Self-Drive: Discover Madeira at your own pace !
    • Portugal - Madeira
    • 8 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to December
    • 2 - 10 travellers
      • Simple
      • Comfort
      • Charming
      • Trip code : M1103

About the Self-Drive: Discover Madeira at your own pace ! trip

About the trip in Madeira

Have you ever dreamt of trekking between subtropical forest and waterways, through terraced farmland and authentic hamlets, along volcanic ridges and cliffs overlooking the ocean? If the answer to this question is yes, then a walking holiday in Madeira is the destination for you !
An island in the Atlantic Ocean, much like a floating garden with its year-round mild climate, Madeira is a haven of peace and natural beauty.
Staying in 3 very different parts of the island, on the north and south coasts, you can explore the most beautiful corners of Madeira with your rental car. You choose the rhythm of your day: get up early or get up late, easy hiking or the more challenging, it is up to you! Whatever you choose, our hand-picked hikes will give you a complete view of the island with 2 consecutive nights at each stage to fully explore and enjoy the area.
The grand finale of this trip is in Funchal, with a free day to discover this charming and lively city.

Highlights of the trip

  • A complete exploration of the island from East to West, and North to South
  • The freedom of the rental car to discover the island at your own pace
  •  A choice of easy, moderate or challenging hikes - to choose according to your mood and fitness level of the day
  • 4 dinners included and a free choice of local restaurants in Porto Moniz and Funchal
  • A free day in Funchal to discover the city through its many activities


    Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

From the blog

Madeira walking: the flower island at your own pace : Day by Day 

Day 1 - Arriving in Madeira

Porto da Cruz

  • Arrive on your own at Madeira international airport. 
  • Pick up the rental car at the airport and drive to the north east coast  where you settle in for 2 nights. 
  • Night in Santana or Porto da Cruz
  • MEALS included : Dinner

  • Accommodation: 
    . SIMPLE : in Santana, a village with a strong agricultural tradition where you can still find traditional, colourful thatched-roof houses.
    . COMFORT : in Porto da Cruz, a small seaside village nestled in a bay with a beautiful beach and natural pools
    . CHARMING: in a winery overlooking the ocean and offering a breathtaking view of the plunging cliffs

  • ACCESS By air
    . There are regular flights that go directly to Madeira airport or via Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. Click here for more travel information 

Day 2 - Discovery of the north and centre of the island

  • Pico RuivoFor this first day, you have the choice between 3 very different hikes which will all give you an insight into the characteristics of this part of the island: cliffs plunging into the ocean, a particularly defined landscape with mineral crests culminating between 1000m and 1800m and mountainous foothills covered with a unique endemic forest, the laurissilva, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Easy level hiking :
    . Walk - Peninsula of Sao Lorenzo Loop
    3 hours / 7.2 km - 4.5 miles / Ascent: +400 - Descent: - 400m
    Characterized by a craggy coastline, drawn by the combined action of the wind and the sea over thousands of years, the Sao Lourenço peninsula displays unusual rock formations with amazing colours. It is famous for its many birds, endemic plants and fossils. You may like to enjoy a swim along the way in isolated coves.

    . Walk - Queimadas > Caldeirao Verde > Queimadas
    4 hours 30 /  14 km - 8.6 miles / Ascent: + 110 - Descent: - 110m
    Walking along a centuries old levada carved into the rock, you will discover Madeira's primary forest - the incredible Laurissilva - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Levada rises above dizzying cliffs, passes through 4 tunnels dug into the basalt (don't forget your headlamp) to finally reach the source of the Levada: the Caldeiro Verde, an amphitheatre of subtropical vegetation, framing a waterfall that plunges into a basin.  Return to the Queimadas Botanical Park by the same route.

  • Moderate level hiking
    . Walk - Pico Ruivo > Pico Arieero (round trip)
    5 hours 40 /9 km - 5.6 miles / Ascent: +900 - Descent: - 900m - extension Pico Ariero + 2h +/- 300m more
    One of the most spectacular routes in Madeira! On the central ridge of the Island, the trail climbs up through a fascinating mineral landscape connecting the highest peaks. From Pico Ruivo (1862m) to Pico Arriero, it is one panoramic and breathtaking view to another. An unforgettable day!

