Former irrigation channels in the southeast of Madeira now offer a network of scenic trails for walks and hikes. These paths are a gateway into the peaceful countryside and some are known to have steep ledges, drawing adventurous travelers. Here’s how to explore the levada walks.
Sao Vicente Caves & Volcanism Centre
Grutas de S Vicente, Sao Vicente, Madeira
The Sao Vicente Caves are a top Madeira attraction, and admission includes a guided tour of the pathways and pools, plus entry to the Volcanism Centre and above-ground gardens. Visit independently or explore the caves on a group or private tour of Madeira and its coasts by car, coach, or 4WD. The caves feature on most multi-day island sightseeing excursions. Tours typically incorporate round-trip transit and stops at destinations including Porto Moniz’ sea pools and Cabo Girao.
Things to Know Before You Go
The caves aren’t wheelchair-friendly, but the Volcanism Centre and gardens are.
On-site facilities include restrooms, a cafe, and shop.
Wear closed-toe shoes and a waterproof jacket—the tunnels are leaky and often cold.
The Volcanism Centre displays include flashing lights and strobe effects.
How to Get There
The easiest way to visit the Sao Vicente caves is on a tour that includes return transportation. Alternatively, public buses run to Sao Vicente from Funchal. To drive, follow the VE4 highway north from Funchal before taking the Estr. Dom Joao V—signposted to Sao Vicente via ER 104—to the caves, for about a 20-mile (32-kilometer) drive. Parking is available, although the lot is a 5-minute walk to the caves’ entrance via a tunnel.
When to Get There
The caves sit just south of Sao Vicente and are open daily all year—excluding Christmas Day. The caves get busy in high season, and lines can form for the scheduled guided tours. To avoid crowds, visit in the mornings on weekdays or near closing time.
Attractions at the Caves
After exploring the caves, ride a replica elevator into the Volcanism Centre’s 3D simulation of the earth’s core. Next, watch a 3D movie illustrating the earth’s layers and how the caves were formed. Finally, head outside to stroll the fern-filled gardens, a marked contrast to the underground caves and a great place for a look at Sao Vicente.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the nearest attractions to Sao Vicente Caves & Volcanism Centre?
What else should I know about attractions in Madeira?
- Laurel Forest (Laurisilva)
- Paul da Serra Plateau
- Laurisilva Rainforests of Madeira
- Eira do Serrado
- Porto Moniz
- Cabo Girão
- Valley of the Nuns (Curral das Freiras)
- Pico do Arieiro
- Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint (Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos)
- Church of Our Lady of Monte (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte)
- Monte Palace Tropical Gardens
- Madeira Botanical Gardens
- Museum of Natural History (Municipal Museum of Funchal)
- Sé Cathedral of Funchal