slippery steps, narrow paths, and steep inclines, so it's likely to take around 3-4 hours depending on how long you take to enjoy the waterfalls.
Difficulty and incline: As mentioned, this hike is quite difficult and requires some experience. The trail is technical and requires attention, with a part where you need to climb up a rock via a rope. The total incline is around 600 meters.
Starting point: Poco das Pulgas, Ponta Delgada
Duration: 3-4 hours
Incline: 600 meters
The Agua d'Alto waterfall hike
The Agua d’Alto waterfall hike is a short but sweet adventure that takes you to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Madeira. Located in a canyon in Faial, the 150 meter tall waterfall is surrounded by lush greens and the perfect spot for a quick, off the beaten path hike.
The hike starts at the parking lot located at the CAM do Lombo Galego 1A bus stop, where you can choose to park your car, or drive all the way up to the parking lot from where the levada starts.
It is important to note that the road is quite steep, so make sure to drive carefully.
The hike itself is relatively easy and accessible for hikers of all ages. The levada path is well maintained and easy to follow, with no incline. The only thing to keep in mind is that the levada path can be a bit overgrown, so make sure to watch your step.
The hike is only 1.5 kilometres one way, for a total of 3 kilometres out and back. It will take you about 20 minutes of hiking to reach the waterfall, but depending on how long you want to spend at the waterfall, you should count on about an hour in total.
Agua d’Alto waterfall is the perfect hike to do while working remotely from Madeira. It's a short hike that offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the island.
Vereda da Encumeada Hike
As one of the more challenging hikes in Madeira, the Vereda Encumeada to Pico Ruivo trek is not for the faint of heart. However, those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking landscapes the island has to offer. You'll traverse the mountain ridge, passing through two distinct ecosystems, the Central Mountain Massif and the Laurisilva Forest, and see some of the most impressive valleys in Madeira including Curral das Freiras, Serra D’Água valley to the south and São Vicente valley to the north.
The Encumeada hike to Pico Ruivo is a tough hike with more than 1800 meters of incline. One way it’s 11 kilometres to get to Pico Ruivo. But from there, you have to make the choice to return to Encumeada which adds another 11 kilometres. Another option is to hike further to Achada do Teixeira and have a pick up there. The terrain is a mixture of stairs, grass and gravel paths. So nothing too difficult or dangerous.
If you're looking for a way to escape the monotony of working from home and experience the natural beauty of Madeira, the Vereda Encumeada to Pico Ruivo hike is the perfect choice. With stunning views and a challenging trek, it's sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Penha de Águia Hike - Porta da Cruz and Faial
Penha de Águia hike is a challenging yet rewarding hike located in Porto da Cruz, Madeira. The hike starts at Katrepa’s Bar and takes you through a beautiful banana plantation, before beginning the steep climb up to the summit of Penha de Águia. The trail is a combination of rocky terrain and uneven surfaces, making it a challenging hike, but the views along the way and at the summit are truly breathtaking.
As you begin the hike, you will pass through a lush banana plantation, surrounded by the lush greens of Madeira. The trail then begins to climb steeply, and the incline is relentless. The rocky terrain can be difficult to navigate, but the trail is well signposted, making it easy to follow. Along the way, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the coast, and on a clear day, you will be able to see all the way to Ponta de São Lourenço.
As you reach the summit, the views become even more spectacular. You will be standing on top of a 400-meter-high rock, surrounded by nothing but the blue ocean and the lush greens of Madeira. The views from the summit are truly breathtaking and make the steep climb well worth it. If you’re a sunrise lover, then head out on this trail to catch the sunrise on top. But be prepared for the steep climb.
The total circular route of Penha de Águia is 5 kilometres and will take you anywhere between 2-3 hours. Due to the steep incline and rocky terrain, this hike is only recommended for experienced hikers.
In conclusion, the Penha de Águia hike is a challenging but rewarding hike that offers some of the most spectacular views in Madeira. With lush banana plantations, rocky terrain, and beautiful coastal views, this hike is a must-do for any hiker visiting Madeira.
Fajã da Nogueira loop hike
The Fajã da Nogueira loop hike is a hidden gem for those who are looking for a challenging yet rewarding experience in Madeira.
This hike offers breathtaking views of the island's rugged landscapes, including the highest peaks and waterfalls.
With a total distance of 10.83 kilometers, this loop trail is perfect for those who want to explore the island's natural beauty while getting a good workout. The hike takes around 2.5 hours to complete and has a total incline of 430 meters. It is considered moderately difficult due to the wild levadas and trails, as well as the potential for landslides in certain areas.
The hike starts at the electricity plant in the center of the island and requires some local knowledge for directions, so it is recommended to go with a guide. (www.instagram.com/madeira_hiking / or madeirawonderhikes) Join us as we discover the beauty of Madeira on this incredible hike.
The trail begins just to the right of the electricity plant, and although there is no set route or signage, it is easy to follow with the help of my GPS track (linked above) and some local knowledge. The trail takes you through dense forest, and as you make your way up a number of switchbacks, the elevation increases. The first few kilometers are the most challenging, as you climb 430 meters in total.
One of the highlights of the hike is when you emerge from the forest and scale a small section of rocks along the path. This is where you are rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding peaks, waterfalls, and the ocean in the distance. The levadas are wild and the trail is narrow and sketchy in some parts, but this adds to the adventure and the sense of accomplishment when you reach the summit. The hike is also home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the famous Madeira laurel forests, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It's important to note that this hike is not recommended for children or those who are not experienced with staying safe close to edges with big drop-offs. The levadas and trail are wild, and there are lots of landslides in this area so the fencing and pathways are often missing or have big holes. It's also important to check the weather before embarking on this hike, as the gravel road can become impassable in bad weather.
This is the perfect hike to embark on during a stay in Madeira, as it offers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in nature. The island of Madeira is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world, and the Fajã da Nogueira loop hike is a great way to experience it all.