4.9
| 43 reviews

Coast to Coast Traverse of Madeira

6 nights
Challenging

An epic island trek among lush forests, across towering mountains and along dramatic cliffs plunging into the Atlantic

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with local, English-speaking mountain guide

Hotel & Mountain hut

5 nights in a hotel or guesthouse and 1 in a mountain hut

Meals

All breakfasts, packed lunches and dinners

Transfers

Transfers between hikes and final transfer from the hotel to the airport

Luggage transfer

Vehicle support to take your overnight kit

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 10 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

4.9
| 43 reviews
Stunning week of walking
May 2024
Morag T.
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
April 2024
Ryan C.
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
April 2024
Ryan C.
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
April 2024
Ryan C.
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
April 2024
Ryan C.
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
April 2024
Ryan C.
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
April 2024
Natalia P.
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
April 2024
Natalia P.
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
April 2024
Natalia P.
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
April 2024
Natalia P.
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
April 2024
Natalia P.
This was my first MBA holiday and I’m alrea...
November 2023
Linda
This was my first MBA holiday and I’m alrea...
November 2023
Linda
This was my first MBA holiday and I’m alrea...
November 2023
Linda
This was my first MBA holiday and I’m alrea...
November 2023
Linda
This was my first MBA holiday and I’m alrea...
November 2023
Linda
N/a...
October 2023
Anna
N/a...
October 2023
Anna
N/a...
October 2023
Anna
Excellence trip, beautiful place where I wi...
October 2023
Alina
Excellence trip, beautiful place where I wi...
October 2023
Alina
Excellence trip, beautiful place where I wi...
October 2023
Alina
Excellence trip, beautiful place where I wi...
October 2023
Alina
Great trip in a beautiful location.
Easy t...
August 2023
Louise
Great trip in a beautiful location.
Easy t...
August 2023
Louise
Great trip in a beautiful location.
Easy t...
August 2023
Louise
Excellent hikes with lots of challenging as...
August 2023
Liv
Excellent hikes with lots of challenging as...
August 2023
Liv
Excellent hikes with lots of challenging as...
August 2023
Liv
Yet another awesome trip from MBA. Madeira...
July 2023
Kelly

Hike the three highest peaks on Madeira, topping out on Pico Ruivo (1862m) - the roof of the island

Trek misty trails through the ancient laurel trees of the island's unique, UNESCO-listed primary forest

Zig-zag along narrow pathways, steep staircases and eerie tunnels to astonishing viewpoints as you traverse ‘the Hawaii of Europe’

Key Information

Day 1

Welcome to Madeira - The 'Pearl of the Atlantic'

Madeira coastline Photo: adobe stock free trial ref 258948252

Catch your first glimpse of the beautiful Madeira archipelago as you approach Funchal airport, then make your way to your hotel in the nearby small coastal town of Santa Cruz. Later, you’ll meet your guide and fellow adventurers for dinner and hear all about the challenge ahead.

Day 2

Cliff trails and coastal views

Hiking

7hrs · 16km · 650m up · 650m down

Starting in Machico Bay you’ll follow a quiet trail along Madeira's traditional irrigation channels. Climb up to the crest of Boca do Risco and follow the insanely spectacular trail zig-zagging along vertical cliffs all the way down to the shores of Porto da Cruz. You’ll negotiate some short exposed sections and see some of the best views in Madeira - think lush greenery, dense forest, wildflowers and vistas of the ocean blue beneath - often likened to Jurassic Park or Hawaii. Enjoy a swim at Porto da Cruz before a short transfer to the hotel in Santo da Serra. This evening you can celebrate the first stage of your island traverse!

Day 3

Into the UNESCO-listed Laurisilva Forest

Hiking

7hrs · 14km · 850m up · 100m down

A short transfer takes you to the start of today's trekking stage, close to Porto da Cruz. The hike is an adventurous ascent through Madeira's enchanted UNESCO laurel forest. Start the day with a gentle climb and sweeping views towards the ocean and the iconic Penha D’Aguia (Eagle Rock). Soon the trail dives deeper into the forest and you’ll hike immersed in lush green surroundings, amongst wildflowers, ferns and giant trees. Learn about the local wildlife, eyes open for the rare endemic long-toed pigeon. Relax for a second night in your rural accommodation in the peaceful village of Santo da Serra, finishing the day with a delicious meal and local wine.

