This is the impressive Pico Ruivo

Pico Ruivo Madeira Cory Hike

Nobody told me what to expect from a hike to Pico Ruivo, Madeira's highest point. I knew I need to go uphill for a few kilometres, before reaching 1862 meters altitude. I knew I need to drive through mountainous roads and always be prepared for the weather conditions. What I didn't know is that I would admire one of the most impressive 360 degrees views, which unravelled the endless ocean and white long clouds over dramatic cliffs. I wasn't aware that I would feel as if I reached the top of the world.

This is the impressive Pico Ruivo - Contents

Pico Ruivo Madeira Cory Hiking Path Edge

Getting to Pico Ruivo

Pico Ruivo can only be accessed by foot after a strenuous hike. The easiest way to access the trail is by driving from Santana, up to the car park, at the Achada do Teixeira.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Hiking cloud

Part of the fun was the drive itself, as most of the time I had to navigate through thick cloud and narrow, winding roads. Although it was exhilarating it felt relatively dangerous, hence only a confident driver should venture on these cliffs. There were a few viewing points along the way, where I stopped the car and photographer the surrounding through the creepy mist.

Madeira Forest Fog

Everything looked eerie, like a thrilling scene from a horror movie. Once I stopped the car on the side of the road, I could hear nothing but the deep silence. There were no birds tweeting, no other cars, no humans along the road. I was standing in front of a thick forest covered in cloud and mist. As exciting as it was, I did get a shiver up and down my spine.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Cory Fog

After about 20 minutes of driving uphill, the cloud cleared out completely. By the time I got to the car park, the sun was scorching hot, I couldn't believe only minutes ago I was making my way through the cold, damp fog.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Drive Fog

The hike to Pico Ruivo

Hiking to Pico Ruivo was one of the most fun things I did in Madeira. The continuous uphill hike was challenging and it did require a few breaks here and there. The path was well defined all the way to the top. The moment I reached my first viewing point, I could admire the island in all its splendour from coast to coast. Beautiful green cliffs were rising up from the white clouds, forming a surreal landscape. There were moments where I hiked on narrow paths, and both sides would reveal the vastness of the ocean and floating cloud. Even for the most experienced hikers, these outstanding views could make your knees tremble a little. It's all part of the fun.
Hiking to Pico Ruivo was incredibly exhilarating, but also quite exhausting. Surprisingly, not because of the uphill struggle, but because of the hot, dazzling sunshine. Being under the direct sun at 12 pm, at 1862 m above sea level, definitely had an impact.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Clouds Cliffs

After a couple of hours, I reached Madeira's highest point. Several miles above the cloud made me feel as if I reached the top of the world and not just the top of Madeira. Pico Ruivo offers 360 degrees impressive views of the island. Anywhere I looked I could see either endless ocean, dramatic cliffs or mountains covered in lush vegetation. Pico Ruivo is also an epic stop for a picnic. It's nothing better than eating with a view, at the end of a great hike. It feels like you earned it all.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Path Cloud

The hike back was much easier and faster. It took me up to an hour to go back to the car park. Because the sun was shining bright, I had difficulties taking the sort of long exposure pictures I was after. Once I got back to the car and into the cloudy landscape, I took my tripod out for a fun landscape photography session.

Pico Ruivo Hiking Trail Clouds

What you need for a hike to Pico Ruivo

Car - In order to start the hike you will need to drive up to the car park. There are other trail options which start from Ilha for example, but they are longer and far more demanding. I suggest driving to these remote places only if you are an experienced driver and possess serious clutch skills.

Water - I had to hike for hours under the strong sunshine. Keeping hydrated is key. Bring at least 2 litres of water with you for this hike.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Cory Hike

Food - After two hours of uphill hike, I was starving. I had a few protein munchies along the trail and two sandwiches once I reached the top. Bring nuts and berries with you, they will help you a lot.

Camera - I can't believe I had the chance to photograph such impressive views. I knew Madeira is beautiful, but being on its highest point created a dreamlike landscape. Have the camera handy, there are tons of incredible photographic opportunities along the way.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Lush Vegetation Hiking Path

Super Tips for hiking Pico Ruivo

Sunscreen - I didn't use sunscreen for this hike, and as a result, my shoulders got a bit burnt. The UV light can be a menace at 1862 m above sea level and hiking for more than 3 hours with no shade can be really bad for your skin. Use high factor sunscreen before attempting this trail.

Hat - Bring a hat with you in case you need to hike in the sunshine. If it's cloudy or rainy, you can just leave the hat in the car, but better be prepared. Sunstrokes can happen to anyone and there is no immediate medical help on top of the mountain.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Cliffs Top

Dress for the weather - You might be lucky and get to hike in the sunshine. That's great, wear your shorts and enjoy. However, trailing on an island located in the Atlantic Ocean results in unpredictable weather and potentially dangerous conditions. Make sure you have the right gear for you and dress for the weather. If it's rainy and windy, best to turn back, as the path might get too slippery. Good hiking shoes are imperative for this hike, regardless of the weather.

Pico Ruivo Madeira Cory top

What do you think? Would you go up Pico Ruivo and conquer Madeira? Let me know in the comments section below.


17 Jan 2019

Hello Danielle!!
This is such great information!!Just a quick question, how dangerous on the very narrow trails where there's a steep drop? I've heard it can be a very scary experience and I'm curious if people manage ok with good gear! Thanks so much in advance!

24 Jan 2019

Hi Connie,

It can be scary but if you don't have fear of heights you will be ok. It can be a little scary but also amazing. The landscape is from another world! You will love it. And if in doubt, there are other hiking trails which are less steep and scary :)
Have fun!

31 Mar 2017

Hi, I really enjoyed reading this:) Could you tell the brand of your hiking shoes please? Thanks!:)

01 Apr 2017

Hi Emma, Thank you so much. The shoes are from The North Face. They are really awesome, would totally recommend.

03 Apr 2017

Thank you for quick reply:) I think they're pretty for hiking shoes as well. Will definitely consider buying them:)

10 Feb 2017

Wow! We're researching where we want to go for our fall vacation and you might have me convinced that Madeira is the place to be! We're big hikers and this looks amazing. :D

12 Feb 2017

Hi Danielle, thank you for your comment. If you love hikes, great weather and dramatic vistas, then Madeira is the place for you. Add some great food and wine to the mix, and you have paradise, only a couple of hours away from mainland Europe!