  • Night in Santana or Porto da Cruz
  • MEALS included : Breakfast & Dinner

  • We recommend:
    . In order to fully enjoy this moderate hike considered one of the most beautiful on the island, you transfer by taxi, allowing for an itinerant hike between Pico Ruivo and Pico Ariero (instead of a round trip) making the hike easier: 4 hours walk + 700 - 500. Please contact us.

Day 3 - Continue your discovery of the north-east coast: on the road to Porto Moniz

Picos

  • Today you can choose to do one of the 3 suggested hikes on Day 2 before taking the northern road towards Porto Moniz.
  • The first section of the road is winding and particularly beautiful, alternating between the forest and the sea, offering incredible views of the gigantic cliffs that plunge into the sea.
    The next two nights will be spent in Porto Moniz, a small and charming seaside resort at the north-western tip of the island, famous for its natural pools dug into the volcanic rock that fill up with sea water at high tide.
  • Night in Porto Moniz
  • MEALS included : Breakfast

Day 4 - En route to the south coast

  • Seixal beach

    A water themed day awaits you today! We invite you to explore the Rabacal waterfalls on the Paul Plateau.

  • Moderate level hiking :

    . Walk - The Rabacal waterfalls (loop)
    4 hours / 11 km - 6.8 miles / Ascent: + 400 - Descent: - 400m
    On the plateau of Paul da Serra, at an altitude of 1200 metres, the deep valley of Ribeira de Janela is born. On the site of Rabacal, following the numerous levadas that fetch water from the heart of the mountain, you will discover many waterfalls, a forest of remarkable tree heather, the famous giant dandelion and the Madeira daisy
  • Back in Porto Moniz, take the time to enjoy the natural swimming pools (weather permitting) or a walk along the seafront, visit the Aquarium in the old Fort Saint John the Baptist or climb up to the Santa belvedere for a bird's eye view of the town.
  • Night in Porto Moniz
  • MEALS included : Breakfast

Day 5 - The Paul Plateau

Bican da Cana- Lombo do Mourro

  • For this brand-new day, you will set off to conquer the Paul Plateau at an altitude of around 1600m in the very centre of Madeira. With its baron and reddish soil, it is as though the world has completely changed! And yet, the lush green of the primary forest is not far away...

  • Easy level hiking :
    Here you have the possibility to do 2 mini hikes, just a few minutes drive from each other. During the day you can easily complete all three loops or decide to do just one :
    1. The site of Fanal, classified as a haven of tranquillity with its hundred-year-old laurels (1h10 - +75m/-75m)
    2. A discovery of the exuberant vegetation and the Bica da Cana waterfalls at Pinaculo (1h45 - + 150m /- 150m)

  • Challenging level hiking :
    Walk - Encumeada > Levada do Norte > Encumeada
    5 hours 30 /  14 km - 8.6 miles / Ascent: +320 - Descent: -650m
    The route starts at the Encumeada pass where you park your vehicle. There is no choice but to start this hike along the asphalt road (40 min) but after that you enter a fairy-tale world: an old path hidden in the vegetation, a flowery levada that passes under some waterfalls, forests of ferns and tree heathers, hand-carved tunnels (do not forget your headlamp!), wooden stairs ... In short, everything that can make for an exciting itinerary is found here!

  • After your day you head south, to a sunny coast where pretty villages nestle and tropical crops (banana, avocado, papaya and mango trees) grow.
  • Night in Jardim do Mar or Paul do Mar or Estreito da Calheta
  • MEALS included : Breakfast & Dinner

  • Accommodation :
    . SIMPLE option : in Jardim do Mar, a charming seaside village with narrow streets, colourful bougainvillea and frangipani trees.
    . COMFORT option : in Arco da Calheta, an agricultural and hilly village surrounded by banana plantations
    . CHARMING option :  in Estreito de Calheta in a quinta nestled in the heart of a winery overlooking the sea

Day 6 - The Levada do Moinho

  • Jardim do marWalk - Ponta do Sol > Levada do Moinho > Ponta do Sol
    3 hours / 10 km - 6 miles / Ascent: +100 - Descent: - 100m
  • From the church of Lombada do Ponta do Sol, the starting point of your walk, you follow the Levada do Moinho into the heart of a magnificent valley. On the way, you cross a river with a small waterfall. Aerial passages, tunnels, waterfalls, terraced fields... a perfect combination!