Day 4

To the island's roof

Hiking

7-8hrs · 14.5km · 1250m up · 600m down

Fuel up with breakfast and then hit the trails again after a short road transfer to the start of the trail in Poiso. Today you'll hike Madeira's exhilarating PR1 path, traversing the island's three highest peaks – Pico do Arieiro (1817m), Pico das Torres (1851m) and Pico Ruivo (1862m). Also known as the 'stairway to heaven', this unforgettable hike is the most famous on the island, and for good reason! The trail straddles high mountain ridgelines, narrow pathways, steep stairways, and man-made tunnels carved into rock which you'll negotiate with the use of a head torch. You’ll be surrounded by the best mountain scenery Madeira has to offer. The hike culminates at the island's highest peak, Pico Ruivo, which you'll reach just in time for golden hour. Kick off your boots and enjoy a night on Madeira's roof, admiring the starlit sky with a drink and snoozing in the highest mountain hut on the island.

Day 5

Above the clouds

Hiking

6-7hrs · 14km · 400m up · 1250m down

Wake up early to catch the golden sun rising and breaking through the carpet of clouds as far as the eyes can see. Then set off on a spectacular hike over peaks, along the mountainous central massif, surrounded by the Laurisilva Forest and cascading waterfalls. Admire the majestic valleys of Curral das Freiras, climbing onto an exposed ridgeline that provides sweeping views across a stunning and less-trodden part of the island. Enjoy a well-deserved afternoon at leisure surrounded by the green mountains of Encumeada or hop in a taxi to visit the enchanting seaside town of São Vicente.

Day 6

Paradise found

Hiking

7-8hrs · 17km · 250m up · 1600m down

What goes up must come down! Short transfer from Encumeada to Paul da Serra. Lace up your boots and commence the big descent to Madeira's north coast. You’ll hike through the magical UNESCO-listed Fanal Forest, surrounded by centenary trees, often covered by mysterious fog. Reach Seixal Beach in the afternoon, and enjoy a celebratory dip against an impressive backdrop of towering cliffs, volcanic black sand and thundering waterfalls - paradise found? Take a short drive and spend your final night in the seaside village of Porto Moniz, toasting the end of your epic island adventure with new friends.

Day 7

Goodbye Madeira!

Congratulations, you've just traversed Madeira Island. Spend the morning relaxing with a lie-in or soothe your muscles with a refreshing dip in the tidal lava-rock pools of Porto Moniz. Swim, explore, snorkel or just hang out before your host takes you back to the airport (a one-hour transfer, departing at approximately midday) in time for your flight home.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Mountain hut · Same sex dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5 – Day 6

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Savour the delights of Madeira gastronomy, with fresh produce and a wide variety of regional dishes offered by your accommodation hosts or cooked with love at the mountain hut. One main dish will be served at the hut (there won't be a choice) as facilities are very basic. Breakfasts most days will be continental style, consisting of tea and coffee, bread, butter, local jams, fruit, pastries, cheese, ham and juices. For lunch expect freshly prepared lunch boxes with gourmet sandwiches, cake and fruit. Dinners will be eaten at the hotels or local restaurants. You’ll feast on local dishes such as traditional 'Espetadas' (beef skewers), grilled fish, seafood, garlic bread and hearty homemade soups.

Vegetarian diets can be accommodated each day however options at the mountain hut on Day 4 will be limited and you may wish to buy some extra food or snacks to supplement the meal. Vegetarian diets are not common in rural Madeira so meal options can be repetitive. Vegan and other dietary requirements are mostly possible to cater for - please let your host know upon booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Hotel Estalagem A Quinta, Santo da Serra, Madeira Mountain Guides
Seaside hotels and rural guesthouses

For five nights you'll stay in comfortable, family-run hotels or rural guesthouses either in the interior of the island (surrounded by mountains), or down by the coast (walking distance from the sea). Rooms are allocated on a twin-share basis and come with ensuite facilities. You’ll usually stay at Hotel Albergaria o Professor in Santa Cruz, Hotel Estalagem a Quinta in Santo da Serra (for two nights), Hotel Encumeada in Encumeada, and Hotel Salgueiro in Porto Moniz. On some departures, your host may book alternative accommodation of a similar standard in differing locations, dependent on availability. It is possible that on some occasions, depending on the makeup of the group, triple-share rooms may be necessary in Santa da Serra.

Sunset Pico Ruivo, Madeira Mountain Guides
Pico Ruivo Mountain Hut

Enjoy the incredible opportunity to snooze at the highest mountain hut in Madeira – Casa de Abrigo Pico Ruivo – thanks to the special permit arranged exclusively for our local host. Facilities at the hut are basic and include shared toilets and complimentary warm blankets, but we recommend taking your own sleeping bag for extra warmth – particularly relevant for the late autumn and early spring departures. A simple dinner and breakfast will be cooked by the local staff at the hut. The hut has only four rooms in total: three twin rooms and one four-person room. Where possible, the four-person room will be same-sex but occasionally the make-up of the group may mean that it has to be mixed-sex.

