The Levada do Moinho to the Levada Nova hike takes you on a beautiful journey along two levadas – the Levada do Moinho and the Levada Nova. The hike leads to a lovely waterfall which you can walk behind (pro tip: you will get wet!) 

A waterfall in the middle of a canyon on the levada do moinho, Madeira.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the Levada do Moinho to the Levada Nova waterfall hike, from start to finish, showing you all my photos and describing any pitfalls you may encounter along the way.

Contents show

I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate links.

The levadas are a network of ancient irrigation channels that crisscross the lush landscapes of Madeira, offering hikers breathtaking views of forests, waterfalls, and mountains.

I walked the Levada do Moinho to the Levada Nova hike in summer 2023 on a solo trip. It’s a great walk if you are staying in Calheta, Porto Moniz or nearby.

With only 150 metres of elevation gain, this trail is quite a leisurely stroll along the levada (although there are some pitfalls to be aware of), and the highlight is undoubtedly the waterfall carved into the path. There are other waterfalls along the way, plus some obstacles and a dark tunnel to navigate too. 

Before we start, here are some quick links for your trip to Madeira:

Hiking Guide: Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova Waterfall Hike

I have split this guide into 10 sections. All photos are from my 2023 Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike.

  1. Hike details for Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova
  2. How to get there
  3. How to find the the starting point for Levada do Moinho, levada combination and difficulty
  4. The levada walk itself, with photos
  5. Tips for Hiking Madeira’s Levadas
  6. Organised tours for Levada walks in Madeira
  7. Map showing Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova
  8. Map showing 16 Levada walks in Madeira
  9. Frequently asked questions about the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike
  10. Frequently asked questions about Levada walks
  11. Where to stay in Madeira for Levada walks.

Further reading: 16 of the Best Levada Walks on Madeira Island

1. Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova Hike Details

  • Distance: The total hike distance is 9km (round trip), forming a loop trail that starts and finishes at the same spot.
  • Duration: Plan for about 3.5 hours for the 9 km round-trip, allowing time for photos and a snack stop at the waterfall.
  • Difficulty: The trail is moderately easy, with only 150 metres of incline. There are some exposed parts on the top levada (Levada Nova), and there isn’t always a path. It’s quite high at the top. There are some obstacles and a dark tunnel to navigate through.
  • Incline: 150 metres of elevation gain.
  • Starting point: CAM da Volta do Engenho 24, Ponta do Sol, Madeira. See map below.
  • Other names: You might see this trail labelled as PR7, or Levada Grande.
A view of a valley with yellow flowers and a view of the ocean from levada do moinho, Madeira

2. How to Get There

  • The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike is situated on the south coast between Calheta beach and Funchal. If you’re staying in either town, it’s a convenient hiking option.
  • The trailhead is located near a church with parking available.
  • Start: CAM da Volta do Engenho 24, Madeira. See map below.
  • Go round the back of the church to see the little stairs leading to the trail. The church is called the Igreja da Lombada.
  • There is a toilet facility nearby.
  • If driving, note that there’s parking right next to the church. 

Further Reading: 18 Great Things to do in Calheta.

3. Levada do Moinho Starting Point and Levada Combination

The Levada do Moinho hike begins just behind the Igreja da Lombada church at CAM da Volta do Engenho 24, Ponta do Sol. Look for a little alley at the back of the church, leading you to the Levada do Moinho. 

This trail is a combination of two levadas – the older Levada do Moinho, and the newer Levada Nova situated above it. You begin your journey along Levada do Moinho, eventually ascending the stairs (or gorge track) to join Levada Nova later in the trail.

While the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike is generally straightforward, expect some obstacles like rocky river crossings (dry), stepping stones, stairs, dirt paths, and cliff-side levadas without railings. While not overly dangerous, these features add a touch of technicality compared to a standard paved path.

4. The Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova Walk

In the initial kilometres, the levada do moinho hugs the cliff-edge, offering breathtaking views secured by handrails. Frequent glances backward reveal the vast ocean, while ahead unfolds an impressive valley between the mountains, with a narrow gorge carving through the cliffs.

