Hiking in Madeira Weekend Guide (flights, hotel + things to do!)

Big thanks to Jet2holidays for sponsoring this post.

Hiking in Madeira Weekend Guide (flights, hotel + things to do!)

The picturesque island of Madeira is a hiker’s paradise waiting to be explored! With its lush green landscapes, dramatic cliffs and network of cool trails, Madeira offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and outdoor adventure! So whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking challenging routes or a leisurely stroller looking for scenic walks, this weekend guide to hiking in Madeira promises to unveil the island’s most incredible trails. Plus, recommendations for flights, hotel and other top things to do on the island!

OTHER ‘weekend in Europe’ guides YOU MIGHT LIKE…

About Madeira

Madeira is an absolutely STUNNING island which is part of the Madeira archipelago located just 1,000km off main land Portugal.

The island is a paradise for nature lovers, boasting luscious green landscapes, awe-inspiring mountains and beautiful coastlines, making it a haven for outdoor adventures and activities.

Madeira’s nickname is, “the land of eternal spring” because it lies off the west coast of North Africa so is blessed with beautiful weather all-year round! And we STAN a queen who brings the holiday vibes on repeat.

There’s so much to love about Portugal – the vibrant culture, the history, the lovely people, the WINE – oh the wine! But the one thing that my fellow active travellers will love about Madeira is that it’s the PERFECT place for walking holidays and Jet2holidays offer a fantastically wide-range of affordable package holidays to Madeira!

So read on friends…

The open harbour at Câmara de Lobos with small colourful boats floating by the shore

Top 5 walks in Madeira for varying ability levels

Madeira boasts a multitude of amazing hiking trails that cater to hikers of all levels, from gentle strolls to challenging mountain ascents.

There are over 2,000km of walking routes recommended by the Madeira Autonomous Government. These are called “PR” short walks as they are well maintained and clearly marked.

So if you’re looking for official routes for walks in Madeira, just make sure they’re part of the “PR” hiking trail group and you’ll be fine.

Some may not actually be “short” as they take a few hours to do but you’ll have a fun day hiking in Madeira regardless!

All you need is a proper pair of hiking boots, a lightweight, waterproof jacket and a sense of adventure and you’re good to go!

P1 Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo trail with lush green peaks in the background and a line of people hiking in the distance to the top from the right

1) Pico Areeiro to Pico Ruivo Trail (PR1)

Starting with one of the most challenging but rewarding hikes in Madeira – the Pico Areeiro (PR1) trail!

This route takes you to the highest point in Madeira (and third highest in Portugal), the magnificent Pico Ruivo!

Starting at Pico do Areeiro, the PR1 route to Pico Ruivo is 10.78km long and has an elevation of 1,114m. You hike across the most amazing rocks formations, through the oldest heather forest on the island and past ancient trees on the way up to the summit.

Hiking down a large rock face with a line of hikers in front protected by a rope from the edge as the mist rolls in on the Pico Areeiro to Pico Ruivo trail

It’s simply breathtaking! But I must say the best part of hiking along the mountain is watching the clouds roll in and out of the crevasses as the terrain changes.

The route takes roughly three hours to the summit but only around an hour to descend.

As a seasoned hiker, I have to say this was one of the most special hikes I’ve ever done, the views are like nothing I’ve ever seen before!

If you don’t feel confident doing this hike on your own, you can always book a Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo Hike with a guide which costs around £37 (which is what we did!).

This is a great option if you haven’t rented a car during your trip as transport from your hotel in Funchal is included so you don’t have to worry about getting a taxi to and from the trail.

Mel standing at the summit of Pico Ruivo with her arms outstretched wearing black leggings, hiking boots and a white t-shirt with stunning mountainous peaks behind her and heavy mist rolling in

2) Levada das 25 Fontes and Risco trail (PR6)

This is arguably the most famous hiking trail in Madeira. It leads you through lush forests and along levadas (irrigation channels) to two magnificent waterfalls, 25 Fontes and Risco.

The cascading water, combined with the vibrant green surroundings, makes for a magical experience!

This 8.5km out-and-back trail near Canhas is generally considered a challenging route and takes on average three to four hours to complete. Depending on how many breaks you take that is!

This is a really popular area for hiking so I suggest you head off as early as you can to avoid the crowds with this one!

If you would prefer to go on this hike as part of a tour (which includes transfers), you can book a guided 25 Fontes and Risco Levada hike, which I highly recommend as you don’t need to worry about any of the coordination, you just get picked up and go!

