In the middle of the deep blue Atlantic, the reddish-brown mountain slopes of Madeira tower above the floods. While the sun-drenched south is densely populated, you will still find unique and untouched nature on the north coast and inland. And although the island is quite small, the landscape is incredibly varied: The rugged peaks of the central mountain range, the cloudy Paul da Serra plateau, the steep cliffs of the north coast and the enchanted laurel forests are all waiting to be discovered. To see it all, you can enjoy challenging mountain hikes or stick to the coast—or discover the island nature along the levadas. These narrow water channels have been guiding the water from the mountain streams down to the terraced fields of the population for hundreds of years. The footpaths along the levadas are often almost at ground level and so even leisurely hikers can explore deep into the nature of Madeira.
We have selected eight routes for you to discover the diversity of Madeira. The Levada hikes, the jungle of Fanal and the peninsula of São Lorenço are suitable for families, while the hikes in the Massif Central make the hearts of every experienced mountaineer beat faster. If you spend an entire week in Madeira, all you need to do is determine the order of your hikes and then start exploring the unique volcanic island.
Madeira has a very mild climate, the winters are quite warm and in the summer it does not get too hot. Therefore, you'll find perfect hiking weather all year round. The best way to explore the island is in a rental car, with which you can reach even the most remote hiking trails.
Once Madeira was completely covered by dense, mist-covered forests, but the first settlers cleared the forests to create land for agriculture. Only in the most impassable valleys and on the windy plateaus can today be found even larger primeval forests. A particularly beautiful jungle can be found on the western plateau at the forester's house of Fanal: Here are centuries-old and knotty stink-laurel trees. Until early summer, dense fog fields pass over the mountains every day, transforming the unique landscape into a mystical jungle.The tour starts at the Forsthaus Fanal, where you can find some parking. Between the huge tree giants, it goes a bit up to a wide heathland with great views down to the north coast. The path meanders along the plateau into the steaming and dripping stinkberry forest. The trees are overgrown with lichen and ferns, and apart from the quietly rustling leaves in the wind, a peaceful silence surrounds you.
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The north of Madeira is famous for its cliffs, which drop in many places over hundreds of meters perpendicular to the sea. In the northeast of the island a spectacular path leads through the steep cliff face and you have incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and the reddish brown cliffs. Although the path is secured on all steep sections with a wire railing, you should be free from giddiness to enjoy the experience to the fullest.You start your tour in the small coastal town of Porto da Cruz at the foot of the famous eagle rock. Here you will find a large, free car park where you can safely park your rental car. After a short distance through the village, we will head east along the coast. Climb up the stairs to a dry levada and continue on a little-traveled road between terraced fields.
The Massif Central of Madeira invites to extended mountain tours. A particularly beautiful route is the mountain trail between the Encumeada Pass and the Pico Ruivo. The demanding mountain path is rarely committed and takes you through breathtaking nature. Our hike leads as a classic mountain hike from the trail parking lot at the pass to the Pico do Jorge. Its rugged summit can not be climbed in the last few meters, but below the summit pyramid you can expect great views.From Encumeada Pass, follow the signposted PR 1.3 Vereda de Encumeada trail. On countless stone steps, you climb through pristine laurel forest to the saddle between Pico da Encumeada and Pico Ferreiro. On top of the ridge you have a fantastic view of the valley of São Vicente in the north and at the same time on the valley of Ribeira Brava in the south.