Landscapes of Western Madeira

Explore a verdant paradise on foot
 

Holiday Highlights

Unique landscape | Paúl da Serra plateau is a landscape not found elsewhere on Madeira.
Impressive views | Cabo Girão, second-highest sea cliff worldwide, has a 580-metre vertical drop.
Capital vibes | Explore colonial houses, a colourful market and the cathedral in Funchal.
Walking bliss | Cross a waterfall into Serra de Agua valley with impressive mountain peaks.

Landscapes of Western Madeira. 7 nights
Landscapes of Western Madeira. 7 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A walking holiday in western Madeira

Discover Madeira’s traditional side on this self-guided, single-centre walking holiday. Using your hire car to get about, there are a variety of areas to explore and walks to enjoy, including some lesser-known levadas, and at the end of each day relax at your homely accommodation, complete with a pool.
The name 'Madeira' conjures up images of levadas (waterways) lined with exotic flowers, and of luxuriant mountain slopes. Western Madeira is no different in this respect – there is certainly no shortage of drama or colour in the scenery – but what does set it apart is that it is the quieter, more traditional side of the island.

The levadas here are not as well known among walkers as those elsewhere, and many of the villages still feel quite remote – their backdrop of forbidding cliffs and mountains meant that, until a generation ago, some were virtually cut off from the outside world. Further inland, the high Paúl da Serra also feels startlingly different, its wild expanses of moorland grazed by cows and sheep. Thanks to your included hire car, you can explore all this and more on this very flexible holiday suitable for walkers of all levels.
 
Gallery

 

Walking & more

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights. There's no fixed itinerary, so take your pick of our suggested walking routes and driving tours as the mood takes you. With your hire car, the possibilities are endless, so you can get to know the quieter, western side of Madeira as well as heading east to reach some of the island’s better-known attractions, including the colourful markets and lush botanical gardens of the island’s spirited capital.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

    As you explore this Atlantic island’s coast, interior and mountains – all of which have their own microclimate – you should be prepared for variations of temperature, and for rain – Madeira has high levels of humidity. There are flowers all year, but April, May and June are particularly colourful.
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 16 16 16 16 18 20 22 23 23 21 19 17
    mm 111 93 74 48 29 17 8 10 39 81 110 108
  • One route: 4km

    Fanal circuit (grade 1): 4km, 1.5hrs; ascent/descent 150m
    Approximately 1,200 metres above sea level, the wild-feeling Paúl da Serra plateau is the rugged heartland of the island, a landscape of moor and heath not found elsewhere on Madeira. Beginning on its northern slopes, this short circular walk leads through an area of ancient laurisilva. It combines well with the Western Madeira driving tour detailed below.
    Fanal circuit: 4km
    Madeira, the 'floating garden'
  • Choice of routes: 8km to 13km

    Ponto do Pargo circuit (grade 1-2): 13km, 5hrs; ascent/descent 420m
    Explore the island's westernmost tip on a circular walk that follows a combination of panoramic country lanes and a levada. Starting at Ponto do Pargo, you pass through copses of date palm and eucalyptus, descending past a solitary white chapel set high above the sea. Nearby, a short stroll will take you to a cliff-top viewpoint for more astonishing views. Shady pine forests and small hamlets of traditional Madeiran houses line the hillsides as you return to your car. Afterwards, we recommend that you drive to nearby Fajã Grande for a short walk (1km each way) to the lighthouse sited at the island's westernmost point, where there is a small exhibition and a wonderful viewpoint. Ask politely, and you may even be allowed to climb the tower to watch the seabirds soaring above the waves.

    Risco falls & 25 fontes (grade 1-2): 10.5km, 4.5hrs; ascent/descent 770m
    The Risco falls are on the Paúl da Serra plateau, the island's rugged heartland, and this is a popular and iconic walk, passing through dense evergreen landscapes to visit a number of waterfalls, including the Risco falls and 25 fontes (springs) that feed a small turquoise lake.

    Into the Rabaçal valley (grade 1-2): 11.5km, 4hrs; ascent/descent 0m
    From Lamaceiros in the north-west, you follow this flat route alongside one of the oldest levadas on the island, progressing from the coastal plain into the largest valley on Madeira, Rabaçal. You enter a wild and seemingly untamed forest, which closes in on each side, the narrow gorge walls covered in moss and ferns dripping with crystal clear water permeating from the trees above. There are even two short tunnels to pass through – torch needed – as you make your way to a pleasant picnic spot by an old water house at the half-way turning point. On the return, the views are surprisingly different, with glimpses of the sea beyond. The lush nature of the landscape is perfect for such flowering plants as hortensia and agapanthus which add dashes of colour as you walk, as do the many startled lizards darting into the undergrowth from their sunny basking spots, and the tame chaffinches that will beg for the crumbs from your picnic. NB we have not provided an elevation profile for this route because it is on the flat.

