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Pico Ruivo Summit: A Complete Guide To Madeira Highest Point


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Sofie Fleck



Welcome to Pico Ruivo, the highest point on the stunning island of Madeira. Located in Portugal, this majestic summit stands at an impressive elevation of 1,861 meters (6,106 feet) and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.


Pico Ruivo is a hiker’s paradise, attracting outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers from around the world. With its challenging trails, rugged terrain, and awe-inspiring scenery, ascending Pico Ruivo is an adventure like no other.


As you embark on your journey to Pico Ruivo, you’ll be greeted by lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls, and an abundance of unique flora and fauna. The hike to the summit promises an unforgettable experience, rewarding you with sweeping views of the island’s rugged coastline and dramatic cliffs.


Whether you’re a seasoned hiker seeking an adrenaline-pumping challenge or a nature enthusiast looking to explore the beauty of Madeira, Pico Ruivo is a must-visit destination.


In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about Pico Ruivo. From how to get there and the best hiking trails to fascinating wildlife and nearby attractions, we’ll provide you with all the essential information to make your visit to Pico Ruivo a memorable one.


So, grab your hiking boots, pack your camera, and let’s embark on an unforgettable journey to the mesmerizing summit of Pico Ruivo, where adventure awaits at every turn.


Getting to Pico Ruivo

Reaching Pico Ruivo requires a bit of planning and preparation, but the incredible views and hiking experience make it all worthwhile. Here are a few options for getting to Pico Ruivo:

  1. By Car: If you have access to a car, you can drive to the base of Pico do Arieiro, which is the starting point for the hiking trails to Pico Ruivo. There is a car park available, but during peak seasons it can get crowded, so it’s advisable to arrive early.
  2. By Public Transport: If you prefer public transport, you can take a bus to Pico do Arieiro from Funchal, the capital city of Madeira. The journey takes approximately one hour and offers stunning views along the way.
  3. Guided Tours: Another option is to join a guided tour that includes transportation to Pico Ruivo. This can be a convenient choice, especially if you want the guidance and expertise of a local guide.

Once you’ve reached Pico do Arieiro, you’ll find clear signposts directing you towards Pico Ruivo. The trail is well-marked, but it’s recommended to carry a map or use a navigation app to ensure you stay on the right path.


It’s important to note that the hike to Pico Ruivo is not a leisurely stroll, but rather a moderately challenging trek. The trail consists of steep ascents, rocky terrain, and narrow pathways, so it requires a reasonable level of fitness and proper hiking gear.


It’s also essential to check the weather conditions before embarking on your hike. Madeira’s weather can be unpredictable, and fog or rain can make the trail more challenging and potentially dangerous. Be prepared and adjust your plans accordingly.


Overall, reaching Pico Ruivo is an adventure in itself, and the journey is well worth the effort. So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the stunning landscapes of Madeira, and make your way to the remarkable summit of Pico Ruivo.


Hiking Trails to Pico Ruivo Summit

Pico Ruivo offers several hiking trails that lead to its magnificent summit, each providing a unique experience and showcasing the natural beauty of the island. Here are the main trails you can choose from:

  1. Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo: This is the most popular and well-known trail, starting from Pico do Arieiro and stretching for approximately 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles). The trail takes you through stunning landscapes, rocky terrain, and narrow pathways, offering incredible views along the way. It’s a moderately challenging hike that takes about 2-3 hours to complete, depending on your pace. Be prepared for steep ascents and some sections with cables for support.
  2. Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo: This trail is less crowded compared to the Pico do Arieiro route, making it a good alternative for those seeking a quieter hiking experience. The trail starts from Achada do Teixeira and covers approximately 9 kilometers (5.6 miles). It offers diverse landscapes, including forests, mountain ridges, and panoramic viewpoints. The hike is longer and more challenging than the Pico do Arieiro trail, taking around 5-6 hours to complete.
  3. Encumeada to Pico Ruivo: This trail is a more demanding and less-traveled route, starting from Encumeada and covering approximately 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles). It’s a strenuous hike that traverses rugged terrain and involves steep ascents and descents. The trail offers breathtaking views, varied flora, and the opportunity to witness the island’s unique biodiversity. It takes about 6-7 hours to complete, making it suitable for experienced hikers.

