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The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a multi-level garden with about 100,000 different plant species varied from exotic trees & flowers. But the reason why Monte Palace Garden is so unique and worth a visit is because it has way more to offer than only plants and trees! Within the garden is the Monte Palace Museum. Here you can see the exhibition of Zimbabwean sculptures and a unique collection of minerals from all over the world. Furthermore you can see the most important collections of Portuguese tiles from the 15th and 16th centuries. Read in this blog post everything you need to know before you visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. From how to get there, the opening times, entrance fees, best times to visit, what to expect and which one we think is better; the Botanical Gardens of Madeira or the Monte Palace Tropical Garden?

Book your guided Tuk Tuk tour to Monte Tropical Gardens with Toboggan ride here. 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.

General travel must haves for Madeira

Before we dive into the best things to do in Madeira, let’s check a few things to make your travels in Madeira easy and safe.

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? 

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.
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Best Madeira island tours

If you want to explore the best of Madeira with a guide then here some great tours I recommend. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Scuba diving Madeira. Explore the underwater world of Madeira island. A theory lesson and practice in swimming pool is included before you will dive about 12 meters for 45 meters in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 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.
  • 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).

How to get to Monte Palace Tropical Garden 

The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is located in the village of Monte close to Funchal and sits at 1,025m above sea level. There are a few ways to get to the entrance of the gardens, see the options below.

Funchal Cable car to Monte Palace Tropical Garden

The most fun and special way to get to the gardens in Monte is with the cable car from Funchal. You will depart in the old part of Funchal and slowly make your way up over the typical orange roofs into Monte. The journey take about 15 minutes over 3200 meters sloping. If you plan on going with the Funchal cable car to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden you can buy a combination ticket for the cable car and the garden. You can find the actual prices here.

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Get to the gardens by car

If you have a rental car, then that’s obviously the easiest and cheapest way to get to Monte. There is a parking near the entrance. 

Take the bus to the gardens

Another option is to get to Monte by bus from the city centre of Funchal. Take bus 20, 21 or 22 to Monte / Babosas. In about 20 minutes you’re at the entrance of the Monte Palace Garden. This will cost you around €2 and you only need to walk a bit from the bus stop towards the entrance. A budget friendly option. 

Book a tour to the Madeira Gardens

If you just want nothing to worry about and have a relaxing day exploring the Monte Palace Gardens, then you can also book a tour including hotel pickup and drop-off, a local guide and entrance fees to both the Botanical Garden and Monte Palace Garden.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden opening times and entrance fee

The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is 364 days a years open. The opening times are from 9.30 AM til 6 PM. Monte Palace Museum is open from 10 AM til 16.30 PM. 

The entrance fee for the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is €12,50 for an adult and children under 15 years have free entrance. 

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History of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden 

The history of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden goes back to the 18th century when the complex was still a private estate. Later it was transformed into a very luxurious hotel until it was bought in 1980 by entrepreneur José Bernardo. He had the dream of realising a huge public botanical garden. After years of preparation, the doors of this masterpiece were opened in 1991. Nowadays the Monte Palace Garden is a popular tourist attraction and is being visited by many people from over the world. 

Best time to visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden 

Obviously the best time to visit the gardens in Madeira is during spring when most of the flowers are in bloom. But, after visiting the Monte Palace Garden in November, we have to say that even in the winter months this place is beautiful and worth visiting. The very best months to visit the gardens in Madeira are from April to August. You can expect the flowers at their best in the earlier spring months. On this website you can see exactly in which months particular flowers bloom in Madeira. 

What to expect at Monte Palace Tropical Garden  

Monte Palace Tropical Garden is built on the slope of the mountain overlooking Funchal bay. This provides fantastic views, but it also means you will have some incline while exploring the garden. Therefore make sure to wear comfortable shoes such as sneakers or sandals you can walk on for a few hours. Depending on your pace and how long you can enjoy exploring the gardens, you should take at least 2 – 4 hours to see all the different sections of the garden.

A large part of the garden is inspired by Japanese and Chinese gardening style which makes the tropical garden so interesting to explore. You can learn about several cultures, arts and plant life from all over the world which makes this a perfect day trip for nature and garden lovers.

Unfortunately the most prominent building of the garden, the Monte Palace, is not open for visitors. But the beautiful lake with man made waterfall, museum and many different gardens are very fun to explore.