A view of a valley with mountains and ocean in the background.

I was immediately struck by the serenity of the nature around me, the trees, the birds and the sounds of the forest. I felt totally at one with nature, and it was so peaceful.

A crucial tip: When you encounter stairs on your right, don’t go up them! Ascending these stairs means looping directly to the main waterfall. This is an option if you want a shorter route, however, if you’re up for an extra effort, skip the stairs and head down into the gorge. 

At the gorge’s end, cross the dry riverbed and loop back up to join the Levada Nova. You’ll end up at the top of the route where the stairs would have taken you, plus you get to enjoy the bonus of a beautiful waterfall in the gorge. It’s a little extra reward for those willing to venture down into the gorge.

If you’re not keen on exploring the bonus waterfall in the gorge, you can opt for the steep stairs. Although a brief climb, lasting only a few minutes, these stairs offer a quick workout. 

Upon reaching the summit of the stairs, you’re on the brink of the main attraction of the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike. This isn’t your typical levada trail. About halfway through, you’ll turn a corner to be met with a breathtaking sight – a trail carved into the cliff wall with a waterfall cascading over hikers passing underneath.

It’s an incredibly unique waterfall, making this trail popular among both locals and visitors. As you walk through the cave passage beneath the falls, expect a bit of a shower!

After this, you’ll venture into a dark tunnel. Navigating the 200-metre-long tunnel requires a headlamp or, at the very least, a robust phone light.

Be cautious as the roof is quite low, making the light essential for safety. I only had my iphone light, and to be honest I could barely see anything at all. 

This could be quite scary for the faint-hearted, because you can hear the water running next to you, but you can’t see it, and you can’t see the roof of the tunnel but you know it is very close. It is also very slippery so be sure to wear appropriate footwear! I wore trainers, but I recommend wearing proper hiking boots with some grip.

After emerging from the tunnel, you’ll continue along the cliff-side, following Levada Nova towards the ocean. Below, you can spot Levada do Moinho winding through the valley. Be aware that several sections on the new levada lack safety railings, with significant drop-offs to your right.

Exercise caution and stay attentive during this segment of the hike – again this can be quite scary for less experienced hikers.

The trail continues to wind round the mountain, sometimes with some precarious drops. This part was the best part of the trail for me. I was exhilarated having got through the tunnel ok, and the views from the top levada were absolutely stunning. There are more waterfalls and rocky crossings along the trail, and plenty of places to take a snack-stop. Beware some parts can be a bit slippery.

A hillside view from levada do moinho with white flowers and a view of the ocean.

You will meet other hikers, and it’s important to make way to let people pass. If you are on the edge, then you have ‘right of way’ as it were, and others should make room to let you pass. Where there is no railing, you will need to go single file. Sometimes I found it easier to put one hand on the cliff for balance.

As the trail concludes, it leads you a couple of blocks up from the church, bringing you back onto the village roads. Just continue walking down the road indicated, and you’ll find the church where you initially started on your right.

5. Tips for hiking the levada walks in Madeira.

Further reading: Ultimate Madeira Travel Guide.

1. Research and choose the right trail.

Start by researching the available Levada trails and their difficulty levels. Select a trail that matches your fitness and hiking experience. Some trails may be closed if there has been adverse weather.

2. Wear comfortable hiking gear.

Invest in comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes with good grip, to navigate the often uneven and occasionally slippery terrain. I wore trainers on my first hike and quickly realised they were not fit for purpose , as I was slipping around and struggled a bit with the elevated areas. 

Dress in layers, as Madeira’s weather can change quickly. Carry a waterproof jacket and sun protection, including a hat and sunscreen.

3. Pack essentials.

Carry essentials like a fully charged mobile phone, a flashlight (for tunnels on some trails), a map or GPS device, a first-aid kit, and enough water and snacks for the hike. A walking pole or hiking stick can provide stability and ease strain on your knees.

You may want to have your phone on a lanyard around your neck, as you will often need your hands. I found it a little difficult to hold my phone whilst also holding onto the rails/mountains to let people pass.

