Levada do Moinho is a gorgeous waterfall hike on Madeira – but it’s more than that! This stunning loop track takes you on two different levadas where you hike up a gorge, through tunnels, and even under a double waterfall!

If you’re looking to get away from some of the more touristy and popular hikes on the island and escape into Madeira’s beauty, Moinho is a perfect hike for that.

We’ve recently noticed how busy some of the main PR hikes like Levada 25 Fontes, Pico Ruivo, and Caldeirao Verde have been getting. And while Levada do Moinho definitely isn’t a hidden gem, it’s a lot less touristy than some of the other ones!

Our goal is to share other amazing hikes in Madeira like this one that may be slightly less touristy but equally beautiful so you can plan a part of your trip away from the crowds!

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Everything you need to know for Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova

Levada do Moinho is a relatively flat levada walk without a whole lot of elevation. It’s a great hike if you’re looking to get away from the crowds on the main hikes in Madeira.

Personally, after spending some time on the island I would say Levada do Moinho is a great alternative to some of the busier hikes as mass tourism has really made some of the more popular hikes packed with people (especially in the mornings and during peak season).

Or maybe you’re just looking for new inspiration for hikes to do or to find some more waterfalls in Madeira – then this is a great one to add to the list!

Unlike most levada walks, this hike is done as a loop trail where you get a chance to walk along not one but two different levadas (hence the name: Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova).

On the first half you’ll make your way into the gorge on Levada Moinho and on the way back you’ll make your way out of the gorge on Levada Nova.

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Practical information about hiking the Vereda do Larano trail

Official name: Levada do Moinho – Levada Nova
Distance: 9.2 km return / 5.59 miles return
Elevation: Roughly 155 m / 508 ft. elevation gain
Type: Loop trail  
Length: 3-3.5 hours total (includes time to enjoy the waterfalls)
Difficulty: Moderate (easy trail without a whole lot of elevation)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to see a map of the beginning of the Levada do Moinho Trail.

Here’s a picture of the beginning of Levada do Moinho

Hiking Tip: Look up the trail on AllTrails before starting your hike 🗺️. You can find important trail information such as recent wildlife sights and trail closures. Check out the free version here or get a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+ here.

Starting Levada Moinho at Lombada Church

The Igreja da Lombada up above Ponta do Sol is the starting point for this loop trail. We actually parked a little below the Lombada Church on one of the local roads as we found a good spot right away.

The Lombada Church does have a small parking area next to it so you can always try the parking lot first. If that one is full, you can park where we did which is here.

If you park where we did you’ll have a steep little warm-up to the church where you’ll also find a little container cafe. Great if you need a little coffee before or after the hike. There’s also a bathroom here.

We went to the cafe after the hike and it was nice to sit in the sun next to the church after a few hours of walking! There are also other cafes and snack bars in the area too if you’re looking for something different.

Once you’ve parked, maybe had a cup of coffee, and taken in the views from the church, then the actual trails start right behind the church and you’ll see some signs saying “Levada do Moinho”.

You can always look back on the trail map for Levada do Moinho here as well

Walking along the Levada do Moinho

Similar to a lot of the levada walks around Madeira this hike doesn’t have a whole lot of incline (levadas rarely exceed a 2% incline) which is really nice.

You get to cover a lot of ground without too much of a challenge. The biggest thing on Levada do Moinho is the heights which you’ll get a feel for early on on this hike. There will be some steep drops next to the trail. Most of it is fenced but not the entire section so do be mindful of that.

Luckily the trail is really easy to walk on and is relatively wide at the beginning of the hike and then gets a bit more narrow as you go along. It will be a nice way to ease into the hike if you’re scared of heights.

Since 90% of this hike is along the cliff edge you get some incredible non-obstructed views for the majority of the hike which is amazing. We love the views of the gorge, the terraces, and all the beautiful farmland in the area.

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Continue along Levada Moinho further into the gorge

After a long and flat stretch of levada, you’ll start to ascend a bit. It’s not a lot of ascent but you will start to feel like you’re on a bit of a “hike” instead of a walk as you get further into the gorge.

There aren’t too many spots to take a break and enjoy a snack on this section of the trail but you will see one as you get into more forest terrain where there’s a little opening in the sun and some big rocks. This is a good spot to take a break if you need it.

If not, there will be an even better break spot further on! This stretch of Levada do Moinho is mostly about just enjoying the views and breathing in the fresh Madeiran air.

From Levada do Moinho to Levada Nova

You’re slowly getting closer to the Nova Moinho Waterfall which is the main attraction on this hike. Before you go there though, you’ll have to cross a little stream of water to connect to Levada Nova. You will pass a staircase on your right-hand side but do not take it as you’ll miss one of the waterfalls.

Instead, you’ll want to cross the little stream and head further into the gorge. This is also where you will find the best spot to take a break. There are a bunch of picnic tables, a place where you can fill up your water bottle, and a bit further up, there are some spots where you can sit and enjoy the sun.

