the waterfall Caldeirão Verde

Walking in Madeira

8 days
4.4 / 5 from 65 reviews
Walking & Trekking
Activity level:
Activity Rating - Moderate
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Walking & Trekking
Group size:

Explore the verdant landscapes on one of Portugal’s most scenic islands

During the course of this week you will have the opportunity to walk through the wild and varied scenery of Madeira, from gentle strolls along flower-lined levadas and spectacular coastal footpaths, to more demanding forays amongst the jagged ridges and peaks of the rugged volcanic interior. There is plenty of time to relax by the sea in the fishing village of Machico and discover the historic importance of Funchal, an old trade centre famous for exporting sugar and wine to the Indies and the New World.



  • Superb walking through Madeira's botanical paradise
  • Flower-lined levadas with stunning coastal views
  • Mild year-round climate perfect for walking
  • Picturesque fishing villages and the historic town of Funchal

Key information

  • 7 nights 3 and 4-star hotels, all rooms en suite
  • 5 days point-to-point walking; 1 free day
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 1862m, average 750m
  • Not suitable for vertigo sufferers
  • Transport by private minivan and public bus
  • Countries visited: Portugal

What's included

  • All breakfasts
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Free arrival & departure transfers 

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) 
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3936
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

Moderate: 5-6km/3-4miles an hour


Low altitude; some rough terrain - good paths with some steep ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 28.0km/4.0miles
Day 312.0km/7.0miles
Day 412.0km/7.0miles
Day 516.0km/9.0miles
Day 613.0km/8.0miles

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

On this trip, we stay in a range of hotels and simple pensions that employs local staff and uses local produce for the meals they provide. Several stops at villages and towns on our route are quite rural and the locals there depend heavily on tourism as a means of income hence, our visit will greatly benefit them. As a walking holiday, we actively encourage clients to interact with the locals, visit local cafes and bars, support local produce and craft and to experience what life is really like in Madeira. Additionally, walking trips like this have very little detrimental impact on the environment and the locals as it is a quiet, low impact activity requiring comparatively little resources to support.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here


Expand all
Machico or Santa Cruz
  • Day 1

    Start Machico.

    We start at our hotel in Machico which overlooks the beach of Machico Bay and is close to the picturesque historic fishing village.

  • Day 2

    Walk along Ponta de Sao Lourenco, where rocks contrast with the blue of the ocean.

    Today we walk the classic route along the Ponta de Sao Lourenco. Although challenging, this path takes us through some fantastic scenery as we admire wallflowers, stalwarts and many other tiny plants that resist this windy environment and manage to grow in soils with high levels of salinity. Rocks, sculptured by nature, have a great diversity of colours ranging from black to red, and are in stark contrast to the blue of the ocean. Madeira's Nature Park rangers watch over the plants and animals that belong to this eastern extremity of the island, around Casa do Sardinha. We return to Machico for the night.

    Walking time approx 3h30 (Elevation +170m, -270m)

    Total distance approx 8 km
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Spectacular walk along the north coast path to the fishing village of Porto da Cruz.

    This morning we will walk a scenic route along a cliff trail, up to the north coast. We set off along the little Levada do Caniçal, more modest and quieter than yesterday's, then begin a gradual climb up to the crest of the cliffs at Boca do Risco where we enjoy some amazing views along the north coast and may even be able to see the nearby island of Porto Santo. We then head west along the coastal path, a spectacular route in many places cut right into the cliff. We finally descend to the small town of Porto da Cruz, once a bustling port but now a sleepy little town. Later, we transfer to Santana for the night.

    Walking time approx 4h30 (Elevation +200m, –350m)

    Total distance approx 12 km
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Transfer to Queimadas; walk along Levada do Caldeirao Verde to the remote village of Ilha.

    From Santana we take a short transfer (stopping to admire the famous thatched roof houses) to Queimadas natural park where we will walk along the Levada do Caldeirao Verde. We finish this walk at the isolated village of Ilha before returning to Santana for the night.

    Walking time approx 5h (Elevation +90m, –500m)

    Total distance approx 12 km
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Early departure for sunrise at Achada do Teixeira; ascend the island's highest mountain, Pico Ruivo; follow a stone staircase down to Encumeada; transfer to Funchal.

