Madeira PR 8 Ponta de São Lourenço Hike – The Complete Guide

Madeira has so many amazing hikes and one of the most popular hikes in Madeira is the PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço trail. I had seen the crazy cliffs on Madeira so this hike was on the top of our list when we visited Madeira for a week.

São Laurenço Point is located on the most eastern side of Madeira island and I think it is one of the most postcard perfect spot in Madeira. Besides the hike, there are nice viewpoints there for those who don’t want to hike.

But you are here to learn more about the PR8 Trail! In this article I will tell you everything you need to know, such as where PR8 trailhead is, how to get there, how difficult the hike is, and detailed step by step view of what to expect on the Madeira PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço trail.

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How to Get to Ponta de São Lourenço From Funchal?

There are many ways to get to PR8 hike even if you don’t drive. Below are the best ways to get to Ponta de São Lourenço:

Situated on the eastern part of Madeira, Ponta de São Lourenço is easy to get to with a car. The easiest way to get to Ponta de São Lourenço is to drive from Funchal. We drove about 50 minutes from Funchal in the direction of the airport (and goes past the airport). We rented a car in Madeira and drove all around the island, and found this to be a pretty easy drive overall!

If you don’t have a car, you can take a bus from Funchal to São Lourenço point. Bus SAM 113 takes you from Edificio 2000 near the mall ‘La Vie’ in Funchal to Baia D’Abra, the final stop.The bus ride from Funchal to São Lourenço takes about an hour and 20 minutes and you can see the time table.

There are a couple of new transfer options and tours that I linked above. If you don’t want to drive and don’t want to ride a public bus, these tours are your best options!

Read Next: Hiking PR1 Pico do Arieiro in Madeira

Madeira PR8 São Lourenço Trail Overview

  • Length of PR8 hike: 8km round trip (not including the steep stairs at the end)
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate with steep climb at the end

The PR8 trail starts in a large parking lot in the Madeira Natural Park. The trail has some ups and downs and wraps around the peninsula with amazing cliff view and ocean view. The trail continues with the option to stop by a cafe and a beach before the final steep climb up a series of stairs for the ultimate view of the islets.

You should be aware of strong wind on this hike as the hike is mostly exposed and the wind from the sea can be very strong.


Caution: Strong Wind at Ponta de São Lourenço

I was really worried about the strong wind on PR 8 hike when I was researching what to do in Madeira. All the reviews said the wind was pretty strong during the PR8 hike and some people said they got blown off the path.

I went to São Lourenço area twice, once was to a viewpoint (Miradouro Ponta do Rosto) for photos around sunset and the second time was to hike PR8. It was indeed windy, but it wasn’t to the point that I would be pushed off the hiking trail.

I would say the wind was probably about 20-25mph at most. While that seems pretty windy to most people, it’s actually not too terrible compare to places like Patagonia and New Zealand where I was literally getting knocked down to the ground.

You will feel wind most of the hike but the really windy part on Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço only lasts for about 10-15 minutes. The rest of the hike was bearable but remember that I have only been there twice so maybe it can get really windy but I just didn’t experience it.

Best Time to Hike Madeira PR8 São Lourenço

Due to its popularity and the ease of access, PR 8 trail is often very crowded so the best time to visit is either early morning or late afternoon.

There is one large parking lot at the PR8 trailhead and during the day the parking lot gets full and hikers have to park along the road. It’s best to avoid the crowd and either arrive before 10am or arrive after 3pm.

I personally got to São Lourenço at 3:30pm and there were many empty spaces as most people were leaving. This also meant we were able to have most of the trail to ourselves without overcrowding.

Our Experience Hiking Madeira PR 8 – Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço Trail

I will show you exactly what to expect on this Madeira PR8 hike based on our personal experience. You may have a completely different experience depending on weather, time of the day, and season, but hopefully this will give you a good understanding of what to expect on the PR8 trail.

