In my previous travel blog post, you could read how I arrived in Funchal, did a coronavirus test upon arrival and enjoyed my first day on Madeira. This post is only about my visit to the botanical gardens and monte palace tropical garden in Funchal, the capital of Madeira. It includes practical travel information for your trip to Funchal or if you are visiting Madeira for only one day on a cruise ship for example. Let´s first compare the botanical garden with the monte palace tropical gardens in case you have to choose between the different garden parks on Madeira.
Madeira Botanical Garden in Funchal
Maybe you don´t have enough time, or you only like to do one of the garden parks. It´s hard to choose which one is more beautiful. They say that the botanical gardens are best to be visited in the springtime because of all the flowers. I highly enjoyed it at the end of September too. However, I did enjoy the Monte Palace Tropical Garden more. Maybe it was due to the timing and it can be that botanical gardens are much nicer in the springtime. Also, there was a little bit of maintenance going on in the botanical gardens, probably because of the coronavirus, so it´s hard to say which park is better. I think, in the right season, for flowers you might prefer the botanical gardens over monte palace garden.
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens on Madeira
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, like the name already suggests, feels more like a tropical forest. There is also more art (like sculptures and little temples) woven into nature, and there is water flowing everywhere. You can see and hear a lot of waterfalls, which for me, gave a bit of an extra feeling to the ambient. There is a whole history behind those gardens dating back to the 18th century. Monte Palace also has usually some exhibitions going on, there is an on-site musuem and it´s very big. There is one particular route through the park which takes about 2,5 hours if you like to see everything. To give you a better idea, I include a YouTube video I made about both parks:
Botanical Gardens in Madeira by cable car from Funchal
So, there are different ways you can visit the botanical garden in Funchal. It depends entirely upon what you like to do, if you like to go by local bus, cable car and yes or no to combine it with the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. For €31,40 you can do a combined return double cable car tour with entrance to the Botanical Garden. This trip will bring you from Funchal first to Monte Palace Garden (the entrance of €12,50 is not included) and then you take another cable car from Monte Palace gardens to the Botanical gardens and return the same way as you came. So this ticket includes the two cable car rides, the entrance to the Botanical Garden and the return in reversed route by cable car.
Bus & cable car combi-ticket to the Botanical Garden & Monte Palace Tropical Gardens
Last March, I did only a quick return cable car trip from Funchal up to monte palace garden and back. Therefore, this time I booked the bus and cable car combi ticket. With this €18,75 ticket, you go by public bus up to the botanical garden, and after this park, you take the cable car from the botanical gardens to monte palace tropical garden. This ticket includes the bus from Funchal to the botanical garden, entrance to these gardens and a cable car ride from the botanical gardens to monte palace tropical gardens, and the return trip vice versa. So, with this combi ticket, you miss the cable car trip from Funchal all the way up to Monte Palace Garden and once again, the entrance fee for Monte Palace Garden is separate.
My recommendation to visit the gardens in Funchal: one-way ticket for the cable car (teleférico)
My recommendation, however, is not to book a return ticket. I think the nicest and most complete experience of visiting both, the botanical gardens and monte palace tropical garden, is to go one direction and book a one-way ticket. Start by taking the cable car from Funchal all the way up to Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. After this garden park, you can choose. Either you continue your tour by cable car to the Botanical Gardens. Then, leave the Botanical Garden at the exit down and take the bus from there. Or, do the toboggan sled ride from Monte Palace Gardens and visit the Botanical Gardens another day.
Tip for visiting Monte Palace Garden in Madeira: include the toboggan ride
The ´Toboggan Ride´ is a traditional Madeiran way of going down the mountain or hill. It looks like a wicker basket on a wooden sled, and you simply slide down the street. This sledge comes from Madeiran history in the late 1800s when people used this to go down or bring products down, but nowadays it´s a tourist attraction. It wasn´t possible for me to do the toboggan ride when I was there. But you can find more information here: https://www.carreirosdomonte.com/v2/en/index.php.
Another idea: do one Madeira garden park per day in Funchal
Another suggestion, especially when travelling with children or if you want to take things a bit slower, is to consider doing one park at the time especially if you like to do the toboggan ride. I did both parks and walked 10 km that day and nothing is flat in Madeira, so there is a lot of walking up and down. Children might enjoy the toboggan ride and you can go back to do the botanical gardens another day by just taking the bus from Funchal.
Last option: Botanical Gardens first & by cable car to Monte Palace Tropical Gardens (slide down by toboggan ride)
My first recommendation is to plan it a bit logistically before you start your visit to the botanical gardens as well as the monte palace garden. Because like mentioned before, it depends on what you like to do, how much time you have, who you´re travelling with and your budget. The last suggestion I have is to take a bus from Funchal up to the Botanical Garden, after visiting this garden continue by cable car to Monte Palace Garden and slide down by the toboggan ride. The only thing you miss this way is the long cable car ride from Monte Palace Tropical Garden to Funchal (or vice versa). I include practical information with prices & times at the end of this post so you can plan your visit to the gardens of Funchal.
Tip for the bus stop at the cable car entrance at the Botanical Garden
There was one little problem I stumbled upon by doing the Funchal gardens on a return combi-ticket by cable car and bus. First, you have to know that there are two entrances to the Botanical Gardens. One up, where the cable car station is, and one down where the bus stop is. The lady at the ticket office gave me the bus time table from the bus stop down at the botanical gardens. And after coming back from Monte Palace Garden, the cable car drops you off at the ´up´- entrance at the botanical gardens. And there´s no street to just walk down. There was, however, a bus stop close to the cable car entrance, but the times didn´t correspondent with my bus table.