Regardless of which trail you choose, make sure to wear appropriate hiking gear, including sturdy hiking boots, comfortable clothing, and a hat to protect you from the sun. It’s also crucial to bring enough water, snacks, a map, and a fully charged phone for navigation purposes.


Additionally, be mindful of your physical capabilities and hiking experience. While the trails are well-marked, hiking at Pico Ruivo requires a reasonable level of fitness and hiking experience due to the challenging terrain and steep ascents. Take breaks when needed and listen to your body.


Remember to respect the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles. Stay on designated paths, avoid littering, and take your trash with you. By being responsible hikers, we can help preserve the natural beauty of Pico Ruivo for future generations to enjoy.


Embark on a hiking adventure at Pico Ruivo and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of Madeira’s highest summit. Each trail offers its own unique charm, making Pico Ruivo a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


Weather and Best Time to Visit

The weather on Pico Ruivo can be quite unpredictable, so it’s essential to plan your visit accordingly. The best time to visit is during the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is generally more stable and pleasant.


In spring, from April to June, the island of Madeira is in full bloom, with colorful flowers covering the landscape. The temperatures are mild, ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), making it a comfortable time for hiking. However, it’s important to note that spring can also bring occasional showers, so be prepared with rain gear and check the weather forecast before heading out.


Autumn, from September to November, is another excellent time to visit Pico Ruivo. The summer crowds have dwindled, and the temperatures are still pleasant, ranging from 18°C to 25°C (64°F to 77°F). The weather is generally more stable during this season, offering clear skies and ideal hiking conditions.


During the summer months, from July to August, Pico Ruivo can become quite crowded with tourists. The temperatures can reach up to 30°C (86°F), making hiking more challenging and uncomfortable. Additionally, the summer months can bring occasional fog and mist, which can obstruct the breathtaking views that Pico Ruivo is known for.


Winter, from December to February, is the least favorable time to visit Pico Ruivo. The weather can be wet and cold, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). The trails can be slippery and hazardous, and the visibility may be limited due to fog and clouds.


No matter what time of year you choose to visit, it’s crucial to check the weather forecast before starting your hike. The weather can change quickly in the mountains, and fog or rain can make the trails more challenging and potentially dangerous.


Keep in mind that the weather conditions at the summit of Pico Ruivo can be different from the lower elevations. It’s advisable to dress in layers, wear sturdy footwear, and bring rain gear and sun protection to be prepared for any weather changes.


By choosing the right time to visit Pico Ruivo and being prepared for the weather conditions, you can maximize your enjoyment and have a safe and memorable hiking experience on Madeira’s highest peak.


Tips for Hiking Pico Ruivo

Hiking Pico Ruivo is a thrilling adventure, but it’s important to be well-prepared and take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to consider before setting off on your hike:

  1. Check the weather: Always check the weather forecast before starting your hike. The weather on Pico Ruivo can be unpredictable, and fog, rain, or strong winds can make the trail more challenging. Plan your hike accordingly and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  2. Start early: Begin your hike early in the morning to avoid the crowds and to allow yourself enough time to complete the trek. Starting early also gives you the opportunity to experience the sunrise and capture breathtaking photographs along the way.
  3. Wear appropriate hiking gear: Dress in layers and wear moisture-wicking clothing to stay comfortable during your hike. Wear sturdy hiking boots with good traction to navigate the rocky terrain. Don’t forget to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  4. Carry plenty of water and snacks: Hydration is crucial during your hike, so make sure to carry an ample water supply. It’s also a good idea to pack energy-boosting snacks such as nuts, fruits, and energy bars to keep your energy levels up throughout the trek.
  5. Bring a map and navigation tools: While the trails are well-marked, it’s always useful to carry a map or a navigation app to ensure you stay on the right path. Familiarize yourself with the trail beforehand and pay attention to trail signs and markers.
  6. Take breaks and pace yourself: Pico Ruivo hiking trails can be physically demanding, especially with steep ascents and rough terrain. Take breaks when needed to catch your breath and enjoy the stunning scenery. Pace yourself to avoid exhaustion and listen to your body.
  7. Respect the environment: Pico Ruivo is a protected natural area, so it’s important to respect the environment. Stay on designated paths, avoid littering, and take your trash with you. Preserve the flora and fauna, and leave nature untouched for others to enjoy.
  8. Be mindful of your safety: Safety is paramount during your hike. Be cautious of slippery surfaces, especially in wet or foggy conditions. Pay attention to trail warnings and follow safety guidelines. It’s also advisable to hike with a companion or inform someone of your hiking plans.