    Once you are in Ponta do Sol, you will drive back to your accommodation.

  • Night in Jardim do Mar or Arco de Calheta or Estreito da Calheta
  • MEALS included : Breakfast & Dinner

Day 7 - Charming Funchal

  • boat- fishingWith your vehicle, drive to Funchal, the capital. A charming city built like an amphitheater around the bay, its name comes from the fennel ( Foncho in Portuguese) which grew in the bay when the Portuguese first arrived.

    There is no shortage of activities to help you enjoy your day (with supplement -  not included):
    . Take the cable car that connects the city centre to the sumptuous tropical gardens in less than 20 minutes.
    . Visit the tropical gardens with beautiful plants from all over the world and native plants from the Madeira forest as well as a beautiful collection of azulejos (15th-20th centuries).
    . There are 2 ways to get back down to the city centre, either on foot through the picturesque streets or by taking the wicker basket downhill, a traditional means of transport once used by the locals to navigate down through the narrow and steep streets of the island.
    . A sea trip on a catamaran (2h30): relaxing off Madeira's spectacular coastline, admiring the wildlife including, dolphins, whales, rorquals and sea birds. 
    A gourmet stroll through the historic centre of Funchal that mixes gastronomic and cultural discovery with no less 15 tastings! (on Tuesday and Friday afternoon or Wednesday morning). 
    Night in Funchal
  • MEALS included : Breakfast

Day 8 - End of your trip in Funchal

Tradionnal hat

  • End of your trip in Funchal, the capital city of Madeira!
  • Drive to the airport where you drop off your rental car and catch your return flight
  • MEALS included : breakfast

  • ACCESS  - Madeira airport information here.

More Madeira walking tours

    • Portugal - Madeira
    • 8 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to December
  •   Accommodation choice :

      • Simple
      • Comfort
      • Charming
  • Highlights of the trip

    • A complete exploration of the island from East to West, and North to South
    • The freedom of the rental car to discover the island at your own pace
    •  A choice of easy, moderate or challenging hikes - to choose according to your mood and fitness level of the day
    • 4 dinners included and a free choice of local restaurants in Porto Moniz and Funchal
    • A free day in Funchal to discover the city through its many activities


      Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

      • Portugal - Madeira
      • 8 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to December
  •   Accommodation choice :

      • Comfort
  • Highlights of the trip

    • The most emblematic walks of the island of Madeira
    •  Discover the primary laurel forest, an UNESCO World Heritage site
    •  An itinerary alternating between Levada walks and mountain walks
    • 6 dinners included
    • Daily private transfers included


      Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

      • Portugal - Madeira
      • 8 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to December
  •   Accommodation choice :

      • Charming
  • Highlights of the trip

    • Easy hikes accessible to all, on the most emblematic sites : Sao Lorenzo, Primary forest (UNESCO Site), Pico Ruivo (1862m)
    • Overnight stay in a vineyard that produces the famous Madeira Wine
    • 5 dinners included to enjoy Madeira's culinary specialities including two meals in typical restaurants 
    • A gourmet walk through the city of Funchal, a wine day-tour
    • Option : to book a table in a Michelin starred restaurant in Funchal or/and a dinner at a local's home


      Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

      • Portugal - Madeira
      • 12 days
    • Walking
    • Self-guided
      • From January to December
  •   Accommodation choice :

      • Simple
      • Comfort
      • Superior
  • Highlights of the trip

    • A challenging route for experienced hikers
    • The most spectacular hikes between ridges and coastal paths overlooking the ocean
    • 7 dinners included
    • A choice between comfort or superior accommodation for a good night’s sleep.

      Go private or go guided ! Customize your holidays with a local specialist here 

    Self-Drive: Discover Madeira at your own pace !
        • Portugal - Madeira
        • 2 adults (2x660€)
        • 0 children (0x660€)
      • 8 days
      • Simple
    Total 1320€
    Deposit 400€
    Book now !