Passing once again through the Botanical Gardens to reach the bus stop
This is another bus line, and maybe because it was Saturday, I should have waited 2 hours for the next bus. So I needed to go through the botanical gardens again to reach the bus stop. The lady at the entrance of the botanical garden did let me pass through again without charging me again, even though I did not have a ticket anymore. So this could give some problems. Just in case, I will here include a photo of the timetable of the bus stop ´up´ or at the cable car entrance of the botanical garden, to go back down to Funchal. This bus stop is located two floors up from the cable car entrance, and there´s an elevator in case you did enough walking for the day!
Travel information for your visit to the Botanical Gardens & Monte Palace Garden in Funchal on Madeira
Practical information with times & prices for the Madeira Botanical & Monte Palace Garden by cable car
I close this blog post with the practical information for your visit to the Madeira Botanical Garden & Monte Palace Tropical Garden in Funchal.
Madeira Botanical Gardens
Entrance fee: 6€
Opening times: every day – 09.00 – 06.00 pm (last entrance at 05.30 pm)
Website: http://telefericojardimbotanico.com/ (also for all combi-tickets prices with cable car, bus & entrance to the botanical gardens)
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens
Entrance fee: €12,50
Opening times: every day (except 25th of December) – 09.00 am – 06.00 pm (museum 10.00 am – 04.30 pm)
Cable Car from Funchal to Monte Palace Tropical Garden
One-way ticket: 11€, round trip return ticket: €16,-
Opening times: 09.00 am, the last boarding is at 05.45 pm
Website: https://madeiracablecar.com/en/ (also for combi tickets with entrances, yellow bus and connections by cable car teleférico to Botanical Garden )
Cable Car from Madeira Botanical Garden to Monte Palace Garden
One-way ticket: 8,25€, round trip return ticket: €12,75
Opening times: 10.30 am, last boarding at 04.30 pm (closed on 25th of December)
Website: https://telefericojardimbotanico.com/ (also for combi tickets with entrance to the botanical gardens, the other cable car and public bus)
Information for your stay in Funchal on Madeira: accommodation, transport & flight deals
Recommended Funchal airport transfer shuttle
Madeira Island Tours
Prices: €7,- shared shuttle or €20,- private transfer
Recommended budget accommodation in Funchal
*Splashpacker receives a small commission from Booking or Agoda if you book through these links
Tips for flight deals to Madeira
Use 12go.co or the search table below to scan for all flights and choose your best flight deal to Madeira. Also here I receive a small percentage commission. Thank you!
Travel tips for other things to do in Funchal on Madeira Island in Portugal
Heritage buildings & museums
Madeira has an interesting history and there a lot of museums & old building to be found in Funchal. You can visit the fortress of St. James in the old part of town, enjoy some amazing city views from the tower in the 18th-century town hall, see the 100-year old Baltazar Dias Theatre or visit the cathedral from the 15th century (please note that the cathedral is closed from noon till 03.00 pm). All churches & cathedrals are free to visit on Madeira.
In regards to the museums, I was told that the natural history museum is one of the nicest museums to visit in Funchal. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation when I was there. Other interesting museums include the Sacred Art Museum, ´Quinta das Cruzes´museum. Not sure if it belongs to the museum category, but you can do some wine tasting in Blandy´s wine lodge to discover Madeira´s wines.
Sightseeing tours & other attractions or things to do in Funchal
Other activities to do from Funchal include whale & dolphin watching (from €25 by catamaran or €45,- by sea safaris, other parks (for example the city park or Santa Catarina park with nice views over Funchal, you can visit the farmers market close to the old part of town. I do have to say that a tour guide from a levada walk I did, told me that the farmers market is a bit over-priced and sometimes they even add sugar to the fruits. So it might be a good advise to buy your fruits from the little fruit stalls in town and you also support the locals this way.
There are a few sight-seeing busses if you don´t like to walk around town. They work like a ´hop-on, hop-off, tour and stop at most interesting sights. You have the yellow bus company and the Madeira sightseeing bus, with red, blue & green lines, depending on where you like to go. They also include routes with visits to Camara de Lobos & Cabo Girao (see my next travel blog update 26 for more information about these places). Prices for the bus tours vary from €16,- to €26,-
The final tip for your travels to Funchal or Madeira Island in general
Madeira is a very safe destination to travel to in these times of COVID-19. They require all tourists to a coronavirus test, either within 72 hours before entering Madeira or for free on the airport. I write more about this and share my personal experience in my previous travel blog update. Stay tuned if you like to know more about travelling Madeira Island because there are posts to come about this flower island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Next to Funchal, more to come about Madeira: Levada walks & tours
In the week that followed I do the west tour, east tour, Pico de Areiro to Pico de Ruivo mountain walk and the 25 fountains Levada walk, and last but not least I go scuba diving in the marine reserve of Garajau! And after Madeira, I take off to the Azores! Stay tuned for later blog posts. You can sign up for my mailing list below, to receive an e-mail once a week with the newest posts. Or you can also follow me on YouTube.
Safe travels & enjoy!