We started our São Lourenço hike near the parking lot. We had snacks with us, but if you don’t, this is the time to get some. This depends on the time of the day, but when we were there, we saw a cart selling ice cream and water and chips. Even in the parking lot we could already feel the strong wind.

At the start of the hike we walked on a series of paved steps going down hill for about 5 minutes until we reached the wood boarded bridge followed by wooden steps uphill.

Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenco trail head
Paved steps going down
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenco trail head
Wooden bridge and steps going back up

Eventually the wooden steps became a dirt path, followed by some stone steps going downhill until we reached the other side of the hill. Note that this hike basically just loops around the end of a peninsula.

Hiking Madeira PR8 Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenco PR8

After about 10-15 minutes from the trailhead we came to a viewpoint where we could see the famous rock at São Lourenco.

This viewpoint was extremely windy and most people don’t stay for more than a few minutes, but it’s one of the best views of the cliffs on this hike so be sure to not miss it. I had to wait for my friends who decided to take photos at this viewpoint for 20 minutes. And let me tell you I had to hide behind a rock to shield myself from the wind!

After the viewpoint we continued walking uphill on the PR8 trail. This part of the hike can get really windy because it’s open and exposed but the trail is wide and safe. The good thing is the really windy portion only lasted for a bit (10-15 minutes-ish) for us. Once we hit the narrow path with wired bars the wind disappeared.

Madiera PR8 - 
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenco trail
Going Uphill After the Viewpoint
Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenco
The hike wraps around the hill

The hike continued by wrapping around the hill with some ups and downs. I thought it would be really windy but surprisingly this part of the hike wasn’t.

PR8 Madeira Trail

Sao Lourenco Trail view
View along the hike
Hiking in Madeira: PR 8 along the cliff

We eventually came to a viewpoint and it was a good spot to take a break. It’s an open space to see the ocean and you can look back at the hike you’ve just done and even see the parking lot. Honestly the hike didn’t even feel that long but looking back made me realize we’ve come a long way.

PR 8 Hike in Madeira view
Looking back what you’ve hiked

After taking a quick break (and photo), we continued along the dirt/ rocky path. This part of the hike had no railing but we don’t really need it. I’m usually a big fan of railings since I’m always afraid of rolling down a hill, but this hike felt pretty safe!

Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenco trail
Continuing on with the hike
Vereda de Sao Lourenco PR8 hike

Hiking in Madeira Ponta de Sao lourenco view point half way

We continued walking until we started climbing stone steps that lead to a straight path as well as another nice view of the landscape. If you were like me, you might be a little tired at this point and to be honest we actually thought about turning back since we thought this view was already nice enough.

In fact I actually thought this was the famous view (but after verifying with Google I realized we weren’t there yet!)

Hiking PR8 trail in Madeira
Nice view. Do you see the hill at the end? You have to climb that!

You can stop now or keep going to the end. One reason we wanted to turn back is because the end still looked far away. The trail from here to the steep stairs at the end looked rather boring (in fact it really was boring). But honestly speaking I’m glad we kept going because the view at the end is stunning.

Madeira Hiking - PR 8 hike flat trail
Continuing with the hike…
Madeira PR8 Hike Vereda-do-Sao-Lourenco-hike sign with view of the last hill

As we continued the PR8 hike, the trail eventually became flat and we saw a cafe and the final big hill behind the coffee shop that we had to climb up.

PR 8 sao lourenco hike
The most boring part of the hike…

The path sort of became two and we could choose which one we wanted to walk on. Both paths will pass by the coffee shop but one of the paths on the east side actually goes down to the beach.

There are boat tours at the beach according to some reviews but since we didn’t go down there we didn’t see the boats. But people say the boat ride is pretty nice!

I personally didn’t hike down to the beach because it was already later during the day and we had done another hike earlier that day so we were already tired.

Both trails end up going to the steep stairs so it doesn’t really matter what you choose to take.

