Madeira

Following our stint in the Azores, we set our sights on Madeira Island. Madeira is another archipelago off the coast of Portugal boasting beautiful weather and fantastic hikes.

Where we stayed

Machico

We stayed in Machico, a small town close to the airport, for most of the holiday . There’s more value in Machico and it’s less touristy and busy than the capital Funchal. We stayed in an apartment (AnaLodges) and booked our car through AnaLodges too which was excellent value and hassle free.

Funchal

We spent our final two nights in Savoy Palace, a luxury hotel in Funchal which was magical. It’s expensive but one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in.

Hikes

PR1. Pico do Arieiro – Pico Ruivo 

  • Distance: 7km each way (if you tap out using PR1.2 it’s 10.75km total)
  • Difficulty: Moderate-challenging
  • Time: 2.5 – 3 hours each way
  • Start/finish: Pico do Areeiro/Pico Ruivo
  • Bring: Hiking boots (nb), a torch for the tunnels, warm clothes as the weather changes often

This hike is spectacular and the most popular in Madeira. The scenery feels like you’re in Jurassic Park. It is challenging with plenty of steep ascents and descents but well worth it for the views. This linear route connects Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo, and back again.

There is a cafe at the top of Pico Ruivo where you can relax and buy well deserved snacks. If you prefer, you can tap out at this point by taking PR1.2 (Vereda do Pico Ruivo) and getting a taxi back to your car at the beginning (we did this). There is a cafe at the end of PR1.2 that you can grab a bite to eat in while you wait for your taxi however it was closed for refurbishments when we were there.

Eat: We visited Casa de Abrigo do Poiso on the way home. Lovely cosy setting and a fireplace which is just what we needed after a long exhausting day. Vegetarian options and good food!

PR8. Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço 

Distance: 6km total (linear hike)
Difficulty: Easy/moderate
Time: 2.5 hours
Start/finish: Carpark
Bring: Hiking boots, warm clothes as the weather changes often

This is a great sunrise hike that isn’t too high but has amazing coastal views. If you’re there for sunrise, go past the first viewing area and continue along another five minutes and you’ll have the place to yourself! This hike is straightforward and plenty of steps but it’s only very steep at the 6km mark. There is a restaurant here too with great reviews however we were there too early and it wasn’t open yet.

Vereda do Larano

Distance: 12.1km (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 3.5 hours
Start/finish: Machico just up from the snack bar/Porta da Cruz

This is a breathtaking walk that takes you along a levada and then to a cliff side trail offering amazing views and sheer drops. The trail is generally flat with just a couple of ascents and descents. The paths are very well maintained with just a couple of narrow sections.

We started in Machico where a taxi driver gave us his card so we could phone him to collect us later that day. When we arrived in Porto da Cruz we called the taxi and then grabbed food while we waited.

Some blogs suggest skipping the Levada section of the walk however, as we hadn’t done any levada walks we wanted to do the whole thing. More info on skipping the Levada here.

Best Swimming Spots

  • Piscinas Naturais Velhas:
    • These natural pools were formed by lava rocks and have the addition of steps and handrails so they’re safe to enter and exit. Free entry with beautiful scenery and perfect for a swim! Free entry.
  • Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools
    • These pools are just five minutes walk from Piscinas Naturais Velhas. This is more of a typical swimming pool experience and can be very busy. They are child friendly and more tourist oriented with sun loungers and a bar. Entry €1.50.
    • Eat: After your swim, grab dinner at Restaurant Sea View – amazing food, atmosphere and views!
  • Seixal Natural Pools

Eat

Our favourite vegetarian spots were:

  • Hamburgeria (Funchal): This place does fantastic burgers with a range of vegetarian and vegan options.
  • Mundo Vegan (Funchal): Delicious vegan food & casual dining.
  • Sea View Restaurant: Romantic restaurant with outstanding food and vegetarian options.
  • MadMarket Restaurante: Cafe/restaurant located in a shopping centre with good vegetarian options.
  • Land Food & Coffee: This at the top of the Funchal Cable Car offering incredible views and vegetarian options.

Thanks for reading!

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