The volcanic island of Madeira is a paradise for hiking and nature lovers. From one end of the island to the other, you’ll find mountains, lush valleys, waterfalls, cliffs, rugged headlands, and stunning beaches. A geological landscape just begging to be explored.
Scattered across Madeira is an astounding number of hiking trails and, of course, the Levadas, the massive network of irrigation channels unique to this region. Following these channels through some of Maderia’s most breathtaking scenery is a favorite pastime for visitors and locals. And one of the main reasons hikers flock to this stunning island.
But with so many areas of natural beauty on offer, how do you decide where to stay? To help you make the most of your time, we’ve compiled a list of top picks for hiking regions and places to stay in Madeira.
Castanheiro Boutique Hotel
If you want a little luxury on your hiking holiday, then the four-star Castanheiro Boutique Hotel in the capital of Madeira is a great choice. The rooms are modern and spacious, and there’s a rooftop infinity pool offering stunning views of the city, the harbor, and the rest of the island. The hotel also offers a spa with a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, Turkish bath, and massages to help ease those hiking muscles.
The hotel is in the heart of Funchal, with restaurants, cafes, shops, museums, and attractions only meters away. But if you don’t fancy heading out, there’s an elegant restaurant and cocktail bar on-site, and the hotel provides evening entertainment and live music.
Reviews praise the location, the view from the pool, the breakfast, and the excellent on-site restaurant.
Address: Rua do Castanheiro 31, Sao Pedro, 9000-081 Funchal, Portugal
Best for: Luxury living in the heart of Funchal.
Santa Maria Hostel
If you want to stay in Funchal but are on more of a budget, this boutique hostel is for you. Housed in a historic building in the middle of the old town, Santa Maria Hostel offers clean, comfortable, affordable accommodation with a little bit of flair. Rooms are decorated in a colorful, vintage style, with plenty of dramatic accents and statement furniture. You can book private double, triple, or quadruple rooms or dorm accommodation. For those who are unsure about communal living, these dorm rooms have quality beds, lockers, and individual reading lights. Guests have full use of a kitchen to cater for themselves, or there’s a restaurant on the premises offering a range of meals from sushi to pizza. The bars, restaurants, shops, and street art of Funchal are just outside the door.
Reviews praise the beautiful building, the location in Funchal’s old town, the friendly, helpful staff, and the value for money.
Address: Rua de Santa Maria nº145, Santa Maria, 9060-200 Funchal, Portugal
Best for: A budget-friendly spot with bags of character.
The little town of Calheta has the southwest coastline before it and dramatic volcanic hills behind. It is the gateway to a popular hiking area with trails for all abilities. Take a leisurely stroll along the coastline, walk the path of the recently built Levada do Paul, climb the mountainous Levada Nova trail, or hike inland to Rabçal to explore 25 waterfalls.
This area is known for its production of grapes, bananas, and sugar cane, and you can visit a working sugar factory in the town. You can also visit the museum of contemporary art, or just relax beside the beach and watch the sunset.
The Quinta Alegre is a self-described hiking hotel. It’s run by hikers for hikers and offers many facilities not thought of by other accommodations. Facilities such as drying rooms and boot cleaning services, packed lunches for day hikes, and orientation walks. The owners pride themselves on their love of hiking, their knowledge of Madeira, and their commitment to helping you have a great experience. They will be happy to answer any questions you have about the suitability of the trails, the weather conditions, and the local flora and fauna you might encounter. They also offer guided walks and hiking packages which you can book with them.
The country hotel is a beautiful building standing on lush grounds on the edge of the coast. It offers panoramic sea views and an outdoor pool, fitness center, massages, and a restaurant specializing in traditional Portuguese meals. If you tire of hiking, you can rent e-bikes to zip around the surrounding town and countryside.
Reviews praise the stunning sea view and gardens, the knowledgeability and helpfulness of the staff, and the location near to hiking areas.
Address: Rua do Hotel, 48, 9370-272 Calheta, Portugal
Best for: A dedicated hiking hotel in one of the best hiking locations in Madeira.
Vila Cais da Gaivota – Caniçal
Located at the southeastern end of Madeira, Caniçal is a pretty little town known for its port. In this old fishing village, the harbor is still very much the focal point, and you can watch the colorful fishing boats returning with their catch. There are black sand beaches and pebbly coves to explore, pools for swimming, and plenty of dramatic scenery and hiking trails. Walk the Levada do Caniçal or climb to the top of Pico do Facho for panoramic views of the area. Then, walk to the nature reserve at Ponta de São Lourenço for a chance to spot seals lazing on the rocks.
For a unique place to stay in Caniçal, consider Vila Cais da Gaivota. Built into the rocks of a rugged headland, a stay in this private villa is like visiting another world. Lounge in a hammock on your private, sun-trap terrace. Or wander down the stone steps to where your kayaks await in the turquoise water below. Get away from the crowds and bustle of the towns and luxuriate in your private corner of Portugal.
