Explore the best itineraries with a local specialist
Explore the best itineraries with a local specialist
Experience local: An adventure on the best cycling roads !
Experience local: An adventure on the best hiking paths !

A walking holiday in Madeira

Exploring the island of Madeira on your Portugal walking tour

The archipelago of Madeira is made up of 3 main islands: Madeira, Porto Santo and the Desertas islands. Located off the coast of Morocco and north of the Canary Islands, the archipelago is the result of a volcanic eruption around 14 million years ago. With a surface area of 727km², Madeira (also known as the Pearl of the Atlantic), is in fact, the summit of an erupted volcano. And this is what gives it such a spectacular landscape: a mountain range cut by green valleys that descend to the sea.

Walking in Madeira: discover the history, agriculture and exceptional flora that the island has to offer

Madeira’s history is intertwined with the Great Maritime Discoveries of the 15th century by the Portuguese seeking a sea route to India. Originally uninhabited, the island was colonised from 1420 and was deforested and developed with terraced crops. From the 19th century, the island became a popular holiday destination for the British who made the most of the pleasant climate all year round. Today, tourism is the main economy of the archipelago, followed closely by farming.

As well as boasting exceptional scenery, Madeira also enjoys a subtropical climate and a lush vegetation thanks to the primary forest, a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The “laurisilva” is a type of subtropical rainforest specific to the islands of Macaronesia.

A self-guided walking holiday in Madeira: a variety of hiking trails

Most of the activities on the island are catered towards adventure tourism with sports such as canyoning, climbing, hiking and mountain biking. However, walking is by far one of the best activities to enjoy as there is a wonderful variety of itineraries : the Sao Lourenzo Point, Boca do Risco, Sao Jorge and the Pico Ruivo and, of course, along the infamous “levadas”, these irrigation canals that were initially built to provide water for the agricultural fields and today form an integral part of the hiking network on the island.

Madeira is also known for its therapeutic qualities. In addition to offering a relaxing atmosphere thanks to the beauty of its landscapes, Madeira has calm and clear waters, ideal for the extraction of plants that are then used in many thalassotherapy treatments. Most of the hotels of the archipelago have the facilities to offer these sorts of treatment, promising a very relaxing holiday indeed!   

Check out our Madeira walking tours below