Pico do Arieiro Hike on Madeira: How to visit PR1 Pico do Arieiro Hike on Madeira: How to visit PR1

Pico do Arieiro Hike on Madeira: How to visit PR1

Unquestionably, one of the most stunning hikes on Madeira is the PR1 trail from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the island. Walk along narrow paths on sheer ridges, down mountain staircases, and through rocky tunnels, soaking up some of the most spectacular views. Once you summit above the clouds, it really feels as if you’re on top of the world! Discover everything you need to know about doing the Pico do Arieiro hike in Madeira, Portugal.

Pico do Arieiro Hike (PR1)

With endless views over steep Jurassic valleys, lush greenery, and the Atlantic Ocean, it’s safe to say the Pico do Arieiro hike on Madeira is one of the best things to do on the island.

pico do arieiro to pico ruivo hike madeira

Whether you start out early or catch the breathtaking panoramic vistas during sunset, nothing tops watching the clouds sweep in between the towering mountains. This is by far one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever done! 

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Pico do Arieiro Hike on Madeira: How to visit PR1

Madeira, in general, is famous for its stunning natural landscapes, from the lush forests to rugged mountains and scenic coastlines. All the major hikes in between have a PR number, with the PR1 ‘Pico to Pico’ hike being by far the most famous. 

hiking trail pico do arieiro to pico ruivo madeira

Officially, this is an in-and-out trail, meaning you walk to Pico Ruivo and back, but you also have the option to book transportation for a one-way tour. Details: 

  • Total km: 13 km roundtrip or 7 km one-way
  • Time: 4 – 7 hours
  • Elevation: 900 meters
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Entrance: Free to visit, no tickets. 
best hike madeira pico do arieiro to pico ruivo

The Hiking Trail of Pico do Arieiro, Madeira

This 13-kilometer route (or 6,5 one-way) takes you along some of the most impressive vistas on the island, winding its way from Pico do Arieiro through lush valleys and past jagged mountain peaks up to Pico Ruivo and back. 

pico do arieiro madeira best hike

The real showstopper, however, is when the area fills with a thick sea of clouds, creating an almost fantasy-like atmosphere. While you climb above 1,500m (4900 feet), witness the sun breaking through the fog, coloring the pathway – this is a must-see on your Madeira itinerary!

hike madeira pico do arieiro to pico ruivo

Note: There is an observation deck at Pico do Arieiro that many people visit for the view (at Miradouro Juncal). You’ll also notice many tours here during sunrise. However, most are here just to soak up the ocean views; not everyone actually hikes the trail.

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Mirador do Ninho da Manta 

Once you start the hike, the first official viewpoint is Miradouro do Ninho da Manta (also known as ‘Buzzard’s Nest’). You’ll find this little balcony section after walking along well-maintained stone steps that lead down into the valley. 

sunrise hike pico do arieiro madeira

This point looks out over the green scenery, with the ocean in the background. It’s only 1.2 kilometers down the trail and is a great place to snap some photos. 

Tip: Many people who gather at Miradouro Juncal don’t make it this way, so if you come for sunrise, we personally recommend watching the sunrise from there to skip some crowds.

viewpoint pico do arieiro hike madeira

Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo are two of the highest peaks in Madeira, with the Ruivo Peak being the highest. The PR1 trail continues from the miradouro over ledges, through tunnels (five in total), and eventually wraps up around the mountain. Most of the trail toward Ruivo is actually downhill, but you’ll have jaw-dropping sights all along the route.

mountain hike madeira

Pass Pedra Rija, an open area and a great spot to stop for a minute, and notice all the flowers lining the trail. You might also spot little red-legged partridges native to Madeira (please don’t feed them).

hiking path pico do arieiro madeira

The tunnels you pass are all relatively short (the longest one is about 150 meters), but it’s recommended to bring a headlamp for these sections. All along the route, you’ll find signs pointing toward the endpoint: Pico Ruivo. 

tunnel pico do arieiro to pico ruivo hike madeira

How Long is the Pico do Arieiro Hike?

The Pico do Arieiro hike in Madeira typically takes about 3-4 hours if you’re continuously walking. However, it can quickly extend to 5-7 hours if you prefer a more leisurely pace and more stops to sit, relax, and soak up the views over the island and ocean. 

sunrise view madeira

As it’s an in-and-out trail, the route doesn’t loop; it goes from peak to peak with significant elevation changes (a total of 900m elevation gain). Depending on your fitness level, this can take some time. 

