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Portugal

Walking Madeira: Portugal’s Isle of Flowers By Foot

Program No. 20367RJ
Portugal’s botanical wonders, sun warmed coasts, renowned vineyards and exquisite Mediterranean cuisine make this European gem a real-life paradise for exploration and adventure.
Length
11 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
3,049
Flights start at
800

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 20 - Mar 30, 2023
Starting at
3,049
Apr 3 - Apr 13, 2023
Starting at
3,049
May 29 - Jun 8, 2023
Starting at
3,049
Sep 11 - Sep 21, 2023
Starting at
3,049
Oct 2 - Oct 12, 2023
Starting at
3,049
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Mar 20 - Mar 30, 2023
Starting at
3,679
Apr 3 - Apr 13, 2023
Starting at
3,679
May 29 - Jun 8, 2023
Starting at
3,679
Sep 11 - Sep 21, 2023
Starting at
3,679
Oct 2 - Oct 12, 2023
Starting at
3,679

At a Glance

With its reputation as the “Isle of Flowers,” Madeira’s rich, volcanic soil and levadas — or carriage ways and mini-canals — offer pristine walkways that wind along its coastlines, weave through gardens and lead to the islands most scenic vistas. Meander along one of Portugal’s most beautiful regions as you join local experts for a walking exploration of Madeira’s capital city of Funchal, a city wedged between the sea and mountain slopes.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Low level walks of 3-5 miles, approximately 2-4 hours per day. Elevations up to 5964 feet, with 500-800 feet elevation change over two miles. Private coach or local transportation to travel to different day locations. Sturdy walking/hiking shoes are required (ankle-high shoes are not required, but highly recommended).
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Admire indigenous and exotic plants of the Botanical Gardens on the grounds of the Quinta do Bom Sucesso.
  • Hike in a pristine laurel forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Visit the colorful market where local purveyors offer fresh fish, vegetables and fruit.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Roberto Camacho
Roberto was born in 1978 in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biodiversity and conservation, both from the University of Madeira, as well as a bachelor's degree in tourism. In addition, he has taken courses on mountain leading, teaching and the flora of Madeira. He speaks fluent English, French and Spanish; he is also knowledgeable in German. Before he began leading adventures, he worked as a geneticist and graduate tutor at the University of Madeira.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Roberto Camacho
Roberto Camacho View biography
Roberto was born in 1978 in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biodiversity and conservation, both from the University of Madeira, as well as a bachelor's degree in tourism. In addition, he has taken courses on mountain leading, teaching and the flora of Madeira. He speaks fluent English, French and Spanish; he is also knowledgeable in German. Before he began leading adventures, he worked as a geneticist and graduate tutor at the University of Madeira.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Cork Boat, A True Story of the Unlikeliest Boat Ever Built
by John Pollack
This endearing tale of family, loss and friendship revolves around a deliciously absurd childhood quest to build a boat of cork and sail it 133 miles on Portugal's Douro River.
Tango in Madeira, A Dance of Life, Love and Death
by Jim Williams
A tangled web of ambitions, romance and murder featuring Agatha Christie, George Bernard Shaw, the exiled emperor of Austria, a WWI veteran and a priest with dubious political intentions, set on the isolated island of Madeira.
A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal, the Azores & Madeira Archipelagos
by Colm Moore
The first and only birdwatching guide to cover all of Portugal, this enlarged second edition features several new sites (44 in all) and includes the Azores and Madeira archipelagos.
Prince Henry "The Navigator," A Life
by Peter E. Russell
A complicated yet rewarding portrait and the first biography of this empire-minded Portuguese prince in more than a hundred years.
Baltasar and Blimunda
by Jose Saramago
This tale of two unlikely lovers in Inquisition-era Portugal is arguably Saramago's masterwork: a philosophically charged, intellectually rigorous historical drama which is also a captivating read.
The Taste of Conquest, The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice
by Michael Krondl
Weaving travel and history, Michael Krondl writes of a world where pepper, cinnamon and cloves were as valuable as gold -- and Venice, Lisbon and Amsterdam jockeyed for global control of the spice trade.
Oceans of Wine, Madeira and the Emergence of American Trade and Taste
by David Hancock
Hancock's unexpectedly engrossing book explores the culture of wine in Madeira and trade in 18th-century America.
Walking in Madeira
by Paddy Dillon
Featuring a rich and varied selection of walks on Madeira and neighboring Porto Santo.
Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000
by Barry Cunliffe
In this magnificent book, distinguished archaeologist Cunliffe boldly recasts European history through the lens of geography, showing its seas and rivers as the conduits to trade and culture. With lucid maps and choice illustrations.
Madeira, The Mid-Atlantic Wine
by Alex Liddell
Originally published in 1998, this engaging history tells the story of Madeira. Once shunned by wine connoisseurs as just a cooking wine, Madeira has been growing in popularity worldwide as a drink. Liddell provides a robust, full-flavored history, taking readers from the 1500s to the present and covering all aspects of the wine's production. A revised second edition.
Lonely Planet Pocket Madeira
by Lonely Planet Publications
A practical city guide to region of Madeira that fits in your pocket, with the top sites, the best walks, food, art, shopping, views, nightlife and more. Includes pull out city map.
Small Memories
by Jose Saramago
In this contemplative memoir, the Portuguese Nobel laureate recalls a childhood both dark and magical, split between the growing city of Lisbon and the tiny village of Azinhaga.
Authentic Portuguese Cooking
by Ana Patuleia Ortins
With over 200 recipes, this is the biggest and most comprehensive book available on Portuguese cooking. In delicious detail, Chef Ana Patuleia Ortins explains recipes like Madeiran Wine and Garlic Beef Kabobs, Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Sauce and Sauteed Kale with Pine Nuts and Onions.
Alentejo Blue
by Monica Ali
These short stories set in the Alentejo province of Portugal star a range of colorful expats and locals, including Teresa, a beautiful young girl from the village engaged to a suitable man who yearns to see the world and Vasco, a cafe owner losing business to the new Internet cafe down the road.
A Traveller's History of Portugal
by Ian Robertson
A lively, admirably concise survey from prehistory to the present, great for travelers to Portugal who would like an overview of the country's history and culture.
Journey to Portugal, In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture
by Jose Saramago
Jose Saramago's richly detailed account of his journey across Portugal in 1979. He combines his vivid impressions of the Portuguese landscape and people with a dose of history, fiction and meditation.
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11 days
10 nights
19 meals
9 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Lisbon, Check-in, Welcome Dinner
Lisbon
D
Hotel Olissippo Marques de Sá

