Ah, Madeira! It’s an island that draws visitors back again and again, with its unique plant life, a wide range of wonderful walking from strolls to challenging mountain routes, and a benign climate, making it a year-round destination.
One of the best things about walking here is the sheer variety of routes. If you want gentle, level paths, there are many levada-side routes taking you through lush, natural green scenery. Mountain-lovers have a wealth of inspiring options to choose from. You want views? Wild flowers? Unspoilt villages? Short strolls? Challenging all-day routes? They’re all here.
Madeiran island authorities are well aware of the importance of walking to many of their visitors and do a great job of maintaining routes, keeping them open and safe.
If you’re thinking of a visit to the island, you’ll get much more value from your visit with a good guide book and map in your pocket. Have a look HERE for recommendations.
Madeira – a firm favourite
Madeira is beautifully green and floriferous but sometimes the necessary abundant rainfall (or in high summer, forest fires) lead to temporary walking route closures. Thankfully, the island authorities are quick to pinpoint problem sections and repair them. In any case, there are so many great walks that you’ll always find plenty to choose from anytime that you visit.
Have a look HERE for walking information and suggested walking guidebooks and detailed walking maps.
At the time of writing, the official PR walking routes currently affected by temporary closures are:
PR12 – Caminho Real da Encumeada
PR14 – Levada dos Cedros
PR16 – Levada Fajã do Rodrigues
PR17 – Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal
PR19 – Caminho Real do Paul do Mar
Go to the official pages for up-to-date information regarding route closures.
Going to Madeira? Hop to Porto Santo
If you’re going to Madeira, why not take a day or two take a look at little sister island Porto Santo?
Walkers can try the two official PR walking routes, PS PR1 – Vereda do Pico Branco e Terra Chã and the PS PR2 – Vereda do Pico Castelo
The ferry from Funchal, Madeira to Porto Santo takes about 2 hours 15 minutes. Please check the freey information website for departure times and note that in early January each year ferries are often out of service for regular maintenance. Ferry information HERE.
Porto Santo Nature Trail Event 03/04 March 2018
This event is the 5th stage of the “Circuit Trail Madeira 2017/2018”. As you can see, the adult routes look pretty challenging – though you do have until March 2018 to get into shape!
- Porto Santo Nature Trail (PSNT) – 42.3 km and 1926m climb (circular format);
- Trail do Porto Santo (TPS) – 21.9 km and 107m climb (linear format);
- Mini Trail do Porto Santo (MTPS) – 8.9 km and 395m climb (linear format);
There’s also a children’s event:
Kids Trail do Porto Santo (KTPS) between 1 km and 3 km (linear format).
You might also find this post useful for getting out and about on Madeira.
If you are one of the many who found a Garmin GPS in their Christmas stocking, this post is for you.
Get your hands on a free sample ‘real-time’ map and see your Garmin come to life. You can choose a sample map of Graciosa ( off Lanzarote, Canary Islands) or Sierra de Aracena (Andalucia, Spain).
What you’ll get is a highly detailed real-time Tour & Trail digital download map, which you can save on your hard drive, transfer to your Garmin GPS CustomMap memory or onto a micro-SD card; you can also use the maps in Garmin Basecamp and Google Earth.
Alpujarras (Sierra Nevada, Andalucia, southern Spain)
Costa Blanca Mountains (Alicante, southern Spain)
Axarquia (Andalucia, southern Spain)
Sierra de Aracena (Helva province, southern Spain)
Thanks to Peter and Ginny, just back from a walking holiday on the isle of Madeira, we are passing on their update:
“Levada Nova has had rock falls along an extensive section near the start so that virtually all the safety barriers have disappeared. This makes the walk dangerous! We tried to carefully continue thinking the damage would be limited to a short section but it seemed to go on for a long distance so we turned back.”
Levada Nova is a popular walking route; if you are using Madeira Walks Volume Two, it is Walk 73.
Do check before setting out, either by asking at Tourist Offices or by looking on the island’s official website walking pages.
Madeira! What a great desination, especially at this time of year.
Swapping the dark and cold of Northern Europe for Madeira’s green and spring-like mountains is a popular choice at this time of year.
