Visit to Pico do Arieiro, Curral das Freiras and Ponta de São Lourenço

pico do arieiro

Would you like to be in the clouds, to discover a secluded village and admire beautiful landscapes?

Great! In this article you’ll discover Pico do Arieiro, the third highest point in Madeira Island, Curral das Freiras village and several viewpoints that will show you amazing landscapes.

This article is the second from the series about Madeira; in the first article I wrote about Porto Moniz and Levada das 25 Fontes and you can find it here.

The places that I talk about throughout this article are the ones I visited on my second day in Madeira. Here I’ll show you the incredible places you must visit and you should follow this order so that you can go to all of them.

Also, throughout the article, I’ll give you tips about each of these places – this way you can better prepare your trip to the pearl of the Atlantic.

Curral das Freiras

Curral das Freiras was a secluded village up until 1959, then a road was built in the rocky walls in order to get to and out of the village.

Many years ago this village was known as Curral da Serra due to its location (deep down the volcanic mountains).

Since 1566 the village is known as Curral das Freiras. This was the year when the nuns escaped pirates led by the French captain Peyrot Monluc. The pirates looted Santa Clara Convent so the nuns found a safe haven in that secludade village.

Enjoy this visit as you discover the small church and don’t forget! Look up and admire the beautiful mountains surrounding this place. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the local delicacies: chestnut soup and sour cherry liqueur.

Information: since 2004 the access to the village is easier because of a tunnel that was built with a length of 2 kms. This way people could avoid the old road that was closed for some time because of constant rock fall.

  • Location: Estrada Cónego Camacho
  • GPS: N 32 43.228 W 16 57.958

Eira do Serrado Viewpoint

Eira do Serrado Viewpoint is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Madeira. From here you can admire 6 majestic mountains and, at the foothill, you’ll find Curral das Freiras village.

To get to this beautiful viewpoint you should drive along the road located to the right (“Eira do Serrado” sign), right after the tunnel of Curral das Freiras.

This 2 km route is made of a winding and narrow road. Be careful with other cars and specially tourist buses coming in the opposite direction. It was an adventure right after the first turn.

My suggestion is that you drive slowly and look ahead for other cars/buses coming in the opposite direction.

Next to the parking lot you’ll find a hotel / restaurant and a souvenir shop. You’ll have to climb a hundred steps located behind the hotel to get to the amazing Eira do Serrado Viewpoint.

Information: from the parking lot you can go along a walking route that will take you to Curral das Freiras.

  • GPS : N 32 42.629 W 16 57.736

Pico do Arieiro

Pico do Arieiro is the third higest point in Madeira Island (1 818 m) and it is one of the places you must go to if you want to admire the most beautiful landscapes.

In sunny days with a clear sky, you can admire the view over Curral das Freiras, the two highest points in the island, Pico das Torres and Pico Ruivo and the beautiful Ponta de São Lourenço.

One of the advantages of Pico do Arieiro is that it is easy to drive there contrary to the other two points. There, you’ll find a parking lot, a bar and a souvenir shop.

Before you visit this amazing place check  this webcam so you can avoid cloudy and rainy days. With this help, you’ll know when tho go there and admire the incredible landscape.

If you love hiking, then know that Pico do Arieiro has one of the most beautiful walking routes in Madeira. The route is 7 kms long and connects Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo (1 862 m), the highest point in Madeira.

It is a hard walking route and only the seasoned hikers should do it, specially if they don’t have vertigo. Unfortunately, the walking route was closed when I went there, in March, for safety reasons.

You should take warm clothes during your visit to Pico do Arieiro, because, sometimes, the temperature goes down to 0º. When I left Funchal and went to Pico do Arieiro it was 15º and everytime I climbed a few metres the temperature went down until it got to 2º at the top.

Information: if you’re going to Pico do Arieiro from Eira do Serrado viewpoint (that’s my advice), there’s a road you can take which is opened from 9h to 19h, 500 metres to the left, before the crossroads near Curral das Freiras tunnel. If you take this road, then you don’t need to go back to Funchal, saving this way a 20 km drive.