4. Inform someone of your plans.

Always let someone know your hiking plans, including the trail you’re taking and your estimated return time. You won’t always have phone reception on the trail. I usually let the hotel reception staff know what I’m doing, as well as a friend or family member.

5. Respect the environment.

It’s fairly obvious, but stay on designated paths to protect the delicate ecosystems along the levadas. Don’t disturb plants or wildlife. Dispose of rubbish properly and avoid littering.

6. Be mindful of other hikers.

Some levada trails can be narrow, so be courteous to other hikers. Yield the path to those going uphill, and use passing points if available. You may often find you need to jump up onto the concrete levada itself, in order to let people pass. When you do this, you may need at least one hand free to help sturdy yourself against the adjacent mountain or trees. Some people will walk faster than you and want to overtake; be aware of them and let them pass. 

7. Water and snacks.

Hydration is essential. Carry enough water, especially in warmer months. Refill at sources if available on the trail. Snacks like energy bars, nuts, and dried fruits can keep your energy up during the hike.

8. Check weather conditions.

Check the weather forecast before starting your hike. Avoid hiking in adverse weather conditions or during heavy rain. Some walking trails will be closed in adverse weather, or some sections will be closed and there will be a detour.

9. Take your time.

Enjoy the journey and take your time to soak in the breathtaking scenery. Stop for photos and rest often. I usually spend way longer than anticipated just taking it all in (and taking photos). You really have to immerse yourself in the views in order to fully appreciate them!

10. Stay safe in tunnels. 

Some Madeira levada trails include tunnels. Use a flashlight to navigate through them safely. Be cautious of slippery surfaces. I just use my phone torch – but admittedly it is not very bright and you would be better off with a proper torch. In any case, move very slowly through tunnels, the surfaces will be slippery and you can’t really see the ground.

The inside of a tunnel with a light shining through it.
Tunnel on levada Nova.

11. Know your limits. 

If a trail becomes too challenging or conditions change unexpectedly, don’t hesitate to turn back. Safety should always be a priority. Some trails also have exit points and various stages of the trail – these are signposted. You can ask other hikers if you are unsure.

12. Local guidance. 

Consider hiring a local guide, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. They can enhance your experience and provide valuable insights. There are lots of small group tours and private tours available. 

13. Plan your transportation.

Arrange transportation to and from the trailhead in advance, as some levada hikes may not loop back to the starting point. I use the local taxis, which you can book via an app.

14. Enjoy the silence.

Embrace the tranquillity of the levadas. Listen to the sounds of nature, from the rushing water to bird songs. Being from a city, I always find this a difficult thing to get used to. But once you adapt, it truly is magical. 

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a safe and unforgettable levada adventure.

6. Organised tours and levada walks in Madeira.

Below are some of the top-rated tours in Madeira, from my preferred tour operator Viator (I also use Get Your Guide as well, but Viator is my go-to).

  1. Local walks with Dino: a 5 star rated personal guide who runs a schedule of levada walks (see the link for details). Totally personalised to your preference and includes hotel drop off and pick up.
  2. Rabaçal / Risco / 25 Fountains Full-day walk: small group tours with a local, includes round-trip transport from some areas of Madeira.
  3. Caldeirão Verde Levadas Walk: A walking tour of Levada do Caldeirão Verde with a local guide.
  4. Full-Day Rabaçal Levada Walk from Funchal: 8 hour small group hike with a badge of excellence.
  5. Paradise Valley – Levada Walk: half-day walking tour from Funchal following the Levada da Serra do Faial.
  6. Levada Walk from Ribeiro Frio to Portela: 8-hour hike from Ribeiro Frio to Portela. Departing from Funchal, limited to 15 people per trip.
  7. Rabaçal 25 Fontes Levada Walk in Small Groups: Hike through to the centre of the forest to get a close-up look at the dramatic 25 Fontes and Risco waterfalls. Badge of excellence.
  8. Madeira Levada Walk – Caldeirao Verde: 5-hour hiking tour of the UNESCO-listed Queimadas Forest Park from Funchal. Also stops at the famous thatched houses in Santana.