Activity note: Hotel check-in at 2:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Welcome drink at 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone, lead introductions, and answer any questions. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically buffet style. Breakfasts will offer a typical European-style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea, and water. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We will enjoy a welcome dinner with water at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Funchal-Portugal, Introduction
Funchal - Madeira
B,D
Pestana Village

Activity note: Please be advised that additional baggage fees for checked bags may apply and must be paid directly to the airline at check in.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will transfer to the Lisbon airport by motorcoach for the flight to Funchal. Upon arrival in Funchal, a private motorcoach will transfer us to the hotel in Funchal, Madeira. The transfer is 12 miles and will take 30 minutes.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.

Afternoon: We will enjoy an orientation walk to the Lido area, where we will have a brief introduction to Madeira island. The Lido area is lined with hotels and bordered by splendid gardens, offering wonderful views of the sea and magnificent sunsets. Before dinner, the Group Leader will host the Orientation Meeting in which will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities and answer any questions you may have.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Porto Moniz
Funchal - Madeira
B,L,D
Pestana Village

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving approximately 2 hours, 60 miles total. Approximately 3 hours of walking for approximately 5 miles on trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will travel by motorcoach in the direction of Ribeira Brava, a seaside resort at the mouth of a steep valley. After crossing the island to the North coast, we will start the romantic walk through a wooded area. We will learn about the Lauissilva forest, designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999 , during a field lecture from our Group Leader.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic lunch while on the trail.

Afternoon: We will transfer to Porto Moniz to relax in its large natural bathing pool. We will then return to the hotel.

Dinner: We will enjoy a plated meal at a local restaurant.

