The Cristo Rei monument is a sacred statue of Jesus Christ on Ponta do Garajau, a headland between Caniço and Funchal on the south coast of Madeira Island. This viewpoint offers panoramic views on the Atlantic Ocean, Funchal Bay and Desertas Islands. The majestic statue stands on top of a hill which drops into the ocean. There are stairs going down the hill towards a lower platform overlooking the ocean from closer by. The Cristo Rei Madeira viewpoint is a great spot for a casual walk. But is is also a great spot to watch the sunrise and sunset from! Read in this blog post everything you need to know before visiting the Cristo Rei Madeira statue and viewpoint.
About the Cristo Rei Madeira
When speaking about a Christ statue, most people will think about the famous one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But what few people know, is that the Cristo Rei statue in Madeira was the first one in the world to be built and inaugurated!
The Cristo Rei Madeira statue was paid by private funds and built in 1927. With its 14 meters high, the Cristo Rei Madeira statue is about half the height of the 30 meters tall Cristo Rei statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Legend says that the Cristo Rei statue welcomes visitors to Madeira coming by sea with open arms.
How to get to Cristo Rei Madeira viewpoint
From Funchal it’s only a 15 minute drive to the Cristo Rei statue, so it’s a great short visit for a sunrise or sunset walk. Easy to find on Google Maps and easy to reach by car, you can park directly at the entrance of the viewpoint.
Best time to go to Cristo Rei Madeira viewpoint
Anytime is a good time to visit this viewpoint. But if you’re a sunrise or sunset lover, I would advice you to visit the Cristo Rei Madeira viewpoint during those times. If you’re lucky, the sky can turn into a fantastic colour bomb. With sunrise, you can see the sun rising from the horizon over the ocean on the left side of the statue. And during sunset, the sun sets all the way to the right lighting up Funchal city. During the day it’s of course also a great viewpoint in Madeira to visit. It offers beautiful views on Garajau beach, Funchal bay and Desertas Islands. There is often a lot of wind along the coast, so it’s a perfect place to get a breath of fresh (ocean) air. You will see lots of locals hanging out here or walking their dog.
What to expect at Cristo Rei Madeira viewpoint
Once arrived at the Cristo Rei viewpoint you will see a big parking lot and cafe where you can get a coffee or snack. It’s only a few meters walking until you are at the Christ statue. There are no stairs involved so everyone can get here. At the statue are benches installed to relax and take in the amazing view. When looking along the left side of the statue you can see the Desertas Islands on the horizon. On the other side you’ll have a wonderful view on Funchal city. Further on the horizon you can see one of the highest cliffs of Europe, the Cabo Girão which is another amazing viewpoint in Madeira!
If you fancy a little walk down the stairs, you can get to the end of the promontory. It’s a total of 220 stairs to the end of the headland, so it’s a fun short hike if you’re in to exploring a bit around. Locals use this part to walk their dog or just exercise before or after work. But if you just came to enjoy the view, then the benches near the Christ statue are the best spot with a spectacular view!
No matter the time you visit the Cristo Rei viewpoint, you will be blown away by the vast views over the ocean. However, during sunrise or sunset you will have a chance of seeing a show with colourful clouds in the sky or the golden light of the sun. Sit down on one of the benches and enjoy the panoramic views and the magic of a rising or setting sun.
Read our complete guide for more amazing sunrise viewpoints in Madeira
Cable car down to Garajau beach
If you fancy to explore the area around the Cristo Rei viewpoint you can descent down to Garajau beach with the cable car. This pebble beach is located in the Garajau Marine Reserve which is why the ocean water is so clear. You can go diving here, walk along the impressive 200 meter high cliff of Ponta do Garajau, relax on the pebble beach or eat at the beach front restaurant! The cable car operates daily in the summer months from 10AM to 8PM. In the winter it operates from 10AM to 6PM. A return ticket costs €3. You can also drive down the zig zag road to the parking of the beach. But be aware that it is a narrow one way road and takes some driver skills and timing.
Best Madeira island tours
If you want to explore the best of Madeira with a guide then here some great tours I recommend. During these tours you will pass by some of the best viewpoints which I share in this complete guide. All of these tours include transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes the entrance fees if applicable. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Customized 6 hour Madeira tour. On this six-hour tour you can choose the different areas you want to visit on Madeira island. Pick the landmarks and iconic places to make your own itinerary with the help of your local guide/driver.
- West Madeira private tour. Starting in the fishing town of Câmara de Lobos you will drive via Cabo Girao, the highest cape in Europe, to the beautiful view of Serra d’Agua valley. From there you will head to São Vicente to explore the Laurisilva forest. Continuing north, you will visit Porto Moniz, known for its natural lava pools where you can swim. As last stop you will visit the famous rocks at Ribeira da Janela.
- East Madeira tour. Visit Pico do Arieiro viewpoint, make pictures at the Santana houses and the beautiful viewpoints at Porto da Cruz to finish the day at the impressive volcanic landscape of Ponta de São Lourenço.
- Canyoning adventure with transfer from Funchal. Get the thrill of canyoneering and explore Madeira’s untouched nature. follow a river as you walk, rappel, slide and jump through hidden waterfalls with streams that cross endemic forests. A super fun and adventurous day!
- Ponta de São Lourenço hike with pick up in Funchal. Explore the most eastern tail of Madeira island with its unique volcanic rock formations to understand how the island was created.
- Funchal 48-hour hop-on hop off bus tour. Explore the lush landscape of Madeira and the sights of Funchal at your own pace with a 2 or 5 day ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus.
- Tuk-Tuk tour to Monte Tropical Garden with Toboggan ride from Funchal. Explore Funchal Old Town with a Tuk Tuk before making your way to the mountains to the stunning Monte Tropical Garden. There you will explore over 70,000 square meters of exotic plants. At the end of the tour you will enjoy the thrilling ride down the hill with a Toboggan ride.
- Funchal Old Town walking tour. Learn about the history of Funchal and Madeira on a guided walk through the city’s medieval center. Visit the farmer’s market, the Campo Almirante Reis. The Fortress of St. James, and a number of other sites as your guide provides commentary.
- Dolphin & Whale watching Luxury Catamaran Cruise from Funchal. Enjoy the views of Funchal from a luxury catamaran. Look out for whales and dolphins in their natural habitat as your relax on board and explore the underwater world with a snorkel.
- Scuba diving Madeira. Explore the underwater world of Madeira island. A theory lesson and practice in swimming pool is included. This before you will dive about 12 meters for 45 meters in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Sunset tour from Funchal by Catamaran. Watch the sunset off the coast of Madeira on a 3-hour evening catamaran cruise from Funchal and spot dolphins (guaranteed, or you get a 2nd trip for free).
General travel must haves for Madeira
Have you thought about how to get around in Madeira? A car is the easiest way to drive around the island.
- Book your rental car here and compare the providers to get the best deal.
- Book your scooter or motorbike here to get around in Madeira. Most of the scooters you can drive with driving license (A1/A2/A) from 18 years old, or from 25 years old with a car (B) license. The motorbikes have a minimum age of 20 or 21 with A (moto) license.
Do you prefer a private driver for the day and the freedom to create your own itinerary?
Did you already book your accommodation?
- Check out this great tool to compare prices of hotels on different platforms from around the world and book your favorite hotel
Are you insured during your travels?
- Buy your travel insurance here. Safetywing not only includes coverage for travel delay, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters and personal liability. But also covers all your medical expenses for hospitalisation.
More Madeira travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this blog post about Cristo Rei Madeira viewpoint.
For more information about Madeira, head over to our other travel blogs.