By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared for your adventure to Pico Ruivo. Remember to savor the journey, immerse yourself in the natural beauty, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Wildlife and Flora of Pico Ruivo

Pico Ruivo is not only a haven for hikers but also a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife and flora. As you explore the trails and ascend to the summit, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter unique species and witness the remarkable flora that thrives in this rugged landscape.


The native bird species of Pico Ruivo include the Madeira Firecrest, the Trocaz Pigeon, and the endemic Zino’s Petrel. Keep your eyes and ears open for their distinct calls and sightings along the trail. Binoculars can enhance your wildlife viewing experience, allowing you to see these magnificent creatures up close.


While birdwatching is a popular activity, Pico Ruivo is also home to a variety of fascinating insects and small mammals. Be on the lookout for colorful butterflies fluttering among the flowers, as well as the agile Madeiran Wall Lizards basking in the sun on the rocky ledges.


The flora of Pico Ruivo is equally captivating. The mountainous terrain and varying microclimates create an ideal habitat for a wide range of plant species. As you hike, you’ll be greeted by beautiful flowering plants, such as the Madeira Orchid and the Bird of Paradise flower.


The laurel forest, known as laurisilva, is a prominent feature of Madeira’s landscape and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Covered in lush greenery, the forest is home to ancient Laurel trees, ferns, and mosses. The trail to Pico Ruivo will take you through sections of this enchanting forest, allowing you to witness its primeval beauty.


Pay attention to the small details, such as the delicate Madeiran Ivy clinging to rocks, the vibrant heather plants dotting the landscape, and the aromatic scents of wild herbs. Take the time to appreciate the intricate balance of nature that exists in this unique ecosystem.


It’s crucial to remember that Pico Ruivo is a protected natural area, and it’s our responsibility to preserve its natural wonders. When enjoying the wildlife and flora, ensure you do not disturb or harm any plants or animals. Admire from a respectful distance and leave nothing but footprints behind.


Exploring the rich biodiversity of Pico Ruivo adds an extra layer of delight to your hiking experience. So, keep your senses keen, embrace the serenity of nature, and take in the wonder of the wildlife and flora that call this remarkable summit their home.


Safety Precautions

While hiking Pico Ruivo can be an exhilarating adventure, it’s important to prioritize safety. Here are some essential safety precautions to keep in mind before and during your hike:

  1. Plan and prepare: Before embarking on your hike, research the trail, check weather conditions, and ensure you have the necessary equipment. Familiarize yourself with the route and have a backup plan in case of unexpected circumstances.
  2. Stay on the trail: Stick to the designated hiking trails and avoid venturing off-course. Straying from the marked paths can lead to getting lost or endangering sensitive ecosystems. Pay attention to trail markers and signs along the way.
  3. Inform someone of your plans: Let someone know about your hiking plans, including the trail you’ll be taking and your estimated time of return. This way, if you encounter any issues or delays, someone will be aware and can seek help if needed.
  4. Hike with a companion: Whenever possible, hike with a companion. Having someone with you adds an extra layer of safety and support in case of accidents or emergencies. If hiking alone, make sure to inform someone of your plans and check in with them regularly.
  5. Take ample water and snacks: Hydration and nutrition are crucial during hikes, especially in challenging terrains. Carry enough water and energy-boosting snacks to keep yourself fueled throughout the journey. Drinking water from natural sources on the trail is not recommended.
  6. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear: Dress in layers and wear moisture-wicking clothing to stay comfortable during your hike. Wear sturdy hiking boots with good traction to navigate the uneven and rocky terrain. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  7. Be mindful of your physical abilities: Assess your fitness level and hiking experience before attempting Pico Ruivo. The trails include steep ascents, rocky sections, and challenging conditions. Pace yourself, take breaks when needed, and listen to your body.
  8. Carry a first aid kit: Pack a basic first aid kit with essential supplies such as bandages, disinfectant, pain relievers, and any necessary personal medications. It’s better to be prepared for minor injuries or discomforts that may arise during your hike.
  9. Respect the environment and wildlife: Pico Ruivo is a protected natural area, and it’s our responsibility to preserve its beauty. Respect the flora and fauna, avoid littering, and follow Leave No Trace principles. Be mindful of the fragility of the ecosystem and leave nature undisturbed.

