Hiking trails on Madeira
In total, the island has more than 100 hiking trails. There are plenty of fun and challenging hikes for both beginners and experienced hikers.
Walking routes with ‘PR’ indication
The official and recommended walking routes on Madeira can be recognized by the ‘PR’ designation.
On Madeira you will find more than 3000 km of levadas and together they form the impressive irrigation system of the island. The ancient levadas were built in the 16th century to transport condensation water and rainwater from the humid north via the mountains to the dry south. The paths next to the winding levadas were intended to be able to maintain the levadas. Today, these are popular hiking trails that make it possible to discover Madeira’s rugged inland. Levada walks are easy, because there are almost no height differences.
Handy to take with you
It is good to be prepared for all weather conditions when you go hiking on Madeira. Due to the different microclimates, the weather is different in many parts of the island and can change quickly. It is therefore useful to always take a raincoat with you. On some routes you walk close to waterfalls, so don’t forget to put a waterproof cover on your bag so that your gear and other valuables won’t get wet. And because it rains regularly, the paths can be wet and slippery, so we recommended to wear (hiking) shoes with extra grip.
Temperatures on Madeira can fluctuate a lot and it can get chilly high in the mountains. Therefore, be sure to wear several layers, so that you can always take something off or put on if it gets too hot or cold.
On some hikes you walk through tunnels, so make sure your phone is charged enough to use the flashlight, or take a headlamp with you just to be sure.
Our 6 favorite hikes on Madeira
1. PR 9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde
PR9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde is the most beautiful levada walk on Madeira. The hike is 13 km in total and takes about 4 to 5 hours. The hike incline over the entire hike is only 100 meters. So the walk is flat and therefore it is the perfect hike for beginners.
The levada leads you through the lush jungle and takes you deep into the São Jorge Valley where you will be treated to impressive views of the green peaks and waterfalls. You are completely surrounded by the greenery of ferns, moss and overgrown rock walls. The last part you will walk close to the abyss which makes this hike very adventurous. The goal of the hike is to get to one of the highest waterfalls on Madeira. This waterfall is powerful and the water falls from a height of 100 meters into an ice-cold natural pool.
2. PR8 Ponta de São Lourenço
On the east part of the island is the narrow 6 kilometer long peninsula of Ponta de São Lourenço. It is the very tip of Madeira. Here you can walk the beautiful route PR8 of 7 km in total. This hike takes about 2 to 3 hours and is flat, so it is accessible to everyone. Only the very last part will be a little climb to reach the final view. The landscape here is completely different from what you see on the rest of Madeira. The moon-like volcanic landscape takes you past amazing views, rugged rock formations and colorful fields.
3. PR7 Levada do Moinho and levada Nova
A lesser known and more hidden hike is the PR7 Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova. With this hike you will follow a Levada and walk on narrow paths along steep abysses through a beautiful green valley. The views during the hike are spectacular. The highlight of the hike is the waterfall that pours down right next to the hiking trail. The path continues behind the waterfall. The hike is 7.5 km in total and takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete. It’s a loop, so you don’t walk back the same way. The starting point of the hike is located behind the church Igreja da Lombada da Ponta do Sol.
4. PR13 Vereda do Fanal
Fanal Forest, is a fairytale, ancient laurel forest in the mountains of Madeira. The unique forest is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as it is one of the last laurel forests in the world. The trees are special, they all have a different shape and are covered with different layers of moss. Walking route PR13 of about 20 km takes you through the forest in about 4 hours. Don’t want to take such a long walk? Then there are several points where you can park the car to get lost in a part of this mysterious forest.
5. PR11 Vereda dos Balcões
Vereda dos Balcões is a short but enjoyable walk of 3 km in total. Ribeiro Frio is the starting point of the route. From here you walk to a beautiful viewpoint that is located in the middle of the Natural Park Parque Natural da Madeira. From the ‘balcony’ you look out over the green valley Ribeira da Metade and on a clear day you can see the three highest peaks of the island; Pico do Areeiro (1817 m), Pico das Torres (1851 m) and Pico Ruivo (1862 m).
The viewpoint is also the perfect place to spot birds. Bring some nuts, seeds or fruit and wait patiently. If you give the birds their time, they will come flying over to you for a snack.
6. Rota da Banana
Madeira is a large producer of bananas and in the coastal village of Madalena do Mar you will find the largest banana plantation on the island. Here you can walk directly between the densely vegetated banana plantations and view the entire growing process of the bananas up close. Rota da Banana consists of three short walks: RB1, RB2 and RB3. In total it is an exotic walk of 1.5 km. The walk is easy and takes you in about half an hour along narrow paths, levadas and a whole lot of banana plants. Along the way you have beautiful views over kilometers of banana plants, the surrounding cliffs, the authentic village of Madalena do Mar and the ocean.
Other awesome hikes
Walking on Madeira is great and as we said before there are many walking routes spread all over the island. We have not been able to make all the hikes yet. When we return to Madeira, we definitely want to walk the epic hikes below. So if you have more time, you might want to add a few of these hikes to your to do list as well.
🥾 PR1: Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo (we did go to the insane viewpoint at Pico do Areeiro during sunrise)
🥾 PR6: Levada 25 fontes
🥾 PR6.1: Risco waterfall
🥾 PR6.2: Levada do Alecrim
🥾 Boca do Risco