There is truly no place quite like the Madeira island of Portugal. Portugal’s mainland is beautiful on its own, but there’s something about this little island that is just breathtaking. This region is known best for the fortified wine it produces. But this area is so much more than the goods it produces. When I visited the region several years ago on a European trip, I realized that there was a massive natural allure to the region of Madeira-- something that was quite different from the bustling urban cities of Lisbon and Porto.
If you have the opportunity to visit Madeira, your best bet is to ensure it is an outdoor trip complete with hiking, climbing, treks, and adventure.
These are just a few hiking hotspots I had the chance to explore in Madeira, and I cannot recommend them enough.
Rabaçal waterfalls and lagoons
Rabaçal is the starting point of a wide range of hiking trails, waterfalls, lagoons, and beautiful natural formations.
If you plan on taking a hike through this area, don’t make the mistake I did. Ensure that you get there early in the morning, as you can easily spend upwards of eight hours or more just hiking. I had to cut my trip short. Plus, this is not a beginner hiking excursion. While you get to enjoy the beautiful Rabaçal waterfalls and lagoons, and the lush forest of Laurisilva, there is a lot of vegetation to get through and some rough terrain. It would be best to visit in the spring when the area is most temperate. I personally wouldn’t recommend bringing young children on this hike.
The Royal Path Madeira
This is a really intense hike that I would not recommend for children or those who aren’t very used to difficult hikes. That is because The Royal Path Madeira starts at the north of Madeira and ends at the south of Madeira. That’s nearly 12.5 km or 8 miles. The hike takes around eight hours at the least.
I don’t regret this hike at all. I got to experience the most beautiful mountainous scenery Portugal. You can see the highest peaks and the lush greenery of the Laurel forests, as well as Nuns Valley and Encumeada.
I recommend visiting in the summertime or possibly late in spring for the best weather.
Pico do Arieiro
The hike from Pico do Areiro to Pico Ruivo is another tough one, but it is notably shorter of a path that others at only 3.5 hours. There is a lot of intense walking and you’ll need to brave some of the mountains and intense stone stairs, so I don’t recommend this trail for those who are scared of heights or aren’t in great shape.
However, the payoff is unbelievable. You can explore so many incredible areas of the mountains and because you’re mostly above the clouds, the view of the waterfalls and skyline is breathtaking.
Serra D'Água Valley
Looking for an easier guided walk in English? This hike through Serra D'Água Valley Levada is a great way to explore the natural beauty of Madeira without the need to brave intensive mountain trails.
I enjoyed this hike because I was sore from the other ones and wanted something more relaxed. You get some beautiful views of the southern coast and there are a variety of tour guides to choose from depending on your preferred language. The hike as a whole was about four hours.