Walking in Madeira

Walking in Madeira Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
Activity Rating - Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Ages: 16+

Trip Overview

Discover the wild and varied scenery of Madeira, from gentle strolls along flower-lined levadas (the island's centuries-old waterways) and spectacular coastal footpaths, to more demanding forays amongst the jagged ridges and peaks of the rugged volcanic interior. There is time to relax by the sea in the 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.

At a Glance

  • 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 1,862m, average 750m
  • Not suitable for vertigo sufferers
  • Transport by private minivan and public bus

Trip Highlights

  • Superb walking through Madeira's botanical paradise
  • Flower-lined levadas with stunning coastal views
  • Spectacular mountain scenery at Pico Ruivo, the island's highest peak
  • Picturesque fishing villages and the historic town of Funchal
  • Mild year-round climate, perfect for walking

Is This Trip for You?

This trip consists of 5 daywalks and 1 free day. The walks are fairly easy, medium-duration walks, or more challenging, shorter walks. 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 these are not in place in all parts of the trails and 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.

Adult min age:
Min group size:
Max group size:



Land Only

Start City:
End City:

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Machico.

    We start at our hotel in Machico which overlooks the beach of Machico Bay. 

    Overnight in Machico.

  • Day 2

    Walk to the easternmost point of the island, Ponta de São Lourenço, a rocky peninsula with ocean views for miles.

    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 our hotel in Machico in the afternoon, and there is some free time to explore the village or relax at the beach.

    Overnight in Machico.

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 8 km / 5 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    Total descent (m):
    Activity (hours):
  • Day 3

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

    This morning we will walk a scenic route along a cliff trail along the north coast. After catching the public bus, we set off along the little Levada do Caniçal, more modest and quieter than yesterday's path, 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. We then head west along the coastal path: a spectacular route, in many places cut right into the cliff. We finally descend to Porto da Cruz, once a bustling port but now a sleepy, picturesque village. Time permitting (and if open), we will have a short look around a rum factory that has been producing Madeira rum for several centuries. Later, we transfer to Santana for the night.

    Overnight in Santana.

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7.5 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    Total descent (m):
    Activity (hours):
  • Day 4

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

    After a quick stop to admire the famous thatched-roof houses of Santana, we take a short transfer inland to Queimadas Natural Park, where we will walk along the Levada do Caldeirão Verde. This route has many waterfalls and we may need to pass under some to continue the path. We will use our torches to walk through tunnels carved into the mountains. We finish the walk with a descent into the village of Ilha before returning to Santana for the night.

    Overnight in Santana.

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7.5 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    Total descent (m):
    Activity (hours):
  • Day 5

    Early departure for sunrise at the island's highest mountain, Pico Ruivo; continue the path to Pico Arieiro; transfer to Funchal.

    Today we make the most strenuous walk of the trip. We depart early to reach the island's highest mountain, Pico Ruivo (1,862m) in time for sunrise, taking the 3km path from Achado do Teixeira. Afterwards, we continue the hike to Pico Arieiro (1,818m), the third-highest peak on the island, for more fantastic views over Madeira. The path has lots of ascents and descents along the way, but the memorable scenery is ample reward. At the end of the walk, we will transfer to historic Funchal, our base for the last three nights of the trip.

    Overnight in Funchal.

    Please note: On occasion, the route to Pico Ruivo may be closed due to landslides or inclement weather. Our guide will always try to find an alternative route up to Pico Ruivo, but if this is not possible, an alternative walk from Ribeiro Frio to Portela will be offered. The route traverses Madeira's native forest and offers some wonderful coastal views.

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 14.5 km / 9 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    Total descent (m):
    Activity (hours):
  • Day 6

    Magnificent scenery along the 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 beautiful stretch beginning at Eira do Mourão in Ribeira Brava. After taking the public bus to our starting point, we will climb a steep stone staircase through the hills, leading to incredible views at an altitude of 580m over the lush landscape of Quinta Grande, Campanario and Câmara de Lobos. We're likely to see locals working the land, as well as the precious flora and fauna that make this island so memorable. Finally, the route winds down a gentle ascent to Cabo Girão viewpoint and the conclusion of the week's hiking activities. We return to Funchal for a farewell dinner (not included).

    Overnight in Funchal.

    Meals included:
    Distance covered: 13 km / 8 miles
    Total ascent (m):
    Total descent (m):
    Activity (hours):
  • Day 7

    Free day to explore Funchal or join an optional whale-watching excursion

    Our last day is free for you to explore Funchal, the Madeira archipelago's capital. The city is easily explored on foot and sites of interest include Sé Cathedral, built between 1493 and 1514, and the imposing statue of Madeira's founder, João Gonçalves Zarco, on the Avenida Arriaga.

    Alternatively, take the cable car to Monte Palace and Tropical Gardens to enjoy fascinating installations and magnificent views over the city, learn about the production of Madeira's ever popular wine at Blandy's Wine Lodge, or join a whale-watching tour to catch a glimpse of some of the 28 whale and dolphin species that grace Madeira's waters throughout the year.

    Overnight in Funchal.

    Meals included:
  • Day 8

    End Funchal.

    The trip ends in Funchal.

    Meals included:

Please note: it is possible that the order of the itinerary listed above will be changed to ensure the best possible conditions for each activity during the trip. All listed activities and services will be included. Your leader will inform you of any changes locally after assessing conditions.