  • GPS: N 32 44.097 W 16 55.720

Balcões Viewpoint

The splendid Balcões Viewpoint is located in Ribeiro Frio, 10 kms from Pico do Arieiro. In clear blue sky days, you’ll have the opportunity to admire the mountain range of Madeira, Pico do Arieiro, Pico Ruivo and Penha d’Águia.

To visit this viewpoint you’ll have to go on a 1,5 km hike, along a levada route.

Being an easy route, it is possible that you’ll find many people along the way and maybe you’ll have a hard time parking your car. The best thing to do is to continue another 600 metres and park next to the second walking route that will take you to the viewpoint.

Though it is an easy walking route, don’t take high heels, moccassins, sandals… There are several mud puddles along the way (there was in March).

Why did I remember this? Well, I saw a group of tourists in the walking route with wedding shoes… it was funny to see how they were doing.

Information: there, you’ll find restaurants and souvenir shops.

  • Location: Ribeiro Frio
  • GPS: N 32 44.133 W 16 53.179

Fortim do Faial Viewpoint

This place was built in the 18th century to keep an eye on the invaders and now it is a beautiful viewpoint, where people can enjoy the views over the sea and the surrounding mountains.

  • GPS: N 32 47.505 W 16 51.337

Guindaste Viewpoint

Guindaste viewpoint is located 2 kms from Fortim do Faial Viewpoint, and it presents a beautiful view over the ocean, the amazing Ponta de São Lourenço and, in sunny days, you can even gaze at Porto Santo island.

  • GPS: N 32 47.638 W 16 50.968

Ponta de São Lourenço

Located east of the island, Ponta de São Lourenço is an exceptional place and you’ll feel like visiting another island because of the different landscapes, comparing to the rest of Madeira island.

Madeira island is known for its lush vegetation but when you visit Ponta de São Lourenço you’ll discover a barren area where you won’t see any trees, except for some palm trees.

Begin your visit in Ponta do Rosto viewpoint where you can admire this wonderful landscape:

  • GPS: N 32 44.955 W 16 42.407

Afterwards, you should go south where you can hike in one of the most beautiful walking routes in Madeira. It’s a 2h30 walk (8 kms total).

  • GPS: N 32 44.594 W 16 42.061

On your way back stop in Prainha and enjoy this beautiful black sand beach.

  • GPS: N 32 44.637 W 16 43.027

Cristo Rei Viewpoint

Cristo Rei viewpoint is located in Garajau, 10 kms from Funchal. Here you’ll find the statue of Christ the King, inaugurated in 1927, and, of course, the most amazing view over the sea and part of Funchal bay.

Don’t hesitate in going down the narrow path left of the statue to get to Ponta do Garajau.

If you want, you can also go to Garajau beach – you just need to take the cable car (it was inaugurated in 2007).

  • Location: Estrada Nova de Cristo Rei
  • GPS: N 32 38.421 W 16 51.083

Summing up

It won’t be difficult for you to go to all of these places in one day, even if you hike along the walking routes of Balcões viewpoint and Ponta de São Lourenço.

However, if you want to do Pico do Arieiro walking route to Pico Ruivo and the one of Ponta de São Lourenço, you’ll find it har to visit all the places I’ve mentioned above. The best thing to do is to leave Pico do Arieiro walking route for another day.

If you still want to do Pico do Arieiro walking route during your stay, then you should visit these places starting from the end and then visit Balcões Viewpoint and from there to Eira do Serrado Viewpoint.

Check here to find out how was my third day in Madeira – visit Câmara de Lobos, Cabo Girão and Fajã dos Padres.

Information: My trip to Madeira was sponsored by the airline Aigle Azur. This airline made it possible for me to discover the island and, this way, I can show you the amazing places you’re missing and I can also help you plan your holiday to this beautiful place.

Are you going to visit Madeira? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room and your car by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!

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About Tiago

Tiago, 27 years old, Parisian since 12, I decided to go on an adventure and make my dream come true: get to know our country from one end to the other. I believe that if we don’t know our origins we don’t truly know ourselves. Read more here