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PR 1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo hike; climb the highest mountain in Madeira

Do you like mountains, stunning views, and a hiking challenge? Look no further; Pico Ruivo on Madeira is the perfect spot. Learn more about the PR 1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo hike and climb the highest mountain in Madeira.

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Climb Pico Ruivo: the highest mountain in Madeira!

A quick overview

What to see? Mountains, flora and fauna endemic to Madeira, and the best views over Madeira!

Costs? Free, or from € 34,00 with a tour. 

Where? Madeira, Portugal.

Worth it? If you’re up for a challenge, climbing Pico Ruivo is fantastic!

What is Pico Ruivo?

The highest mountain in Madeira? That is the Pico Ruivo! The mountain is 1.862 meters (6,109 feet) tall. Pico Ruivo is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, who can access the peak via a series of well-marked trails, including the challenging Vereda do Pico Ruivo trail. Along the way, hikers can enjoy the island’s natural beauty, including the Laurissilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and unique flora and fauna that are endemic to Madeira.

There are two main routes to the top: the PR 1 Vereda do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo and the PR 1.2 trail. Pico Ruivo is the third-tallest mountain in Portugal, located in the island’s centre. At Pico Ruivo’s summit is a small platform where visitors can enjoy the breathtaking views. On a clear day, it is possible to see as far as the neighbouring island of Porto Santo, which is located approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the northeast. If you enjoy hiking, Pico Ruivo is a must-see in Madeira!

PR 1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo

The easiest way to reach the summit of Pico Ruivo is by following the PR 1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo hiking route. You can drive all the way up to the mountain until you reach Achada do Teixeira. You can park your car here and start following the trail. The trail is easy to follow, but there are some forks along the way. Ensure you have good GPS or have installed the WalkMe Madeira App.

Vereda do Pico Ruivo is the most popular route to the top, as it’s also the easiest. The footpath is in excellent condition, and although you´re hiking further up, it’s very doable. Slow and steady for the win! It’s a point-to-point hiking route with absolutely stunning views along the way. You may shed a tear or two when overlooking the cloud-covered mountains! The scenic route follows the mountain ridge to the top, a journey of only 2.8 kilometres (1.74 miles) one way. There are plenty of shelters to stop at along the way, and there is even a small cafe along the route. Enjoy the views over the valley of Ribeira Seca and make the final push to the summit. Some parts toward the end are pretty steep, and if you’re afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo, you might feel a bit on edge. Some paths have railings, however, so you can hold onto something.

Tip: You can also visit Homem em Pé (translates to standing man) near the car park. The rock formation is about 12 meters tall and looks like a formation of men. 

PR 1 Vereda do Arieiro - Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

If you’re up for a challenging hike, then the PR 1 Vereda do Arieiro is perfect! The way to Pico do Arieiro is super easy, as you can drive all the way to the top. But the hike to Pico Ruivo is a demanding one. The PR 1 starts at the car park (32°44’05.6 “N – 16°55’43.2” W) and follows along the Ninho da Manta Ridge. After several tunnels, you’ll join the PR 1.2 route at Casa de Abrigo do Pico Ruivo, the restaurant on Pico Ruivo. The trail is 7.5 kilometres (4.7 miles) long and takes between 4 to 5 hours to complete. This route also contains some high drops, and although the path is in excellent condition with many railings in place, if you suffer from vertigo, it might be best to be avoided.

The start of this route is pretty flat and downhill. But then you’ll hit Pico das Torres, a steep climb up. This is the hardest part of the trail, and you’ll need a certain fitness level to climb this route. You can do this by yourself, but most people choose to take a tour with a guide. Thankfully there are many tours available to complete this hike. Once you reach the summit, you’ll also need to go back. Most hikers walk to the car park at Achada do Teixeira. But if you’re car is at the top of Pico do Arieiro, you’ll need transport back. A tour will avoid this issue, but you can also book just transportation between the two points. You can hike back if you’re fit and up for it. But please note that the way back to Pico do Arieiro is primarily uphill and not for the faint-hearted! This is why many follow the one-way route to the car park at Achada do Teixeira.

Tip: if you don’t want to hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, discover the shorter route to Miradouro do Juncal. This viewpoint is much quieter than the one at the car park, and the view over the mountains is breathtakingly beautiful! You’ll reach the viewpoint in about 15 minutes.

The WalkMe Madeira App

One of the best ways to track where you are is the WalkMe Madeira App. The app will help with GPS locations, routes, reviews and further information about specific hikes. It’s available for a small fee, which is worth your bucks! Especially when you go on more than one hike on your own, the WalkMe Madeira App is a must.

What to bring on the hike Vereda do Pico Ruivo?