Risco waterfall on the Levada das 25 Fontes trail surrounded by lush green foliage

3) Levada Do Caldeirão Verde Trail (PR9)

This hike takes you deep into the heart of Madeira’s laurel forest, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The 11.9km trail culminates at the stunning Caldeirão Verde (Green Cauldron) waterfall, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and see the magnificent views over the village of São Jorge and the vast mountains.

The Levada Do Caldeirão Verde Trail is considered a challenging and fairly long hike, taking on average seven hours to complete – but is SO worth the walk!

If you would prefer to go on this hike as part of a tour (which includes transfers), I highly recommend booking a guided Caldeirão Verde Levada hike.

Large waterfall uplclose on the Caldeirão Verde Levada Trail

4) Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço Trail (PR8)

If you’re looking for coastal hiking, the easternmost tip of Madeira, Ponta de São Lourenço, offers stunning views of the rugged cliffs, blue sea and unique volcanic landscapes.

This 10.1 km circular trail near Caniçal is considered a moderately challenging route. But great for those that love to be out in nature with some peace and quiet as you’re unlikely to encounter any other people on this trail!

The hike takes between three and half to four hours to complete and is a lovely route for those looking to get their heart rates up without getting too tired to enjoy the vibrant cliff views!

If you would prefer to go on this hike as part of a tour (which includes transfers), I recommend booking a guided Ponta de São Lourenço hike.

Rota da Ponta de São Lourenço - a beautiful coastal walk in Madeira

5) Vereda dos Balcoes Trail (PR11)

The Vereda dos Balcoes Trail is a short and easy hike up to a viewpoint with spectacular vistas of the Ribeira Funda valley and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great option for families and those looking for a short but rewarding hike!

The 2.9km trail near Ribeiro Frio only takes about an hour and a half to complete. Starting from the Ribeiro Frio, you simply follow the Levada of Serra do Faial until you reach the stunning Balcões viewpoint.

Enjoy the glorious sight of the valleys of the Lauissilva Forest and beyond!

Deep green valley in Madeira

Recommendations for Flights

One of the best parts about choosing Madeira as a holiday destination is not only its year-round sunshine but it’s convenient proximity to the UK.

Flights from Manchester Airport are only four hours long to Funchal International Airport. There are a few carriers that offer direct flights from main city airports but I would recommend a flight to Madeira with Jet2 every time.

I’ve always had a comfortable and hassle-free journey with Jet2 and have used them for years!

Their fantastic customer service in particular makes them stand out above other carriers as staff are always super helpful and make sure you’re taken care of at every stage of the journey.

They offer great value on stand alone flights in addition to flights as part of a holiday package. There’s also no sneaky bag restrictions or hidden costs!

If you book your flights as part of a Jet2holidays package to Madeira, you get a choice of 2 to 5-star hotels, return Jet2.com flights, 22kg of baggage and transfers all under one convenient booking.

They just make everything so easy!

Mel smiling in front of the wing of a Jet2 plane wearing a grey t-shirt and blue sunglasses

Recommendations on where to stay

Madeira offers a diverse range of accommodation options that cater to different budgets from luxury resorts to boutique hotels and budget-friendly hostels.

But whether you’re planning an active holiday, a relaxing getaway or a bit of both, my personal recommendation would be to stay in Funchal, Madeira’s capital city.

It’s only a 25 minute drive away from Madeira Airport and Jet2 offer transfers as part of their holiday packages. This is something that immediately takes the stress away from having to organise taxis at odd hours, find an ATM just in case you need cash or go through the faff of renting a car!

Funchal has the largest concentration of hotels and accommodation in Madeira and offers more of a small city experience but with the space, quiet and views of a mountain retreat.

Funchal is a fantastic place to base yourself whilst staying in Madeira if you plan to go exploring all over the island.

I also enjoyed walking down to dinner along the harbour and choosing from the numerous restaurants and bars in Funchal after a day of adventuring!

Next at Savoy Signature

As part of my holiday package with Jet2holidays I chose the Next at Savoy Signature.

This award-winning hotel boasts one of the best locations in Funchal, complete with direct access to the sea and a short walk from Funchal’s Old Town and scenic harbour!

The hotel is super modern with a futuristic vibe thanks to the cool art installations in the lobby and space-like pod lifts! It describes itself as, “a local hotel with an international spirit where guests can connect with a high-tech experience designed for a younger crowd.”

The hotel even has its own app so you can make requests hassle-free during your stay – basically the perfect hotel for millennials looking for a trendy, central hotel!

