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. They are placed throughout the walkways and vegetation and represent social, cultural and religious events in the history of Portugal. Lastly, you can explore the oriental gardens which instantly give you the feeling as if you’ve been transported to Japan or China. 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?

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.

You can book the tour here. 

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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. 

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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 with the flowers at their best in the earlier months mentioned. On this website you can see exactly in which months you can expect which flowers to 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.

Watch the cinematic short video we made of our visit to the garden below. 

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. The most prominent building of the garden, the Monte Palace, is unfortunately not visitable inside. But instead there is a beautiful lake with man made waterfall and museum to explore.

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 not to 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 I have to say straight to the point 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.