The villa’s interior is bright, spacious, and far bigger than seems possible from the outside. Rooms are airy, modern, and decorated with a Mediterranean nautical vibe. It can sleep up to five people and is entirely self-contained.
Perched as it is on the headland at the eastern end of Caniçal, you are perfectly placed to hike the length of the peninsula and look back at the stunning views of Madeira’s coastline.
Reviews praise the private jetty, the free bikes to explore the surroundings, the views, the tranquility, and the location beside the nature reserve.
Address: Caminho da Rochinha Nº4, 9200-043 Caniçal, Portugal
Best for: People wanting to immerse themselves in the secluded, natural beauty of Madiera
Hotel Quinta Do Furão – Santana
Santana sits on the north coast of Madeira and is a popular spot for tourists visiting the traditional houses there. The tiny houses have thatched roofs that reach almost to the ground and are generally brightly painted and very picturesque. But Santana is also known for being on the edge of a region of volcanic peaks that includes Pico Ruivo, the highest peak in Madeira. Hikes to all the peaks in the area can begin from Santana, or hikers can drive into the mountains and begin a little closer.
Hotel Quinta Do Furão is a sizeable four-star hotel standing on extensive grounds on the coastal cliffs of the north of Madeira. Offering exceptional views of the ocean and surrounding mountains, The Quinta is an excellent base for people wanting to hike out of Santana. The rooms are elegantly decorated with furniture in keeping with the old buildings, and all have balconies with ocean or mountain views. In addition, the hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, wellness facilities, a restaurant on-site, and a wine cellar specializing in Madeiran wines.
Reviews praise the quality of the service, the views and surrounding grounds, the restaurant, and the nearby Levadas. However, they do mention that it’s wise to have a car if staying in this location.
Address: Achada Do Gramacho, 9230 – 082 Santana, Portugal
Best for: A beautiful base camp to access the hiking around Pico Ruivo the highest peak in Madeira.
Danny’s Rural Suite – Nuns Valley
Curral de Freiras is an isolated village sitting in a crater between the sheer slopes of some of Madeira’s highest mountains. The valley remains peaceful despite its popularity with tourists who come to drive the twisting roads, take in the breathtaking views, and of course, scale the surrounding peaks. With some of Maderia’s most popular and most challenging trails starting from this area, it is the perfect spot to base yourself on a serious hiking holiday. The little mountain village contains a selection of shops, cafes, and bars, and there are regular buses back to Funchal, but it’s wise to consider hiring a car to stay in this area.
Danny’s Rural Suite is one of the few accommodation options in Nun’s Valley and offers incredible views out to the surrounding peaks. The accommodation is simple and authentic and offers good value for money. As well as the bedrooms, there is a comfortable lounge and dining area, balcony, terrace, and fire pit. Guests have full use of the kitchen and outdoor barbeque facilities, and there is a 24-hour reception service should you need it.
This is not accommodation for people wanting luxury and an abundance of facilities, but rather for those wanting a simple, comfortable base as close to the trails as possible. Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruiva, two of Madeira’s highest and most popular peaks, are located nearby. Trails start right from the door and lead hikers up above the clouds.
Reviews praise the beautiful location, views, and proximity to trails. Also, the house’s comfort, cleanliness, and value for money.
Address: Sitio do colmeal Número 4, 9030-325 Curral das Freiras, Portugal
Best for: Immersing yourself in the best hiking region in the mountainous interior of Madeira.
Hotel Torre Praia – Porto Santo
When the main island of Madeira has so much to offer it’s easy to forget that there are any other options. But Madeira is made up of four islands and the second largest, Porto Santo, has its own breathtaking beauty and some excellent accommodation options.
The two main hiking areas on Porto Santo are at either end of the island. The north has several popular hiking trails around volcanic peaks and steep ocean cliffs. The south has more accessible routes and smaller inclines but some breathtakingly rugged headlands and beautiful viewpoints. Stretching along the east coast of the island is a gorgeous 9km stretch of golden sand beach.
Hotel Torre Praia is located midway along this Porto Santo beach, giving guests a stunning beachfront place to stay midway between the two hiking areas.
This four-star, beachfront accommodation offers a pool, sun terrace, two restaurants, fitness center, spa, children’s playground, and family rooms. There are many activities available to book from the hotel, including bike rental and horseriding if you get tired of exploring the island on foot. The hotel is located close to the center of Vila Baleira town, with cafes, restaurants, shops, and bars.
Reviews praise the location, the cleanliness, the service, and the beach.
Address: Rua Goulart Medeiros, 9400-164 Porto Santo, Portugal
Best for: The best spot to explore Maderia’s second-largest and equally beautiful island.