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 !
  • May 21, 2019
  • Walking

What are levadas?

What are levadas?

The Levadas, a symbol of Madeira! 

One of the main features in the island of Madeira, thanks to which you can discover some of the most isolated but also impressive and stunning areas of this island, the Levadas now mainly used by hikers to hike across the island, the levadas come from a completely different time and necessity.

When where the first levadas built, and why?

The very first levadas were built as early as the 16th century. As the increasing number of settlers increased, their needs in supplies, but also water were also ever-growing. As the land was better for settling in the south of Madeira, but also for farming, they decided to create a system of canals to supply the much-needed water to the locals. The North and western coast of the island being much more humid, the water there was abundant. The levadas started to be built. It was a very dangerous enterprise as many levadas, if not all of them, are located cliffside, go through some of the most jagged areas and isolated regions of Madeira. Since then, the amount of levadas has not stopped increasing upon reaching over 2000 kilometres of canals.

Are they still used today?

They are indeed still used today, as their primary function has remained unchanged: supplying water to the people and the farmlands. But another activity tagged along and made the Levadas an iconic if not a must-see hike when travelling to Madeira: tourism! As these levadas have a small path, sometimes secured, to allow to do all the maintenance work on these canals, hikers have turned it into their most appreciated feature of the island. The reason why is because these canal-side paths allow the hikers to discover the island in its whole and discover what the incredible landscape has to offer, to the fullest. Even though some of the paths may be vertiginous, the levadas have now, for most, a secured path along it to prevent accidents happening. Indeed, as they are cliffside, there is always a risk of falling.

What are the most famous levadas in Madeira?

Although there are hundreds of levadas, two of them have become increasingly famous thanks to the cheer beauty of their itineraries as they allow the hikers to walk in the primary forest – Laurissilva – an incredible remnant of the what was the original forest of this island, but that could also be seen in most of Europe several thousands of years ago. Thanks to the Levada do Caldeiro Verde and the Levada of the Caldeira do Inferno, walk in this lush forest that is one of the last examples of Laurel Primary forests!

The levadas are definetily the best way to discover Madeira during your walking tour of the island. 

Check out Intura’s Madeira walking holidays just below!