A popular thing to do when visiting Madeira is to go on a Levada walk. There are hundreds of them all over the island! A Levada is a man-made water channel and is used as a way to transport water to different parts of the island. One person I was speaking to said that on different days and times the water source is ‘opened’. From this locals are able to use the water for their gardens and crops. There are a couple of Levada walks in Funchal and I did part of Levada dos Piornais. Here’s what to expect!
Levada dos Piornais
🗺️Start/Finish: Funchal – R. Profa. Marita Franco (in the hotel zone) to Caminho do Amparo (near Praia Formosa)
🕣Duration: 25 minutes – along the Levada
The Start of Levada dos Piornais
Levada dos Piornais starts in the hotel zone of Funchal, with access from R. Profa. Marita Franco road, just a short walk from stops on city bus route 4. Compared to some of the more ‘natural’ Levada walks (such as Levada da Serra do Faial that I did on the Madeira East Coast tour), Levada dos Piornais is more of a suburban route.
It passes between people’s houses, back gardens and banana plantations. It has views both across the city and out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Steps leading to Levada dos Piornais
The Levada is quite well sign posted on the streets leading up to it, with directional signs pointing up steps to show you where to go. Once on the Levada, I turned left and headed away from Funchal.
Levada dos Piornais actually goes almost all the way to Camara de Lobos (it turns into Travessa dos Piornais). The full route takes a couple of hours to complete. It is broken up by roads and streets that you have to cross to rejoin it.
Levada dos Piornais
Walking The Levada
I did approximately 1.5km of the route which goes towards Praia Formosa. This section took around 25-30 minutes with photo stops. It’s a fairly easy route. In all honesty the hardest part was going UP the hills to join it, as the streets around it are very steep.
The majority of Levada dos Piornais is a narrow concrete path alongside the water way. Even early in the morning there were several other people hiking this route. There’s not a huge amount of room to pass, you have to step across the water channel to the little ledge on the other side.
Passing banana plantations along Levada dos Piornais
Some parts of the Levada walk do have a drop off the edge on one side. So for those that aren’t a fan of heights, these areas may be a bit nerve wracking.
Most of the time there is some sort of a fence or a wall, so it feels quite safe. However the concrete can be a bit uneven in places. Make sure to always be looking at where your feet are! There is a short section where the water channel disappears completely and sporadically has drain covers.
Another section has the water channel split in two and you have to walk along the narrow ledge between them!
Looking over São Martinho, Funchal
Also be mindful that you are passing through a residential area when walking along this Levada in Funchal. There were many locals hanging out in their gardens and had hose pipes into the Levada drains so they could water their gardens.
I made sure to always give them space and wait for them to finish doing their business before I tried to pass.
A Casa da Levada
As mentioned, there are a couple of places where you have to cross the road and rejoin it on the opposite side. It’s quite easy to know where you get to the section of town near Praia Formosa.
Here you’ll find a coffee shop/restaurant called ‘A Casa da Levada’. They have an indoor area, as well as an outdoor seating area that has chairs with colourful cushions. I took water with me, but this may be a good place to stop for a drink, especially on a hot day.
This is where I finished my Levada walk.
A Casa da Levada
Returning To Funchal
I turned left down the hill back towards the town, but the Levada walk continues on towards Camara de Lobos heading to right. I had to use Google Maps to get myself down towards Formosa beach. To get to the beach you’ll need to go down a long steep set of steps down the hillside.
Promenade do Lido
Once at Praia Formosa this is a nice walk in itself as you can take the Promenade do Lido back towards Funchal. Part of the promenade passes through Túnel das Poças do Gomes, which is a cave like walking tunnel through the cliffs and comes out next to Doca do Cavacas natural pools.
Without stopping, this whole loop takes between 1 hour 30 to 2 hours to complete.
The loop I describe here does start and finish in the hotel zone of Funchal. If staying nearer to the old town you’ll have to add extra onto this time, whether that be walking or getting the bus.
Alternatively, if you didn’t want to turn around and walk back along the Levada towards Funchal or go via the Promenade do Lido, you can get the bus. The same city route bus 4 has a stop almost opposite A Casa Da Levada. This bus also goes the whole way into Funchal city centre as well as having stops in the hotel district.
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