Pico do Arieiro was one of our favorite spots in Madeira. This mountain is the third largest peak in Madeira and it makes a huge impression at sunrise and sunset (although in the morning there are more people there). If your starting point is Funchal, it will take you about 30 minutes to get there by car and then a further two minutes to walk to the top.
You can choose to do trails such as the PR1 Vereda do Areeiro or the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. The latter hike takes you 11km out and back. This hike is no walk in the park though – as you traverse narrow paths, walk up staircases and enter tunnels. Visitors to Pico do Arieiro have two choices: drive up for a leisurely experience or head off on a hiking adventure.
We decided to drive up to Pico do Arieiro for most of our visits – so in this article we will be focusing on that experience of driving up, walking to the top and taking in the beauty. Before we share our experiences, let us briefly introduce ourselves so you have a bit of background on who we are.
We are Martyna and Karol – a couple from Poland. Martyna grew up in a city in northeast Poland called Suwalki, close to the Lithuania border. Karol comes from Siemiatycze. After high school, we both moved to Warsaw to start our studies and work. We met at a party organized by mutual friends. In our youth, we didn’t travel much but that changed once we met.
Our first trip together was a road trip around Spain. We then fell in love with this lifestyle. Visiting new places is so rewarding for us because we really appreciate meeting new people and experiencing their local cultures.
Half a Year Living the Dream in Madeira
Firstly, we should admit that we never pictured Madeira as being a dream destination. Last December we were looking for a place where it would be warm and where we could celebrate Karol’s 30th birthday. Due to the pandemic, we didn’t have too many places to choose from. Our choice was between Zanzibar and Madeira – so we went for two weeks in Madeira.
We flew to this Portuguese island in January and absolutely loved our time there! In fact, we fell in love with the island so much that after returning to Poland we packed large suitcases, took our laptops with us and returned to the island at the beginning of February to work there remotely.
All in all, we spent half a year in Madeira and traveled around the whole island several times. Everyday before work we would go somewhere to admire the sunrise and afterwards to catch the sunset. We would then take longer trips on the weekends. Our two favorite places were Pico do Arieiro and Ponta de São Lourenço. We frequently visited these two epic spots.
Pico do Arieiro – Our Favorite Place in Madeira
Before each trip we take, we make a plan of what we would like to see, which viewpoints to visit, what dishes to try and so on. This is how we prepared ourselves this time in Madeira. We looked through blogs, Pinterest and Instagram in order to gather as much information as possible about the island – and many people recommended Pico do Arieiro.
On our first trip to Madeira, we didn’t manage to get to this peak. It was snowing during that time and the road was closed. We frequently checked the live webcams and the visibility was just too poor. So it was on our return visit in February that we went. Since then, Pico do Arieiro has become our favorite spot on the island – especially for sunrise and sunset.
Frequently Driving up Pico do Arieiro
We ended up going to Pico do Arieiro many times. There were days when we would go for sunrise, and then return back to work and in the evening went back there again to watch the sunset! Do you know what the best thing about Pico do Arieiro was? You don’t have to take a massive hike or even make a big effort to reach the top. You can simply get there by car.
It takes 30 minutes from Funchal. The carpark is upstairs and you just need to leave your car to reach one of the highest peaks of Madeira. We only hiked PR1 Vereda do Areeiro once. On this hike we started from a parking lot at Pico do Arieiro and went to Pico Ruivo. The trail was exhausting (but beautiful) – so we decided to take a taxi back to our carpark.
That hike took us four hours, but we made several stops for photos. The weather was nice and the sun was shining the entire time. The path was safe and in very good condition – there were no real dangers along the way.
Best Viewpoints around Pico do Arieiro
Pico do Arieiro is a fantastic place for several reasons. One of them is that you see the most beautiful views right away when you get out of the car. You don’t have to go far to see clouds and mountains in the background.
When it comes to sunrise, we recommend Miradouro do Juncal. A spot to admire the sunset is Miradouro do Ninho da Manta. If you decide to hike the whole trail (to Pico Ruivo), there is another nice view there called the “Stairway to Heaven”. It’s located five minutes from Ninho da Manta.
The views from the top of Pico do Arieiro, wherever you go, are incredible. One of the best things about the view is that because the conditions change often the view is different each time. This is awesome because it makes this mountain peak very unique and you can never get bored.
The best conditions for us was when there was low cloud and you had the impression that you were standing on the clouds. In the background there would be beautiful, massive mountains and the soft light of a sunset.
Taking on the PR1 Vereda do Areeiro Hike
The PR1 Vereda do Areeiro hike is definitely suitable for everyone, despite it being a challenge. We saw both young and old on the trail and families with children. You certainly have to be careful – wearing trekking shoes and appropriate clothes – but even people who have little fitness can do it.
It’s important to bring a bottle of water and take your time, going at your own pace. You also have to remember that it’s really high up there, so don’t make any sudden or ill-considered movements. You should be fine though.
If you do decide to take on this trail, I advise you to hike responsibly and follow eco-tips. First of all, don’t leave rubbish on the trail. Take them with you in a backpack or a special bag. There are bins in both parking lots at Pico do Arieiro and Pico do Ruivo, where you can throw away your rubbish.
Need to Know Before you Go
There is a camera near the parking lot at Pico do Arieiro that will show you a live image – netmadeira.com/webcams-madeira. Before setting off on a hike, check the conditions at the top and make sure the weather is okay.
Remember that conditions can change drastically, without warning. Bring a pack and warm clothes with you just in case it gets cold. Wearing appropriate shoes is a must. Besides, you will definitely need some water and some snacks. What is important is that you can go one way on the PR1 Vereda do Areeiro hike and then take a taxi back (like we did).
Take your camera with you because the views are just extraordinary and they are a photographer’s dream. Be careful when hiking and just have fun. This is one of the most incredible destinations in all of Madeira. Enjoy!