The best hikes in Madeira

Madeira is a beautiful island in the Atlantic Ocean with stunning landscapes that are perfect to explore on foot. If you’re a keen walker, there are an endless number of hikes in Madeira to enjoy.

In this post, I’ve brought together 9 of the best walking routes in Madeira suitable for all levels of hikers. So, put on your trainers or hiking boots and let’s discover the best hikes in Madeira.

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Vereda dos Balcões

The view at the end of the Vereda dos Balcões walk. A wide, mountain view covered in trees and rocky peaks.
The beautiful view from the Vereda dos Balcões viewpoint, an easy and short hike in Madeira
  • Hike number: PR11 Vereda dos Balcões
  • Length: 3km in total
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Type: Levada walk

The Vereda dos Balcões hike is an easy, short levada walk with beautiful views. The walk starts at the little village of Ribeiro Frio and ends at the stunning Balcões viewpoint, which looks out over laurisilva forests and mountain peaks towards the north coast of the island.

The 1.5km path from the village to the viewpoint is nice and flat, although it can be a little muddy if it’s been raining. I walked it in trainers and was absolutely fine. There were people with young children at the viewpoint and even a family with a pushchair.

For most of the way the path follows the Levada da Serra do Faial. It’s very scenic, with large rocks to walk past, a little bridge and glimpses of the mountains. You can’t really get lost, but there are plenty of signs anyway.

To get to the start of the walk, you can either drive or take the bus from Funchal. There’s a small tea shop and souvenir shop around half a mile into the walk and a couple of restaurants in Ribeiro Frio where you can get a drink or a light meal.

Read more about the Vereda dos Balcões hike, including detailed information about how to get there and what you’ll see along the way.

Rota da Bananas

Banana plantations in Madeira. A steep hill on the left hand side turns into banana trees. There are some red-roofed village houses and farms, and the sea beyond.
The Rota da Bananas is an easy and scenic hike in Madeira

Contributed by Daniela from Olá Daniela

  • Length: 1.9km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Coastal farm trail

On a thin patch of land squeezed between the wild Atlantic Ocean and Madeira’s towering mountain landscapes lies Madalena do Mar, a cute coastal village famous for its banana trees. Here the plantations cascade down the hillside to the sea, with local bananas taking over every metre of available land. 

If the hikes of Madeira come across as intimidating, or you need a rest between tackling peaks, this easy family-friendly wander is a relaxing way to spend the morning or afternoon. Leave the serious hiking gear in the car – just lace up your trainers and set off for this easy loop through the banana plantations and along the coastline.

After, lean into the relaxed pace of village life with lunch at A Poita, a fish restaurant owned by a local fisherman. Order the island specialty – fragateira – which is like a fish stew with tomatoes, peppers or capsicums, onion and spices. Or try the grilled limpets at Casa de Pedra by the waterfront.

Funchal to Camara de Lobos

A wide, paved path along the coast, with blue skies
The seafront path will take you from Funchal’s Lido district to Camara de Lobos

Contributed by Kylie from Between England and Everywhere

  • Length: 4.6km one way
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Urban/coastal

A nice hike to do in Madeira is the Promenado do Lido coastal walk from Funchal to Camara de Lobos. As the name suggests, it’s the promenade that connects all the lidos and beaches in Funchal together! 

It starts at Complexo Balnear do Lido in São Martinho, Funchal’s hotel district. There are a couple of inclines along the route, with either steps or a slope, but for the most part, it’s a wide, paved path.

The hike is quite easy to do, with no additional equipment or clothing required. As well as the lidos and beaches, there are plenty of facilities along the way, from drinking fountains, to benches, bins, and cafes. So there are plenty of places to stop for a rest. Free toilets can be found at the public lido and Praia Formosa. 

About halfway along, the promenade passes through Túnel das Poças do Gomes. This is a lit-up cave that passes through the cliffs, joining Doca do Cavacas to Praia Formosa. (The cave shuts at night).