The weather in Madeira can be very unpredictable, even more so at this altitude. Wear layers, wear good hiking boots, and bring enough water and food. If you decide to follow the Vereda, do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo; bring a headlamp or torch as tunnels are on the way. If you hike around sunrise and sunset, you should also bring a good light source to avoid getting lost! Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are other recommendations. And a camera, of course, to capture this beautiful place! To sum it up, here are some essential items to bring on your hike to Pico Ruivo:


  1. Appropriate footwear: Wear comfortable, sturdy, and well-fitting hiking shoes or boots that provide good support and traction.
  2. Appropriate clothing: Dress in layers and wear clothing suitable for the weather conditions, such as a waterproof jacket or sun hat. 
  3. Backpack: Bring a bag to carry all your gear and supplies, including water, food, and extra clothing.
  4. Water: Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially on longer hikes. 
  5. Snacks and food: Bring energy-rich snacks to keep you fuelled during your hike, such as trail mix, fruit, energy bars, or sandwiches.
  6. Navigation tools: Bring a map and a compass, the WalkMe Madeira App or a GPS device to navigate and stay on track.
  7. First aid kit: Bring a basic kit with bandages, antiseptic, and other essentials.
  8. Sun protection: Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sun hat to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.
  9. Emergency whistle and light: Bring an emergency whistle and a headlamp or flashlight in case you get lost or need help.


Remember to always research the trail and weather conditions before heading out, and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

The Pico do Arieiro webcam

At the time of writing, there is no webcam at Pico Ruivo, but you can check the one at Pico do Arieiro. And although anything can change in the cloud-covered mountains, you’ll have an idea of the views on the day. Click here to check the current situation at Pico do Arieiro.

The starting point of Vereda do Pico Ruivo

Vereda do Pico Ruivo starts close to the car park at Achada do Teixeira. The GPS location is 32°45’53.5 “N 16°55’16.1” W.

What will you see along the trail of Vereda do Pico Ruivo?

It doesn’t take long before you start seeing incredible views over Madeira’s rugged mountains. Depending on the weather, you’ll have amazing views over the valley of Ribeira Seca, Pico das Torres, and Pico do Arieiro. Without clouds, you should be able to see the Nato radar installation on the top. Other views reach as far as Parque Florestal das Queimadas and Achada do Marques. With clouds, it’s incredible to see them roll over the mountain ridges. Stop at one of the shelters for a drink or rest, and follow the path further up. At some point, you’ll walk by Casa de Abrigo do Pico Ruivo, a cafe where you can enjoy a snack and drink. The path is a little steeper from this place onwards, but you’re nearly at the summit!

Flora and fauna at Pico Ruivo

Nature in Madeira is pretty unique in some places, and the same goes for Pico Ruivo. Species that you’ll see along the way are the Erica platycodon maderincola (broom heather) and Erica arborea (molar heather). You’ll also spot many birds, such as the Madeira firecrest and Madeiran chaffinch. The surroundings of the mountain are part of the Natura 2000 Network.

Pico Ruivo for sunrise or sunset

For an extra memorable hike to Pico Ruivos summit, you can choose to climb the mountain during sunrise or sunset. Some tours set out at this magical hour, but always bring a torch or lamp for your safety. Watching the sunrise or sunset from Pico Ruivo is a breathtaking and unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression on anyone visiting the island of Madeira.

How to get to Pico Ruivo by car?

To get to Pico Ruivo, you’ll drive a beautiful road up with many bends and some hairpins. The road towards Pico Ruivo starts in Santana, and Achada do Teixeira is the endpoint. The drive takes 15 to 20 minutes from Santana or 1 hour from Funchal. Please note that the road leading up to Achada do Teixeira is narrow and winding and may be challenging to drive for those unfamiliar with mountainous terrain. Additionally, the road may be closed during inclement weather, such as heavy rain or fog, so it is always best to check the current road conditions before starting your journey. Hiring a car is the best way to discover Madeira and its stunning hiking locations. Check below to compare car rental prices and book your trip with Discover Cars.

Pico Ruivo parking

Achada do Teixeira is a popular starting point for hiking to the summit. The car park at Achada do Teixeira is entirely free. You’ll also spot a café, restaurant and gift shop in the car park. Please note the car park is pretty big, but parking spaces may be limited, especially during peak season or weekends.

How to get to Pico Ruivo by bus?

