Walking Holidays in Madeira
An Introduction to Walking in Madeira
Best known for its cornucopia of gourmet food and wine, year-round mild sunny climate and breath-taking scenery everywhere you look, Madeira is the ideal destination to visit at any time of year. Our walking holiday in Madeira is focused on the south and eastern parts of the island, where you’ll have the chance to stay in small charismatic villages full of friendly locals, explore lush green levada walking trails and feel on top of the world as you perch on the highest peak in Madeira.
When walking in Madeira, you’ll clearly see how important the dramatic scenery and botanical wonders are to the local people. Well-maintained tropical gardens, seemingly endless irrigation channels with accompanying walking trails and tempting restaurants where only authentic Madeiran cuisine is served are all testament to how much the locals love their home and culture.
Best time of year for Walking in Madeira
Thanks to its year-round mild climate and low rainfall, you can enjoy walking outdoors all-year-long in Madeira. Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are the best times to visit, when a kaleidoscope of colourful trees and flowers are in bloom. At these times, the trails are breathtakingly beautiful to walk along and provide you with a plethora of stunning photo opportunities. In spring, the average temperature is 17°C-19°C, with seven hours of daily sunshine and nine rainy days each month. Autumn is slightly warmer and wetter, with an average temperature of 19°C-23°C and ten rainy days each month.
Although winter (December-February) is wetter with fewer daily sunshine hours, a mild average temperature of 17°C makes it a pleasant time to go walking. To keep the chances of a shower during your walking trip down to a minimum, plan to go during summer (June-August) when the average temperature is 22°C, there are eight daily hours of sunshine and just six wet days each month.
Highlights of Walking in Madeira
The highest peak in Madeira, rising up 1860m above sea level. This mountain can only be reached on foot and provides incredible vistas of the island from coast to coast.
This tradition began in 1850 when locals would transport the wealthy aristocrats living in Monte quickly down to the city centre. Today everyone can enjoy a replica of the experience, albeit a bit touristy.
Built in 1960, the Botanical Gardens boast more than 2,000 exotic plants from all over the world, as well as some exotic and rare species of birds.
Homem em Pe Rock
An iconic landmark on the way to Pico Ruivo. The name translates as ‘Stony Human’ and is made up of several rocks interlocking in front of a stunning sea view.
The location where the discoverers of Madeira landed, Machico is home to the island’s oldest church, two ancient forts, a golden sandy beach and plenty of excellent local restaurants.
Food and Drink on Your Madeira Walks
Thanks to the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, fish and seafood are prominent in the local cuisine. Limpets cooked with garlic and lemon juice, olive oil and oregano marinated tuna steaks and black swordfish cooked with bananas are all must-try dishes for seafood lovers. Carnivores are well catered for, too, with rustic meat kebabs skewered onto bay leaf sticks, garlic-rubbed grilled pork and Picado (platters of bite-size chunks of beef fried with garlic and red peppers meant for sharing).
Madeira is famous for its wine, with vinho seco (dry white wine) being the most popular and pairing perfectly with the local fish and seafood. For something a bit more adventurous, try a Nikita, made from beer, vanilla ice cream and pineapple.
Why Else Take a Walking Holiday to Madeira
Despite its sleepy appearance Madeira knows how to throw a festival. Each February the whole island holds carnival celebrations bursting with samba bands, dancing troupes, street parties and colourful parades which go on for days as you will notice on your walks.
The Madeira Flower Festival is another fantastic celebration. Held each year two weeks after Easter, this botanical event sees floats parade throughout the streets of Funchal laden with a plethora of flowers. There’s plenty more going on during the festival, too, including walls built from thousands of fresh flowers, traditional folklore performances, classical music concerts and handmade flower carpets displayed in the streets.
How to Get to Madeira and Away
Getting to Madeira is easy from almost anywhere in the world. TAP Portugal flies several times daily between Lisbon and the Aeroporto de Madeira in Funchal’s neighbouring city, Santa Cruz. From the airport, you can travel directly to Funchal by bus or taxi to reach the start of you walking holiday. You can also fly between Aeroporto de Madeira and London Gatwick directly with many low-cost carriers.
More information on Walking in Madeira
You can go on a walking holiday in Madeira any day of the year, come winter come summer, so there is plenty more to learn about walking on the Portuguese island. Follow one of these links if you like to know more about the network of levadas that make up some of the walking trails, like to get ideas for escaping the European winter, or are interested to learn more about walking in Madeira in general.
Our Walking Holidays in Madeira