The Ponta de Sao Lourenço Walk in Madeira really was one of the highlights of my trip! This is the most eastern part of the island and one of the most incredible hikes. At both sunrise, sunset and the middle of the day it boasts some of the most incredible viewpoints. Walking along this ‘tail of Madeira’, you will be surrounded by nature and incredible landscapes. Read on for all the practical information on this hike as well as some more amazing places to add to your Madeira itinerary. To end, I’ll be telling you where I stayed and how to get around Madeira!
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Where is Ponta de Sao Lourenço Walk?
Also known as Vereda da Ponta de Sao Lourenço (PR8). This amazing walk/hike is located on the most eastern point of the island. In fact, if you fly from London you may have the opportunity to also see this amazing spot from the plane. It is a part of Madeira’s natural park and is located in an area called Caniçal. It is a long stretch of rocky landscape that juts right out into the sea surrounding it. From every step of the way here you get the most incredible views of vast stretches of volcanic landscape. Once you walk further out on this hike, you will also be able to look back and see much more of the whole island behind you. It really is a hike that makes you in awe of nature and feel very small in comparison!
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How to get to Ponta de Sao Lourenço Walk?
It takes around half an hour to drive from Funchal to Ponta de Sao Lourenço, as there is a main road that leads the whole way here. There is a lovely smaller road that leads right to the start of this hike. At the end of this road is a small roundabout where there are spaces to park. During the day there are also some food trucks here. So if you hike here at sunrise then you can stock up on some food if you are starving. There is also a sign with a map here of the whole trail.
There are also no lights in this area, so if you are here when it is dark then make sure you have a light with you. When we finished our hike, we couldn’t actually see our car at all as it is so dark here as there is no light pollution.
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Where to park?
As I said above, there is a car park right at the end of the road here just before you start the hike. There are quite a lot of spaces and it really wasn’t that busy when we arrived for our sunset hike. There were only two cars left when we came back after sunset to get our car!
How long does it take?
The total distance of this hike is 4km one way, so 8km in total. It takes around 2 and a half hours to complete and longer if you want to stop for photos, which you most definitely will. It is not a very steep hike, with the highest altitude at 110 metres and the lowest at 5 metres above sea level. Most of the parts that are up hill are up some man made steps. The first part of the hike is even along a wooden walkway so you definitely cannot get lost.
We left Funchal at around 17:30 and arrived at about 6pm. Make sure to check what time the sunset is before you arrive. We definitely took too many photos here, as at 20:30 we were nowhere near being back. We had to make our way back with torches, but even then it was okay walking back as it isn’t a strenuous hike and the ground is fairly flat without many rocks to trip on.
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When is the best time to do the Ponta de Sao Lourenço Walk?
As I said earlier, we decided to do this hike at sunset. However, if you don’t time it right you will have to walk back in the dark, and not much to see then! Also, you will not actually be able to see the sun setting, as this happens on the other side of the island and can be seen best from Funchal. It is still beautiful watching the sunset behind the enormous mountains and the colours of the sky were incredible. I would recommend doing this hike at sunrise if you are an early riser! Then at least on the way back you will be able to see where you are going, and you wont be pressed for time in any way. We really could have done with more time here.
Don’t get lost like I did!
Funny story for you now. While Boyan was flying his drone at the first viewpoint of this walk, I got restless and decided to walk on. There was a clearly marked path up and there were steps with a railing. After these steps there are more steps up a slightly steeper hill. This is the first main big hill so when you get there you will know what I am talking about! There were some people doing yoga at the first viewpoint so I wanted to keep walking to see what was around the corner. It is a beautiful viewpoint though where you can see all the huge rocks out at sea standing up like huge triangles coming out of the sea. Anyway, so then at the top of this hill you start walking over to the other side.
What did I do??
What you don’t realise here is that because it is quite steep and you literally climb over the ridge; you can no longer see the path from the other side. So there I am walking along to the next viewpoint when I realised I had walked far enough to lose phone signal. I though I would head back to go and get Boyan. This is when I reached the top of the rock and couldn’t see the path back! I wandered around for a solid 10 minutes until I gave up and called Boyan! Once you see someone walking towards you it seems easy but you honestly can’t see the path from up the top. I walked back down with him once he came to get me and we saw a few heads after that wandering around the top of the mountain also looking for the path down!
