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Levada das 25 fontes

Hiking in Portugal – discover the easiest and some of the best walks in Madeira 

Madeira is a stunning island located in the Atlantic Ocean, known for its rugged terrain, lush forests, and beautiful hiking trails. Whether you're an experienced hiker or just starting out, Madeira offers a range of hiking experiences to suit all levels of ability.

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Fabulous and easy walks in Madeira

A quick overview

What to see? Tall mountains, rugged coastlines, laurel forests, and waterfalls.

Costs? From free upwards.

What? Walks in Madeira Island, Portugal

Worth it? If you like nature, then YES!

Exploring some of the best and easiest walks in Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is a stunning Portuguese island situated in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is famous for its scenic beauty, exotic flora and fauna, and incredible hiking trails! With an extensive network of levadas (irrigation channels) and veredas (mountain paths), Madeira offers some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the world. Let’s have a look at some of the best walks in Madeira.

PR 1 Pico do Arieiro - Pico Ruivo

At Pico Ruivo, you’re literally on top of the world in Madeira! Pico Ruivo is the tallest mountain on the island, with a height of 1.862 meters (6,109 feet). And there are a few ways to reach the top: the PR 1 and the PR 1.2 being the most popular. The PR 1 Vereda do Arieiro, or Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, is perfect if you’re up for a challenge. The paths are great, but it’s one of the more challenging trails on the island due to the height gain. On this trail, you’ll also come across several tunnels.

Most people hike this trail one way, from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. The path back to Pico Arieiro is steep, but thankfully you can arrange a transfer back to your car instead of walking. The PR 1 is also a popular tour on the island. An experienced guide will help you along the trail, including all transportation (so no need to hike back!). The stunning views from the top are definitely worth it!

Length: 10.5 kilometres (6.5 miles)

Time: around 2 to 4 hours

Elevation Gain: 1,172 meters 

Level: Hard

Route type: Round trip (one way possible)

Read the full story → Pico Ruivo

PR 1.2 Pico Ruivo

The PR 1.2 Pico Ruivo is like a mini version of PR 1 from Pico do Arieiro. You’ll drive up the mountain to Achada do Teixeira to start the 5.4-kilometre round trip (2.8 kilometres, 1.74 miles one way) to the top of Madeira. The trail is easy to follow and doable for most fitness levels. Along the way, you’ll enjoy views over the valley of Ribeira Seca, and you can see Pico do Arieiro in the distance.

For both hikes to Pico Ruivo, wearing good hiking boots is advisable. Also, Madeira’s weather can change quickly, especially in the mountains. Some shelter huts are along the trail, but comfortable and suitable clothing will go a long way. Bring plenty of water and some snacks. But if needed, you can visit Casa de Abrigo do Pico Ruivo, a small cafe just before the summit. Tip: climbing Pico Ruivo during sunrise or sunset is extra magical!

Length: 5.4 kilometres (3.3 miles)

Time: around 1 to 2 hours

Elevation Gain: 304 meters 

Level: Easy to moderate

Route type: Round trip

Read the full story → PR 1.2 Pico Ruivo

PR 6 - Rabaçal - Levada 25 Fontes e Risco

One of the most popular hiking trails in Madeira, Levada das 25 Fontes is a picturesque levada that winds through the lush greenery of the Rabaçal valley. This 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) long trail starts at the Rabaçal parking area or in Calheta on the E.R. 211 and takes you through a dense forest of laurel and heather. Along the way, you’ll cross streams, pass through tunnels, and walk along the edge of cliffs. The trail ends at the impressive 25 Fontes Waterfall, where 25 springs converge to form a stunning cascade that falls into a crystal-clear pool. From the 25 Fontes waterfall, your walk in Madeira will continue to the Risco Waterfall, a 100-meter (328 feet) tall waterfall. (It’s considered one of the highest waterfalls on the island!)

Depending on your route, you should bring a torch to cross a nearly 1-kilometre-long tunnel. This walk in Madeira can also be pretty wet, as water literally seeps from the rocks. Good hiking shoes are, therefore, a recommendation. Depending on the weather, bring waterproof clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a picnic to eat along the way. You can also enjoy a healthy snack and a drink at the Rabaçal Nature Spot Cafe.

Length: 11 kilometres (6.8 miles)

Time: around 3 to 5 hours

Elevation Gain: 350 meters 

Level: Easy to moderate (moderate is some parts between the waterfalls)

Route type: Round trip Rabaçal → Rabaçal

Read the full story → Levada das 25 Fontes

PR 8 - Ponta de São Lourenço

The Ponta de São Lourenco trail is a must for those who love coastal hikes. This nearly 8 kilometres long trail takes you along the island’s easternmost point, offering incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline. The path starts just outside the village of Caniçal and takes you through a lunar landscape of volcanic rocks and endemic flowers. You’ll also pass through a nature reserve that is home to several rare bird species.

During this hike, there is no sun, wind or rain protection! So bring layers and be prepared. The landscape is very different here than other walks in Madeira, and the gravel can be pretty slippery. The last part of this hike might be challenging, but don’t stop just yet! The view is stunning from the top! Afterwards, you can enjoy a snack or a drink at Casa do Sardinha!

Length: 7.4 kilometres return (4.5 miles)

Time: around 2 to 3 hours

Elevation Gain: 417 meters 

Level: Easy to moderate (the last climb is the biggest challenge, but worth it)

Route type: Round trip

Read the full story → Ponta de São Lourenco 

PR 9 Levada do Caldeirão Verde

Levada do Calderão Verde is one of the longer walks in Madeira, but the flat surface makes it easy. This nearly 12 kilometres long trail starts at the Queimadas Forestry Park and takes you through a dense forest of laurel and heather. Along the way, you’ll pass through several tunnels and across narrow bridges. The trail’s highlight is the Calderão Verde waterfall, which cascades down a moss-covered cliff into a stunning emerald pool!