    Today we make the most strenuous walk of the trip. Starting with an early departure to see the sunrise at Achada do Teixeira, we ascend the island's highest mountain, Pico Ruivo (1862m). Our descent follows a spectacular ridge via Torrinhas Pass and over the saddle of Pico do Jorge to Encumeada. As we descend, bees buzz in 'Lily of the Valley' trees and the smell of wild thyme fills the air. After a long day in the hills, we arrive via a long series of stone steps at Encumeada. Transfer to historic Funchal, our base for the last three nights of the trip.

    Walking time approx 7h30 (Elevation +650m, –1200m)

    Total distance approx 16 km

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Levada do Norte

    The Levada do Norte is one of the largest and most important levadas on Madeira and runs through much of the region. We walk a magnificent stretch beginning at Eira do Mourão in Ribeira Brava and ending at Cabo Girão. At an altitude of 580m, the clifftop viewpoint here is hugely popular for visitors.

    Indeed most of the route offers wonderful views over the lush landscape of Quinta Grande, Campanario and Câmara de Lobos, from the locals working the land to the precious flora and fauna that make this island so memorable.

    Total walking time 3.5h (Elevation +400m, –650m)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Free day to visit the bustling 'Mercado dos Lavradores' (workers' market), Sé Cathedral or for wine tasting in Madeira's Wine Lodge.

    Our last day is free for you to explore Funchal, the Madeira archipelago's capital. The city is easily explored on foot and the must-see sights include the Sé Cathedral which was built between 1493 and 1514, and the magnificent statue of the man who discovered Madeira, Joao Goncalves Zarco, on the Avenida Arriaga.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    End Funchal.

    The 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 breakfasts are included and usually consist of coffee/tea, fruit juice, rolls or bread, butter and jam, with the addition of cereal or cheese sometimes. Lunch (not included): normally bread or rolls, fresh salad, vegetables, cold meats or tinned fish, cheese and fresh fruit. The ingredients for lunch can often be bought at nearby shops and supermarkets, and prepared before walks. Evening meal (not included): normally a first course of soup or salad, a main course of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice, plus a dessert course. We regularly take our evening meal in our hotel, although there are other options. Madeirans eat a lot of meat and fish with rather plainly cooked vegetables. Vegetarians will normally find they get a balanced diet if they are prepared to be flexible.


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). Please note that we may be forced to amend the itinerary depending on local weather conditions.

Is this trip for you?

This trip consists of 5 daywalks and 1 free day. The walks are either fairly easy medium-duration walks or harder, shorter walks and reasonable fitness is required. The paths we use are generally flat and well maintained but some of the routes cross rougher terrain with longer ascents and descents. Some of the paths are quite narrow and stony underfoot and require walking in single file. On several occasions where the path becomes narrow and has a steep drop to one side, walkers need a head for heights. Handrails sometimes protect these sections, but we do not recommend this holiday for vertigo sufferers. A few of the levada paths enter short tunnels through the rock but these are easily navigated with the aid of a torch. Altitude maximum 1,862m; average 750m.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3936
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.


3 and 4-star hotels

Throughout your trek you will stay in good quality hotels with en suite facilities.

List of hotels normally used:

Machico: Hotel Dom Pedro. * Please note that the departure starting on the 1st May 2021 will stay Hotel Amparo instead of Hotel Dom Pedro.

Santana: Hotel O Colmo              

Funchal:  Hotel do Centro or Hotel Windsor. *Please note that on the 30th December 2021 a different end hotel (Hotel Se Boutique) will be used.


Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3936
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 April 2020

    Eye Opening Views and Great Weather

    On the interior of the island I sometimes I felt that I as walking through a set for a prehistoric film with towering spires of solidified lava, lush vegetation, and some plants that are pot plants in the UK growing wild to giant proportions. On the coastal walks it is mesmerising to watch and hear the waves battering against the base of the cliffs. Following the levadas along vertiginous rock faces and through caves, I marvelled at how they were created using only hand tools. The Madeirans are very friendly and the service in the hotels and restaurants is second to none. The drivers were always on time and I never felt rushed to be anywhere. The weather was exceptionally sunny for the time of year and we were able to swim in the sea very comfortably. The Christmas illuminations in Funchal were amazing. I have never seen so many anywhere else. For such a short flight from the UK I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone just to see this varied and stunning island.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were walking high up above the clouds and came round a corner to see cloud slowly filling a valley below us to the brim. We watched as the cloud reached the top and then slowly started to flow over a ridge down into the next valley like a slow-motion waterfall. Everyone went quiet and just watched. Later on we reached the ridge and walked across it through the flowing cloud.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our guide, Andre, arranged a birthday cake for me which was a really nice thing to do and typical of his caring attitude. Andre knows a great deal about the fauna and flora of the island and stops the walks at intervals to point out items of interest, and to explain something of their history and ecology. it is clear that he loves the island a great deal. He sometimes played his ukulele as he walked! Andre is funny and cheerful but could be quite direct. Most people liked this and but a few didn't. Personally I think that he was very patient, cheerful, and almost inexhaustible with what was a large group in sometimes dangerous situations. On a small note I would say that Andre perhaps needs to carry flyers or written information for trips that he mentions for our free day. He kindly booked whale watching for a group of us but we didn't have a contact number or location for the company (Andre pointed to the place on Google Maps on his phone whilst we were in a bar the day before). Never the less we found it and it was a great afternoon (albeit I left my sea-legs on shore that day).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Exodus does warn that this holiday is not for vertigo sufferers and with good reason because sometimes the paths can be very narrow with sheer drops to one side and a rock wall to the other, and occasionally you may have to very carefully pass walkers coming the other way. The paths are by no means like that all the time, and in fact some of them are wide and dressed with stone, but you can't avoid the narrow stretches. The holiday is graded as Moderate and I think that is fair but potential travellers should note that it is hard on your knees because of the very steep ascents and descents. Andre recommended walking poles to relieve the strain but I preferred not to use them because they can get caught in the cracks in the bare rock that formed some of the paths. A couple of people dropped out with sore knees but they still enjoyed themselves by visiting attractions and meeting us in the evenings.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Flights arranged by Exodus tend to be London centric but Madeira is accessible from many regional airports. One or two of group weren't aware of this and their journey times just to get to the London airport (Heathrow, I think) were longer than some of the flight times from the regional airports. On several mornings prior to our walk we were taken by Andre to the nearest supermarket to buy food for our lunch. This could take some time because the supermarkets were invariably very crowded even early in the morning. At a more remote location we were offered the alternative of a bag meal by the hotel. I think that should be an option at all the hotels because it would save a lot of time in the mornings. We were scheduled to be in Funchal for the final two evenings but ended up some way out of and above the town in a beautiful but expensive hotel (it used to be the British Embassy). If this happens to you, ask about hiring a taxi to go into Funchal for the evening especially if is Christmas or New Year.
  • Reviewed December 2019
    Pamela Peers

    Great walking in a beautiful island

    This is a great week's walking with a lot of variety in the walks covered. The hotels are generally of a good standard and the food was good and varied, with plenty of fresh fish and salads.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the summit of Pico Ruivo, and looking down through the clouds through which we had walked to reach the summit.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was brilliant! A great guide and excellent company. He's clearly a very experienced guide and was diligent in ensuring that all members of our large group were comfortable with the walking pace, and provided supported when anyone needed it. He always found excellent places for us to eat and we were particularly grateful for his guidance on things to do in Funchal on our free day

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a great trip ... book it!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Christopher Simpson

    Walking in Madeira

    A week of varied walking and a chance to get away from the crowd. We were impressed by the stunning scenery in challenging terrain and weather conditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walk Westward, along the cliffs from Machico to Porto Santo was dramatic without being too scary. The most strenuous day (5) up to Pico Ruivo was spent mostly in clouds/rain, but when the clouds lifted, we had astonishing views down into the valleys.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    André Pontes was an excellent guide, with a real passion for the mountains, and great knowledge of the often unique Madieran flora and fauna. He encouraged us through relentless ( unseasonable he said) rain and kept our spirits up. He was a very good judge of the strengths and weaknesses of our group, and offered help when needed, and kept us all safe en route.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Conditions change rapidly in the mountains..... Take a range of good ( waterproof ) clothes and sturdy boots.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were not returning to the airport with the rest of the group, but on Monday 17th June at 18:00. You had arranged a taxi transfer for us, which André and the hotel both confirmed, but it failed to turn up at the Windsor Hotel. At all. This induced in us a minor panic. The hotel called a fresh taxi for us (this cost us 30 Euros) and we made it to be the final check-in customers for Easyjet! you may wish to talk to the taxi Co. about this.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Margaret Proud

