A Day to remember!

Monte Palace Garden

To descend, one must first ascend, but we opted for a cable car ride up to Monte Palace Tropical Garden—not out of laziness, but to confront our fear of heights 😊

Several options await adventurous souls: walk the entire way, take the cable car for a round trip, choose a partial walk (our preference), or even catch a bus for the journey.

The cable car base station is conveniently located in Almirante Reis in Funchal, accessible by public transport. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online, with prices varying depending on your chosen option (check the link for details).

Monte Palace Tropical Garden

Monte Palace Descent - Quick tip

Please make sure to check the Levada difficulty before choosing one as some of them are easy and relaxing but can also be narrow with crumbling edges where a slip could result in serious injury or death. It may be easier to book a guide that will walk you through some of the most amazing paths across the island. There are plenty to choose from as the tour guides are available around every corner in Funchal.

Monte palace cable car ride up

Although the average one-way trip takes around 20 minutes, for those wary of heights, time seems to slow down😊 Yet, the experience is undeniably worth it.

As you ascend, Funchal transforms below, with houses turning into red-roofed buildings surrounded by hills and valleys, all against the backdrop of a breathtaking ocean. The view is stunning from every angle.

The cable car journey ends at the Church of Our Lady of the Mount, also known as Monte, situated 550 meters above sea level and approximately 10 km from Funchal. Notably, it was built by the first person born on Madeira Island!

From there, we purchased tickets to explore the renowned Jardim Botanico da Madeira, a botanical garden open to the public since 1960. The adult admission fee is 12.50 euros, and the garden extends a vast 70,000 square meters, featuring a substantial collection of exotic plants. The park is divided into six areas, showcasing Madeiran indigenous and endemic species, a greenhouse, succulent plants, agro-industrial plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, and palm trees and cycads.

Monte palace and what it offers

The dream of establishing the Monte Palace Botanical Garden dates back to the 17th century and finally materialized in 1960 in Funchal. Today, it stands as a must-visit destination in the region.

Home to over 2000 exotic plants from across the globe, including endangered species, the garden plays a vital role in research and conservation amid the global biodiversity crisis. The Quinta do Bom Sucesso, established by the Reid family in 1881 and now the site of the Madeira Botanical Garden, welcomes visitors to embark on a botanical journey worldwide.

With lakes, and ponds populated by swans and peacocks, unique collections of stones and minerals from around the world, and intriguing exhibitions of African sculptures, we explored for at least four hours and probably didn’t see everything. There’s even a café for a break, and outside the palace, you can enjoy traditional Poncha—an alcoholic drink made from sugar cane.

Additionally, guests can explore the Natural History Museum and the Herbarium, making it a captivating experience.

For more details about the garden, click the link here.

Monte palace descent

To go down from Monte Palace- we opted for Levada walk to Funchal City. A Levada is an irrigation channel used as a walking path, offering a scenic route through the countryside.

Levada Do Bom Sucesso appeared safe, but caution is advised based on weather conditions and individual abilities. Despite appearing easy, the hike can be challenging, particularly during specific times of the year.

Equipped with prior knowledge, our group of four tackled the descent from Monte to Funchal, a journey of about 2-3 hours, encountering a few fellow walkers. Comfortable, non-slip shoes are essential, as the path includes stairs that can be slippery, especially after rain.

The uphill duration is uncertain, with steep stairs posing potential challenges. Some cautionary tales involve individuals getting stuck late in the evening, requiring rescue. The Levada itself feels magical, surrounded by lush trees and plants resembling an adventure to destroy an evil ring 😊

En route, enjoy small waterfalls and picturesque spots for photos or rest. We encountered a couple with a small child midway through the path, resting and eating sandwiches.

Obstacles include fallen trees, steps without handrails, sharp corners with cliff falls, and the potential for falling rocks. Despite these challenges, we loved every part of the walk, with magical views and the scent of fresh crisp air outweighing any perceived danger.

You can stop to take some great pictures or to rest surrounded by the stunning flora of this amazing island.

As you get closer to the city there are a few local pubs where you can relax with cold Coral (local beer) or Bica (coffee like espresso). What is also nice about those places is that they do not want to overcharge you simply because you are a tourist (In many places in the city center, you pay a different/traveler’s prices). With the friendly atmosphere of local people and the owners, it’s so worth it to rest and support the business whenever you can. We ended up chilling for at least an hour at Bar Clube do Bom Sucesso, which we recommend especially after many hours of walking, exploring, and hiking.