Coast to Coast Traverse of Madeira

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


Trip Ref #10540

Coast to Coast Traverse of Madeira

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


6 nights




5 days off work


Year round


Up to 10 people





Hotel · Mountain hut



Based on 16 reviews


You’ll need to be fit and capable of hiking for up to 8 hours a day, up paths of moderate difficulty, with some steep and exposed sections

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’

Day 1

Welcome to Madeira - The 'Pearl of the Atlantic'

Catch your first glimpse of the beautiful Madeira archipelago as you approach Funchal airport, then make your way to your hotel in Machico Bay. It was here that Portuguese explorers first ‘discovered’ the island in 1419. Head out to soak up some afternoon sunshine, enjoy your first swim in the ocean or climb up to one of the viewpoints to admire the views over the bay. 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


7-8hrs · 16km · 650m up · 650m down

Setting off from your doorstep 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 drink or two in one of Porto da Cruz’s local cafes and celebrate the first stage of your island traverse.

Day 3

Into the UNESCO-listed Laurisilva Forest


6hrs · 14km · 850m up · 100m down

Today's 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 in your rural accommodation in the peaceful village of Santo da Serra and finish the day over a hearty meal and local wine.

Day 4

To the island's roof


7-8hrs · 14km · 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. 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). 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


6hrs · 12km · 370m 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


7-8hrs · 17km · 250m up · 1600m down

What goes up must come down. 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 in time for your flight home.



Local, English-speaking mountain guide


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


All breakfasts, packed lunches and dinners


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

Luggage transfer

Vehicle support to take your overnight kit

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share




Day 2

Hotel · Twin share




Day 3

Hotel · Twin or triple share




Day 4

Mountain hut · Same sex dorm




Day 5 – Day 6

Hotel · Twin share




Day 7




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?

Seaside hotels and rural guesthouses

For 5 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 come with en-suite facilities. You’ll usually stay at White Waters Hotel in Machico, Vila Bela Hotel in Porto da Cruz, Estalagem A Quinta in Santo da Serra, Estalagem Encumeada and Hotel Salgueiro in Porto Moniz. On some departures, your host may book alternative accommodation of similar standards in differing locations (particularly on Day 1) due to availability. You'll be in twin rooms where available but occasionally on Day 1 and Day 3, there may be some triple rooms.

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 the 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. 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.


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

The Area




Machico White Waters Hotel

Check-in from 2pm


Funchal Airport (FNC)

1pm on Day 7


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 in Machico. It's short drive away from the airport by taxi (5 minutes, approx. €8) or by local bus (10-15 mins, approx. €3). Your host will give you further info about the meeting point and time prior to the trip.

Note that some departures will instead start in the nearby town of Santa Cruz instead of Machico. Your host will confirm the start hotel details with you in a pre-departure message several weeks prior to travelling. If you have any questions about where you'll be staying on the first night then please ask the host.

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, who will plan logistics.

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?


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


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


  • 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

Additional Night in Machico Double/Twin Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Machico Double/Twin Room

Additional Night in Machico Single Room

Payable Before Departure

Additional Night in Machico Single Room

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

- Lyndsay(May 2023)

If you love hiking then get on this trip. It’s exactly as described in terms of how challenging. Totally achievable with a good level of fitness but for me the toughest part was the descent. If you’re a fair weather hiker and just in it for the insta posts then maybe give it some thought. Madeira is gorgeous but it’s green for a reason- lots of cloud. No one can guarantee visibility at the top of the peaks so prepare for that. Our group still made the best of it -enjoyed the challenge and got so excited when we actually got moments of sun! Basically, the weather is different across the island so you’ll get a bit of everything so pack for it all! As a vegan, I was pleasantly surprised- the hotels always had something for me and our packed lunches were great. Pedro was an anazing guide and has a lot of local knowledge. He always made sure we were well looked after. Our night in the mountain hut was actually my favourite- it was cold but I managed with a sleeping bag liner and the blankets provided. The hut has wifi and a bar so it’s not as basic as it sounds- in fact, nothing was. Even rural hotels were really comfortable. A great trip, well organised and ended in a lovely town where we got a dip in the ocean. Loved it 👍🏼

- Lorcán(May 2023)

This is an excellent trip and great value for your hard earned cash. If you are anyway fit this trek is moderate in terms of difficulty. Hosts are really helpful. Food and hospitality throughout the trek were topnotch. And the beer , oh the beer!! 😉

- Markpacker(May 2023)

A fantastic trip, great company, comfortable hotels, even the mountain hut wasn't that basic, no need for snacks as food there was plentiful. Enormous lunches, evening meals delicious, you won't go hungry. Excellent local organisation, thanks to Jorge and our leader Pedro . I won't bother with any pictures, it mostly rained! Look at some other people's photos to get an idea of what to expect. Stunning scenery.

- John(May 2023)

The island is lovely and the group I traveled with were amazing.

- Lisa(April 2023)

WOW!!! An incredible trip, where laughs were shared and plenty of Poncha drunk. Our host Jorge was dedicated to making sure everyone was happy and enjoying themselves. Jorge was very knowledgeable of the Island and all the islands plants ;) It was lovely spending time with him in the evenings over delicious meals. You won’t go hungry on this trip with all your meals provided. The route was beautiful with varying terrain and scenery which made each day fresh and exciting. I most enjoyed our hike to the mountain hut and watching the sunrise. Pictures don’t capture Madeira’s beauty so get booking your spot before they sell out. You won’t regret it. Thanks Jorge for making by birthday extra special!

