Marvels of Madeira Self Guided Walk

  • Premium
8 days
1 679 €
5 / 5 from 1 review
Walking & Trekking
Suitable for:
Age 12+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Self-Guided Holidays, Premium Adventures
Self-Guided Walking
Min group size:
Min age:

One of Madeira's many charms is its infinite variety; each day's walking is different.

Surging from the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira offers a temperate sub-tropical paradise perfect for year-round walking. One of Madeira's many charms is its infinite variety; each day's walking and every levada - the island's unique network of water channels - is different. Landscapes vary from cultivated vine terraces and verdant slopes dotted with white hamlets to coastal cliffs with balcony views over the azure seas. Also a nature lover's paradise, there are over 120 endemic species of flora and fauna including the pride of Madeira, the bird-of-paradise, along with jacaranda, tiny bisbis birds, chaffinches and hawks - the list is endless. On this self-guided, hotel-to-hotel holiday, the island's coastal paths and levadas take you from the sleepy wine village of Santana on the north coast to bustling Funchal in the south.


  • Stunning coastal trails and flower-lined levada walks 
  • Friendly, good quality hotels, with swimming pools
  • Time to explore bustling Funchal

Key information

  • Good quality hotels throughout, all with pools on site or nearby
  • 6 days varied walking with some steep ascents and descents
  • Magnificent mountain scenery; stunning coastal trails and flower-lined levada walks 
  • Altitude maximum 1200m, average 700m
  • Excellent Madeira wine; plenty of tasting opportunities
  • Countries visited: Portugal

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 2 picnic lunches and 5 evening meals
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • Cable car ticket included (day 7)
  • Route notes and maps provided

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Single accommodation (available on request - compulsory supplement)
Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Walking & Trekking
Day by day breakdown
Day 2 13.0km/8.0miles
Day 3 14.0km/9.0miles
Day 4 14.0km/9.0miles
Day 5 8.0km/5.0miles
Day 6 12.0km/7.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Santana

    Arrive at your hotel near Santana or Porto da Cruz where our local partner will brief you on the week's walking.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 2

    Walk a circular route to Sao Jorge and take in fabulous coastal vistas

    A panoramic coastal path leads you to the ancient cobbled route linking Santana to Sao Jorge. Agapanthus and cacti line the descent to the seaside 'resort' of Calhau. It's then along the base of the cliffs, where big Atlantic rollers come sweeping in, before you climb to enjoy balcony views. There are fabulous coastal vistas as you ascend to Sao Jorge, with the village's lighthouse glimmering above the azure waters. The mighty peak of Pico Ruivo frames the horizon as you return to Santana.

    2 options: Walking time 3.5hr, distance 10km/6.2mi or walking time 4hr, distance 13km/8.1mi.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Walk through Caldeirao Verde Levada into the Vale da Lapa

    A transfer (10 mins) takes you up to the Parque das Queimadas - all the hard climbing is done for you! The walk follows the beautiful (and shady) Caldeirao Verde Levada (the Green Cauldron Levada) into the Vale da Lapa. The scenery is magnificent; the views of the sea, of hilltop villages, and of the lofty central peaks are unforgettable. You head up the valley through a series of impressive levada tunnels to the magnificent waterfall at Caldeirao Verde. Then it's back down the Lapa Valley to Ilha before taking the local bus (payable locally) back to Santana or a pre-arranged transfer back to Porto da Cruz.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Walk from Ribeiro and descend into Santo da Serra

    A scenic 30-minute ride takes you to Ribeiro Frio. You join the Levada do Furado, a verdant paradise of laurel, heather and pine with waterfalls tumbling into the gushing river. Tiny firecrest and tame finches flit between the trees, which occasionally part to reveal stunning views of white hilltop hamlets. You descend to Santo da Serra's vibrant square with its lively market; wood smoke fills the air as meats grill al fresco - you must try the traditional espetada (marinated meat skewered on laurel twigs)!

