Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays

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Madeira: The Sunny South West Self-Guided Walking Holiday


  • A self-guided walking adventure discovering Madeira’s South West.
  • Easy-moderate walks exploring the island’s sunniest coast.
  • Follow the levada trails of the UNESCO Rabacal National Park.
  • Relax at the end of the day with a glass of the local fortified wine.
  • Explore Funchal, Madeira’s capital city.

A walking adventure exploring the sunniest corner of Madeira, a great year-round walking destination and a nature lover’s paradise.

An island of contrasts, explore the rugged coastline, lush interior and towns and villages of the ‘Flower’ island. Madeira’s levadas, a network of traditional irrigation channels, make for fantastic walking routes taking you to spectacular viewpoints.

As well as exploring Funchal, take easy-going walks to the Risco waterfall and Pont do Pargo, the most westerly point of the island, before finishing in the coastal village of Jardim do Mar.

Day 1: Arrive Funchal and overnight

Upon arrival at Funchal Airport an included transfer (20 mins) will bring you to your hotel. Wander through the narrow streets and alleys of the town and try some delicious local specialities like Espetada– a grilled meat dish rubbed with herbs and spices and served on a bay leaf or wooden skewer. 

Overnight: Funchal

Day 2: Free Day in Funchal

Spend the day in Funchal exploring further. A ‘must do’ in the town is the famous ‘basket-sledging’. Take the cable-car to Monte and return via basket — once the only way to travel to Funchal for the residents of Monte — by being pushed down the hill and covering 2km in about 10 minutes! Also not to be missed is the ‘Mercado dos Lavradores’ a colourful fruit and fish market. You will be picked up late afternoon and taken to your next hotel in Ribeira Brava (15 mins).

Overnight:  Ribeira Brava

Day 3: Walk in the Tabua Valley

Today’s walk starts directly from the hotel and explores the charming valley of Tabua by following the Levada Nova which offers good views of the coastal towns, sea and verdant Tabua valley. The path can be exposed in parts, and included in today’s hike is a section through a 75m tunnel– so be sure to take your headtorch with you, there are also few easy river crossings. Today’s walk is a fantastic and varied introduction to walking on Madeira.

Walk: 12 km, Ascent/Descent: 400m

Overnight: Ribeira Brava

Day 4: Rest day 

Today can be spent exploring Ribeira Brava and its São Bento church, or simply relax in the hotel.

Overnight: Ribeira Brava

Day 5: The 25 Springs of Rabacal and Risco Waterfall

Arrive at Rabacal National Park by private transfer (1 hr). One of the most iconic walking spots on Madeira, the sub-tropical forests and pretty waterfalls have earned this spot UNESCO world heritage status. Following a levada path you come across the 25 natural springs of Rabacal—a collection of waterfalls. Continue on a detour to the Risco waterfall– the tallest on the island. You will be picked up and taken to your next destination (35 mins); Jardim do Mar. On the return journey, you have the opportunity to visit a sugar cane factory– part working factory and part museum.   

Walk: 12 km, Ascent/Descent: 400m

Overnight: Jardim do Mar

Day 6: Walk to Prazeres

A private transfer (20 mins) brings you to the start of the Levada Nova,
which you will follow to the charming village of Prazeres. Today’s walk
is an easy-going one, winding through two valleys, pine forests and the
usual abundant greenery.  Stop at the small hamlet of Raposeira do
Lugarinho en-route and enjoy a refreshment in its traditional bar,
before continuing to Prazeres, where you’ll be picked up and taken back
to the hotel in Jardim do Mar (1 hr).

Walk: 14 km, Ascent/Descent: negligible.

Overnight: Jardim do Mar

Day 7: Loop Walk from Ponta do Pargo

A private morning transfer (30 mins) brings you to Ponta do Pargo, the most westerly point of Madeira, and a large plateau. On today’s walk you will see a different side of Madeira. This barren landscape is a striking contrast to the lush green vegetation that you have seen so far. On your hike you will experience the tranquillity of this rural and lesser travelled region. Enjoy the impressive views of the wild Atlantic coast before returning to your hotel (30 mins).

Walk: 14km, Ascent/Descent: 450m

Overnight: Jardim do Mar

Day 8: Onward Travel

A final transfer brings you to Funchal airport, from where you can make your onward journey.


The accommodation on this walk is a combination of 3* and 4* hotels. All offer a warm welcome to walkers and traditional hospitality.

Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the remoteness and nature of the terrain. Single rooms are available and a single supplement is payable.




