Walking on Madeira
60 mountain and levada routes on Madeira and Porto Santo
By Paddy Dillon
A walking guide to the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo. Selection of varied day walks exploring Madeira's network of levadas (water channels) as well as routes across steep and rugged mountains, with slopes of bare rock or laurisilva 'cloud' forest. The neighbouring island of Porto Santo offers easy walking and a sandy beach.
SeasonsA year-round destination: hot and humid in the summer, cooler and a little wetter in winter.
CentresFunchal, Ribeira Brava, Santana, Porto Moniz, Porto Santo
DifficultyRoutes for all abilities, from easy, level levada walks to very steep and rugged mountain paths. Some routes are mostly downhill. Adjacent routes can be linked to form longer walks.
Must SeeParque Natural da Madeira, Pico Ruivo, levadas, laurisilva forests, Ponta de São Lourenço
This guide describes a varied selection of 57 walks on the Portuguese island of Madeira, exploring the dramatic cliff coastline, scenic levadas (irrigation channels), dense laurisilva 'cloud' forests and high mountain peaks, plus three walks on neighbouring Porto Santo. There are routes to suit all abilities, from easy, level levada walks to steep and rugged mountain paths – some with exposed sections calling for a sure foot and good head for heights. Since the steep terrain of Madeira does not easily support circular walks, many of the routes are linear, however most can be accessed by public transport and there is the option to link routes to create longer outings and multi-day hikes.
With a favourable climate and striking scenery, Madeira is a fantastic walking destination. The routes in this guide are spread across the whole island, and visitors may choose to base themselves in the capital, Funchal, or in one of the many smaller towns and villages. Regular flights and ferries link Madeira with Porto Santo, which boasts an exceptional sandy beach and pleasant, easy walking. The guide also outlines a day-cruise to the nearby uninhabited Ilhas Desertas.
Comprehensive route description, overview statistics and sketch mapping are provided for each walk. There is practical advice on travel and transport, a basic map of central Funchal and fascinating notes of Madeira's geology, history, plants and wildlife. Useful contacts and a Portuguese-English glossary (including a menu decoder) can be found in the appendices.
Trees and flowers
Parque Natural da Madeira
Funchal and Monte
Getting to Madeira
Getting around Madeira
Food and drink
Maps of Madeira
Making multi-day trips
Using this guide
1 Eastern Madeira
Walk 1 Levada dos Tornos: Monte to Camacha
Walk 2 Levada dos Tornos: Camacha to Quatro Estradas
Walk 3 Levada da Serra: Campo do Pomar to Camacha
Walk 4 Levada da Serra: Camacha to Santo da Serra
Walk 5 Levada Nova from Santo da Serra
Walk 6 Baia d’Abra and Ponta de São Lourenço
Walk 7 Levada do Caniçal: Maroços to Caniçal
Walk 8 Levada da Portela: Santo da Serra to Portela
Walk 9 Vereda das Funduras: Portela to Maroços
Walk 10 North Coast: Porto da Cruz to Ribeira Seca
2 Funchal to Santana
Walk 11 Vereda da Penha d’Águia
Walk 12 Levada do Furado: Portela to Ribeiro Frio
Walk 13 Caminho Velha: Poiso to Porto da Cruz
Walk 14 Fajã da Nogueira and Levada da Serra
Walk 15 Caminho Velha: Poiso to Santana
Walk 16 Levada do Barreiro: Poço da Neve to Monte
Walk 17 Levada da Negra: Poço da Neve to Barreira
Walk 18 Levada do Curral: Curral das Freiras to Funchal
Walk 19 Levada dos Piornais: Lombada to Funchal
3 The high mountains
Walk 20 Boca da Encumeada to Achada do Teixeira
Walk 21 Boca da Encumeada to Curral das Freiras
Walk 22 Pico do Cedro and Pico do Areeiro
Walk 23 Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo
Walk 24 Pico Ruivo, Vale da Lapa and Ilha
Walk 25 Pico Ruivo, Queimadas and Santana
Walk 26 Levada do Caldeirão Verde from Pico das Pedras
Walk 27 Levada do Rei from Quebradas
Walk 28 Santana, Calhau and São Jorge
Walk 29 Boca da Encumeada and Pico Grande
Walk 30 Colmeal and Pico Grande
Walk 31 Fajã dos Cardos to Fajã do Penedo
Walk 32 Boca da Encumeada to Colmeal
4 Jardim da Serra
Walk 33 Boca da Encumeada to Marco e Fonte
Walk 34 Boca da Corrida and Curral das Freiras
Walk 35 Boca dos Namorados and Curral das Freiras
Walk 36 Marco e Fonte to Fontes
Walk 37 Terreiros from Boca da Corrida
Walk 38 Crista do Espigão from Fontes
Walk 39 Fajã da Ribeira, Levada Norte and Boa Morte
Walk 40 Levada do Norte: Boa Morte to Estreito de Câmara de Lobos
5 Paúl da Serra
Walk 41 Pico Ruivo do Paúl da Serra from Estanquinhos
Walk 42 Rabaçal, Levada do Risco and 25 Fontes
Walk 43 Levada do Paúl: Rabaçal to Cristo Rei
Walk 44 Levada das Rabaças and Cascalho
Walk 45 Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal
Walk 46 Levada dos Cedros: Fanal to Ribeira da Janela
Walk 47 Levada da Janela: Fonte do Bispo to Porto Moniz
6 Western Madeira
Walk 48 Ponta do Pargo to Fonte do Bispo
Walk 49 Levada do Moinho: Tornadouro to Ribeira da Cruz
Walk 50 Levada da Calheta – Ponta do Pargo to Ponta do Pargo
Walk 51 Levada da Calheta – Ponta do Pargo to Prazéres
Walk 52 Caminho Real: Prazéres to Paúl do Mar
Walk 53 Levada da Calheta – Ponta do Pargo to Lombo dos Faias
Walk 54 Levada da Calheta – Ponta do Sol to Ponta do Sol
Walk 55 Levada Nova and Levada do Moinho from Ponta do Sol
Walk 56 Levada Nova: Jangão to Ribeira Brava
Walk 57 Lombo do Mouro to Ribeira Brava
7 Porto Santo
Walk 58 Pico do Castelo, Pico do Facho and Pico Branco
Walk 59 Campo de Baixo, Bárbara Gomes and Eiras
Walk 60 Ponta, Pico de Ana Ferreira, Pico do Espigão and Calheta
Cruise to the Ilhas Desertas
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Language notes
Appendix C Useful contacts
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Walk 1: After passing Nogueira, towards the the end of the walk, a concrete track and dirt road now lead to locked gates. It is best to leave the levada at Nogueira and follow the road into Camacha to finish.
Walks 25 & 26: There is now a cafe available at the attractive houses at Queimadas.
Walk 42 : The popular walk to 25 Fontes gets congested at times and a short-cut has been opened to alleviate the problem. Follow the route description to 25 Fontes, but when retracing steps afterwards, turn left along the new short-cut to avoid having to pass others who are still making their way into the area.
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Paddy Dillon is a prolific outdoor writer with over 90 guidebooks to his name, and contributions to 40 other publications. He has written for a variety of outdoor magazines, as well as many booklets and brochures for tourism organisations. Paddy lives near the Lake District and has walked in every county in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales; writing about walks in every one of them. He enjoys simple day walks, challenging long-distance walks, and is a dedicated island-hopper. He has led guided walks and walked extensively in Europe, as well as in Nepal, Tibet, Korea, Africa and the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the United States. Paddy is also a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and President of the Backpackers Club.View Articles and Books by Paddy Dillon
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