How to Visit in Madeira (Jardim do Palácio do Monte)

Madeira is famous for its gardens and Monte Palace Tropical Garden is the best of the bunch.

Get the lowdown on why this should be at the top of your Madeira bucket list, what to expect from a visit and how to get there. I’ll also take a quick look at how the garden at Monte Palace Madeira compares with the Botanical Garden (Jardim Botãnico).

a terraced garden with a lake and waterfall looking down on monte palace madeira

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A Short History of Monte Palace Madeira

Monte Palace was formerly Quinta do Prazer, the estate of Charles Murray, the British Consul General. Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues bought it in 1892.

Inspired by the Rhine palaces he had seen on his travels, he built a magnificent house that became the Monte Palace Hotel. This was the place to be for both domestic and foreign visitors until its closure following the death of Rodrigues in 1943.

In 1987, the property was bought by the entrepreneur José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo and the Monte Palace Tropical Garden opened its doors four years later.

How to Get to Monte Palace Tropical Garden

Monte Palace Tropical Garden is located in the village of Monte in the hills high above Funchal. There are a number of ways to get to the garden.

Funchal cable car to Monte Palace in Madeira

cable cars travelling between monte and funchal with the rootfops and bay below

The best way of getting to Monte Palace Tropical Garden from Funchal is by cable car. The Madeira Cable Car (Teleférico do Funchal) leaves the base station next to Funchal’s seafront promenade for the wonderful 15-minute journey to Monte.  

A one-way ticket will set you back €12.50; a return ticket is €18 (2024 prices). You can check current prices and opening hours here.

But before you buy a two-way ticket, you will need to decide whether you will take one of the world’s most unique forms of transport for the return journey. More about that later.

Between April and November, there is usually at least one cruise ship parked up in Funchal’s port. As the cable car ride to the garden at Monte is an easy excursion from the cruise port, queues can be lengthy and the gardens busy from late morning onwards. If possible, visit Monte Palace on a day when there are fewer or smaller ships in port. Failing that, try to catch one of the first cable cars of the day.

>>> Buy your cable car ticket in advance here.

Bus from Funchal to Monte Palace Tropical Garden

Local buses 20, 21, 22 and 48 serve Monte Palace Tropical Garden. In 2024, the fare is €1.35 using a prepaid GIRO card (€1.95 from the driver on board).

You can check routes and fares here.

By rental car

If you are brave enough to tackle Madeira’s challenging roads and have rented a car for your stay, this is the easiest way to get to Monte Palace Tropical Garden. Parking is available close to the entrance.

a stone laughing buddha holding a small child in his palm

Book a tour of Monte Palace Tropical Garden

If you are not keen on the cable car or simply want someone to take care of the arrangements for you, book a private tour of Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden Tour | MORE INFO

This 3-hour guided tour includes a transfer from Funchal

Monte Palace Tropical Garden & Toboggan Ride by Tuk Tuk | MORE INFO

Inject a dose of fun into your visit with a tuk-tuk ride from Funchal to Monte

Walk to Monte Palace Tropical Garden from Funchal

Although it’s an option, walking from Funchal to Monte Palace is not a good option.

It may be less than three miles from Funchal, but Monte sits at over 1,000 meters above sea level. That’s one heck of an uphill climb.

Even as a keen walker, I wouldn’t begin to contemplate it.

wall mounted stone fountain in the face of a creature at monte palace madeira

Monte Palace Madeira: Practical Information

Monte Palace Tropical Garden opening times & ticket price

With the exception of 25th December, Monte Palace Tropical Garden is open daily from 9.30 am until 6 pm. The museum is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm.

In 2024, the ticket price for adults is €15. Children under the age of 15 go free when accompanied by adults.

Cards and Euros are accepted.

fountain of urinating boy

When is the best time to visit Monte Palace Tropical Garden?

Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a year-round destination. I visited in November and the garden was lush and the flowers were in bloom.
 
That said, the best time to visit gardens in Madeira is during late spring / early summer (April to June) when most flowers are in bloom.

How long do you need in Monte Palace Tropical Garden?

I recommend spending at least two hours in Monte Palace Tropical Garden, preferably three hours. There’s a lot of ground to cover, including the museum, and you want to be able to enjoy it at a relaxed pace.

Eating & Drinking

There are two cafes in Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

The Greenhouse, at the highest point of the garden, and the Bluehouse Café, which offers tastings of Madeira wine.

What to Expect from a Visit to Monte Palace Tropical Garden, Madeira

Monte Palace Madeira is home to exotic plants from across the globe.

vibrant pink and yellow tropical flowers

Depending on when you visit, you may spot Himalayan orchids or hydrangeas, cycads, proteas and clivia from South Africa. The garden is also home to plants typical of the Laurissilva, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. These include laurel, Lily of the Valley and Canary Island juniper.

But there is so much more to this garden than flora.