It’s crucial to stay alert, exercise caution, and use common sense during your hike to Pico Ruivo. By taking these safety precautions, you can minimize risks and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience exploring the unparalleled beauty of Madeira’s highest summit.


Nearby Attractions and Points of Interest

While Pico Ruivo is undoubtedly the star attraction, there are several other captivating sights and points of interest in the surrounding area that are worth exploring. Here are some nearby attractions to consider during your visit:

  1. Pico do Arieiro: As the starting point for the hike to Pico Ruivo, Pico do Arieiro is worth exploring in its own right. Enjoy panoramic views of the island, visit the visitor center to learn about the geology and flora of the area, and enjoy a refreshing meal at the on-site restaurant.
  2. Ribeiro Frio: Located at the foot of the trail to Pico Ruivo, Ribeiro Frio is a picturesque village renowned for its trout farm and beautiful natural surroundings. Take a leisurely stroll along the Levada das Serras trail, which offers serene views of the lush greenery and cascading streams.
  3. Santana: A charming village known for its traditional triangular thatched-roof houses, Santana offers a glimpse into Madeira’s rural heritage. Explore the Santana Theme Park to learn about local traditions, craftsmanship, and agricultural practices.
  4. São Jorge: Situated on the north coast of Madeira, São Jorge is a quaint village known for its vineyards and traditional Madeiran wine production. Take a tour of one of the local wineries and enjoy a tasting of the island’s famous fortified wine, Madeira wine.
  5. Machico: The oldest town in Madeira, Machico is a vibrant coastal town with a fascinating history. Explore the narrow streets of the old town, visit the beautiful golden sand beach, and indulge in fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants.
  6. Cabo Girão: Just a short drive from Pico Ruivo, Cabo Girão is a breathtaking sea cliff that offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Take a glass-bottomed skywalk and experience the feeling of walking above the abyss, or simply unwind and soak in the stunning scenery.
  7. Funchal: As the capital city of Madeira, Funchal offers a myriad of attractions to explore. Visit the charming Old Town, marvel at the vibrant Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmers’ Market), and take a cable car ride to Monte for spectacular views of Funchal and the surrounding area.

These attractions and points of interest provide a well-rounded experience of Madeira’s diverse landscapes, culture, and traditions. Whether you’re interested in natural wonders, local history, or gastronomy, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the vicinity of Pico Ruivo.


Plan your itinerary accordingly to make the most of your visit and immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Madeira’s captivating surroundings.



Pico Ruivo, the highest point in Madeira, is a true gem waiting to be discovered by outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its stunning panoramic views, challenging hiking trails, and rich biodiversity, Pico Ruivo offers a memorable experience that will leave you in awe.


From the moment you set foot on the trail to Pico Ruivo, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking landscapes, unique flora and fauna, and a sense of adventure. The hike to the summit is a testament to the island’s natural beauty, with every step rewarding you with awe-inspiring views of Madeira’s rugged coastline and dramatic cliffs.


To fully enjoy your hike, it’s important to plan ahead, be prepared, and prioritize safety. Check the weather conditions, wear appropriate gear, and take essential supplies such as water and snacks. Pace yourself, be mindful of your physical abilities, and respect the environment and wildlife along the way.


While Pico Ruivo is the main attraction, the surrounding area offers additional points of interest to explore, from charming villages and historic sites to breathtaking viewpoints and coastal cliffs. Extend your adventure by visiting nearby attractions and immersing yourself in the unique culture and traditions of Madeira.


Whether you seek a thrilling hiking adventure, a connection with nature, or simply a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Pico Ruivo is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. So, embark on this incredible journey, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and let the beauty of Madeira’s highest point captivate your senses.