These are just some of the tours available! See all levada walking tours on Viator.

7. Map showing Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova.

The Google map below shows the starting point of the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova walk.

8. Map showing 16 Levada Walks in Madeira.

The Google map below shows the starting points of all of the levada walks in Madeira as listed in my 16 levada walks post. Click the blue icons to see more information about each place, or click the star to add to your own Google Maps.

9. Frequestly asked questions about the Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike.

Q: What is the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike?

A: The Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike is a scenic trail in Madeira, Portugal, renowned for its stunning waterfall and unique landscapes.

Q: How long is the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova hike?

A: The total distance of the hike is approximately 9 kilometres round-trip.

Q: How difficult is the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike?

A: The hike is considered moderate in difficulty, with only 150 metres of incline. However, there are some technical sections along the trail that require attention.

Q: What can I expect to see along the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike?

A: Along the hike, you’ll encounter beautiful cliff-edge views, a narrow gorge, river crossings, and of course, the impressive Levada Nova waterfall.

Q: Are there any safety precautions to consider on the hike?

A: Yes, some sections of the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova trail lack safety railings, and there are steep drop-offs, so hikers should remain cautious and attentive.

Q: Is there a tunnel on the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova hike?

A: Yes, on the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike there is a 200-metre-long tunnel that hikers will need a headlamp or strong phone light to navigate through safely.

Q: Can I explore the waterfall up close?

A: Yes, the trail takes you right underneath the waterfall, allowing you to experience its beauty up close.

Q: Are there any alternative routes or bonus attractions along the hike?

A: Yes, there is an option to explore an additional waterfall in the gorge by bypassing the stairs. This provides a bonus attraction for those willing to venture down into the gorge.

Q: How do I access the Levada Moinho trailhead?

A: The trail begins behind the Igreja da Lombada church in the designated village area, and parking is available nearby.

Q: Is the Levada Moinho to Levada Nova waterfall hike suitable for beginners?

A: While the hike is manageable for most hikers, it’s recommended to have some hiking experience due to the technical sections and potential hazards along the trail.

10. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about general levada walks in Madeira.

Q: What are levada walks in Madeira?

A: Levada walks in Madeira are hiking trails that follow the ancient irrigation channels known as “levadas.” These trails provide hiking routes which allow you to explore the island’s breathtaking landscapes, including lush forests, waterfalls, and mountain vistas.

Q: Are levada walks suitable for all fitness levels?

A: Many Madeira levada walks are suitable for various fitness levels, with options ranging from easy, leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes. It’s essential to research each trail’s difficulty level and choose one that matches your fitness and hiking experience.

Q: Do I need any special equipment for levada walks?

A: Basic hiking gear such as comfortable walking shoes, water, sun protection, and weather-appropriate clothing is essential for your Madeira walk. In some cases, you might need a flashlight for tunnels on certain trails. Always check specific trail requirements before setting out.

Q: Can I do levada walks independently, or should I hire a guide?

A: You can do many levada walks independently, especially if you’re an experienced hiker and/or familiar with the trails. However, hiring a local guide can enhance your experience by providing insights into the region’s history, flora, and fauna while ensuring your safety.

Q: Is there an ideal time to go hiking on levada trails?

A: Madeira’s mild climate makes levada walks possible throughout the year. However, spring and autumn are often considered the best times due to pleasant weather and vibrant vegetation. Summer can be warmer, and some trails may be crowded.

Further reading: The Best Time to visit Madeira Island, Portugal.

Q: Are there any safety precautions I should take when hiking levadas?

A: Always inform someone of your hiking plans and estimated return time. Be cautious on narrow trails, especially when passing other hikers. Pay attention to trail markers, stay hydrated, and avoid venturing off the marked paths. In wet conditions, trails can become slippery, so wear appropriate footwear.

Q: Do I need a permit or pay fees to access levada walks?