Hotel Orquidea - Funchal

A friendly and well situated 3 star hotel, the Orquidea is the perfect base from which to explore Funchal. In between exploring, soak up the sun on the hotel’s sun terrace, or enjoy a drink from the on-site bar.







Hotel Do Campo – Ribeira Brava

Located in a quiet spot perched on a hilltop, enjoy the surrounding views from this comfy 4* hotel. Relax by the pool after a day on the trails.







Hotel Do Campo – Ribeira Brava

Only a few metres from the beach, this hotel can be found in the heart of the village. A family run business, all 27 rooms come with a balcony.





This trip is available to start on any day of the week all year-round (subject to availability). Madeira is well suited to year-round walking, especially the South, which receives the most sunshine and the mildest weather.

Grade & Terrain

This tour is graded easy to moderate with walks as long as 14km (15km if you go for the optional hike of Pico Grande) and daily ascent/descent is on average 400m a day. The levada trails are unique to Madeira and while the paths are usually clear and easy to walk on, they can be narrow and close to the edge. This trip is not suitable for those who suffer from a fear of heights. The levada trails also often lead through unlit tunnels so be sure to take a head light with you. Walking poles are highly recommended.

Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Only some of the walks are waymarked. We will provide you with a detailed information pack, route notes and map so you won’t have any trouble finding your way each day. 

Please note that due to the nature of Madeira and its fragile terrain, it is not uncommon for the paths and therefore walks to change at late notice; this is due to rainfall, potential landslides and other weather conditions.  If an alternate walk needs to be taken our local partners in Madeira will be in touch with you.  It is therefore recommended that you keep a flexible attitude and are prepared to alter your plans.

Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred between your accommodation as per your itinerary. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.


Breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner is not included, leaving you free to choose from the available options each day. Some of  the accommodations will offer picnic lunches, but in the towns where you will be staying there are little supermarkets or bakeries where you can purchase what you need. There are plenty of restaurants in which to have dinner in each location.

General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sunhat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includeds standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a daypack.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.

Getting to Madeira

By Air—Madeira—Funchal Airport is the only international airport and can be reached directly from Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester and London in the UK. The flight time from London is approximately 3H45.  You will be transferred to your first and last hotel to and from Funchal Airport.

Other international flights connect to Madeira (Funchal) via Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.


  • 7 nights accommodation in 3 & 4* hotels
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Airport transfers on Madeira
  • Private transfers to and from the trail heads as per the itinerary
  • Bag transfers as per the itinerary
  • Detailed route notes and information pack/maps
  • 24/7 support from our local partner and the UK office


  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Flights to/from Madeira
  • Lunches & Dinner
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment


  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Solo walker supplement if applicable
  • Additional nights before, during and after the walk

How fit do I need to be?

This tour is graded easy to moderate with walks as long as 14km (15km if you go for the optional hike of Pico Grande) and daily ascent/descent is on average 400m a day, with some more difficult days. The routes are undulating so it is essential that you try some walking with some ups and downs for a few weeks before your departure so you can make the most of this tour and feel comfortable while you are walking.

When is the best time of year?

Spring and Autumn tend to be the best times of year as these are when the migratory birds can be seen in the area, sometimes in abundance. April - June and late September - December are the best. The weather during the summer months is usually considerably hotter than at other times during the year. Wet weather can affect paths and lead to necessary changes to the walks, and our colleagues in Madeira will update you so that you make the best of your time on the island. The weather during the winter months is usually very pleasant and suitable for walking, a great way to escape from a dreary winter at home!

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this area is extremely popular. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans so just ask. During peak times, such as the flower festival, it may be necessary to accommodate you in alternative hotels and guesthouses; these will be of at least the same or greater standard than those highlighted.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a day pack and hats/gloves etc.

Which is the best airport?

By Air: Funchal airport is the only international airport and can be reached directly from Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester and London in the UK. Flight time from London is approximately 3hrs 45 mins.

Other international flights connect to Madeira (Funchal) via Portugal’s capital, Lisbon.


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macs adventureMadeira: The Sunny South West

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We loved Madeira

By Diane

from Melbourne

About Me Avid Adventurer, World Traveller

Verified Buyer


  • Fun
  • Great Accommodations
  • Great food
  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • Reliable transportation to and from each walk
  • Well Organised


    Best Uses

    • Holiday
    • Relaxation
    • Trying Something New

    Comments about macs adventure Madeira: The Sunny South West:

    Madeira sunny south west is a great trip to get fit walking and fabulous views and fresh air. We are in our 60s and found each day very enjoyable and just the right amount of walking.

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