/ Walking on Maderia, is a car needed
I have been advised that a car can be handy for getting to the starts of walks on Maderia. However I have also been told that the roads are pretty bad and that driving on Maderia is no fun. But I have also been advised that the roads have been much improved recently.
Been told a lot, haven't
I am pretty confident driving abroad, but has anyone been to Maderia in the last year or so and can they comment on the roads, also is a car vital or could I manage with public transport. I am particularly keen to do PR1 Pico do Arieiro (1818 m) to Pico Ruivo (1862 m), and some levadas.
The roads are pretty good, and there is a good bus service, (reasonable cost) and plenty of taxis, (expensive). But it all depends on exactly which walks you want to do; sone are very well served, others would be impossible/very costly to access without a car. The Cicerone guide is very good on which walks can/can’t be reached easily.
The roads are very good with a major road running around the island, the bus service is very good but doesn't go to the two Pico's you want.
We used the Paddy Dillon book very good but beware some of the levadas in it are closed and really are death traps when wet
Wife and I used tour buses to do the Picos walk and a 'sky to sea' walk which took in Pico Ruivo, a levada, and an old royal path down to the coast. Not desperately expensive, able to ignore the guides and go at our own pace. This was 2 years ago, we had heard the roads were bad but they are definitely not, and the main road is brilliant. The oldest levada is interesting but is gated off where it gets too dangerous. Easy to pass the gate, if you are prepared to hang over the big drop... open street maps indicate where this happens. The twin routes between the Picos (tunnels one side, exposed path the other) had been amalgamated due to rockfalls, I suspect the original route will not be restored as they have spent a lot of time and money fitting metal steps/ladders to make a new section passable at a lower level. Still well worth doing.
Thanks everyone for the replies, very helpful
Just my opinion but a car would be super helpful, If you are outside of the capital its arguably essential.
The roads themselves are great imo, the main one linking the country is a well made A road sized one.
Ones that cut into the center are not bad, just can be tight or very steep. We hired an automatic 0.9L and we drove all over, including to the peak of the country (into fog/mist ) Perhaps manual might be a pain in the ass for that lower engine size..
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