- Amy(April 2023)

What an awesome trip! All of the hikes are absolutely stunning and the scenery varies every day which makes it even more amazing, you’ll be walking along the coast one day and in the mountains the next. The night at the mountain hut was definitely my highlight as it felt a lot more remote and we also saw the most beautiful sunrise and sunset from Pico Ruivo! The food in Madeira is amazing – you won’t go hungry!! Massive shout out to our guide Jorge who was absolutely amazing and made sure we all had an awesome time and that everything ran smoothly, I also couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people to hike Madeira with, overall I highly recommend this trip! :)

- Stuart(April 2023)

This is a fantastic trip with an excellent host in Jorge, who always looked out for each member of the group and wanted everyone to be safe and have a great time. His calm attitude really fit with the tranquil surroundings. I couldn't have asked for a better group dynamic and whilst we had comfortable accommodation each night (even in the mountain hut), you still felt as though you were escaping civilisation on the hikes to more remote island life. My only feedback is that perhaps some of the days aren't a 3/4 on the "physicality" scale (more like a 2/4 at times) and it would be good to do a full end-to-end trek (i.e. starting where you finished the day before), where possible. Jorge had some ideas on how to do this in the future, but I appreciate that isn't always logistically possible. However, that is really minor feedback and this is a trip with amazing, otherworldly views at every step of the way and I can completely understand why it is deservedly sold out in 2023. You will not regret booking this trip! Thanks Jorge and MBA!

- Sally(April 2023)

Puedro was an 5* amazing guide and really showed us the diversity and beauty Madeira has to offer. He made sure all levels of ability within the group really made the most of the experience and facilitated us all to find our own place pace. Hikes were challenging places but the views more than made up for it and there was always somewhere comfortable with wholesome food at the end of the day. Can’t recommend highly enough.

- Tom(April 2023)

The hikes on this trip were beautiful and varied - Madeira deserves to be compared to Nepal, The Rockies, Yosemite, Patagonia... Think Isle of Skye meets Jurassic Park with a smattering of the Annapurna circuit. Personally I wouldn't say it's a "challenging" trip - this is my 4th MBA trip and it's more of a moderate. The hikes aren't that tough compared to say the Costa Rica MBA trip. Jorge the host and Peudro our guide were legends. Caring, witty and very communicative. They constantly went out of their way to give us the best possible experience. The hotels are simple but clean and comfortable. All the food is included on this trip which makes it great value. It also broadened my culinary horizons. It had never occurred to me that the perfect accompaniment to a battered fish fillet was a baked banana. Putting a poached egg in tomato soup was also fairly low down my bucket list. A few things to bear in mind: 1) I'm glad I took a summer sleeping bag for the night in the hut, 2) the hut takes credit cards - as does virtually everywhere we went. 3) Madeira doesn't have Uber but it does have Bolt which I found to be around 30% cheaper than yellow cabs, 4) A taxi from the airport to Machico is €10, 5) Poncha (the local grog - essentially Sunny Delight & Madeiran rum) is great but the strength varies by a factor of three, 6) There's not much to do in Funchal on a Sunday so if I had my time again I probably wouldn't go a day early. The Botanical gardens weren't upto much and the Ronaldo museum was closed.

- Hayley(April 2023)

Just wow. Coast to coast Madeira is an unforgettable experience! 5 days of hiking through the most incredible landscape and dramatic vistas. This was my first trip of this kind and although the hikes are challenging, the effort entirely pays off on reaching the roof of the island in time for sunset. Another highlight was reaching the black volcanic sandy beach for a bracing swim on the final day - a truly unique and uplifting experience, we didn't want to leave! Our guide Pedro was superb, all credit to him for such a successful trip. His passion and knowledge of the island is inspirational, and it carried us through on the longer days. He led our mixed ability group with ease (and humour!) and we felt 100% safe at all times. He ensured none of our many questions were left unanswered, and no photo opportunity missed. This trip is both intense and rewarding, a rollercoaster of emotions and I highly recommend it!

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 153kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2023 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

This trek requires a good level of fitness. You must be capable of hiking all day up paths of moderate difficulty with steep, loose sections as well as some exposed paths (those with severe vertigo may struggle). There are a couple of very long days with some steady climbs which will make the going quite challenging in parts but the views along the way make the journey more than worthwhile.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

€ 20-30

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

The tap water on Madeira is safe to drink. Please bring along your own reusable water bottle to fill up at the hotels, public fountains and at restaurants to avoid buying single use plastic bottles.

Madeira enjoys a subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters, usually with sunshine throughout most of the year. The driest and hottest months are between June and September and the wettest period is between October and April. Whilst the south of the island and coast are usually sunnier, colder temperatures, fog, or low clouds can be expected in the interior of the island and high peaks so it's important to come equipped for all weather conditions (see our kit list for more information).

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small rucksack to carry personal items during each day of hiking. The only exception is Day 4, when you will need to carry an overnight bag (including your sleeping bag if you decide to bring one) as there is no road access to the mountain hut.

You can leave any excess luggage with your host for the duration of the adventure.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling to Portugal, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

The weather in the mountains can be pretty unpredictable with rain and cold temperatures likely at any time of the year and especially at higher altitude above 1500m. The best you can do is to be prepared for anything and come equipped with layers of clothing, sunscreen and waterproofs. Your host will be monitoring the weather conditions during the course of the trip and will suggest alternative, safer hiking routes should the weather get really bad.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.


Pay In Installments

You can choose to pay for this trip in as many installments as you like, with no interest or fees.

Full Financial Protection

Your money is safe. Every booking is fully financially protected.

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