This is probably the only confusing part of the whole hike so we’ll just say it again: Instead of climbing up the staircase which seems like the obvious thing to do, you can cross the little river/stream and connect to Levada Nova that way.

The reason for that is because this is where you will find another waterfall across the stream! It’s also the perfect place to take a break, fill up your water bottle, and have lunch.

You’ll find a picnic table literally right in front of the waterfall and it’s a stunning view to just chill and enjoy the view before you continue along Levada Nova. There’s also a gravel road that cars can drive up so you might even see some locals coming up to have a BBQ in the area.

Continue along Levada Nova towards the waterfall

After a quick lunch break with a view of the waterfall, you can continue up the gravel road for a few minutes and then you can cross the dam to the Levada Nova section of the hike.

This is the turning point of the hike as you leave Levada do Moinho and start walking back in the direction of Ponta do Sol on Levada Nova instead. 

These two levadas are quite similar as they are both on cliffs-edge but the main differences are that Levada Nova is never and more sturdy, located higher up, and there also aren’t many railings (so be careful and pay attention to where you walk. If you take pictures, always stop before you do!).

If you’re scared of heights I would give this section a go and hike just to the Nova Moinho Waterfall (around 10 minutes) and then reevaluate if you want to continue along the loop or hike back and then go down the staircase and take Levada do Moinho back.

We assessed the situation and thought maybe we’d turn around after the waterfall but once we got going, we felt safe enough on the trail to continue on Levada Nova. It is your call to do what you feel comfortable with.

The good bit is that the waterfall is really only after a few 100 meters on the Levada Nova stretch so you don’t have to walk too far on it to find the main attraction!

Going to this waterfall is 100% worth it and you’ll see why once you get to the waterfall. We thought it was so cool that you can hike under it – and the trail makes this nice “U shape” where you can get some awesome photos.

Once you’ve taken it all in and gotten some good photos, you can continue on Levada Nova (or head back to Levada do Moinho) and enjoy the rest of the hike.

📍 Want to know about all the best spots in Madeira?
Then check out our Madeira Maps with +135 locations around the island that we have personally visited and love! 🗺️

Through the tunnel and back to Lombada Church

If you don’t mind the heights and want to complete this loop trail then you can continue through the tunnel after the Nova Moinho Waterfall. One thing we always thought was so cool about hiking on levadas in Madeira is that you’ll most likely walk through at least one tunnel on your hike!

It’s safe to say this is actually one of the longer tunnels we hiked through besides the 800-meter-long tunnel on the Levada 25 Fontes hikeMake sure you have your phone or a head torch with you as it gets very dark in the tunnel and it can be hard to see without any light. Also, watch your head.

Once you’re out of the tunnel though the landscape opens up completely and you’ll see the terraces and the beautiful Madeiran landscape again.

As we mentioned earlier, the Levada Nova section of the hike is quite similar to the first section – the only difference is that you’re higher up and there aren’t really any railings to help with safety. This means it’s best to do this hike on a sunny day with low wind! You’ll feel a lot safer and it will be more enjoyable doing it this way.

The remaining part of the Levada Nova section is also relatively flat where you’ll just be walking along the cliff edge until you get back to the road where the hike ends. 

Back down to Lombada Church 

Once you’ve “completed” the hike there’s still one little last stretch of descent to get you back to Lombada Church. You’ll be walking on the road for this stretch which has a staircase that leads you down all the way to the church.

Once you’re at the church you have officially completed the hike! Now it’s time to relax, maybe enjoy a coffee or a snack, and smack your legs up for a bit.

Hiking along two different levadas, seeing the Nova Moinho Waterfall, and walking through a tunnel – it’s safe to say it’s a pretty awesome levada walk on the island! Being able to finish at a little cafe or snack bar at the end is just the cherry on top.

What to bring on the Levada do Moinho hike

Even though it’s an easy to moderate hike by our standards (moderate mostly because of the height) we would still come prepared with snacks and water to be out for 3-4 hours. Especially since you’re exposed to the sun for a good chunk of this hike it’s important to bring enough water.

The same thing goes for your footwear. It’s quite an easy trail but because of the steep drops, wearing proper outdoor shoes makes you more prepared. There were also a few sections that were a little muddy and that little stream you cross, so waterproof shoes are ideal!

Packing list for Levada do Moinho:

  • Water! We always fill up our LifeStraw bottles before going on a hike and on this one, we also filled it up at the first waterfall by the tap that we mentioned. We suggest bringing at least 1.5 litres for this hike so you have enough – especially during the summer months. 
  • Sunscreen!! There have been multiple occasions while we’ve been hiking in Madeira and the UV index has been really high (even during off-season). Like we said, on this hike you’re very exposed to the sun so make sure you come prepared!
  • A power bank is good to bring – especially if you plan to take lots of pictures and videos or if you want to go on some of the side trails. Plus you want to make sure you have some battery on your phone to light when you hike through the tunnel.
  • Hiking poles also come in handy. This hike is relatively flat but it’s still nice to have that support. Especially if you’re a little scared of heights, the poles make a big difference!
  • Some snacks to enjoy at the first waterfall.