Bring a picnic on this walk in Madeira to enjoy a well-deserved snack once you reach the waterfall! At Queimadas Forest Park, you can also enjoy a drink or snack at Casa de Abrigo das Queimadas. This is a typical Madeira house that looks magical in this setting! There is also an option to extend this hike to Caldeirão do Inferno.

Length: 11.9 kilometres (7.4 miles)

Time: around 3 to 5 hours

Elevation Gain: 93 meters 

Level: Easy to moderate 

Route type: Round trip

Read the full story → Levada do Calderão Verde

PR 11 Vereda dos Balcões

Levada dos Balcões is definitely the most manageable walk in Madeira and one that is popular with families. The trail is totally flat, and it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to reach the viewpoint. This 2.7 kilometres trail starts at the Ribeiro Frio parking area and follows the levada through a forest of trees. The trail’s highlight is the Balcões viewpoint, which offers stunning views of the valley and the surrounding mountains. You’ll see both Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro from here! The viewpoint is a popular spot for birdwatching, and you may spot some of the island’s endemic bird species.

Ribeiro Frio is a popular spot for tours to stop. This means it can be jam-packed on the trail. If you prefer peace, you might want to avoid this trail. Or come early and ahead of everyone else because the view is very much worth the short walk! The area has other challenging routes, such as the Chão das Feiteiras route. Canyoning is also possible in the beautiful area.

Length: 2.7 kilometres (1.6 miles)

Time: around 1 hour

Elevation Gain: 112 meters 

Level: Easy

Route type: Round trip

Read the full story → Vereda dos Balcões

WalkMe Madeira App

WalkMe Madeira is a mobile app designed to help hikers easily explore the hiking trails in Madeira. The app is available for both iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store. Before you go on any of these hikes, it’s advisable to download it to your phone. It’s very cheap, and the app will help you find the car parks, track your route, tips, reviews, and much more! This includes an interactive map that provides real-time information about your location, the trail route, and nearby points of interest.

Walks in Madeira without a car

Madeira is a paradise for hikers, and with its extensive network of levadas and veredas, there are plenty of options for hiking without a car. While having a vehicle can provide more flexibility regarding trail access, it’s not essential for exploring the island’s hiking trails. The island has four different bus services: SAM, EACL, Horários do Funchal and Rodoeste. SAM is driving primarily on the eastern part of the island. EACL runs services between Funchal en Caniço. Horários do Funchal covers Funchal and surrounding areas. Rodoeste covers a lot of areas in western Madeira. As you can see, most trails can be reached by bus, but a car is needed for some. You can also opt to take a bus and then a taxi to the start of the hiking trail.

Hiring a car in Madeira

If you like to travel off the beaten path, a car is recommended. And most travellers decide to rent a car during their time on the island. Especially when hiking, it might also be nice to stay in a cabin in the middle of nature. With a car, your adventures in Madeira will be super easy. Thankfully, Discover Cars made it even easier. On their website, you can easily filter by price, model, automatic and car rental company. Check the prices below if you’ve decided a vehicle will be most convenient. If you’re unsure how renting a car in Portugal works, check this article for helpful information.

Guided hiking tours in Madeira

If you’re new to hiking or prefer to have a guide, several tour operators in Madeira offer guided hiking tours. These tours include transportation to and from the trailhead and a knowledgeable guide who can provide information about the area’s flora, fauna, and history. They often depart in Funchal so that you can see the best of both worlds! Guided tours can be a good option for those who want to learn more about the island and its hiking trails.

Where to stay in Madeira for hiking

Madeira is a beautiful island with plenty of accommodation options to choose from. If you plan to go hiking in Madeira, several areas are well-suited for hikers, with easy access to hiking trails and amenities. Funchal is the capital city of Madeira and the most popular tourist destination on the island. It’s an excellent base for hiking if you like taking tours over the island. You won’t need to rent a car; transport is usually included.

If you like to stay in nature, you can book anywhere else on the island. Santana is very close to some walks in Madeira. Pico Ruivo, Parque Florestal das Queimadas and Levada dos Balcões are all at your doorstep! Machico is very close to Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço. Here you’ll also find Praia de Machico, one of the few sandy beaches on the island.

Estreito da Calheta is the perfect base for hikes on the island’s Southside. There are some stunning places to rent, such as the beautiful Calheta Glamping Pods and the cottages of Banda Do Sol. There is something suitable for every budget, and you can see all places by clicking on the link below.


Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting, Madeira offers a range of hiking experiences to suit all ability levels. With well over 400 trails to choose from, it really is a hiker’s paradise. PR1 and PR 6 are some of Madeira’s most famous hiking trails! But there are also many hidden gems on the island where you barely see any people. From the levadas to the highest peaks, there’s a hike for everyone, whether a beginner or an experienced hiker. And the WalkMe Madeira App will be of great use during your walks in Madeira! With the proper preparation and precautions, hiking in Madeira can be a truly unforgettable experience.

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.

8 Responses

  1. Wow! Madeira has so much to offer to hikers. The scenery looks fantastic. With sceneries like these, I don’t think anyone would feel tired of walking miles.

  2. Amazing photos. I had no idea that there were so many hiking opportunities in Portugal. I love the waterfalls. We’ll have to add to our bucket list travel ideas.

    1. Sounds good, Julie! And yes, throughout the country there are many trails to be discovered. More to come soon!

  3. Amazing Pics- Portugal has quickly become one destination I would love to travel to in the next three years!

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