Nestled in the heart of the Atlantic, the Portuguese island of Madeira is famous for its dramatic volcanic landscapes, lush vegetation, and mild climate. It’s a nature lover’s paradise. From lush mountain hikes to leisurely walks through aromatic vineyards, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Madeira. Here are three of the best:
1. Visit the Laurissilva Forest
The Laurissilva Forest is a protected area of Madeira that is known for its lush vegetation and stunning scenery. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to Madeira’s iconic laurel trees, as well as a wealth of other plant and animal species. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, and birdwatching in the forest, as well as picnicking and relaxing with a view. In addition, the forest offers dramatic vistas over the island and the surrounding ocean. Whether you are looking for a place to enjoy a bit of nature or witness a species of tree that has been around since the time of the Dinosaurs, this spot on the island is a must-visit destination.
2. Take one of the Levada walks
One of the best ways to explore the island is by taking one of the many Levada walks. A Levada is a man-made system of aqueducts and tunnels used to transport water from the mountains to the coastal areas. The Levadas were built over 500 years ago, and today they provide an excellent network of hiking trails because the irrigation channels wind their way through the mountains, offering stunning views and a chance to spot some of the island’s native wildlife.
Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or a challenging hike, there’s a Levada walk to suit everyone. Some of the most exciting for visitors include trails like Vereda dos Balcões, Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço and a walk that takes you between Eira do Serrado and Curral das Freiras. On any route, you will get to experience some of Madeira’s most beautiful scenery along the way. So if you are planning a visit to Madeira, be sure to add a Levada walk to your itinerary. You won’t regret it.
3. Try the local wine in one of the vineyards
Boasting a mild climate and fertile soil, Madeira is ideal as a wine-growing location. There are numerous vineyards dotting the landscape and many offer tours and individual tastings. The island of Madeira is known for its Madeira wine, which is an important part of history there, and it’s sold in most wine stores and in most restaurants. The wine is rich, sweet with a light nutty flavor, and goes perfectly paired with dessert or as an aperitif on its own. These wines are local and not mass-produced.
Spending a day popping in and out of the vineyards and trying one of the varietals native to the island is the perfect addition to any Madeira itinerary.
All in all, Madeira is perfect for anyone looking for a little fun, a little relaxation and a lot of nature.