There is no bus service or public transportation to take you to Achada do Teixeira. The best way to get there is by car, guided tour, taxi or booked transfer. You can, however, take a bus from Funchal to Santana. This journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Book a tour to hike Vereda do Pico Ruivo

Booking a tour to hike Vereda do Pico Ruivo is an excellent option for those who want to explore this beautiful hiking trail with the help of a knowledgeable guide. Vereda do Pico Ruivo is a lovely hike that requires some physical condition, and having a guide can make the experience easier and more enjoyable. Some guided tours offer the PR 1.2 hike, but as this one is relatively easy, more tours are available for the PR 1 hike.

If you don’t have a rental car and don’t want to do a back-to-back Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, a guided tour or transport is the way forward. The tour companies typically provide transportation to and from the trailhead and an experienced guide who will lead you on the hike. Besides, booking a tour to climb Pico Ruivo can be a great way to experience this challenging but rewarding trail and learn more about the local flora, fauna, and culture from an expert guide.

What else can you see around Pico Ruivo?

Pico Ruivo is very close to Santana, which is mainly known for its A-framed houses. Before or after your hike, visiting the Casas Típicas de Santana in the town centre is excellent. The houses were traditionally used as shelters for farmers and are now preserved as a cultural heritage site. At Parque Temático da Madeira, you’ll find an interactive experience showcasing Madeira’s history and culture and the traditional market, where you can sample local products such as Madeira wine, honey, and embroidery. Click here to read the complete Santana guide!

Other easy hikes in Madeira

As the PR 1.2 trail is pretty short, you could add another hike on this day. Parque Florestal das Queimadas is very close, and you can hike the Levada do Calderão Verde. This journey is more extended; combining the two walks will be over 25 kilometres in one day. This trail, however, is pretty much flat and easy to follow.

And although Pico do Areeiro is very close to Pico Ruivo, driving there will take you well over an hour! If you decide to go to the other peak, you can stop in Ribeiro Frio and check out the view at Levada dos Balcões.

If you fancy a very different type of trail, you should check out Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço. This coastal path offers breathtaking views over the east coast of Madeira.

An overview of some beautiful and easy hikes for beginners can be found here!

Hotels in Madeira

Madeira is a popular tourist destination, so there are many hotels to choose from in the region. The island offers many accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses. Many of the luxury hotels are located in the Funchal area, the capital of Madeira, which is known for its charming streets, restaurants, and nightlife. But you can also stay in a rural accommodation, such as a farmhouse or a vineyard. These accommodations offer a more rustic experience, with opportunities to explore the island’s natural beauty and learn about local traditions and culture. The map below showcases all available accommodations for your trip to Madeira.


Pico Ruivo is the highest mountain in Madeira, standing at 1,862 meters (6,109 feet) tall, and is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering stunning views of the Laurissilva Forest and unique flora and fauna endemic to Madeira. The summit has two main routes: the challenging PR 1 Vereda do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo and the easier PR 1.2 Vereda do Pico Ruivo hiking route. You´ll be rewarded with one of the best views over Madeira, and these two trails are a dream for many hikers.

Written by Marga

Written by Marga

Content creator, travel writer and photographer

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I’m Marga, the blogger and photographer behind this site! I live in Lisbon, and I’m a cat-mum to 13-year-old Savage. I love coffee, cheese, a good book and exploring this beautiful country. I write about Lisbon and the rest of Portugal, and I hope this website will help as an inspiration for your holiday.

18 Responses

  1. What a lovely website to find – I’ve been to Madeira (about 18 years ago) – such a beautiful place, I remember thinking it was like someone had simply thrown seeds in the wind – such beautiful wild flowers everywhere!
    It’s one place I will definitely return to – and climbing the highest mountain in Madeira sounds like a challenge I’m up for!

  2. I’m going to Portugal next Spring and I’m an avid hiker. Loved this post. Since I’m travelling alone, it’s nice to know that you can book a tour guide for this hike (I’m not a fan of hiking unknown trails in an unknown Country alone lol)

  3. We enjoyed a very busy day trip when we visited Madeira but wished we had more time to enjoy the great outdoor sites. Hiking the Vereda do Pico Ruivo trail would certainly be an amazing way to see some awesome sights. Good to know there is one path that is a little easier and that tours are available. How fun to find a cafe along the route.

  4. I was so gutted I was not able to do this hike when I visited Madeira. It looks stunning.

  5. What an amazing place to hike. The views look stunning and make for a great reward for the hike. Good tip on the WalkMe app.

  6. I would absolutely love to do the Pico Ruivos summit hike at sunrise. I bet with the clouds clearing up when the sun is coming out must look magical. This whole place is definitely a place I would love to visit. Thank you for all the great tips!!

  7. I would absolutely LOVE to do the Pico Ruivo hike! Good to know to check road conditions before heading out- great tip!

  8. This looks like such a beautiful hike! I’ve not heard of it before, so I’m saving this for someday when I can visit. Thank you!

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