Moral is to pay attention while you re walking and maybe remember a rock or something as a marker point.
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What other walks are a must do in Madeira?
There are so many amazing levada walks to do in Madeira. We did the one I will mention below but there are so many more! A levada is a water channel like an aqueduct that flows alongside the mountains. They used to transport water from the mountains to the towns this way. It was also a good way to water all the crops growing. Madeira is famous for it’s bananas so make sure you try one while you are there. They really are like bananas in Asia, so you must give them a try. The climate is so tropical and humid that it is perfect for growing bananas.
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Levada do Caldeirao Verde
This was the levada walk that we did while in Madeira. Caldeirao Verde means green cauldron in English. At the end of the walk there is a tall waterfall and you feel as though you are in a huge green cylinder. This is one of the longer walks, as it takes around 6 hours but definitely worth it. The views along the way of the valley below are absolutely breath taking. We had a guide here but you can also do it without a guide. You follow the levada the entire way so it is very difficult to get lost here.
My other top tip is to bring some layers. Up in the mountains it can get a bit chilly, so best to bring some layers, although not too many as you will get warm walking. It was a warm 26 degrees while we were in Madeira and yet still up in the mountains I was really quite chilly. Also because the walk isn’t very strenuous, you wont actually get as warm as hiking up and down hills.
Serra Do Fanal
This is the amazing enchanted forest. It feels like out of a fairy tale, as this is where you stand amongst trees, clouds and cows. The clouds move very fast, so you will have to take photos fast while the clouds are there before they get blown away again. There is also another amazing spot here along the road where you can walk up through the trees and see right over to the other side of the island. Here you will also be standing above the clouds it is absolutely magical.
The road leading up here from Funchal is also spectacular, with some of the best views around. There is one spot that is very popular, as the road curves to almost 360 and looks amazing with all the greenery around. It was beautiful here at sunrise, but any time of day is great, as the clouds come and go. We drove up here a few times as we loved the road and it is the most scenic way to get from Funchal over the mountains to the other side to Seixal.
Pico do Ariero
Here you can be cheeky and just walk 5 minutes from the car park for an amazing view! There is of course a longer hike to do here to Pico do Ruivo. However, even this spot not far from the car park was absolutely amazing at sunrise. I would definitely recommend going here for sunrise especially. Already just after we left we saw whole coaches of people heading here, but there was a moment after the actual sunrise that we had this whole spot to ourselves. It is the highest point in Madeira and is not to be missed.
Where to stay in Madeira?
The best boutique hotel to stay in is Sé Boutique. This lovely hotel is right in the centre of Funchal. It is the quirkiest hotel I have ever stayed at. As soon as you walk in, there are beautiful plush sofas and a very fun décor. There are some vintage touches and lots of little spots to discover here. My favourite part of this hotel was definitely the rooftop terrace. While we were there, they had an outdoor cinema on the roof here. There is also a bar up here in the evening. Also, you can see both the sunrise and the sunset from up here!
There is a beautiful backdrop of the cathedral and the view over the whole of Funchal. There is parking close by and it is a great place to base yourself during your trip to Madeira. It is definitely a very ‘instagrammable’ hotel! There are flamingos all over the rooftop, which make for some very fun props!
How to get around Madeira?
We had a car with Rent Madeira. You can get around with buses, and there are some good connections around the island. However, to see all the sunrises and sunsets then I would highly recommend having a car. It was also super easy driving out of the airport straight to our hotel in Funchal and being on our way. We also really wanted to have the experience of walking through and above the clouds, so some days we changed our plans according to the weather. This is also made much easier by having a car.
Also apart from Funchal we didn’t have to pay to park anywhere on the island. But make sure you have plenty of fuel before heading off anywhere, as some areas there may not be a place to fuel for a while. There is a gas station right by the airport and some on the major roundabouts.
Top Tips for visiting Ponta de Sao Lourenço Walk, Madeira
- Take a torch if you are going for sunset, or make sure your phone is charged
- Wear some sturdy shoes
- Check the weather beforehand, as it is very changeable on the island
- Go at sunrise if you can wake up early enough!
I hope you enjoyed my post on Ponta de Sao Lourenço Walk, Madeira. It really was one of the highlights of my trip here and I would recommend going, any time of day, just make sure you don’t miss it!
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