    The cliffs of Cabo Girão (grade 1-2): 8km, 3hrs; ascent 75m/descent 80m
    After a 40-minute drive to Camara de Lobos in the south, you walk through traditional villages and small farms to reach Cabo Girão, the second-highest sea cliffs in the world. Venture out onto the viewing platform - it has a glass floor - to stare in wonder at the 580-metre vertical drop to the sea below.
    Ponto do Pargo circuit: 13km
    Risco falls: 10.5km
    The Rabaçal Valley
    View over the Rabaçal Valley
    Cabo Girão: 8km
    The levada to Cabo Girão
  • Choice of routes: 7.5km to 19km

    Along the Levada Nova (grade 2): 19km, 6.5hrs; ascent 50m/descent 400m. Shorter options: 11.5km, 4hrs or 14km, 5hrs
    Take the local bus (it's only a 10-minute walk to the bus stop) to the western end of the Levada Nova. There are three possible starting points, depending on how far you wish to walk. Wherever you choose to begin, you will be rewarded with a fascinating but relatively easy walk across the south-west of the island, following this flower-lined waterway along the contours, as it winds initially through villages and then shady eucalyptus forests before descending to your hotel. En route, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy your picnic.

    Levada do Alecrim and Pico Rabaçal (grade 2): 8km, 3.5hrs; ascent 290m/descent 515m
    You follow woodland trails along the atmospheric Levada do Alecrim, past waterfalls and natural pools, with the option of ascending the peak of Rabaçal for wide-reaching views over the Paúl da Serra (the wild-feeling plateau of moorland and heath that forms the rugged heartland of the island) and the spectacular Rabaçal Valley. For a longer walk, you can combine this walk with the grade 1-2 'Risco Falls & 25 Fontes' route.

    São Lourenço Peninsula: 7.5km, 3hrs; ascent/descent 450m
    This stunning route takes in the breathtaking scenery of the São Lourenço Peninsula, revealing rocks of astonishing shapes and colours, as well as fossilised coral and sea shells, as you explore the island's treeless easternmost tip.
    Levada Nova: 19km
    Levada do Alecrim: 8km
    São Lourenço Peninsula: 7.5km
    São Lourenço Peninsula
  • One route: 11km

    Pico Arieiro and Pico Ruivo: 11km, 6.5hrs; ascent/descent 1000m
    If you don't mind a drive, you can experience one of Madeira's most fulfilling 'classic' walks: the dramatic path linking the peaks of Arieiro and Ruivo, the highest on the island, via a couple of easily accessible tunnels round the base of craggy Pico Torres. Viewing platforms on the summit of Pico Ruivo offer spectacular, far-reaching views across the mountains of the interior. The routes are steep in places and dramatic - but clearly signposted and well protected.
    To Pico Ruivo
    Pico Arieiro: 11km
  • Tour the capital or explore with your hire car

    Funchal
    It is well worth spending a day amid the old colonial houses of the capital, Funchal. Here, you have an array of intriguing places to visit, and we provide notes for a walking tour to make sure you get the best out of your visit, including a trip to the Mercado dos Lavradores, the town’s colourful and lively fruit and vegetable market. Other places not to be missed are the Zona Velha (Old Quarter), with its many bustling shops and welcoming cafés; the unassuming cathedral of 1485; the Museum of Art; and, of course, Blandy’s wine lodge (closed Sundays) – learn about the history of the island’s world-famous fortified wine before savouring a sample or two from the leading producer. We advise parking on the seafront beside the cable car station so that you can also make the trip up the mountainside to visit Monte and its botancial gardens. The best – and most thrilling – way to return to Funchal is via the famous Monte wicker toboggan run, whose white-flannelled drivers will take you (quite quickly!) down to the outskirts of the town – the perfect way to complete your exploration of this astonishing island.

    Western Madeira by car
    Our suggested driving tour takes you along the dramatic old south coast road - and through a waterfall! - before heading up into the dramatic Serra de Agua valley with its impressive mountain peaks. You cross the Paúl da Serra plateau and descend to the ancient forests of Fanal, where again we suggest a short walk. You continue down to Porto Moniz on the north-west coast, returning to Calheta via the edge of the Paúl da Serra, from where there are excellent views down to the coast.

    Sightseeing
    Of course, you needn't spend all your time walking or driving. Relax on one of Madeira's few white-sand beaches at nearby Calheta, which you can combine with a trip to the art museum above the town, the island's only surviving sugar cane brandy and honey factory, or a whale-watching trip from the harbour.
 