A: Most levada walks are freely accessible to the public, and no permits are required. However, some Levada trails may have entrance fees or parking charges at specific access points. Check in advance for any fees associated with the particular hike you plan to undertake.

Q: What should I do if I encounter adverse weather while on a levada walk?

A: In case of unexpected rain or adverse weather conditions, prioritise your safety. Seek shelter if available, and wait for conditions to improve. If necessary, turn back and return to your starting point. Always check the weather forecast before embarking on a hike. You will always encounter wet and slippery conditions where there are waterfalls, regardless of weather.

Q: Are there any cultural or environmental guidelines I should follow during levada walks?

A: Respect the natural environment by not littering and refraining from picking plants or disturbing wildlife. Stay on marked trails to preserve the delicate ecosystems. If you encounter farmers or locals along the way, be courteous and ask for permission if taking photographs.

Q: Where can I find more information about levada walks in Madeira?

A: For up-to-date information on specific levada walks, trail conditions, and maps, contact local tourist offices, visit official tourism websites, or seek advice from experienced hikers and guides. These sources will provide you with valuable insights and resources for planning your Levada adventures in Madeira.

Q: Are there any age restrictions for levada walks in Madeira?

A: There are generally no specific age restrictions for Levada walks, but the suitability of a trail can vary. Families with children should choose easier, family-friendly routes, while more challenging trails may be better suited for adults and older children with hiking experience. Always consider the physical abilities of your group when selecting a trail.

Q: Can I swim in the levadas or waterfalls along the trails?

A: Swimming in the levadas or waterfalls along the trails is generally discouraged. Definitely don’t get in the levadas themselves – these waterways serve as essential sources of irrigation and water supply for the island. Some of the waterfalls have pools which you can swim in – check for signs before you take a dip.

Further reading: Ultimate Madeira Travel Guide.

Q: Are there restroom facilities along the levada walks?

A: Not really. Restroom facilities along the Levada walks are limited. Some starting points or popular trailheads may have basic facilities, but once on the trail, restroom options become scarce. Plan accordingly by using facilities before you begin your hike and be prepared for the lack of restroom stops during your adventure.

Q: Can I bring my dog on levada walks?

A: Bringing dogs on levada walks is generally allowed, but it’s essential to keep them on a lead to protect wildlife and prevent them from wandering off the trail. Ensure your dog is well-behaved and comfortable with the terrain, as some trails may involve narrow paths, tunnels, or steep sections that could be challenging for pets.

Further reading: 25 Unique & Amazing Things to do on Madeira Island.

11. Where to stay in Madeira for levada walks

Porto Santo, Santana, Calheta and Prazeres are all good places to stay for Madeira hikes and levada walks. Bear in mind most levadas are at least 600m in altitude and you will need some form of transportation to get to the starting points. It is easy to use taxis if you don’t have a car. Public transport is less reliable.

For where to stay in Madeira in general, you may be interested in the following posts:

Accommodation in Madeira

Here is a map from showing hotels by location. You can zoom in, zoom out, drag and move the map. If you click the map, it will take you to where you can look more closely at your options.

I recommend reserving your room immediately to get the best price. It’s usually free to reserve, and you can always cancel later on. See the main Madeira page from

Booking links

Here are your booking links again, all in one place. These links will get you the best prices on today:

Hotels in Funchal | Hotels in Calheta | Hotels in São Vicente | Hotels in Porto Moniz | Hotels in Machico | Hotels in Santana | Hotels in Ponta do Sol | Hotels in Câmara de Lobos | Hotels in Ribeira Brava | Hotels in Ponta Delgada | All hotels in Madeira.

Further reading: The 14 Best Hotels in Madeira, Portugal.

Pinterest pin – Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova Walk

If you have enjoyed reading this guide to levada walks in Madeira, or found it useful, please use the below images to pin this article to your Pinterest boards.

Found this post helpful? Buy Me a Coffee!

You are reading Hazel’s Travels – an online publication and travel blog which aims to provide advice and inspiration for travel in Europe, the UK and USA.

TripAdvisor Tags: , , , ,