Hiking in Madeira: 7 essential tips for your adventure

If you are fascinated by hiking in breathtaking nature, you will love Madeira!

"Our" pearl in the Atlantic is not only known for its picturesque landscapes and year-round mild temperatures, but also for its diverse hiking trails. But before you lace up your hiking boots and explore the breathtaking natural island, there are a few important things you should know:

1. When is the best time to go on your adventure?

Are you dreaming of hiking adventures in Madeira, but wondering when the best time is for your adventure on this magical island? Good news: Madeira is a year-round hiking destination that has something to offer for all tastes and weather conditions.

The summer months on Madeira are not too hot, while the winter months are pleasantly mild and are often perceived as spring-like, hence Madeira's nickname "Island of Eternal Spring"

No matter what time of year you decide to visit Madeira, breathtaking hiking experiences and unforgettable adventures await you.

2. Your hiking equipment guide for Madeira:

If you want to explore Madeira, be prepared. Apart from the easier Levada hikes, sturdy footwear with a good tread is an advantage for most trails. We want you to enjoy your hiking adventure to the fullest, so here are some tips for your hiking equipment:

- Solid footwear: invest in good hiking boots with grippy treaded soles. They will be your faithful companions on the more challenging trails that Madeira has to offer.

- Rain and sun protection: Madeira is known for its different microclimates and rapid weather changes: one minute the sun is shining and the next clouds are rolling in from the Atlantic. So make sure you always have rain protection with you, such as a light rain jacket or umbrella. Also always take sun protection with you, such as a baseball cap or sun cream.

- Light: Some levadas are little adventures and lead through dark tunnels. A good head flashlight or flashlight is helpful here. From our own experience, however, we can say that in many cases a cell phone flashlight will also do the trick.

- Warm clothing: If you want to go high up, pack a warm jacket. Even in the sun it can get chilly at higher altitudes.

With this equipment, you are well equipped to explore Madeira safely and carefree.

3. What do the signposts actually mean?

The hiking trails on Madeira are divided into PR (Pequena Rota) and GR (Grande Rota). PR are ideal for day hikes and are marked by yellow and red markings, while GR are longer routes with white and red markings. So far there are only PRs in Madeira. The GR1, Madeira's first Grande Rota, is currently being completed and will connect Machico with Porto Moniz with a length of 93 kilometers. It is due to open in 2024.

4. The fascinating world of Levadas

Madeira is not only known for its breathtaking landscapes, but also for its unique network of aqueducts - the Levadas. These historic irrigation channels are a real gem for hiking enthusiasts like you.

The first Levadas were built as early as the 15th century to channel water from the fertile interior and northern part of the island to the drier coastal areas of the south. This made it possible to grow sugar cane and wine. The Levadas are not only beautiful hiking trails, but also a fascinating testimony to the history that can only be found on Madeira.

The name "Levada" comes from the Portuguese and means "to transport" and that is exactly what these canals did and still do - they transport water over long distances. Over generations, an impressive system of canals was created, which today reaches a length of over 2000 km. The Levadas are usually 20 to 120 cm wide and up to one meter deep.

There is even a separate profession of levadeiro, which is dedicated exclusively to cleaning, maintaining and regulating the waterways.

While the levadas were originally used for irrigation, they have been given an additional function in recent decades: Hiking tourism. The hiking trails along the levadas offer the opportunity to explore Madeira on foot and discover the island's fascinating flora and fauna. Here you can hike for hours without any major inclines and enjoy breathtaking views.

The combination of history, nature and adventure makes hiking along these canals an unforgettable experience. You will be amazed by the breathtaking landscapes.

5. Assess your own abilities

Before you set off, it is important to read the hiking descriptions and realistically assess your abilities. Some levadas require a head for heights and surefootedness, as there are no handrails.

6. Closures of hiking trails

Check the current status of your trail with Visit Madeira before your hike. As the routes sometimes lead past cliffs, rockfalls or landslides can make the paths impassable. The Visit Madeira website provides detailed information on each trail, including any closures.

7. Hiking with kids

Would you like to explore Madeira's beautiful hiking trails with your family, but are worried about safety, especially for the little ones?

Don't worry, there are plenty of hikes, especially flat levada trails, that are suitable for children. There are always steep sections, but these are often secured with railings or fences.

Last but not least - our two bonus tips

Stop and enjoy: Stop for a moment, take a deep breath and enjoy your hike to the full. It's these little breaks that make the adventure special. Always stop when you want to take photos.

One more personal recommendation, in which all the hikes are described in detail so that you never get lost. When we are in Madeira, we almost never leave home without the Rother Madeira Hiking Guide.