Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço (PR8)

PR8 at approximately kilometer 2 looking West back at the trail head.

Situated at the Eastern end of Madeira is a peninsula that can only be described as breathtaking.  Its verdant and bare mountainsides rise high above the Atlantic Ocean.  There are no trees to obstruct your views.  You are high above in elevation looking down into the ocean as its waves crash on the shore below.

Now imagine there is a moderately and not very long footpath that takes you through numerous exhilarating viewpoints.  At the end of this footpath is a snack bar waiting to nourish you with calorie dense foods or your favorite drink.  You can also walk down to the water if you desire to cool off in the ocean as you are exposed to the sun the entire way.

This is the Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço or commonly known as the PR8 hike.  It’s about 3 kilometers one way with moderate elevation gain.  It’s probably the most popular hike in Madeira judging from the number of cars parked along the road leading to the trail head.  We did this hike in late February 2023.  The weather was just perfect.

Getting to the Trailhead

PR8 trail head is at the cul-de-sac or the end of ER109.  It is searchable in Googlemaps.  Just type “PR8” in the search window and it will take you there.  You can then navigate to the cul-de-sac using your smart device.

You also can get to the trail head by riding the Sociedad de Automóveis da Madeira (SAM) bus route 113.  Just be aware of the schedule so you can time your return trip and avoid having to wait unnecessarily.

Ponta Sao Lourenco and SAM Bus 113 shown on Googlemaps.

Be There Early

We had a late start and arrived at the trail head around 11:30 AM.  It was not a good sign when we saw people walking on the road in the direction of the trail head about 1.25 kilometers away.  Sure enough, all the marked parking spaces are taken as well as all parkable real estate on the side of the road.  We waited for about 15 minutes for somebody to leave but the problem is that there are also others waiting in the wings doing the same thing we were doing.

So it boils down to a matter of luck.  Meaning you are lucky if you were waiting where there is someone that just happens to leave.  We saw other drivers following people they think were on their way back to their cars.  There were a couple of cars that left only to be immediately taken by the competition.  So we decided to just drive back down the road to an open dirt area where there are still available spaces for parking and just walked back.  It only took about 15 minutes but on a slight uphill.

The Hike

Trail information at the trailhead

The hike goes down in elevation from the trailhead for a few meters before it gradually goes back up.  As the hike begins to climb up, you can look to your right and see the ocean below.  People make side trips to different vantage points to take their selfies.

PR8 near the trail head looking southeast.

The hike then meanders on the south and west faces of the mountain. There are short side trails that will take you to the north side of the mountain along the way.  You can see the effect of the prevailing winds on the waves. The waves on the north side of the island are large and tumultuous while hardly any waves form on the south side.

PR 8 at around kilometer 1 looking at the north side of the peninsula.

As the trail turns south, you can look back and see the cul-de-sac and the cars parked at the parking lot.  Here the trail hugs the side of the mountain.  To the right of the trail is a deep drop off although not vertical.  However, the trail is wide enough such that it would not cause any anxiety from falling off.  We actually debated to just sit off the side of the trail and just look back at the scenery but we pressed on since we just started our journey.

At the highest point of the trail looking southeast. Casa do Sardinha is within sight.

Soon after, the trail will ascend to its highest and narrowest point where the Casa do Sardinha snack bar becomes visible.  Then it’s  a series of steps to descend down a hundred meters or so before arriving at a junction.  The trail to the right will continue down to Praia do Sardinha or the beach.  It will also climb back up to Casa do Sardinha.  The trail to the left will also go to Casa do Sardinha but the route is relatively flat unlike the trail to the right.

Trail marker at the junction. To the left is a gradual but longer route to Casa do Sardinha than the route to the right. Casa do Sardinha is visible in the background.

Casa do Sardinha and Praia do Sardinha

Casa do Sardinha is a welcome relief to get nourishment and refreshments after being exposed to the sun.  They have shaded outdoor picnic tables and a few snack tables on the side of the building.  There are also palm trees surrounding the building.  The half wall in front of the building can also serve as an improvised seat and table if all the picnic tables and snack tables are taken.

The snack bar counter at Casa do Sardinha. Toilets are available for 1 Euro.

Casa do Sardinha is more than a snack bar.  Aside from appetizers, sandwiches and snacks,  they offer some meal plates for those that are really hungry.  Beer is also available as well Coca cola and other popular fizzy drinks.  Speaking of drinks, by now you must be feeling the call of nature.  Casa do Sardinha has the answer in the form of pay to use toilettes.

Casa do Sardinha snack bar menu.

Praia do Sardinha is just a small rocky alcove.  It allows you to walk into the water as opposed to jumping into the water.  Some boat tours also pick-up sightseers from this location.  There is no shade at Praia do Sardinha.  However, there is a constructed shelter a couple of meters above but you will be too far from the water’s edge.  We dipped our feet in the water and it felt really good to go for a swim.  Too bad we did not bring out swimming clothes.

Looking down at Praia do Sardinha. People in the background are waiting for the tour boat.


Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço or PR8 is a terrific way to spend half to a full day.  This hike is a must do if you are in Madeira. Just make sure you get there early to get a parking spot closer to the trail head or be prepared to park far and walk to the trail head.

The weather in this part of Madeira is more predictable compared to the island’s interior.  The refreshing ocean breeze cools you off despite being exposed to the sun.  Instagram worthy views are sprinkled throughout the hike.  Best of all, it is not very long nor strenuous.  As an added bonus, you can refuel at Casa do Sardinha or cool off at Praia do Sardinha before heading back.