Once we came to the bottom of the stairs there was a sign that said the official PR 8 hike ends here. The stairs are not blocked off and most people do hike up the steps for the view so I’m not sure why it says it’s not part of the official PR8 trail. And if you make it this far, you simply have to hike up the stairs till the end.

Depending on how fit you are, most people don’t take more than 20 minutes going up these steps.

The steps at the bottom half of the steep climb had wooden boards stapled into the ground so they are pretty easy to walk on. But as we went up more, the steps became less clear and they looked more like steps formed by stones/dirt rather than an actual stair.

We needed to take bigger steps here and occasionally held onto the railing to help ourselves get up. I actually didn’t have trouble going up but coming down was a bit tricky during that section.

Once you conquer the steps you will come to the Sao Lourenco Point with that postcard perfect view of the islets! Be careful not to walk too close to the edge since this area is super windy. There was railing at the end but not on the side and even the railing fell down on the ground (probably due to the strong wind) so there really is no railing.

Ponta de São Lourenco
That postcard perfect view

It took us about 2.5 hours to go one way on Ponta de Sao Lourenco but partially because we took a lot of photos. Coming back down the PR8 trail without stopping only took us 1 hour and 15 minutes so I guess the hike is so-able in 3 hours round trip without stopping including the stairs.

Bathrooms on the PR 8 Trail at São Lourenço

There is only one bathroom on the entire PR8 Hike and it’s at the cafe near the end. That bathroom costs 1 EURO and is only open when the cafe is open. When we were there around 6:30pm the place was already closed. There’s no other bathrooms along the way or at the trailhead unfortunately.

How Difficult is PR8 São Lourenço Hike?

I personally found the PR8 Sao Lourenco hike to be relatively easy except the steep stairs at the end. But I also hike a lot so most hikes on Madeira are not very difficult for me.

There are mixed reviews from other people; some people thought the hike was not that easy because there were a bit of ups and downs whereas others thought it was easy/ moderate.

What makes the São Lourenço hike challenging is really the windy condition and being exposed to the sun with absolutely no shades the entire hike.

In my opinion, if you are relatively fit, you should have no problem with the Ponta de Sao Lourenco hike. You also don’t need to hike all the way to the end if you just want to experience the hike. The view along the way is quite pretty and you can always turn around (like what we almost did) when you are tired.

What to Wear and Pack For the São Lourenço Hike

As with any hikes, you should always be prepared for the rough terrain, sun, wind and rapid change of weather.

  • Sun protection is vital for you to survive the Sao Lourenco hike. The entire hike is wide open with absolutely no shades and Madeira can be really sunny!

    You should definitely bring a hat (try to tie it down or it might fly away), sunscreen and sunglasses with you to hike PR8.
  • Hiking Gear like hiking shoes and hiking poles help although not absolutely necessary. Hiking shoes would be good for the Sao Lourenco hike since the grounds are uneven. Poles could help against the strong wind but again, not absolutely necessary.
  • Layers: You need to have layers with you on the PR8 hike because the weather can change rapidly.

    Given how windy the hike is, you may want to wear more (and take it off when the wind dies down). I personally had 2-3 layers with me at all times. I also found a hoodie to be very useful since the wind can easily blow away your hat, but having a hood help with that.
  • Water is absolutely necessary for this hike since there is no other source of water unless you make it to the cafe near the end. Bring snack just in case!
  • Bring cash for the bathroom and other things you may want to purchase from the cafe (or the cart person at the trailhead).
  • Lastly, of course don’t forget to bring a camera with a standard zoom or wide angle lens to Sao Lourenco.

Final Thoughts On Hiking to the PR8 São Lourenço Point

PR8 hike to the São Lourenço Point is one of the most popular hikes in Madeira. The hike is relatively short but with unique and stunning views along the way. Known for its stunning cliffs, Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço is the perfect hike to see the natural wonders in Eastern Madeira. If you have 4 hours to spare in Madeira, be sure to do this hike!

Other Madeira Blogs You Should Read

If you are planning that perfect hiking trip to Madeira then I have a lot of resources for you!

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