We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
What is a Levada?
A levada on Madeira is actually a small water channel that brings water from the rainy north to the south of the island to the agricultural areas. Since it rains more in the north of Madeira than in the south, it is a great idea to supply the fields of the sunnier south with water. The levadas lead along valleys, through mountains and dense forests and always have a slight gradient, so that the water also flows.
Some of the levadas on Madeira were built as early as the 15th century – before there were the first roads on the island – and are still in use today. In total, there are said to be over 2,500 kilometers of levadas on Madeira, and you can still hike on most of them today.
How does that work? Well, to maintain the levadas, there had to be paths next to the levadas. On these paths, the levadas can be inspected and, if necessary, repaired. And these paths can be used as hiking trails today!
The hiking trails next to the levadas are sometimes only half a meter and sometimes 1-2 meters wide. Mostly well secured with a railing, but occasionally there is no boundary between you and the abyss. So you should hike carefully! Either way you will have a wonderful view, because the levadas cross Madeira completely and offer you views that are second to none.
The most beautiful Levada Walks in Madeira
In our top list of the most beautiful levada hikes in Madeira, we have not only included real levadas, but also classic hiking trails that do not follow a levada. Since for most people the word levada is synonymous with a hike in Madeira anyway, we think this summary is intuitive.
#5 – Levada das 25 Fontes
The Levada das 25 Fontes is one of the most popular hikes in all of Madeira. The hike is called 25 Fontes because of the many springs or waterfalls that can be found along the way and also at the finish of the hike. The highlight and destination of the Levada is the 25 Fontes waterfall at the end of the trail.
An additional highlight of this hike is the Risco waterfall, which you can admire directly on the official hiking trail only from one perspective. If you walk the way I did, you will see the Risco waterfall from a completely different and quite spectacular perspective and avoid most of the other tourists. The alternative route I took is a bit more strenuous, but the tranquility and unspoiled nature more than make up for the extra effort.
In total, you will walk 11 kilometers, climbing 350 meters of altitude. You will need about 4-5 hours for this hike, which consists of a combination of 2 levadas.
Where exactly the hike starts and how to best combine the 2 levadas you can find out here: Levada das 25 Fontes Hike | Untouristic Route
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#4 – Levada do Caldeirão Verde
#3 – Levada Do Moinho & Levada Nova
The Madeira Hike along the two hiking trails Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova (PR7) is a connection of 2 almost parallel running Levadas, which offer you unbelievable beautiful views of the coast and the mountains. The Levada do Moinho starts in the small village of Lombada da Ponta do Sol in the south of Madeira.
From there it goes completely flat further and further into the valley and you enjoy a wonderful panoramic view all the time. At the end of the Levada do Moinho you change to the Levada Nova, which leads back the same way. But a lot higher and with a view that is second to none. At the end of this wonderful hike you will arrive back at the place where you started.
For us, this was one of the most beautiful levada hikes in Madeira. This levada hike in Madeira combines 2 almost parallel running levadas. So you do not have to walk the same way back, but still have a phenomenal view of the valley and the nearby sea from both ways. The Levada do Moinho is the lower of the two levadas and leads you to a picnic area where you have to cross a river twice to get to the somewhat higher Levada Nova.
There you will go back about 100 meters of altitude above the Levada do Moinho towards the start of the hike. The highlight on the Levada Nova, besides the great view, is the waterfall that awaits you behind a corner of the levada and that is really very special.
In total, you walk 9 kilometers for which we needed just under 4 hours. If you want to have all the necessary information to run this levada hike itself, then read our hiking report to the Levadas Do Moinho & Nova.
#2 – Ponta de São Lourenço
Ponta de São Lourenço in Madeira’s east really impressed and surprised us with its barrenness and desert-like landscape. After Madeira welcomed us as a lush green landscape, we realized how diverse this small island is. The hike at Ponta de São Lourenço is well developed and relatively easy to walk. Nevertheless, there are some inclines on the way and also the uneven nature of the path are a certain challenge.
There are no trees growing on the whole peninsula (except for the oasis restaurant) and no bigger bushes. Therefore, it can be very hot with cloudless skies and no shade. During the hike you will always have different views of the clay-colored cliffs and the restless sea. Behind every corner it looks different, but always spectacular.
Since this hike is very popular, you will not be alone, but always accompanied by many other tourists. Nevertheless, the hike is worth it because you won’t get such views anywhere else on Madeira.
Especially the view from the hill, which is located at the end of the hike, is incredibly beautiful and reaches to the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula. If you want to know more about the hike then read our hiking report to the hike to Ponta de São Lourenço.
#1 – Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
The hike from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo in Madeira (PR1) is one of the most spectacular hikes you can do in Madeira. The hike to Pico Ruivo takes you over and through mountains, along gorges and offers fantastic views of the surrounding valleys for almost 12 km.
The Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo hike is one of the most popular hikes in Madeira, while also being one of the most physically demanding. You start from Pico do Ariero, with 1818 meters one of the highest mountains of Madeira and hike almost 12 km to the really highest peak of Madeira, the Pico Ruivo.
You will need 4-6 hours for the route and probably be completely knocked out at the end. On the 12 kilometers you will overcome an incredible 1000 meters of altitude. It goes very steeply downhill and shortly before the finish again very steeply uphill. This makes the hike quite strenuous. Also, that it can be very slippery and slippery at times, does not make it easier.
Nevertheless, the landscapes you will have during the hike are incredibly beautiful and definitely worth the effort. If you want to have more information about the hike, please read our hiking report on the hike from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo .
Preparations for a Levada Hike
- Wear good hiking clothes. The weather on Madeira can be unpredictable.
- Take enough water and snacks with you. On the way there is usually nothing to buy and you should not drink the water from the levadas.
- A flashlight can be very useful in the dark tunnels. In case of need, the light of your cell phone is also sufficient.
- Check the status of the trail before you go (visitmadeira.pt). Hiking trails can spontaneously become impassable due to rockfalls or heavy rains.
- Calculate the time you will need for the trail (including breaks) with enough buffer to get back to the starting point before nightfall.
- Do not leave the official path and do not leave any trash behind