Evening: During dinner, we will be treated to live Fado singing. The rest of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
5
Market Day in Funchal, Free Time
Funchal - Madeira
B
Pestana Village

Activity note: Approximately 3 hours of walking for approximately 4 miles through town, on uneven surfaces, and cobblestones.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today, we will have a walking field trip to the city center. Along the way, we will have the chance to visit some gardens, the cathedral, the main street, and the colorful market of Funchal, where vendors selling fish, vegetables, and fruit can be found. After the market, we’ll walk along the old town area and enjoy some street art. During today's field lectures, we’ll learn about the lifestyle of Funchal's inhabitants, the economics of Funchal, and the history of the Funchal Cathedral.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Funchal.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Southwest Coast
Funchal - Madeira
B,L
Pestana Village

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving1 hour, 40 miles total. Approximately 3 hours of walking for approximately 5 miles on trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will enjoy a walking field trip along the Levada do Norte through one of the most fertile regions of the island where vineyards alternate with vegetable gardens. We’ll learn about the wine of the region and how the fertile land is cultivated during today's field lecture as we enjoy breathtaking views from the Cabo Girão viewpoint (1902 feet), the second highest sea cliff in Europe. Below this point, there are small vineyards and vegetable patches that can only be reached by boat. For natives, every bit of land is precious.

Lunch: We will enjoy a plated meal at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will then explore the Calheta sugar cane mill and learn about the history of the sugar trade on Madeira. Learn about how the factory transforms sugar cane into sugar products like rum, molasses, and traditional honey cakes.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
North Coast
Funchal - Madeira
B,L
Pestana Village

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving under 3 hour, 40 miles. Approximately 2 hours of walking for approximately 3 miles on trails and through villages.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will ride by private motorcoach through the mountains to visit Pico do Arieiro to experience the magnificent views. Afterwards, we will descend to Ribeiro Frio where a hike along the Levada Balcões will take place. This path is surrounded by the lush vegetation of the pristine forest and has a breathtaking view. We’ll continue to the next stop, Santana, known for its triangular thatched cottages that have become an island icon. We will hear field lectures on the geological and botanical aspects of all of these places you see.

Lunch: We will enjoy a plated meal at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will hike on an old footpath along the coast seizing the beautiful coastline views and getting to know the coastal flora and local livelihood. Afterwards, return to the hotel.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Botanical Garden, Levada da Serra do Faial
Funchal - Madeira
B,L,D
Pestana Village

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving about 1 hour. Approximately 2 hours of walking for approximately 4 miles on trails and paved roads through villages.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out by motorcoach to Camacha (2300 feet), where we will have a walking field trip along the Levada da Serra do Faial. Upon approaching the village, we will notice bundles of long canes. This area is known as basket country, where wicker working is a traditional industry. Today's field lectures will educate you on the area's indigenous plants and basket weaving.

Lunch: We will enjoy a plated meal at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We will drive to the Botanical Gardens, created in 1960 on the grounds of the Quinta do Bom Sucesso, overlooking the town of Funchal. Most of the displayed plants are from around the world, with a section for indigenous flora. We’ll then make a short transfer to Monte, where we will visit the gardens and church. The twin towers of the church are visible from all over the town of Funchal. The afternoon will end with a fun toboggan run sitting on baskets! We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Ponta de São Lourenço, Madeiran Beef Kebab, Free Time
Funchal - Madeira
B,L,D
Pestana Village

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, driving about 2 hours, 50 miles. Approximately 2 hours of walking for approximately 2 miles on trails with some stairs and gravel.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After driving by Machico, the spot where humans first set foot on the island, we will continue on to Ponta de São Lourenço, where the landscape is drier and looks almost lunar. We will hear about the biodiversity and geology of the region during the hike along the serrated line of cliffs tapering into jagged rocky islets.

Lunch: Grilled fresh fish will be served at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: We will enjoy a farewell dinner where the unique Madeiran beef kabob is served at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Transfer to Lisbon, Free Time
Lisbon
B
Hotel Olissippo Marques de Sá

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, airplane. Driving 1/2 hour, around 12 miles. Flight is under 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will transfer by motorcoach to the Funchal airport for our flight to Lisbon.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Lisbon.

Afternoon: Free Time. The remainder of the day is on your own to see and do what interests you most. Your Group Leader will be able to suggest ideas of what to do and see in Lisbon.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.