Upgrades

Due to the limited number of rooms in some locations, solo room upgrades are not available on this tour.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Santa Cruz (Albergaria o Professor Hotel)

Check-in from 3pm

Ends

Funchal Airport (FNC)

1pm on Day 7

Transfers

If you are flying into Funchal on Day 1, please ensure your flight lands by 6pm to meet your host and the rest of the group in time for the initial briefing and dinner. There is no arrival transfer included in the trip but it's easy to make your own way to the start hotel (Albergaria o Professor) in Santa Cruz. It's a very short taxi journey from the airport by taxi (5 minutes, approx. €8). Your host will re-confirm the meeting point and time prior to the trip.

At the end of your trip, you will be dropped at the airport around 1pm. We recommend booking a flight that departs after 3pm in order to enjoy a morning at leisure in Porto Moniz. If you are extending your trip and wish to be dropped off in Funchal city centre instead of the airport on Day 7 this will be possible free of charge. Once you have booked your flights, please provide your host with this information via the passenger information form.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Funchal from major airports across the UK and Europe. If you choose to arrive early, there are regular buses across the island that you can use to explore. Our local host has a wealth of information about accommodation and activities - please do not hesitate to contact them for advice before planning your experience.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for rucksack / drybags

CLOTHES

  • Hiking boots (worn in)
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • At least one warm layer
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Sandals

OTHER

  • Sleeping bag for the mountain hut (blankets are available but we recommend bringing your own lightweight sleeping bag - especially in colder months)
  • Headtorch
  • Hiking poles (recommended)
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Two reusable water bottles x1 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Additional Night in Santa Cruz Double/Twin Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Santa Cruz Double/Twin Room

Per Night

Additional Night in Santa Cruz Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Santa Cruz Single Room

Per Night

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Double/Twin Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Double/Twin Room

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Porto Moniz Single Room

Private departure transfer Porto Moniz - Funchal Airport

Payable Before Departure

Private departure transfer Porto Moniz - Funchal Airport

Louise R.(May 2024)
Stunning Madeira.

I would highly recommend this trip. Madeira is a beautiful island. Great hikes, great scenery, great swims, lovely group and Pedro was a super guide. I particularly loved sunset and sunrise at the hut on Pico Ruivo! That was really special. Book it! It’s brilliant!

Nicola S.(May 2024)
Beautiful route through an extraordinary

Beautiful route through an extraordinary landscape. Accommodation basic but perfectly adequate for hardy trekkers! Guide was knowledgeable and charming , very proud of his country and its culture. The size of group was 10 which worked out well , not too big …. And we were blessed with a group of similar ability which worked well. In terms of comparison with other companies organising trips like this I would say this wasn’t the best and felt overpriced for the quality of food and accommodation provided

Kelley I.(May 2024)
Awesome adventure!

Loved this trip! I have been on several MBA trips - mostly ‘challenging’ level. This was on the easy side of challenging, but a good work out nonetheless. Loved the guide & the group. Gorgeous island that I will definitely go back and visit again.

Morag T.(May 2024)
Stunning week of walking
Stunning week of walking

What a great trip. The island is stunning and the trip is beautifully organised. Highlight was definitely the night in the mountain which is not quite as basic as made out. Food was plentiful, and my gluten free diet was well catered for. I’d been warned breakfasts might be an issue so brought oats and had porridge every morning, but lunches and dinners were fine. Walking included some long ups and longs downs but days themselves weren’t too long. Loved finishing at on the beach on our last, very hot day. Scenery was stunning, group was great fun and Pedro our guide was brilliant. Can highly recommend and now looking to book my next MBA adventure.

Victoria B.(May 2024)
An amazing experience

From start to finish the trip was so well organised. Nuno our guide was fun, enthusiastic, encouraging and very knowledgeable about the island, trails, flora and fauna. The accomodation was comfortable for the nature of the trip and food was tasty, plentiful and kept us well fuelled for the hikes. The hiking was a good challenge on the ascents, mostly due to the heat (which it seems was high for time of year) and I'm certainly not used to with UK hiking!!

The highlight of the trip for me was the PR1 Pico to Pico trail and night in the mountain hut. The incredible views, food, sunset amd sunrise was an unforgettable experience.

Another highlight has to be the amazing group I was lucky to spend the experience with, including Nuno our guide. As a first solo trip and trip of this type for me, I was initially a little anxious about this aspect. I need not of worried as everyone, despite being diverse had a shared interest and we bonded quickly, spending our hikes learning about each other, motivating each other when needed and laughing together a lot.

