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Enjoy a walk and discover Levada dos Balcões
A quick overview
What to see? Beautiful viewpoint, lots of nature
Costs? Free, including free parking
Where? Madeira, PR 11 Levada dos Balcões, Ribeiro Frio
Distance? 2,7 kilometres, return journey, ± 1 hour
What is Levada dos Balcões?
Levada dos Balcões, also known as Vereda dos Balcões, is a short walk that starts in Ribeiro Frio. It’s probably one of the easiest hikes on the island of Madeira and accessible for everyone. The surface is flat, and apart from where you park your car, no climbing is involved. The signs are clear, and all you have to do is follow the path! You’ll see many families here and people of all ages.
The trail will take you along beautiful trees, flowers, and rock formations. So even though the walk is short, take your time to enjoy the greenery. You’ll pass a small cafe where you can enjoy a drink and a snack if you like. The winding path takes you further along until you come across a narrow pathway between the rocks. It’s completely covered with moss! Within about 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll reach the viewpoint! Easy peasy!
Enjoy the magnificent view
The walk follows an easy-to-follow path toward the fabulous viewpoint. From here, you have a stunning view of some of the highest peaks of Madeira. You’ll spot Pico Ruivo (the highest peak at 1862 meters), Pico do Areeiro (1818m), Pico do Gato (1782m), and Pico das Torres (1852m). Towards the north, you’ll enjoy the view towards Faial, the peak Penha de Águia (590m), and the sea. Madeira is known for its clouds, so the view is not a given. Often they clear quickly, so hang around a while, and maybe you’re lucky. But if it’s clear, you’ll love the view of the mountains and the Atlantic Coast.
Parque Natural do Ribeiro Frio
Levada dos Balcões is located in Parque Natural do Ribeiro Frio, a place where you can discover some endemic flora. It’s the perfect location to spot some birds, and the little creatures are curious around here. The birds are very much used to people, so bring some bird food or seeds to feed them! You might spot a Grey Wagtail, Blackbird, Madeira Chaffinch, the Madeira Firecrest, or Robins. You can even spot the rare Madeira Laurel-pigeon and Buzzards if you’re lucky. A walk in the Laurissilva forest is something you won’t forget. It´s even classified as World Heritage by UNESCO!
Starting point of Levada dos Balcões
The easiest way to reach Levada dos Balcões is by car. The GPS location is 32.735484 – 16.886276, or you can follow the ER103 and the signs to Ribeiro Frio. From Funchal, the journey takes around 40 minutes. From Santana, it’s a 30-minute drive.
If you want to explore Madeira, renting a car will give you a lot of freedom. It´s the easiest way to discover hidden gems on the island! Check out your car rental options in Madeira and start exploring! Need help with car rental in Portugal? Read the complete guide!
Parking your car close to Levada dos Balcões
There are several free parking spots at Ribeiro Frio, which are only a short walk from the walk’s starting point. As Levada dos Balcões is so easy, it’s also a popular walk! That means many tour buses stop here and, together with cars, fill the parking spots quickly. As the walk is short, people always come and go, and you’ll find a place to park very close. Some car parking spots are close to Restaurante Snack Bar Faísca, Ribeiro Frio Restaurant, and the Ribeiro Frio Trout Farm. There is also a paid toilet and a souvenir shop.
How to get to Ribeiro Frio by bus?
No car? No worries! From Funchal, you can take buses 56, 103, and 138. The journey takes just over 30 minutes. If you travel from Santana, bus 103 will take you to Ribeiro Frio, and the ride will take around 40 minutes.
Book a tour
If you don’t have a car, joining a tour from Funchal might be easier! Transport is included, and you won’t have to organise anything yourself! Another bonus is that tours often stop at multiple places. It’s the perfect way to explore the East of Madeira and stop in towns like Camacha and Santana. The whole day will be taken care of so you can relax and enjoy Madeira’s beauty!
What else to do around Levada dos Balcões
The area has more hiking opportunities, so you can fully enjoy the green nature of Parque Natural do Ribeiro Frio. Follow, for example, route PR 10 Levada do Furado from Ribeiro Frio to Portela. This route is 10.7 kilometres (point to point) and will take around 3-4 hours to complete. The path is quieter, and the chance of spotting birds is higher. The water flows next to you along this trail, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see some trout swimming! It’s classified as an easy walk, with only a 53-meter increase in height.
A fun roundtrip walk is the Chão das Feiteiras route. This walk starts at Forest Park in Ribeiro Frio and ends at the same spot. This hike is 7.4 kilometres long (circular route) and will take two to three hours to finish. Some climbing is involved, though, and it’s a moderate hike. You’ll climb a total of nearly 500 meters.
Are you looking for a more exciting thing to do in nature? Canyoning is perfect for you! You’ll be abseiling from waterfalls, swimming in canyons, and following an adventurous path through the canyon. A professional guide will ensure your safety and transport around the canyon.
Sights within half an hour of Levada dos Balcões
A short drive will take you to another beautiful viewpoint. Pico do Arieiro is the second tallest mountain in Madeira and from the car park it’s only a short walk to the top! The easiest way to enjoy the view! It does get busy here, and if you don’t mind a short walk, you can enjoy a quieter and more stunning view from Miradouro do Juncal.
It’s also the starting point of the PR 1 Vereda do Areeiro – Pico Ruivo. This challenging hike is 10.5 kilometres with an increase in altitude of 1172 meters. You can arrange transport to make this a one-way journey, as a return hike is not for the fainthearted. Luckily many tour guides provide this hike, and it’s a favourite of many. The views are simply stunning! And you’ll get a real sense of achievement! The PR 1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo is much easier and shorter.
Santana is also just a 30-minute drive away, and you can visit the famous a-framed Madeira houses. A must-see during your holiday!
Hotels in Madeira
In this stunning landscape, you’ll also discover beautiful hotels. You’re surrounded by nature, and you can enjoy the best views! Take a look, for example, at Casa do Ribeiro Frio. From the hotel, you´ll easily discover the nearby hikes. Or enjoy a sustainable stay in the beautiful Mountain Eco Shelter 3 in the middle of the mountains! Eira do Serrado – Hotel & Spa is a popular place to enjoy the view over the Valley of the Nuns. Check the below map for all the unique places to stay in Madeira! Whether it’s in the city of Funchal or the middle of nature, there is something for everyone on the island!
Visiting Levada dos Balcões is absolutely worth it! The fantastic view is mesmerising, and you’ll spot many birds along the way. The route is accessible for everyone, so even if you’re not into hiking or your fitness levels aren’t what they used to be, Levada dos Balcões is doable! The biggest downside of this path is that it can get very busy. An early start is therefore advisable to enjoy some alone time with a view! Also, if you like more of a challenge, there are many other levadas to choose from in Madeira. Take Levada do Calderão Verde for example. This is also an easy hike, just a lot longer. Fewer people are on the trail, and it’s one of Madeira’s best hikes for beginners! Would you like to walk this path? Or maybe you´re looking for a most challenging route? Then PR8 at Ponta de São Lourenço might be perfect for you. Read all about this trail by clicking here.