Camara de Lobos is a cute fishing village with colourful boats in the harbour. It’s a beautiful place to stop for a drink and lunch before either catching a local bus back to Funchal or walking the route in reverse.

Levada do Rei

A path running along the side of a thickly wooded mountain peak
The Levada do Rei hike ends at a waterfall and pool

Contributed by Julie Fox of Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal

  • Hike number: PR 18
  • Length: 5.3 km / 3.3 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Linear levada walk 

Levada do Rei is a longer levada walk that lets you experience a short tunnel on the trail. The path starts at the Quebradas water treatment plant and ends at the delightful Ribeiro Bonito, meaning Pretty Stream. Here, there’s a small waterfall and pool where you can relax before retracing your steps.

Although distant views are intermittent during the trail, when the jagged peaks of the ‘Picos’ appear through the trees, they are impressive. The entire walk is amid abundant greenery.

There are a few narrow places where you’ll need to wait to let fellow walkers pass. The short tunnel is tall enough to walk through at a crouch and doesn’t require torches. Depending on recent rainfall, there may be a small waterfall that you’ll need to walk behind. Bring a poncho or waterproof jacket, or at the very least, a protective cover for your phone/camera.

You’ll need transport to get to Levada do Rei from your Madeira accommodation and there’s ample parking near the handy café at the start and end of the walk.

It’s an easy walk that doesn’t require a guide, unless you need the transport element of such a service, or special footwear – trainers are fine. The distance may be a bit much for young children.

Eira do Serrado to Curral das Freiras

The Nuns' Path from Eira do Serrado to Curral das Freiras. A path winds down the mountain towards the village at the bottom of the hill.
The Nuns’ Path from Eira do Serrado to Curral das Freiras
  • Length: 4km
  • Difficulty: Easy-medium going down, medium-hard going up
  • Type: Hairpin bends leading downhill

The Eira do Serrado viewpoint and the village of Curral das Freiras (also known as Nun’s Valley) are two of the prettiest places in Madeira. The 4km path between them is a great way to combine them into one wonderful day trip.

The walk starts at the Estalagem Eira do Serrado hotel car park. From there, you can take a short walk up to the Eira do Serrado viewpoint, which towers over the valley below.

The walk proper starts from the other side of the car park and is a series of hairpin bends which lead you gradually down the hill, at first through a wood of chestnut trees and then with lovely open views of the village and the mountains that surround it.

Read more about the Eira do Serrado to Nun’s Valley walk

Ponta de São Lourenço

The PR 8 Verada da Ponta de São Lourenço hike is a spectacular coastal walk
The PR 8 Verada da Ponta de São Lourenço hike is a spectacular coastal walk

Recommended by Zoe from Zoe Goes Places

  • Hike number: PR 8, Verada da Ponta de São Lourenço
  • Length: 6 km total
  • Difficulty: Easy to medium
  • Type: Coastal walk

Without a doubt, Ponta de São Lourenço is my favourite place in Madeira! The striking landscapes make for breathtaking views – and the walk isn’t too difficult or long.

Honestly, you have to include this in your Madeira itinerary. Not only is it simply beautiful, but it’s also easy to get to. There’s a car park at the start of the trail. And there’s also an hourly bus from Funchal via Caniçal. 

The path from the trailhead to the easternmost point of the main island is narrow and weaves its way around – and up and down – the dramatic rocky peninsula. Offering views of the sea and the layered, multi-coloured rock faces. 

The full trail includes a couple of hundred metres in elevation gain. But the walk is easy to moderate in difficulty. The path is narrow and, at times, steep. Plus there’s always the chance of high winds to give you an extra challenge. No equipment or guide is necessary, trainers will be fine if it’s dry and it’s perfectly suitable for older children. 

Levada do Risco

A mountain walk in Madeira. The mountain is heavily wooded. There's a tall waterfall at the end of the path.
The Levada do Risco ends at the impressive Risco Waterfall

Contributed by Sinead from Map Made Memories

  • Hike number: PR 6.1 Levada do Risco
  • Length: 7 kilometres return
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Type: Rural, hill hugging levada walk

The Levada do Risco is an easy, varied hike that offers spectacular scenery and something for all ages. It is a great option if you are staying in Madeira with kids. 

