The next time you’re in Madeira, Portugal, grab a pair of sneakers and hit the trails. The island is known for rolling terrain perfect for stretching your legs and getting in a workout, with incredible views to boot. Not only is it a beautiful mountainous destination surrounded by unparalleled beauty, but the local culture will arrest the senses too. Here are nine reasons why every hiking fan should plan a trip in Madeira.
From easy strolling and flat terrain to advanced hiking, there are paths for every athletic level, ranging from one to a few hours in duration. Among the easiest routes is the Vereda do Jardim do Mar, located on the western side of the island and taking walkers from one charming village to another, past an old water mill and offering views of the ocean. On the other hand, the Pico do Arieiro path is among the most difficult with a 5-hour experience that takes climbers up to 1862 meters.
The backdrop varies from woodland and farms to the ocean
The countryside in Madeira is beautiful, covered in dense evergreen forests, agricultural land, and rocky coasts. The traditional homes and buildings add extra charm, as well.
Paths follow historical water channels
There are paths with an “untouched” quality
Unlike many popular and commonly visited trails that have developed a “beaten path” appearance, Madeira’s trails and exotic forests seem untouched. Plan your trip outside the standard tourist season to miss the crowds that do appear.
Hiking is a great way to explore the island
The natural ecosystems and wildlife are among Madeira’s most precious features, which are best experienced up close. Walking is a good way to experience the local and traditional culture too.
With bridges hugging the mountainsides, tunnels and paths lacking rails and heights that seem to reach the clouds, some routes take hikers through truly unforgettable spots. The Levada do Alecrim runs through the Paul da Serra (up to 1200 meters above sea level) and showcases lush green mountain tops, while Pico Ruivo is the highest peak in the archipelago.
Choose between guided and self-guided tours
Some travelers prefer booking guided tours while others like exploring on their own and Madeira offers plenty of opportunities for both.
Beautiful weather around the year
The mild weather also makes it one of the best spots in the world for nature enthusiasts. Madeira and Porto Santo islands lack extreme differences between winter and summer, with average temperatures ranging from a minimum of 13 Celsius (mid 50s Fahrenheit) to 19 Celsius (high 70s Fahrenheit), respectively, and nearly year-round sun (though fall and winter do see frequent rainfall).
Delicious treats wait afterward
What’s better after a day-long hike than something delicious and comforting? Madeira’s gastronomy shouldn’t be missed and is made up of fresh seafood, exotic fruits, and savory meat-based recipes. Plus, there is always the sweet Madeira wine.
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