Accommodation

Your base for the week is the delightful Quinta das Vinhas, located in Madeira's sunniest corner. We recommend adding extra nights to discover the traditional side of Madeira further.

For extra space and privacy, you have the option of upgrading to one of the cottages in the grounds. Please indicate your preference at the time of booking.
Quinta das Vinhas
  • quinta

Bedrooms

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 7 nights: 01 January 2024 - 07 January 2026

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 16 Jan 2024 £870 £310
    17 Jan - 5 Mar 2024 £910 £295
    6 - 31 Mar 2024 £985 £340
    1 - 10 Apr 2024 £1190 £345
    11 Apr - 14 Jun 2024 £1085 £340
    15 Jun - 31 Aug 2024 £1220 £340
    1 - 30 Sep 2024 £1115 £345
    1 Oct - 30 Nov 2024 £1025 £310
    1 - 31 Dec 2024 £1175 £375
    1 - 16 Jan 2025 £905 £325
    17 Jan - 5 Mar 2025 £950 £310
    6 - 31 Mar 2025 £1025 £355
    1 - 10 Apr 2025 £1240 £360
    11 Apr - 14 Jun 2025 £1130 £355
    15 Jun - 31 Aug 2025 £1270 £355
    1 - 30 Sep 2025 £1160 £360
    1 Oct - 30 Nov 2025 £1070 £325
    1 - 31 Dec 2025 £1225 £390
    3rd & 4th person discount -£120 to -£235
    Single traveller supplement £120 to £240

    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Price includes: 7 days' category C car hire (eg VW Polo or similar with manual transmission and a 1.2L or 1.4L engine, depending on vehicle)

    Driving time between airport and hotel: 1h

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Quinta das Vinhas, near Calheta
    Cottage: 01 Jan - 31 Dec 2024 £18
    Cottage: 01 Jan - 07 Jan 2026 £19

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Prices are based on a standard room and include an additional day's car hire
    Quinta das Vinhas, near Calheta (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Jan - 31 Mar 2024 £96 £152
    01 Apr - 30 Jun 2024 £105 £164
    01 Jul - 13 Jul 2024 £123 £184
    14 Jul - 18 Aug 2024 £132 £193
    19 Aug - 15 Sep 2024 £123 £184
    16 Sep - 31 Oct 2024 £109 £170
    01 Nov - 30 Nov 2024 £96 £152
    01 Dec - 31 Dec 2024 £109 £170
    01 Jan - 31 Mar 2025 £100 £158
    01 Apr - 30 Jun 2025 £109 £170
    01 Jul - 13 Jul 2025 £130 £193
    14 Jul - 18 Aug 2025 £140 £203
    19 Aug - 15 Sep 2025 £130 £193
    16 Sep - 31 Oct 2025 £113 £176
    01 Nov - 30 Nov 2025 £100 £158
    01 Dec - 07 Jan 2026 £113 £176
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Funchal

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  you may need to fly via Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Belfast Intl. - Funchal jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Funchal jet2,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Funchal easyJet,  jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Nottingham East Midlands - Funchal jet2,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Funchal easyJet,  jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Funchal jet2,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Leeds Bradford - Funchal jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Funchal British Airways,  easyJet,  TUI 
    Gatwick - Funchal (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Funchal British Airways 
    Heathrow - Funchal (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Funchal Wizz Air 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Funchal jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Funchal easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair,  TUI 
    Manchester - Funchal (via Lisbon) TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Funchal jet2,  TUI 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  you may need to fly via Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you for any of the options listed above. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service. Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

What is included
  • 7 nights
  • 3 dinners
    3 picnics
    7 breakfasts
  • route notes and maps
  • GPS navigation
  • 7 days' category C car hire
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from A to B, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • Yes, prior to going on holiday you will be able to download GPX tracks so that you can follow your route on your smartphone or dedicated GPS device if you wish. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you use them – our detailed, step-by-step route notes remain the principal means of guiding you from A to B – but we provide them as a secondary means of navigation for additional reassurance when walking.
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. The fee for this service is £35 per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can incur a five or six-figure bill.

    Many insurers offer travel insurance (you can find details on our insurance page of a policy that you may like to consider if you are a UK resident), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    When you purchase a policy, be sure to check that it covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Portugal, Madeira and the Azores, but not a visa (please note, however, that a new travel authorisation system is being introduced). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • The official language is Portuguese. The currency is the Euro. Portuguese time is the same as GMT/UTC. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on the same time as BST.
  • For information on the practicalities of travel now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union, visit www.gov.uk/visit-eu-switzerland-norway-iceland-liechtenstein.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.

    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
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