The best affordable camera for beginners

The Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera

If you’re looking for the best and most affordable camera for beginners, check out the Sony Alpha a6000 Camera.

This is the camera we’ve been using for years and still use to this day.

It’s perfect for travelling and super easy to use – even if you’re a beginner.

Before you hike Levada do Moinho

Check the weather near Ponta do Sol

Madeira is the island of micro-climates and wherever you go you’ll find all sorts of different climates (some say there are 9, some say 36 – the conclusion is that there are a lot). From an outdoor lover’s perspective, it’s awesome because you’ll almost always find a sunny area on the island. 

You can see the weather forecast for Ponta do Sol here. It might not be 100% accurate since the hike starts a few hundred meters above Ponta do Sol but it will give you a good idea of what the weather will be like!

If the weather calls for rain (or if it’s been raining a lot lately), you might want to consider doing another hike instead.

Also read: The Best Hikes in Madeira 🥾

Wear hiking shoes

We always recommend wearing hiking shoes or trail shoes in Madeira – even if you’re just going on one of the levada walks.

Even though it’s not a very challenging trail there are sections (especially after rainfall) that can get covered in mud – and there are a few sections that can get slippery. Waterproof and good hiking shoes are definitely recommended!

If you don’t have hiking shoes then at least trail runners will be good for this hike. If you’re looking for a recommendation, Jo uses the Newton Ridge waterproof hiking boots from Columbia and she loves them!

Leave no trace

When you go hiking (and do other outdoor adventure activities), always remember to follow the 7 principles of leaving no trace.

This means:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare.
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  3. Dispose of waste properly.
  4. Leave what you find.
  5. Minimize campfire impacts.
  6. Respect wildlife.
  7. Be considerate of others.

Renting a car in Madeira

Dom and our rental car 10 minutes from the trailhead

For this specific hike, it’s best to have a car so you can get to Lombada Church. There are some hikes around the island where you don’t actually need a car to get to if you’re staying in Funchal but this is one of the ones where a car is needed.

We’ve had multiple car hires here in Madeira. The convenience of having a car and being able to go to more off-the-beaten-path hikes like this one is great.

The car we booked was through DiscoverCars and we picked it up right in downtown Funchal. DiscoverCars works like a search engine that compares all the different cars from different rental companies and shows you the best price.

We’ve used them multiple times across different countries and continents and they’ve always been great! A little tip for you is that the longer ahead you book your car, the more likely you are to find a good deal.

You can find and hire your rental car for Madeira here.

Picture of a car rental from Madeira Airport in Portugal.

Also read: Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Madeira

When is the best time to explore Levada do Moinho?

Since Madeira is a relatively small island it’s nice to look at the microclimates and go when the weather is good near Ponta do Sol (which is most days as Ponta do Sol is one of the sunniest parts of the island – hence the name).

One of the best things you can do is sort of plan it last minute and wait for nice weather otherwise you can do one of the other awesome hikes around the island. 

Since the Levada Nova section doesn’t have railings or anything you don’t want to be up on that cliff-edge when the weather is bad or it’s quite windy outside. 

How to get to the Levada do Moinho trailhead

If you’re coming from Funchal you’ll head west like you’re going towards Ponta do Sol. The hike itself starts just above Ponta do Sol right next to the Church of Lombada. 

It takes just over half an hour to get from Funchal to the trailhead. You can find the directions from Funchal to Levada do Moinho trailhead here.

Where to stay in Madeira?

There is a ton of good accommodation around Madeira! We personally like to stay in Funchal as we usually spend a few months in Madeira every time we go.

Here are three great places to stay in Funchal:

Staying in Funchal is convenient as a digital nomad but there are plenty of alternatives if you prefer staying away from the crowds and if you have a car (it can be hard to find parking in Funchal). For example, you can stay at one of these hotels in Santana or check out some of the best all-inclusive resorts!

You can also browse other places of accommodation on this map:

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Recap of hiking Levado do Moinho

Now you know exactly how to hike Levada do Moinho to the Nova Moinho Waterfall. That’s just the highlight of this loop trail but there’s so much to see along the way. One of the best parts is the first waterfall where you can enjoy a nice snack on the bench with an awesome view of the falls.

Again, we love that this hike is a bit less touristy compared to some of the other popular hikes around Madeira. Now that we’ve spent over 6 months on the island, we always try to do less popular trails.

Generally speaking, it’s good to spread out hikers and outdoor lovers to different parts of the island and not only the main hikes. From a sustainable view (read our sustainable guide to visiting Madeira here) and also from our personal point of view since we’d much rather do a hike with fewer people around.

We hope you have an awesome time on both Levada do Moinho and Levada Nova!

If you have any questions then feel free to DM us on Instagram or leave a comment below. We love answering any questions about Madeira and helping wherever we can. Enjoy this awesome hike!

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