3 and 4-star hotels

Hotel Dom Pedro, Machico

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

List of hotels normally used:

Machico: Hotel Dom Pedro looks out over Machico Bay and offers a range of leisure amenities, including table tennis, a pool table and an outdoor pool (open subject to good weather). There is a piano bar with occasional live music, and coffee/cake is served throughout the day in the lounge area.

Santana: Hotel O Colmo is in the heart of Santana, a traditional village in Madeira's north. The hotel offers spacious rooms, an indoor pool and a reputable restaurant that attracts locals from Funchal.

Funchal: Hotel Windsor, Hotel do Carmo or Hotel do Centro. Hotel Windsor offers an excellent location in the heart of Funchal's downtown area. The hotel has a lounge/bar area where the group can gather before heading out to dinner, and a rooftop swimming pool (open seasonally) with great views over the city. Hotel do Carmo has a quirky 1960s theme, with each room paying homage to a different star from the Swinging Sixties. There's also a rooftop swimming pool here, along with a lovely outdoor terrace on the ground floor. Hotel do Centro offers an excellent location in the heart of Funchal's downtown area. The hotel has a small lounge area where the group can gather before heading out to dinner, and rooms have simple wooden furnishings with double-glazed windows.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £210.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

Breakfast: All breakfasts are included and usually consist of coffee/tea, fruit juice, rolls or bread, butter and jam, cereal, ham and cheese.

Lunch (not included): The ingredients for lunch are usually bought at a nearby shop or supermarket each morning before taking the transfer/public bus to the start point of the walk. Premade sandwiches and snacks are available, or you may prefer to purchase bread rolls and freshly cut cheese/meat to create your own lunch.

Dinner (not included): We aim to eat in a different restaurant each night but in more rural places, such as Santana, this may not always be possible and we may dine at the well-rated hotel restaurant. Scabbard fish is a local delicacy, along with espetadas (beef skewers). Typical Madeiran fayre often incorporates a lot of meat and fish with rather plainly cooked vegetables and boiled potatoes. There will generally be at least one vegetarian option on the menu, but vegetarians should be prepared to go off-menu if required.


Transport from and to the airport is by taxi or minibus and is included. Other transport mentioned in the itinerary as an integral part of the guided walks is also included, as is the transfer of luggage between hotels.

On three days during the itinerary, we use public buses to move around Madeira. This helps to keep our environmental impact low, and allows you to contribute directly to the local economy. The buses are single-decker coaches in appearance and tickets are included.

Transport on optional excursions, or where you have voluntarily curtailed a group walk, is not included.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

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.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of British Airways (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting in Machico and ending in Funchal

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Machico in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight on the start and end days of this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start hotel and from the end hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Location end:

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Good quality waterproof/windproof jacket and over-trousers

Lightweight walking boots (waterproof with good ankle support)

Warm jacket or sweater

Woolly hat and gloves

Water bottle

Sunhat and suncream

Swimwear and towel for pools and beach use

Torch for walking along the tunnels

Daypack (approx 25 litres should suffice) to carry your belongings on walks

Optional Equipment

Trekking poles


Please note, bathroom facilities on many of the hikes are extremely limited until we reach the end of the hike. Please ensure you plan for this accordingly.

Madeira's northern coastline

Practical Information



All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Passports: check if you need to renew

You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

  • have at least 3 months left after the day you plan to leave the country (check the 'expiry date')
  • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left - check the 'date of issue')

Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.



Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.



There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) are still valid and offer the same cover as GHICs in the EU. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and in some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance. Once your EHIC has expired, you’ll be able to replace it with a GHIC.

Local Time

Portugal's Timezone:
Europe/Lisbon WEST (GMT +01:00)


Portugal's Electricity:

European 2-pin plug. 


Portugal's Currency

The national currency of Portugal is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

ATM Availability

Cash machines are available in Funchal and other towns.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

Allow €5-10 for lunch, purchased in the supermarket each morning and eaten at a scenic spot during the walk. Allow €15-20 for dinner (taken in restaurants), excluding alcoholic beverages. A reasonable bottle of wine in a restaurant will cost about €15. You will also need some extra cash for drinks or ice creams in cafés or bars during the day walks or in the hotel bar in the evening. Typically a beer or coffee will cost around €1.50.


Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus. Most of our clients wish to give a tip to their guides in appreciation of their help and friendliness. This is, of course, in no way compulsory and depends on the service received. For this trip, we recommend between €15 and €20 per person for the leader.

Walking along Madeira's north coast

Responsible Tourism

We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

PeopleHow this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • We always use an experienced local guide, bringing income and employment directly to those individuals, and giving our customers the opportunity to speak with knowledgeable local people.
  • Income and opportunity is provided to locally-owned hotels and restaurants in the destination communities. An emphasis is placed on eating locally produced food and supporting local enterprise.
  • All of the hotels we stay in hire local staff, which benefits the community by providing employment opportunities and income where they may otherwise be hard to find, particularly in more rural areas such as Santana.
  • 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, therefore our visit greatly benefits them. 

PlacesHow this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration here, including our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels.
  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • 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 few resources to support.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste. On this trip, we recommend drinking tap water, which is safe to drink, thus eliminating the need for plastic water bottles. 

PlanetHow we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.
  • We use the public bus rather than private transfers on three days during the itinerary, which removes the need for private vehicles and keeps our carbon footprint low.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at the majority of accommodation and restaurants.
  • This trip favours locally-owned and run accommodation.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; tap water is safe to drink.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.


Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.



The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.


These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.