4.9
| 53 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
| 53 reviews
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip
May 2024
Emma C.
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip
May 2024
Emma C.
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip
May 2024
Emma C.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
Awesome adventure!
May 2024
Kelley I.
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

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.

This trip has been rated as Challenging

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.

What will I need to carry?

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.

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). 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.

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

Elizabeth W.(June 2024)
Marvellous Maderia

An incredible week hiking coast to coast on a beautiful island.

🥾75km in 5 days ⛰️ Boca do Risco, Pico do Suna, Pico do Arieiro 🌄 Pico Ruivo

Levadas, Waterfalls, Laurel Forests, Natural Pools, Poncha, Wicker Toboggans; what a trip!

Take me back 🇵🇹

Elizabeth W.(June 2024)
Where to even begin! What

Where to even begin! What a fantastic holiday. We had the amazing Yulia who was flawless from start to finish. You can really tell this is her passion and she really went the extra mile to make a memorable trip. Her knowledge on the hikes for Madeira’s beautiful nature was so insightful and she always made sure everyone was cared for and safety was at the forefront. The food on the trip was really good and the surprise packed lunches each day was something to look forward too (please pass our thanks to the Bakery Jorge!!). You definitely won’t go hungry on this trip! The hikes were beautiful and at times challenging but definitely do able if you have reasonable fitness and have hiked before. We had a brilliant group which also helped to make a magical experience. The night at the hut is not as basic as presumed and the sunset/sunrise was something like we’ve never seen before. Some tips if you are going… bring flip flops for the mountain hut, nice to get out of your hiking boots! Would say poles are really good to bring and a flask for a cuppa to have with lunch would also be fab! All in all a fantastic trip, thank you MBA, would definitely recommend!

katherine S.(June 2024)
Beautiful Madeira

I would thoroughly recommend this fabulous hike across Madeira. There is nothing that the trip lacked - stunning scenery and beautiful views, plus plenty of variety hiking and some good ascents and descents. The stay at the mountain was a highlight and especially seeing the sunset. Lunches were excellent and there was plenty to keep us going through the day. Our guide, Yulia, was inspiring and knowledgeable. Her her passion for Madeira was infectious.

Jennifer T.(June 2024)
This trip was amazing! The

This trip was amazing! The beauty of the island was amplified by our guide Yulia's passion for it. She was so knowledgable about all the plants and history and it was infectious. The sunsets were beautiful as well, being above the clouds on the highest peak...breathtaking. Yulia also ensured that our packed lunches were delicious!

Allison F.(June 2024)
A true coast to coast trek

Another excellent trip with MBA. Our guide, João, was very fun and knowledgeable on all the flora and fauna of the island! Food and accommodations were better than expected. Lunch was packed with care each day. You get to see so many parts of the island and experience all of the microclimates and terrains that Madeira has to offer. Some parts of the hikes were challenging for most but not impossible. Sunrise on Pico Ruivo was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Would highly recommend!

Keith D.(June 2024)
Very enjoyable hiking trip

The island is beautiful. Our guide was great and able to tell us about the plants we were seeing and about the island and places in general. The walks were varied, also with a mixture of level and challenging steep sections. Our guide made sensible decisions with a group that walked at different speeds. The packed lunches were excellent too. It was nice all eating together

Nicole M.(June 2024)
This was an amazing trip

This was an amazing trip with epic adventures everyday !! The trails and scenery was incredible! Our guide João was so knowledgeable and fun while hiking us across the island.

Julia H.(June 2024)
Highly recommend

Madeira is stunning and this walking tour definitely enabled the group to see it at its best. Our guides João and Jorge were great fun, but I particularly appreciated their efforts to keep the group safe (particularly when a storm was inbound). The accommodation exceeded expectations and the food was good.

Jackson G.(May 2024)
Cracker of a week!

Beautiful island explored with a fantastic group

Emma C.(May 2024)
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip
Spectacular scenery and a brilliant trip

Spectacular scenery, great routes and a fantastic group. The hiking is challenging (lots of steep ascents and descents) but not technical or loose ground. I found poles very useful. Most days were 5 - 6 hours of hiking. Sunrise and sunset at the mountain hut was a magical experience. The "hut" is much less basic than I expected (it has beds!), I'd recommend bringing a sleeping bag liner.

The vegan / veggie food was a bit sparse in some locations (even basic carbs/meal size) so I'd recommend bringing snacks and oats/extra breakfast food just in case.

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)