You will need a car to reach the signposted starting point which is a further 5 minute drive from Rabaçal car park. A torch per person is essential but no other equipment is necessary except for sturdy shoes (not trainers) plus water and snacks as there are no facilities on route. This easy to follow trail can be walked without a guide. 

The trail starts through an aromatic eucalyptus forest before hugging a flat hillside path lined with wild lilies. You then enter a 1-kilometre-long unlit tunnel – kids will love it though tall adults will have to bend in places.

After the tunnel ends, the uneven path runs alongside a levada cutting through dense forest. It eventually joins the paved path from Rabaçal but soon splits in two offering a side detour to Levada de 25 Fontes.

Continue on the Levada to Risco to reach the impressive Risco waterfall where there is a small rest area to catch your breath before starting the return leg. 

Levada das 25 Fontes

A tall waterfall in the middle of a forest
The Levada das 25 Fontes hike in Madeira is famous for the many springs and waterfalls you’ll pass along the way

Contributed by Marga from Discover Portugal 

  • Hike number: PR 6 Levada das 25 Fontes
  • Length: 11 kilometres (6.8 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy to medium
  • Type: Levada 

Whether you’re a novice hiker or an expert, Levada das 25 Fontes is one of the most popular hikes in Madeira. The hike gets its name from the many waterfalls and springs you will see on this trail.

The trail is located close to Rabaçal in the south of the island. You can start your walk from two different areas, either Calheta or Rabaçal, which will dictate also how easy or hard the trail is.

The Calheta starting point includes a nearly one-kilometre-long tunnel, so a headlamp or torch will be needed. The Rabaçal E.R. 105 starting point includes a bus service at specific hours. Overall, this route is straightforward and also doable with children.

If you want to avoid the crowds, get up early to enjoy the trail. You can easily follow this hike by yourself, or if needed, the WalkMe Madeira App will be handy. You can also join a group tour if you wish, which will also include transport from Funchal.

Although you’ll see many people on runners, comfortable hiking shoes are recommended. There are many springs on the trail, and it can get very slippery, especially during the rain.

The trail’s highlights are the Risco Waterfall and the 25 Fontes Waterfall. You can even dip in the ice-cold water at the 25 Fontes Waterfall if you want!

Levada do Caldeirão Verde

Thickly wooded mountain peaks in Madeira
The Levada do Caldeirão Verde is one of the most scenic levada walks on Madeira

Contributed by Marjut from The Smooth Escape

  • Hike number: PR 9
  • Length: 11.8km
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Type: out-and-back levada walk

The Levada do Caldeirão Verde hike is located in the mountains of northeastern Madeira and is one of the most scenic levada walks on the island. If you enjoy spending time in nature, be sure to include this spectacular hike in your Madeira itinerary.

The Levada do Caldeirão Verde trail starts and ends at Queimadas Forest Park, which you can easily access by car. The trail is relatively flat and leads you through a beautiful lush Laurisilva forest. Along the way, you’ll pass several small waterfalls, walk through tunnels and see jaw-dropping views of green valleys and steep mountains. 

After about two hours of hiking, you’ll arrive at Caldeirão Verde, also known as the ‘green cauldron’. Here you’ll find a small canyon covered with moss and the 110-meter-tall Caldeirão Verde waterfall trickling down the rock walls. Once you’re done admiring the views, simply follow the same trail back to the starting point of the hike.

This hike can easily be done without a guide. As the trail is quite flat, you don’t need hiking poles and you can do it in trainers. It is not recommended to do this hike with small kids because there are steep drop-offs in some sections of the trail.

In summary

I hope you’ve found this list of the best hikes in Madeira for everyone interesting and useful. Which Madeira hike would you choose? Or if your favourite isn’t listed here, tell me about it in the comments!

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An image of four of the most beautiful hikes in Madeira; a wild coastal landscape, a path through woods, a mountain vista and a fishing village

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