Sea view from The Next Hotel balcony

The rooms

The Next at Savoy Signature offers a few different room types depending on your budget. Rooms have a modern and sleek design with all your favourite mod-cons such as flat screen TV, coffee making facilities, mini fridge, robes and slippers.

The only real difference between the rooms is the space. If you book one of the suites, they will accommodate you better if you have a family for instance. And you’ll pay slightly more to have a sea view than that of the city.

I must say though, it’s totally worth paying extra to have an ocean view room! Me and my boyfriend found ourselves sitting out on our balcony every night just relaxing and watching the sun go down.

It was wonderful to wake up to that sea view every morning!

Bedroom suite in the Next Hotel Madeira which features a large white bed with sides tables, a black back board and orange rug underneath

Ocean Suites come with an adjoining living area that include a pull-out coach and an additional bathroom with sliding doors for privacy between the two spaces.

I was only travelling with my boyfriend but I found having the extra handy due to all the stuff that we brought! I could set out outfits for each day and be more organised. We also didn’t argue about the room getting messy either!

It’s impossible to lose things when you have the luxury of space. 😉

Living room area in a suite in the Next Hotel in Madeira which features a blue couch, glass desk, wide screen tv and orange rug

Every room has an open-plan bathroom which has a walk-in shower with a rainforest shower head and power pressure (I LOVED these features!) and a separate toilet cubicle.

The hotel also provide all your essential mini shampoos and shower gels so you don’t have to worry about overloading your suitcase with liquids!

Bathroom area of a suite in the Next Hotel in Madeira with a large white sink and two large glass doors leading to the toilet and the shower

The facilities

There are so many amazing facilities provided by the NEXT at Savoy Signature that you could honestly stay just within the confines of the hotel during your stay and you’d never run out of things to do!

The hotel offers a fabulous rooftop bar with a pool and sea views (of course!) and evening DJ sets until 11pm as well as fully-equipped gym and luxury spa facilities.

Rooftop pool by a bar with a view of the sea from the Next Hotel Madeira

The hotel also has a fantastic sea level pool with a bar and restaurant which are open until 8pm.

The pool has amazing sun cover until the very last hour of the day as well as access to the sea from the back, if you fancy a nice refreshing dip!

Round pool area at the Next Hotel Madeira with palm trees and yellow umbrellas

The food at the pool restaurant is great too, with vegan and vegetarian options available! These included veggie burgers with fries and tofu and avocado salad.

Speaking of food – the hotel also provides a wide-range of breakfast buffet choices. It includes a cooked option with all your full-English favourites as well as pastries, cereal (with every type of garnish!), toast, fruit and fresh smoothies.

You help yourself to as much tea and coffee as you like and even a little prosecco to make a cheeky holiday mimosa if you fancy it!

Mel wearing blue and pink sunglasses and a blue dress sat in front of the Next Hotel Madeira's sunny pool area eating a vegan burger and chips

Top things to do in Madeira

If you’d like to expand outside of hiking whilst you’re in Madeira, the island has got endless things for you to see and do! Here are some of my favourites that you’ll easily cover in addition to hiking over a few days in Madeira.

Dolphin and whale watching Cruise

Madeira is a top destination for dolphin and whale watching and there’s no better way to see the full beauty of Madeira than from a boat cruise!

Set out on a sunset cruise in a purpose-built, eco-friendly catamaran and enjoy sailing down the southern coast of Madeira island whilst your captain and skipper keep an eye out for wildlife!

But it’s not just dolphins and whales that you’ll potentially see on this cruise. You’ll also have the opportunity to see wild turtles and oceanic birds.

Mel wearing blue overalls and blue and pink sunglasses sat on a boat out at sea with the rocky sea edge of Madeira behind her

Dolphins are so common in this area that one morning we saw some dolphins breaking the waves near Funchal harbour hunting for their breakfast from our hotel balcony!

The tour lasts around three hours and whilst you’re on the lookout, the crew share fun facts about the main marine species you may spot on your trip as well as points of interest along the coast.

Of course it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get to see any wildlife (they are wild after all!). But you ARE guaranteed to have a great time!

I loved being out on the Dolphin and Whale Boat Tour and seeing Madeira from a new perspective. We got to watch the sunset as we sailed back into the harbour whilst enjoying complimentary wine too!

Dolphins jumping against the waves on the coast of Madeira

Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools

The Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools are arguably one of the most iconic natural phenomenons in Madeira and a MUST see when visiting the island! Aside from its awesome hiking spots, the volcanic pools are my favourite place to visit in Madeira!