Tip: If you don’t feel like hiking the entire route to Pico Ruivo but still want to witness those incredible views, walk from Pico do Arieiro to the viewpoint ‘Miradouro do Ninho da Manta’ (40 minutes). Here, you have a viewing platform looking over the incredible valleys.

best hike madeira pico do arieiro

Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo One-way or Round Trip?

Depending on your stamina and how you’ve arranged your transportation, you can choose between a one-way or round-trip hike on the PR1 trail from Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. The round-trip option is more challenging as you’ll have to walk the same route back to the starting point, mostly uphill. 

route pico do arieiro hike

Alternatively, for those seeking a less strenuous option, numerous transfer services are available to drop you off at the trailhead and pick you up from Achadas Teixeira (close to Pico Ruivo). This way, you can do the ‘Pico to Pico’ hike one way. 

pico do arieiro hike pr1 madeira

The Best Time to Hike Pico do Arieiro

This hike is one of the best things to do in Madeira, and it’s very popular to start walking before sunrise. It rarely gets cold in Madeira, with an average temperature of 20 – 25 degrees Celsius year-round. However, remember that temperatures are much lower in the mountains due to their higher elevation. During our visit in April, it was 20 degrees in Funchal and 5 degrees at Pico do Arieiro.


Tip: Wear layers on your hike, as the weather can be unpredictable here. It can be very cold, warm, windy, cloudy, or clear. Therefore, it’s worth checking the Pico do Arieiro webcam or Windy.com to see what the weather is like.

what to wear pico do arieiro hike madeira

Hiking During Sunrise or Sunset?

The PR1 hike is both stunning at sunrise and sunset, and each has its charm. Watch as the sunrise slowly pops above the horizon, shining through the morning fog that drifts around the mountains. If you want to visit during this time, make sure to arrive at your viewpoint of choice 30 minutes before the sun comes up. 

The downside of the sunset hikes is that if you plan on doing an organized tour, this is not an option at the time of writing. Only sunrise tours are offered at this moment.

madeira pr1 hike pico do arieiro to pico ruivo

We did the PR1 hike both at sunrise and sunset. Although both are equally gorgeous, hiking later in the day is slightly more peaceful than early in the morning, with hikers more spread across the trail. We recommend starting about 6 hours before sundown to catch the best soft golden glow if you visit during this time. 

sunrise pico do arieiro hike madeira

How to Get to the Pico do Arieiro Trailhead

Although it’s deemed one of the island’s best hikes, there’s no public transportation to the Pico do Arieiro trailhead. However, you can get there by car, taxi, organized tour, or transfer.

By Car or Taxi

From the capital city, Funchal, it’s about 30-40 minutes of driving to reach the trailhead parking lot. The road up is a beautiful journey, twisting and turning between the mountains. A taxi costs about 40 EUR from the city to Pico do Arieiro. 


Pico do Arieiro has a lower and an upper parking lot. Choose the lower lot if you plan on doing the entire hike, as that’s for day parking. The upper parking lot has a maximum parking time of just one hour. 

how to get to pico do arieiro madeira

From the lower parking, walk up to the trailhead (2 minutes) via a little path instead of the road for safety. You’ll notice a wooden sign on the opposite side of the road that reads ‘Pico do Arieiro 800m’.

path from parking pico do arieiro hike

By Organized Tour or Transfer

If you don’t have your own transportation, there are a few other options besides hopping in a taxi. If you’d like to do a guided day hike, you can book a tour with a guide

Alternatively, book a one-way transfer if you plan on hiking only one way. This way, you’ll be dropped off at the trailhead from Funchal and picked up again once you reach the other peak (Pico Ruivo).

pico do arieiro hike madeira

What to Bring on Your Hikes in Madeira

Pico do Arieiro is a must-see on your Madeira itinerary and one of the most popular things to do. Here are some things to pack to make this incredible hike go as smoothly as possible:

  • Good shoes (waterproof sneakers with a good profile or proper hiking boots.)
  • Sunglasses
  • Environmentally-friendly sunscreen
  • Cap
  • Plenty of water (in a reusable bottle, the perfect way to travel plastic-free!)
  • Lots of snacks 
  • Layers (temperatures change throughout the trail)
  • Waterproof jacket 
  • A headlamp (for in the tunnels)
  • Your camera
  • Optional: hiking poles (great since there’s a good amount of up- and downhill hiking)

Hotels Near the Pico do Arieiro Hike

Stay at one of the nearby hotels in Funchal to soak up the serenity and breathtaking scenery of Madeira’s mountainous landscape. These accommodations, nestled amidst the lush greenery, offer some of the best panoramic views, making it the perfect base for hikers of the famed Pico to Pico hike.

02/06/2024 https://www.saltinourhair.com/madeira/pico-do-arieiro-hike/
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