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Monte Palace Garden flora & fauna

With over 100,000 different plant species, Monte Palace Tropical Garden has a rich variety of exotic flowers, plants and trees. You can find Azaleas and Orchids from the Himalayas, Heather from Scotland, the beautiful flowering plant Proteceae, “protea”, from South Africa and a rare and famous collection of cycads. These palm ferns have a stout and woody trunk with a crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves. Because they have a very long fossil history, they are also being considered as ‘living fossils’.

The animals living at Monte Palace Tropical Garden are Koi fishes in some of the ponds of the Oriental Garden. But also swans and ducks at the central lake, peacocks and chickens. In the summer season you also might see some butterflies and several birds such as the Capped-Heron. 

Monte Palace tiles

Some of the most interesting features of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is their large collection of Portuguese tiles from the 15th and 16th centuries. Placed along the walkways and amongst the vegetation these so called “Azulejos” are a form of Portuguese and Spanish painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work. They represent social, cultural and religious events in the history of Portugal. And besides that, they are some of the most important tile collections of the country.

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Oriental gardens of Monte Palace

A large part of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden is inspired by Japanese and Chinese gardening style. The two oriental gardens are an attempt to recreate the Asian culture with respect for nature and the Asian symbolic elements. In these gardens you can find lots of oriental style decoration, pagodas, buddhist statues and small ponds with Koi fishes in it. 

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Monte Palace Museum 

Something you can’t miss while exploring the Monte Palace Garden is the Monte Palace Museum. The building is located in the northern part of the garden and consists of three floors. Two floors are dedicated to a collection of Zimbabwean sculptures called ‘African Passion’, and one floor is home to a unique collection of minerals called ‘Mother Nature’s Secrets’. The collection of contemporary Zimbabwean sculptures dates from 1966 to 1969. More than 1000 different sculptures can be seen throughout the two floors of the museum. The lower floor exhibits one of the finest private collections of minerals. Mainly from Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Zambia, Peru, Argentina and North America.

Monte Palace Tropical Garden vs Botanical Garden Madeira 

We’ve been to both gardens and although both gardens have their own beauty and charm, I have to say that I liked the Monte Palace Garden more. The diverse parts of the Monte Palace garden with a beautiful lake, man made waterfall and the oriental gardens offers a wonderful varied experience. While the Botanical Garden is more a collection of special plants and trees without too much varied flowers and others attractions. Also the museum and collection of Portuguese tiles from the 15th and 16th centuries is a very nice addition to the beautiful Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

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Where to stay in Madeira

Funchal

There are several towns in Madeira that are great to stay while exploring the island. Funchal is the capital town of the island with the most restaurants around. It has a charming old town and all sorts of facilities you might look for such as a boulevard, shopping centre, cafe’s and nightlife. It is a great place to base yourself with plenty of culture and beautiful old buildings and charming streets to explore. There are also a few beaches in Funchal to enjoy the ocean. However these beaches are from pebble stones.

Check out this great tool to compare prices on hotels around the world and book your favorite hotel!

We have stayed in The Vine hotel and Okulus villa which are both beautiful locations. The Vine has the comforts of a hotel including breakfast and is located right in the city centre. Okulus villa is located in the Old Town with the most amazing ocean and city view.

Book your stay at Okulus villa here

Book your stay at The Vine hotel here

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Calheta

If you want to be based near a sandy beach in Madeira, then Calheta is a great place. While Funchal is more to the east of the island located, Calheta is more to the west of the island located. So eventually you can also stay a few days in both towns depending the total length of your stay in Madeira. Calheta has an atmospheric marine with restaurants offering great spots to watch the sunset and enjoy a meal.

We have stayed a few weeks at Calheta Boutique Houses during our 7 months living in Madeira. Highly recommend these private villa’s as you have all the amenities you have at home as well. The modern design and amazing ocean views makes it a perfect vacation home.

Book your stay at Calheta Boutique Houses here

Small villages in nature

If you want to experience really small towns to stay in Madeira, then check out the accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio. Take into account that there will be less restaurants around but you will be completely immersed in the local life and nature.

Check here the available accommodations in Seixal, Porto da Cruz, Sao Vicente or Ribeiro Frio

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