Fanal Forest, enchanting place in the mists of Madeira

Fanal Forest, enchanting place in the mists of Madeira

One of Madeiras most stunning areas is the Fanal forest high up on the North side of the island. The Latin name of the gnarled trees in the Fanal forest is Ocotea Foetens. It is one of the many Laurel species and some of them are 600 years old.

Unesco World Heritage

The Fanal forest is a part of the Laurissilva forest. The Laurissilva now covers about 15,000 ha., some 20% of the island. As the name Laurissiva suggests, its main species are of the Laurel family. The Ocotea Foetens is one of them. The older the tree, the harder the wood. Therefore, the Madeirans felled many of the largest ones and used them to make agricultural tools in earlier days. But now, the Laurissilva is protected and was declared Unesco World Heritage in 1999.


Other parts of the Laurissilva offering stunning walks are the hidden valley of Folhadal, where you can make a fantastic though challenging walk like we did many years ago (the circular walk from Encumeada to Lombo do Mouro and back to Encumeada, 7+ hours) or the easier but also beautiful walk along the Levada do Furado from Ribeiro Frio to the Portela pass. Apart from these two walks, there are many Levada walks, especially the higher ones, that will take you through parts of the Laurissilva forest.

The Fanal forest is  part of the Laurissilva World Heritage

Fanal Forest

Yesterday, we visited the Fanal Forest again. We took new friends who recently bought a house on the island and old friends who visit Madeira once more after too long a break during the covid pandemic. The ever-changing mists and fog lend the landscape its mystical touch. I took some pictures and made several interactive panoramas so you can look around with us. The panoramas are best viewed full-screen. The images are clickable to display the large version.

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By Peter Groen

Peter was born in Amsterdam in 1949. He has a history in PR and copywriting. Now, part time resident of the Island of Madeira of over 10 years, he writes about Madeira, its culture, its overwhelming nature, its food and drink, and about everything concerning travel to and on this beautiful island.


  1. BEAUTIFUL photos and videos of the Fanal Forest ! We have lived here for 3 years and have yet to get there.
    Could you kindly send me your email as I have an unrelated question for you.
    Thanks so much , Mahna

      1. Not sure if I will get back to the island due to my wife’s poor health. It’s been over a year since our last visit and we are really missing the place.

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