I visited the Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools as part of the ‘Best of Madeira’s West Tour’ where I also visited one of the biggest natural reserves in the world at Paul da Serra and stopped at Cabo Girão (the highest cape in Europe) and the famous fishing village, Câmara de Lobos.

I highly recommend this tour, especially if you’re looking to see multiple Madeira hot spots in one day!

Mel smiling in front of a view of the volcanic pools in Madeira wearing sunglasses and blue overalls
Santinha vewpoint of Porto Muniz

Formed by the cooling and solidifying of molten lava as it met the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools are now a popular swimming spot.

The remarkable interconnected seawater pools, enclosed by volcanic rock formations invite visitors to immerse themselves in crystal-clear waters while surrounded by the dramatic remnants of ancient lava flows.

Mel swimming in the volcanic pools of Madeira wearing a red bikini and sunglasses
I couldn’t believe how cold the volcanic pools were!

The pools are a testament to Madeira’s volcanic heritage, providing a one-of-a-kind experience that combines the therapeutic qualities of seawater with the stunning beauty of the island’s natural landscape.

Mel swimming in the volcanic pools of Madeira wearing a red bikini and sunglasses with the coastline behind her

Câmara de Lobos

Câmara de Lobos is a lovely little fishing town known for its stunning natural beauty, surrounded by luscious green hills and fabulous coastal views.

It was even a favourite holiday destination of the great Winston Churchill! He loved to relax by the harbour and paint the fishing boats coming into shore.

His presence is still very much felt today as you can sit with the man himself and watch him paint right outside the Pestana Churchill Bay Hotel!

Mel sat next to the painting Churchill statue in front of the Pestana Churchill Bay Hotel
Chilling with Churchill

Câmara de Lobos is a great place for a leisurely stroll and a spot of lunch. There are lots of fantastic cafes and restaurants overlooking the harbour to check out as well as lots of cool art installations.

This eye-catching mural of a seal pup below is by famous Portuguese artist Artur Bordalo – Bordalo II and is part of his famous collection of animals – “The Big Trash Animals”.

In 2008 thousands of pounds of rubbish were collected from the waters off Madeira Island by locals during a clean-up campaign organised by the regional government.

A small portion of the plastic waste was recycled by Bordalo II to create his art. Through his work, Bordalo ll wants to remind viewers of how overconsumption leads to littered oceans with debris harming marine life.

There are murals like this featuring different sea life all over Madeira but he chose the sea lion for Câmara de Lobos as the town itself is named after it and is a treasured symbol of the town.

There is also recycled rubbish that is used to decorate the town which as part of an ongoing exhibition to raise awareness about taking care of our oceans.

Blue mural of a seal made out of recycled materials with the words "Câmara de Lobos" above it

Cabo Girão Skywalk

Perched on the edge of the Cabo Girão cliff at 580 metres is one of the highest sea cliff viewpoints in Europe! Offering amazing panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Funchal and the surrounding coastline.

The Cabo Girão Skywalk in Madeira is a thrilling architectural wonder that allows visitors to walk on a transparent glass pathway high above the clouds!

Mel taking a selfie on the Cabo Girão Skywalk wearing blue overalls and red sunglasses with heavy mist and the coastline behind her

As you step onto the glass platform, you’ll feel as if you’re walking on air, which makes for an unforgettable (if not slightly unnerving) experience!

The Cabo Girão Skywalk not only showcases the natural beauty of Madeira but also invites adventurers and nature lovers to take in the island’s beautiful scenery from a perspective unlike any other.

It’s a must-see attraction for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike, and best of all – totally free to visit!

I visited the Cabo Girão Skywalk as part of the ‘Best of Madeira’s West Tour’ where I also visited one of the biggest natural reserves in the world at Paul da Serra, the Porto Muniz Volcanic Pools and the famous fishing village, Câmara de Lobos.

I highly recommend this tour, especially if you’re looking to see multiple Madeira hot spots in one day!

Picture of Mel's feet wearing flip flops over the clear glass of the Cabo Girão Skywalk
Don’t look down!

OTHER ‘weekend in Europe’ guides YOU MIGHT LIKE…

Have you been hiking in Madeira or enjoyed a walking holiday in Madeira? 😄

Quick FYI guys – this ‘weekend guide to hiking in Madeira’ post contains sponsored and affiliate links to some tours, hotels and products I recommend. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to youThanks so much for your support!

Similar Posts