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Walk the Ponta de Sao Lourenco's Nature Reserve's peninsula loop

    Starting with a transfer (30 mins), today's walk takes you to the most eastern point of Madeira, to Ponta de Sao Lourenco's Nature Reserve, where you'll walk the hugely popular peninsula loop, with sweeping views, jagged peaks and masses of flora and fauna.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Take the Levada do Norte before arriving in Cabo Girao

    A transfer takes you to Boa Morte to take the Levada do Norte, through pine and eucalyptus trees, and on paths lined with pink belladonna flowers. High on the poios (terraces) the path wanders through pretty villages, before arriving in Cabo Girao where the majestic expanse of the Atlantic is spread out before us. A transfer will take you on to the 5-star Quinta da Bela Vista above Funchal where you will spend your last 2 nights.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Spend your last day exploring the coastal town of Funchal

    Spend your last day exploring at leisure in Funchal, perhaps starting in the bustling market near the harbour - it's full of atmosphere and ablaze with colour. Enjoy lunch on the harbour, saving room for an afternoon cream tea at Reid's, then it's time to relax by the pool or in the beautiful exotic gardens of your hotel.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    Trip ends in Funchal

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All continental buffet style breakfasts, 2 picnic lunches and 5 evening meals are included.

Madeira is well known for its excellent fresh fish and seafood, tasty soups and mouth-watering fresh fruit. Grilled meats especially chicken (often cooked on a natural wood grill), also make a good choice for your evening meal. A more traditional dish is espetada - skewered beef cooked on an open grill served with lots of salad and boiled potatoes.

Portions are generous, especially in smaller, less touristy restaurants and main dishes come with the traditional salad and potatoes. You will also get a basket of bread on the table, even if you don’t ask for it. Some restaurants also bring you portions of soft cheese and fish paste with the bread and will add these to your bill.


Madeira’s wine is probably the island’s most famous export. This strong, fortified wine, which tastes a little like port or sherry, comes in a range of flavours (from dry to very sweet) and is renowned throughout the world. It was used to seal the signing of the American Declaration of Independence and is still used today to toast those offered the Freedom of the City of London.


The climate in Madeira is similar to that found around the Mediterranean and is renowned for its year round mildness however there is always the possibility of inclement weather. In May, April, June, October and November, temperatures are pleasant and some rainfall is to be expected. From July to September, daytime is a little warmer and it is typically dry with an average of seven to eight hours of sunshine a day, but the odd shower is still possible. Winter months are generally wetter, particularly at high levels with rain falling between periods of fine, settled weather (so waterproofs are essential).

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 2 (Leisurely/Moderate)
This holiday uses paths by the levadas which are, at times, narrow with drops to the side. You need to be a confident, sure-footed walker, not deterred by heights. There are ascents and descents every day which makes this a slightly more demanding holiday than the distances suggest. A torch is required for the Caldeirao Verde walk (day 3).

As this is a self-guided holiday there is no group and no leader. There may be others on the same departure date as you, but you will not be organised together. You are provided with route notes for each day, which begin with an overview of the walk and advice on lunch, followed by detailed instructions. The route notes contain a 24 hour emergency assistance telephone number should you need it and in emergencies, the hotels are normally able to dispatch a taxi or pick you up themselves. They may wish to charge for this service.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference:

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.



Our accommodation choices offer as many contrasts as the walks: in Santana your 4-star hotel has stunning Atlantic Ocean views; in Santo da Serra your hotel dates back to the 1920s and has been used as a family home and tea house over the years, and in Funchal, the 5-star Quinta da Bela Vista is one of the most exclusive hotels on the island.

Room upgrade

From £10 per person, per night based on 2 people sharing.

All prices are based on 2 persons sharing, so if there is an odd number of people travelling in your party or you are travelling alone, there will be a compulsory single room supplement payable in advance.

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed September 2017
    Nik Kowal

    Marvels of Madeira self guided

    A winning combination of walks in stunning scenery and top quality hotels in which to relax at the end of the day. Being self guided was a great experience, walking notes very clear, and you can go at your own choice of pace and stop whenever you want. Highly recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Finishing each walk!

    What did you think of your group leader?


    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The rating of leisurely/moderate does not take into account some of the ascents and descents, and the narrow footing along some of the levadas so pre trip training and a good head for heights required.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Madeira is a beautiful island and this is a good introduction.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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