    Walking week

    Great holiday, good walks

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Great guide who brought the island, walks and its flora alive

    What did you think of your group leader?

  • Reviewed April 2019

    A very enjoyable trip in Madeira was had by all!

    Just returned from Madeira, whilst the weather was pretty miserable we still had a great time. Andre our guide had to substitute a couple of our walks due to the weather conditions. Very impressed with Madeira and the locals who very helpful, but I would suggest maybe going at a different time of the year, (Not April). Exodus planned everything from we lifted up the phone until we were left back to the airport. The hotels, the pack lunches, the walks, flights etc.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The entire trip. Each day was very different and a great experience. The only downside was the weather. It meant that two days had to be rescheduled, but a great trip none the less.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was good, very approachable and nothing was a problem for him.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Following the tips by Exodus and the things which you need to pack to take with you. As you have been given this list for a reason.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Pierre Vinsot

    Best way to discover a beautiful island

    Very well organised trip in a magnificent natural place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hiking up in the cliffs of the northern coast.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Graham Williams

    A good trip

    An interesting and enjoyable walking tour of Madeira.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Dramatic cliff walks and beautiful levadas.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was excellent. We were all glad that he rearranged the walk on day 5 because of bad weather in the mountains.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I went in March, when the climate was nice for walking but few flowers were out. Apparently late April, May or early June would be better for flowers but not too hot.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The local tap water is good to drink and most of us had refillable water bottles to save unnecessary plastic waste, but both the hotels who supplied packed lunches included TWO plastic bottles per day, with no option to just have the food. The receptionists were not interested in my comments on this but it might help if Exodus had a word with the hotel managers.
  • Reviewed March 2019
    Helen Botham

    Fun in Madeira

    Lovely bunch of folks , lots of laughs and good local guide who always made sure we could eat together and knew some great restaurants. He also found us chances to swim in the sea at the end of some walks. Great weather and varied walks amongst the flowers, plants and mountains of subtropical Madeira. Plenty to do in Funchal in our free time, beautiful gardens.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being with such lovely people

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Andre was lovely . He was up for a laugh and happy to answer all questions. He made sure we understood what we were doing with a meeting the previous evening. He was young and fit and had the transport , local buses and minibus , well organised and also knew good bars for an after walk drink and a good variety of excellent restaurants.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it. That was my first holiday on travelling on my own and it was excellent. I recommend going from your local airport if you can. I went and returned a day early so that I could fly from Manchester and this fitted in well with the holiday.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you Exodus.
  • Reviewed January 2019
    CLIVE Beauvais



    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?


    What did you think of your group leader?


    Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Reviewed October 2018
    Martha Knight

    Stunning views, wonderful walks, excellent company

    I'm just back from a fabulous week's walking in Madeira. The scenery, weather and company could not have been better. Thank you to Andre, our guide, for helping to make this week so successful. There was lots of laughter along with some strenuous walks set against the majestic background of mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. I highly recommend this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the walks were completely different but the second day's walk was stunning covering both the mountains and the ocean and including the levadas. The drink at the end of the walk was a welcome reward in a bar set next to the ocean. Pretty perfect.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader, Andre, was great. He was knowledgeable, fun to be with and always seemed to be aware of our safety needs without being intrusive. He clearly loves Madeira and managed to pass in this love to the group. The arrangements went smoothly and all transport and luggage transfers were seamless.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Madeira!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    One of the walks was hard because of the climb up the mountain consisting of many flights of steps. Be aware of any personal limitations such as knee problems. The walks are considered of moderate difficulty but that one was tough and many of us felt it had been under graded. The views at the top, however, were worth it!

Dates & Prices

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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]

Private Adventures 

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