9 Reasons Why Madeira is Paradise on Earth for Hikers

Madeira's mountain tops are incredible © Pixabay
Madeira's mountain tops are incredible © Pixabay
Photo of Nina Santos
15 October 2017

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.

There are opportunities for hikers at every level

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

The man-made “levadas” or water channels from the 16th century have become a favorite route for hikers, leading through the beautiful ecosystem. These channels were built as irrigation systems, intended to carry excess rainfall from the mountains to drier land, but today they lead climbers to a few of Madeira’s most beautiful peaks. To climb past an alluring array of waterfalls, plan a trip to the Rabaçal levada in the center of western Madeira island.

Check "hike past a waterfall" off your to-do list | © Pixabay

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.

Walking is a great way to explore Madeira and experience unique culture, like these traditional homes | © Pixabay

An adventurous experience is guaranteed

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.

There are many trails to explore | © Pixabay

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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