Mountain drives, levada walks & a seaside sunset!

Location: Madeira island, Portugal

Itinerary Duration: 1 day

Places of note: 
Encumeada Pass, Rabaçal (Levada das 25 Fontes) & Ponta do Sol

Madeira is a nature lover's paradise and a hiker's dream! This itinerary will take you on a scenic drive up the Encumeada pass and onto the Paul da Serra plateau, where you'll find the starting point of one of the most popular levada walks on the island. Finish the day with a swim or cocktail in Ponta do Sol, the perfect place to watch the sun go down!

A. Caniçal
This seaside town on the eastern side of the island was the starting point for our day trips. If you begin in Funchal, it'll be even less driving for you so that you can spend more time exploring!

B. Encumeada Pass

Existing as a natural divide between the north and south of the island, the Encumeada Pass cannot be missed when visiting Madeira! Some of the most stunning mountain peaks can be seen here, from Crista de Galo in the west to Pico Grande in the east. There are many places to stop along the side of the road and soak in the wonder of the surroundings!

Don't miss seeing the steep terraces along the hillside - these are called "poios" and were created to utilise the slopes for agriculture. Stop at Bar Encumeada or similar for some breakfast before your levada walk.

C. Rabaçal (Levada das 25 Fontes)

Rabaçal is a little oasis on the Paul da Serra plateau. It is the starting point of 2 popular levada walks: Levada do Risco & Levada das 25 Fontes. There is ample parking at the top of Rabaçal followed by a 2km walk downhill on tar to the levada starting point. My family & I decided to walk down to this starting point but there is also the option of taking a shuttle (which costs €3 one-way and €5 return). The levada is beautifully located in Madeira's Laurissilva forest, a UNESCO World Nature Heritage Site. 

Levada das 25 Fontes, or 25 Natural Springs Levada, is not only a wonderful walk in terms of being in the laurel forest but also because the entire walk follows the old levada / irrigation channel. Levadas were created to carry fresh water from the mountains to where it was needed most on the island. 

The levada is fairly flat, which is great for inexperienced hikers. We hiked without a guide and were rewarded with amazing views of the springs at the end! The icy water and lagoon is refreshing and a great spot to have some lunch before your walk back. Be sure to pack along something to eat and take your trash with you - there are no facilities at the springs. Also, don't forget that you can take the shuttle back up to your car! 

D. Ponta do Sol

After a good 3 or so hours of hiking / levada walking, Ponta do Sol is a great place to wind down. Its name directly translates to "Sun Point" because it is the sunniest point on the island! This lovely seaside village can easily be reached by following the ER211 from Paul da Serra down to Arco da Calheta and then by heading east until you reach Ponta do Sol.

Ponta do Sol is a great place to swim, relax and watch the sun go down. Head to Restaurante Sol Poente for lovely views of the sea & pebble beach area coupled with some good food! Don't miss the picture-perfect old stone bridge behind the restaurant with views as far as the eye can see! A superb day on such an amazing island!