Rocks and cliffs shaped by the sea, paradisiacal beaches, mountains with breathtaking views and a unique gastronomy: all of this makes Madeira a true “black pearl” in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With a mild climate practically all year round, this is the ideal destination to go on an adventure through Nature, whether with family or with a group of friends. Along the way, let yourself get lost in rocky peaks with horizons as far as the eye can see - take advantage of the All About Portugal tips and immerse yourself in the vast Natural Heritage that paints the island's idyllic scenery.
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço
We start by the coast, at Ponta de São Lourenço. This footpath is located at the tip of Caniçal, in Machico, and reveals an unusual landscape for the island, where the green of the valleys and mountains gives way to an arid scenery, of a breathtaking beauty nonetheless. The cliffs sculpted by the force of the sea are accompanied by an endless horizon, only cut by the silhouette of the Desertas Islands and the Island of Porto Santo, visible at different stages of this route.
Levada das 25 Fontes and Levada do Risco
From the coast we take a jump to the interior, more specifically to the Calheta area, to one of the most popular routes in Madeira. The Valley of Rabaçal, where these levada walks begin, presents us with waterfalls, lagoons and fountains of various colours, which contrast with the different shades of green that paint the way. The two levadas have part of the route in common, although the Levada das 25 Fontes is a little more extensive than the Levada do Risco. Be sure to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding landscape at the Viewpoint of Rabaçal.
Levada do Caldeirão Verde
The next suggestion takes us to the city of Santana, to Parque das Queimadas, a park where we find a route marked by waterfalls and a lagoon with crystal clear waters. Follow the mountainous and green trail, where the sound of the water is constant, and let yourself be enchanted by the magnificent views over the Village of São Jorge. Starting at Casa das Queimadas, an old mountain shelter reused as a museum centre, this levada walk guides us through a true natural paradise, ideal for a picnic with the little ones. Alternatively, you can always have lunch at one of Santana's many restaurants or hotels.
Levada dos Balcões
The Balcões Viewpoint is the final destination of this levada. And what a destination! The views are amazing and leave anyone who passes by speechless. They allow you to contemplate the various rugged peaks of the island, with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, where Pico do Areeiro stands out, reaching 1817 meters, and Pico Ruivo, with a stunning 1861 meters. Also the Rocha da Penha D’Águia, a rock formation and one of the most peculiar geological phenomena on the island, is visible from the viewpoint.
Vereda do Areeiro
With a steep difficulty, this path requires a certain physical preparation to cross it. The reward, however, is extraordinary, with a 360º view of the island and several emblematic points, such as Ponta de São Lourenço, the island of Porto Santo or the Desertas. On the way, you will certainly be dazzled by the typically mountainous landscape of the route, which passes through the three highest peaks on the island, Pico do Areeiro, Pico das Torres and Pico Ruivo. Start at the Pico do Areeiro viewpoint and venture up the mountain, always accompanied by a breathtaking backdrop.
Vereda do Pico Ruivo
It is from Achada do Teixeira that this path starts, leading to Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the island. Here you will also find access to other secondary routes, such as Vereda da Ilha or Vereda da Encumeada. This path, one of the easiest, enchants by the landscape and magical moments it provides, where the mountain merges with the sea and where the horizon becomes endless. With any luck, you can walk this trail in good weather. For the greyest days, count on several shelters along the way, where you can take a break to snack and regain strength.
Levada do Rei
The Levada do Rei is one of the most iconic routes on the island of Madeira, as it takes those who venture through it to traverse a truly unique area and without great difficulty. In the middle of the Laurissilva Forest, a World Natural Heritage by UNESCO and whose origin dates back to the Tertiary Period, millions of years ago, you will be able to know the endemic species of this subtropical rainforest, which include trees of the lauraceae family, such as the laurel, the til or the barbuzano, and others like the seixeiros (a species of willow) and elderberries. Also the common wood pigeon, the Madeira firecrest and the chaffinch are present in this route. Legend has it that Laurissilva is, interestingly, at the origin of the island's name, result of the arrival of Portuguese navigators on the island.
Levada dos Cedros
Still in the northern part of the island, we continue to the place of Fanal, in the municipality of Porto Moniz. Integrated in the Madeira Natural Park and also crossing the Laurissilva, this circular route takes you through unique paths, surrounded by dense vegetation and where you will feel, for sure, that you have been transported to any fairy tale story. You will also find a viewpoint, where you can appreciate the vastness of the landscape, ideal for those who like to dedicate themselves to photography. But the highlight of this levada is certainly the Lagoa do Fanal, a lagoon of pure and crystalline water, where you can stop and simply let yourself be soaked by the impressive views that mark this place.
Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal
One of the longest routes on the island, this trail is for the most prepared, due to the altitude variations that characterize it. It goes through the paths Levada do Norte and Levada da Serra, taking us into the forest and providing splendid views over São Vicente. From the Pináculo area you will be able to distinguish the peaks Ruivo and Areeiro in the landscape but, until you get there, you will be treated along the way, with countless waterfalls and a magnificent natural lagoon. Be sure to appreciate all the species of fauna and flora endemic to this unique and special place.
Levada do Furado
We end up with an easy route, despite its length. Starting in Ribeiro Frio, this levada is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the area, with a landscape dominated by the green of the laurels interspersed by the purple, white and rose colours of shrub species such as the Echium, the Corn Marigold or the magnificent Madeira Orchid. Immerse yourself in the stunning beauty that the Valley of Ribeiro Frio offers, and end the tour at the fantastic Viewpoint of Portela. Take the opportunity to have lunch at one of the restaurants in the area and, if you still have energy after the meal, follow the path Vereda das Funduras to the place of Maroços.