Arriving in Madeira: Pure pleasure!
I use the journey to Madeira to prepare myself for the wonderful days of hiking. The anticipation of the upcoming hiking stages and the soothing time out in the open air is enormous. Browsing through the Eurohike travel documents gives me a first impression of the picturesque coastal walks and multi-faceted Levada trails that await me on this hiking holiday. Immediately after arriving in the idyllic fishing village of Porto da Cruz, I head down to the black sand beach. This fishing village is also where the wonderful rum is brewed that is used for the typical "Poncha", the island's national drink.
Madeira is of volcanic origin and thus offers the ideal soil for an unmistakably species-rich flora. Over a delicious dinner on the terrace of the hotel's own restaurant and directly on the rushing Atlantic, you can perfectly reflect on the day's hiking and enjoy wonderful specialities from the ocean. These include the typical "lapas", limpets served sizzling in a hot iron pan with the famous "bolo da caco". This dish is available everywhere in Madeira, along with a delicious garlic mayonnaise, or as the world's best hot sandwich filled with everything from bacon, cheese, tomatoes and many other ingredients. The perfect end to my first day on holiday in Madeira.
Step by step along the wild north coast
The following day, the hiking route takes me along a former supply route along the imposing coast to the north. This 15-kilometre hike starts with a transfer to Machico. The stage takes me along an impressive path high above the Atlantic, partly built into the rock and in sections a bit dizzying, but always very well secured. A breathtaking hike with unforgettable views and lots of impressive photo spots.
The next day is no less spectacular. Starting from Santana, this stage takes me from the seashore through vineyards and orchards to a fantastically beautiful viewpoint over the entire north coast of Porto Moniz and on to Ponta de Sao Lourenco.
After a short rest on the hike, the trail continues through exotic, primeval forest-like vegetation to a waterfall and the springs of the Ribeiro Bonito – simply impressive. On this "royal levada" you have the feeling of walking in the middle of the jungle. In the regions on the north side of the island, however, you should expect rainfall from time to time. It is precisely this rain, which is so important, that makes it so tropical and wonderfully green there. My stage destination today is Sao Vicente, an idyllic, quiet village in the middle of the mountains, perfect for relaxing in nature.
On my way on the crowning stage
I am already looking forward to the third hiking stage in particular. After an adventurous transfer over a pass road with 360 panoramic views, the route takes me from the high plateau of Paul da Serra deep into the green heart of the island. Through mystical laurel forests, part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, the hiking route leads me to the coastal town of Porto Moniz.
- A special highlight in Porto Moniz are the sea swimming pools, which you should definitely try out.
New day – new hiking adventure. Today, the stage takes me along the southwest coast with its impressive steeply sloping coasts. With each day, I immerse myself further into island life and get to know more about the country and its people. Especially the small village of Prazeres in the district of Calheta represents for me the regional life of the locals and is one of the most beautiful villages of the flower island. Now I'm already moving on and marching through the beautiful eucalyptus forests on a pleasant, tropical levada path, before descending steeply with fantastic coastal views to the lively coastal town of Calheta. I end the day leisurely on the beautiful sandy beach.
Hiking with a sea view
The south coast awaits me on the sixth day of my hiking tour. I walk up to the spectacular Lavada do Norte, a panoramic hiking trail with wonderful vantage points and distant views over the sea. Typical, partly overgrown terraced areas and orchards characterise the landscape. At Cabo Girao, at 580 metres the highest cliff in Europe, I pause for a moment and enjoy the view of the vast sea, the terraced fields and the coast as far as Funchal. What a sight and once again Madeira has cast its spell on me. I finish today's stage in the fashionable fishing village of Camara do Lobos, where Ernest Hemingway once stayed.
On the last day of my hiking tour, the route takes me to the pilgrimage site of Monte, which is located above the capital Funchal and is wonderfully accessible by cable car. After a visit to the Catholic Pilgrimage Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte, built in 1741, I am now looking forward to the final stage – the path through the subtropical vegetation back to Funchal. If you have time, you should definitely visit the botanical garden on the way back, with a total area of 35,000 m2 – a highlight that is really worth seeing. My last holiday evening is duly celebrated at a regional dinner with a glass of Poncha in Funchal!
My top tips for Madeira
- Which typical local dish is a must on this walking tour: Seafood and fish in all forms, but especially the lapas. But also the meat skewers Espedada and of course the sandwich made of Bolo da Caco. The tropical fruits, for example at the market in Funchal, are also a special highlight.
- This walking tour is marked as a "mountain hiking tour". What should be considered for this: This hiking tour is a tour for every walking enthusiast and is wonderfully manageable with a good basic level of fitness. There are numerous sections with narrow, stony paths and along the levadas and over the coasts you should be sure-footed and free from vertigo.
- My personal favourite place on this hiking tour: Porto da Cruz, a particularly unspoilt place. Here I could have sat for hours with a lovely glass of Madeira wine on the rushing Atlantic promenade and looked out to sea.
- The special thing about the hotels and accommodation: Overnight stays are in typical, small and very charming, sometimes family-run accommodation. Almost all accommodation has a pool and you feel very comfortable. Whether in the 2** Hotel Costa Linda in Porto da Cruz, in the sophisticated Saccharum directly on the beach of Calheta, in the Arts In hotel in Funchal, or the wonderful 4**** houses in Porto Moniz – simply perfect.