Claire F.(April 2024)
Another fabulous trip from MBA

Another fabulous trip from MBA. Madeira is a stunning island, lush and dramatic. The hikes were just the right length and challenge and the accommodation good. The company, as with the last trip, was brilliant- loads of fun and we immediately bonded - so important when you’re travelling on your own. I had a small injury and Nuno and Jorges really went the extra mile, ensuring that it was seen to immediately and I was able to rejoin the group at the first opportunity - it didn’t feel like I missed out on any of the holiday and I felt incredibly well looked-after. I think the whole group agreed that the highlights were the night at the mountain hut and Nuno’s brilliant guiding. Overall hugely recommend!

Ryan C.(April 2024)
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery
Challenging but fun with amazing scenery

Overall amazing trip with lots of great scenery along the way. The hiking felt challenging in parts with some steep climbs and descents, but it never felt impossible or overlong. If you keep up a good pace it is possible to finish most days in around 5 hours including breaks.

Climbing up to Pico Aruivo and back down the next day were highlights for me. On the way up we passed the well-known stairway to heaven, the path is a little busy but the views are breathtaking. The stay at the mountain hut was unique and very cosy, we enjoyed seeing the sunset/sunrise from the peak. The way back down was on a much quieter path, still with some amazing views.

Our guide Julia was very knowledgeable and a fun character to be around. She has lived in Madeira for a long time so will be able to answer most questions you have about the trail, flora and fauna.

The only negative I would say about the trip was that many of the hotels felt a bit dated and didn't always have the comfiest beds or best showers. Personally I wouldn't have minded to pay a bit extra for some nicer options to stay. But it wasn't too big an issue considering that we weren't spending a lot of time at each hotel. Dinner options were good on the whole, I enjoyed the skewered beef and black scabbard fish.

In summary, I would highly recommend this trip for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness!

Natalia P.(April 2024)
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”
Madeira Magic Unleashed Review: “MuchBetterAdventures wove my dreams into reality. From trails to camaraderie, every detail sparkled. If life is a journey, Madeira is the compass.”

As a first-time participant in group hiking holidays, I couldn't have chosen a better experience than the Coast to Coast Transverse Hiking in Madeira with MuchBetterAdventures. From start to finish, every moment was an adventure, and I am beyond thrilled to share my glowing review.

The beauty of Madeira alone is awe-inspiring, but experiencing it through the lens of a transverse hike added an entirely new dimension to my appreciation. Our guide, who I must say was the epitome of excellence, not only led us through breathtaking trails but also infused every step with knowledge about the island's rich history, diverse flora, and captivating fauna. His passion for Madeira was contagious, and his ability to foster an immediate bond among our group was truly remarkable.

One of the highlights of this journey was the people we encountered along the way. Each interaction felt like a cherished memory in the making, and the camaraderie we shared was nothing short of magical.

The accommodations provided exceeded my expectations in every aspect. Comfortable, cozy, and perfectly situated to provide much-needed rest after a day of hiking, they truly felt like a home away from home.

What truly set MuchBetterAdventures apart was their meticulous attention to detail. From transportation to accommodation to meals, every aspect of our trip was expertly handled, leaving us free to focus solely on soaking in the wonders of Madeira. Our guide's unwavering support and dedication to ensuring our satisfaction were evident in every interaction, making us feel not just like clients, but like cherished friends.

I cannot commend MuchBetterAdventures highly enough for their outstanding communication throughout the booking process and beyond. They truly went above and beyond to make my dream of exploring Madeira a reality, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Lastly, I must mention the weather, which blessed us beyond measure throughout our journey. We couldn't have asked for more perfect conditions to traverse the stunning landscapes of Madeira.

In conclusion, if you're seeking an unforgettable adventure that combines breathtaking scenery, enriching experiences, and the opportunity to forge lifelong friendships, look no further than MuchBetterAdventures. Thank you for making my dream come true!

PS. We were extremely lucky with the weather, but rain or shine, this experience would undoubtedly be worth every moment.

Santosh R.(April 2024)
Just go!

The island’s very beautiful and the hikes are grueling but doable by folks in decent shape. I do recommend doing this in cooler months - climbing under a blazing sun can be harder than it needs to - though this didn’t seem to bother the British (I was the sole American in a group comprised almost entirely of people from the UK). The first two days of hiking were meh and I would suggest mba replace them, but it was made up for in the remaining days with world class hikes. The food was unexpectedly great - even the packed lunches, which were a cut above the cold cuts I’ve seen in such trips. Our group was mostly solo travelers in the 30-50 age range, we got along great, and our guide Nuno was good natured and took care of us.

Luke P.(April 2024)
This was my first hike

This was my first hike with MBA and it was great. Food, scenery and route were even better than expected. Our tour guide Nuno was fantastic. Very knowledgeable about the trail and Madeira in general. Very welcoming and laid back…….Highly recommend

Morag B.(March 2024)