If you are planning to walk there, it’s worth checking that the paths you’re planning on following are open. The best place to look for information is on the official ‘Visit Madeira’ tourism website. To see which routes are open or temporarily closed, LOOK HERE.
If you are already on the island, you can also ask in Tourist Offices who usually have up to date information on walks that are open/closed.
At the moment only three of the official routes are temporarily closed. The authorities are vigilant and usually restore routes quickly; often, the problem is a landslip after heavy rain.
The three routes to avoid at the time of writing this are:
PR1 – Vereda do Areeiro
PR12 – Caminho Real da Encumeada
PR19 – Caminho Real do Paul do Mar
There’s so much great walking on Madeira that you’ll find plenty to tempt you, from strolls to all-day high altitude challenges. Even if you aren’t keen to do much walking, it’s a great idea to use the local buses which give you brilliant (sometimes a bit hairy!) adventures around the island for pocket-money prices.
There’s a great bus map available, also really useful as a driving map; LOOK HERE for details of the Madeira Bus & Touring Map.
For more information including details our two Madeira Walks guidebooks Madeira Tour & Trail Map and digital mapping for Madeira, take a look at Discovery Walking Guides; Madeira pages.
What do you need for an enjoyable walking holiday when winter closes in on the northern hemisphere?
RELIABLE WARMTH AND SUNSHINE
A 5 hour flight south (from the UK) gets you to the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. You can expect about six hours of sunshine per day (average) with highs of 20C in December though of course there are variations depending on the island and location.
Madeira is a bit closer and almost as sunny (around 5 hours) and almost as warm though the chance or rain is higher. That’s why Madeira is so green and floriferous!
A GOOD CHOICE OF HOTELS, NIGHT LIFE, SHOPS and RESTAURANTS
The Canary Islands and Madeira don’t really have a ‘closed’ season for tourism so you will find a wide range of accommodation, eating places, shops and night life. There are quieter, smaller places to stay if you want to get away from the ‘bright lights’.
EASY TO GET TO
There are plenty of flights all year round to the Canaries and to Madeira.
WHAT’S THE WALKING LIKE?
Each of the Canaries is unique, offering a wide choice of walks and challenging hikes. If you are looking for a pleasant stroll for an hour or two, a coastal discovery route or a full day in the mountains (or something inbetween), the Canaries are an ideal choice.
Madeira is rugged and steep, though the many levada walks (mostly level walks alongside narrow water canals) make it a walking destination with plenty of choice for all.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CANARY ISLANDS WALKING HERE:-
FOR MORE ABOUT WALKING ON THE GARDEN ISLE OF MADEIRA, LOOK HERE:-
Madeira is a beautiful, rugged island. It takes a bit of nerve to drive there if you’re a visitor and unused to the steep, narrow mountain roads and the spirited driving of some of the residents. It’s far more relaxing to take a bus and let someone else take care of the driving for you.
If you still prefer to drive yourself, you need a clear and up to date map. Newly published is the 6th edition of Madeira Bus & Touring Map, the ideal travelling companion for drivers and bus users.
Walking researcher/residents Shirley & Mike Whitehead know the island intimately and have followed up their Volume One book of 40 ‘Leisure Trails’ with a new Volume Two, tackling challenging trails and high altitude routes.
If you’ve never visited this beautiful and dramatic island, you’re missing one of the world’s great walking destinations.
Mountains, levadas, tiny hamlets and towering cliffs; unique flora and ancient forests.
In around four hours by air from Europe you can escape the long cold tail of winter and revitalise yourself with strolls, walks and challenging hikes.
Click HERE for more information.
Resident authors and researchers, Shirley and Mike Whitehead know it like the backs of their hands and have come up with 41 routes and trails ideal for the ‘leisure’ walker in this new publication Madeira Walks: Volume One.
Volume 2 of this series will follow later in 2015 which concentrates on more challenging and high altitude routes.
All the routes are carefully described and are beautifully illustrated with images taken along each route.
Every route has its own highly detailed ‘Tour and Trail’ map section showing the route and waypoints clearly marked; research is done while carrying GPS equipment to ensure accurate walking information.
For more information about the new book and Madeira Tour & Trail Maps and Madeira Bus Maps, take a look http://www.dwgwalking.co.uk/mad.htm