Monte Palace Museum

If you are arriving by cable car, this is the first building that you will come across as you enter the garden. Monte Palace Museum is home to two outstanding collections: the Zimbabwe Sculpture Collection and the Mineral Collection.

Zimbabwe Sculpture Collection

african stone sculpture of a face against a red background at monte palace museum

Paixão Africana (African Passion) is the Berardo Collection of Zimbabwe stone sculptures.

This has its roots in the early 1960s and has grown to become one of the most prolific art movements in Africa. Most of the stone sculptures in this extraordinary collection date from the early days in Tengenenge in the 1960s.

Some of the artists have found fame on the international stage, including Henry Munyaradzi and Bernard Matamera. Women artists are also represented, notably Erina Fanizani.

Mineral Collection

Segredos da Mãe Natureza (Mother Nature’s Secrets) displays around 1,000 gem and mineral specimens, mostly from Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, Zambia, Argentina, Peru and North America. There are fabulous examples of petrified wood.

The tiles of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden

There are tiles throughout the garden. Dating from the 16th to the 21st Centuries, this most traditional of Portuguese art forms depicts religious scenes and historical events.

Forty panels are dedicated to the History of Portugal, each panel portraying a key event during that rich history. The Adventure of the Portuguese in Japan is a monumental panel comprising 166 tiles that celebrates the long relationship between these two nations.  

a waterfall between two giant plaques made from blue and white tiles
Fabulous azulejos at Monte Palace in Madeira

Oriental gardens

oriental gate leading into a garden flanked by 2 stone lions

A large swathe of the garden is a homage to Chinese and Japanese cultures. The two large oriental gardens have many symbolic and natural elements associated with the East.

There are stone lanterns, bridges, Buddhas and pagodas. Vibrant koi carp dance in the ponds and a line of wooden Samurai solemnly stand guard.

bronze buddha flanked by two stone lions at monte palace tropical garden madeira
line of brightly painted wooden samurai soldiers

Central lake

At the heart of Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a show-stopping central lake with its man-made waterfall. Monte Palace itself is not open to visitors.

small statue of a boy holding an urn in the middle of a lake
two small houses in lake seen through a wall of water

Stop at Monte Church Before You Head Back to Funchal

monumental set of steps leading to a white and grey church with 2 bell towers
gilded altar and painted ceiling of the inside of a church in monte madeira

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of Monte) is a short walk from the garden.

Dedicated to Madeira’s patron saint, thousands make an annual pilgrimage here on the Feast of the Assumption (15th August) every year.

The church is also a magnet for those wishing to visit the tomb of Charles I of Austria, the last of the Austro-Hungarian emperors. He died in Madeira in 1922 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004.  

How to Get Back from Monte Palace Tropical Garden

When it’s time to leave Monte, you can simply reverse your outbound journey. But why not take a ride with Madeira’s downhill racers?

Monte’s wicker toboggans

Two carreiros, wearing traditional straw boaters, will happily push you down the slippery slope towards Funchal.

Originally, these wicker toboggans were used to carry freight down the steep 5km hill between Monte and Funchal. Today’s ride covers 2km of the original route.

From the endpoint, it’s an easy walk downhill back to Funchal.

This is not a cheap way to return to Funchal (and be prepared for long queues). In 2024, the Monte to Funchal toboggan ride cost €27.50 for one person and €35 / €52.50 for 2 / 3 people. You can check the current prices here.

Buy your ticket from the booth next to Monte Church and then join the line to wait for the next available ride. The wicker toboggan service does not operate on Sundays.

If you are also planning to visit the Valley of the Nuns – and I recommend that you should – it’s well worth taking a look at this day tour that takes in this plus the toboggan ride.

Monte Palace vs Botanical Garden Madeira

You may know that Monte Palace is not the only garden in Funchal. Downhill from Monte Palace Tropical Garden is the Madeira Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico).

So which is better: Monte Palace Tropical Garden or the Madeira Botanical Garden?

I have visited both of these gardens. Each is beautiful – outdoor works of art if you like – and offers spaces to relax and take in the views. But they differ in size and scope.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden covers an area of 70,000 square metres, approximating ten football pitches. The Botanical Garden Madeira is half this size.

formal garden laid out like a chequerboard with a palm tree and cacti
Botanical Garden in Madeira

These relative dimensions reflect the scope of the gardens.

Whilst the Botanical Garden has a superb collection of plants and trees, there is not much else, save a reconstructed palheiro (traditional house). By contrast, Monte Palace Tropical Garden has attractions other than flora, including African sculptures and tiles.

In an ideal world, you would visit both. A time-efficient way to do this is to join a half-day tour of both gardens.

But if you are faced with a tough choice, I would plump for Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

To get from Monte Palace Tropical Garden to the Botanical Garden take another cable car (Teleférico do Jardim Botânico).


Enjoy Madeira’s Monte Palace Tropical Garden!

It is a gorgeous spot that’s 100% worth visiting.

If you have found this article helpful, check out my other destination guides to help you plan your Madeira vacation:

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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