Located 2 hours away from Lisbon and Porto, Madeira archipelago will amaze you, especially because of its beautiful landscapes, walking routes, the mountain and the sea and, of course, friendly people. In this article I’m going to show you how was my first day in Madeira. You will discover Porto Moniz and its beautiful natural pools, the magnificent Levada das 25 Fontes, Paul da Serra plateau and viewpoints with amazing landscapes.
Throughout this article I’ll give you tips about every place I visited so you can better plan your trip to the “island of flowers”.
Levada das 25 Fontes and Risco
My day started in Levada das 25 Fontes and Risco, but before anything else I should explain to you what a “levada” is.
Levadas are irrigation canals created since the 16th century to take the water from the north to the south of the island, drier but more favourable to agriculture and housing.
Levadas in Madeira island are about 2000 km long. If you want to know the density of these canals, just think that Madeira is only 55 km long and 24 km wide.
The walking routes of the levadas of 25 Fontes and Risco are well known amongst tourists because of their beauty and because they are easily accessible.
The levada is located in Paul da Serra plateau, a huge plane area (the only one on the island) at an altitude of 1000 metres.
You’ll have to leave your car in Rabaçal viewpoint (GPS: N 32 45.295 W 17 08.038) and walk for 2 km till you reach Rabaçal forest station, where the walking route really begins.
If you don’t want to walk those 2 km, than you can just pay and do that distance in a 9-seat minibus.
If you decide to walk there, then know that the 2 km are easily done because it’s straight down. But when you come from the opposite direction, prepare yourself for a tough time. Going down is easy, but climbing 2 km in an uneven terrain after a 10 km walk may prove to be very hard.
Know that if you don’t have the will or just can’t make it, you can return in the minibus.
When you get to Rabaçal forest station, continue to your right to the levadas of 25 Fontes and Risco. The route is well signed so you won’t get lost.
After a few hundred metres, you’ll find a crossroads where you’ll have to choose between Levada das 25 Fontes and Levada do Risco. The route to Levada do Risco is easy and just 1-km long.
I chose Levada das 25 Fontes because it’s harder and longer (9.2 kilometres total, both ways).
Here are some photos of the walking route:
Information: half the way done, you’l find a bridge with a stream and a waterfall. To be honest, I hesitated for some moments and I thought it was the end of the route but the end was not even close. To continue this walk, climb the small steps next to the bridge and continue for some kilometres until you find this spectacle:
I only found 2 people on my way to 25 Fontes waterfall, but on my way back was much harder. I had to stop several times so that the tourist groups would pass.
If you want to take photos and enjoy the waterfall without tourist groups of 20-30 people, then start your day early in the morning. Try to be at Rabaçal forest station before 09h30.
When I got to the crossroads of the 2 levadas, I turned left towards Levada do Risco. After a 1-km stroll, I found this beauty:
Information: the photo doesn’t portray the beauty of this place – when I arrived to the waterfall it began to rain cats and dogs and, because of that, I just had time to grab my smartphone and run to the forest station.
To visit the two levadas you’ll have to walk for 10 km (14 km if you walk to the forest station) and you’ll need 3 to 4 hours.
Alternatively, you can take the Levada das 25 Fontes and Rabaçal hike (affiliate link) with an experienced guide who knows the place perfectly. In addition, you can also enjoy a picnic amidst the fantastic biodiversity that the Laurissilva forest has to offer.
Where to eat after the walking route?
In the forest station you’ll find benches and tables for picnics as well as public toilets.
If you prefer, you can eat at the hotel Pico da Urze restaurant, located 1 km east from Rabaçal viewpoint (where you’ll leave your car).
Information: on the way to the Rabaçal viewpoint or to Achadas da Cruz viewpoint (see below), don’t hesitate to stop when you see the sign “Miradouro” and enjoy the amazing landscape that Paul da Serra plateau has to offer.
Achadas da Cruz Viewpoint
Achadas da Cruz Viewpoint will offer you a magnificent view over the ocean and Fajã das Achadas da Cruz.
What is a Fajã? Fajã is a small parcel of land that can be cultivated, usually located near the sea. Most of the Fajãs were built by nature itself due to landslides from the cliffs.
Aside from the viewpoint you will also find a cable car, inaugurated in 2004, connecting this place to Fajã das Achadas da Cruz, giving you the opportunity to visit the farm land, the small huts and the beach.
- Location: Caminho do Teleférico,9270-014 Achadas da Cruz
- GPS: N 32 51.159 W 17 12.593
- Site: www.portomoniz.pt
Porto Moniz is a small town mostly known for its natural pools of volcanic origin.
In addition, you can visit the Fort of São João Baptista (1730) where you’ll find the small aquarium Aquário da Madeira.
Begin your journey at “Miradouro da Santa” (see photo above), located above Porto Moniz. You’ll have the chance to see beautiful natural pools, the fort and Mole isle.
Information: If you come from Achadas da Cruz viewpoint you will most certainly pass by the viewpoint, located in the road ER 101.
- GPS: N 32 51.739 W 17 10.374
Go down and visit the natural pools of Porto Moniz, where you can bathe in a place of rare beauty.
- GPS: N 32 52.072 W 17 10.225
- Site: https://www.portomoniz.pt
Before you leave Porto Moniz, visit the natural pools of Cachalote and the Fort of São João Batista.
You can go for a swim in this beautiful place, free of charge, but you won’t find any toilets nor changing rooms.
Just next to the pools you’ll find the Fort of São João Batista with a small aquarium and Cachalote restaurant where you can have a marvellous meal of fresh fish in a truly idyllic setting.
- Location: Rua do Forte de São João Batista
- GPS: N 32 52.050 W 17 09.968
Rib and Janela Isles
Stop 3 km out of Porto Moniz to gaze the islets of Rib and Janela. The perfect place to take some amazing photos.
- GPS: N 32 51.299 W 17 09.203
Chão da Ribeira
Chão da Ribeira is a picturesque village surrounded by the Laurissilva Forest, a subtropical forest. Around the river you’ll find some farm lands with huts, a restaurant and some places where people can have a picnic.
- GPS: N 32 48.147 W 17 06.930
Véu da Noiva Viewpoint
Véu da Noiva viewpoint is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the island of Madeira. There, you can admire Véu da Noiva waterfall and the north of the island.
When gazing at the height of the waterfall and the huge amount of water pouring down, it’s like looking at a bride’s veil (hence the name).
The viewpoint is located in the old ER101 road, connecting Seixal to São Vicente. Not long ago, you could even drive through the waterfall but in 2008 there was a landslide that destroyed part of the road and tunnel just next to the waterfall (see photo above).
Since then, the road is closed 100 metres away from the junction with the new VE2 highway. In the beginning of the old road you’ll find a parking lot and a souvenir shop.
- GPS: N 32 48.973 W 17 05.747
Are you going to visit Porto Moniz, Madeira? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities 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!