Monte Walking Tour, Funchal

Monte Walking Tour (Self Guided), Funchal

Monte, a spectacular hilltop area 550 meters above sea level in the northeast of Funchal, is a favored destination for many tourists visiting Madeira. Getting to and from Monte – up on the cable car and down on an exhilarating dry toboggan run – is only half the fun. The other half is exploring the unique blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions found in the area.

One of the notable local landmarks is the Chapel of Our Lady of Conception (Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição). This historic chapel is an architectural gem, dating back to the 15th century; it holds a special place in the hearts of the locals.

For nature enthusiasts, the Tropical Gardens of Monte Palace are a must-visit destination. These gardens are a lush paradise filled with exotic plants, flowers, and ponds, offering a serene escape from city life. Here, visitors can stroll through the meticulously landscaped greenery and enjoy breathtaking views of Funchal.

Another unique and thrilling experience in Monte is the Basket Carts Toboggan Downhill (Carros de Cesto). This tradition involves descending the steep hills of Monte in large wicker baskets guided by experienced drivers – a rather exhilarating way to explore the area and experience a one-of-a-kind adventure!

Art enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the Monte Palace Museum (Museu Monte Palace), which showcases a diverse collection of art and artifacts, making it a fascinating cultural stop.

One of the spiritual landmarks in Monte is the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain (Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Monte). This beautiful place of worship offers a peaceful atmosphere for reflection and connection with one's spirituality.

In large part, Funchal owes its nicknames, the "Garden City" and "Cultural Oasis", to Monte which harmoniously combines historical and cultural sites with natural splendor. So, don't miss the opportunity to discover this enchanting corner of Madeira. It's an experience you won't want to miss!
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Monte Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Monte Walking Tour
Guide Location: Portugal » Funchal (See other walking tours in Funchal)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Author: john
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Chapel of Our Lady of Conception)
  • Tropical Gardens of Monte Palace
  • Carros de Cesto (Basket Carts Toboggan Downhill)
  • Museu Monte Palace (Monte Palace Museum)
  • Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mountain Church)
Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Chapel of Our Lady of Conception)

1) Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Chapel of Our Lady of Conception)

Joao Goncalves Zarco was one of the adventurers who discovered the archipelago of Madeira. In 1420, he commissioned what was to be the first chapel on the island of Madeira, Our lady of the Conception, also called Our Lady of Calhau. The chapel is located in the center of the town of Camara de Lobos on the Bay.

Restorations were done on the chapel in 1773 and 1908. The 1908 restoration followed the visit of Pope Pius X, often called "Padre Pio." The Pope celebrated an open-air mass there in 1904.

The church exterior is in a neoclassical style. The interior is baroque with extensive gilding, especially around the altar. The stained glass windows are by Ricardo Leone. There are also paintings by Nicolau Ferrira. On October 21, 1993, the Regional Governor of Madeira declared the Our Lady of Conception Chapel to be a site of Cultural Value.
Tropical Gardens of Monte Palace

2) Tropical Gardens of Monte Palace (must see)

Monte Palace was once the 18th century private residence of the British Consul Charles Murray. Later it was a hotel and then, in the late 1980s, it was purchased by Jose Bernardo, a retired tobacco magnate. Jose had dreams and fantasies of a magical palace in a place of fountains, grottos, follies, sculptures and mysterious exotic plants.

There are two oriental gardens, one Japanese and one Chinese. The theme of these gardens is the role of Portugal in the Age of Discovery of these nations. Bernardo had visited both these countries. The gardens contain stone lanterns and Buddhas, Shinto gates, pagodas and tiles telling the story of the Portuguese impact in Japan.

Recent tiles, 40 in number, are by Argentinian artist Alberto Cedron. They depict Portuguese history from the early monarchies to the 1974 Revolution. Garden flora include South African cycads and native plants of Madeira: Laurel, dragon trees, mahogany, and Pride of Madeira. There are carps in the ponds, black and white swans, and peacocks.

The museum is on three floors. Two floors are devoted to mostly African sculptures. The third floor holds minerals and precious stones from all over the world. The gardens are open every day from 9:30 am to 6 pm. The Monte Palace can be reached via the exciting Teleferico cable car, which stops in front of the entrance.
Carros de Cesto (Basket Carts Toboggan Downhill)

3) Carros de Cesto (Basket Carts Toboggan Downhill)

Basket Carts Toboggan Downhill (Carros de Cesto) is a popular tourist attraction in Funchal. The ride takes visitors down a thrilling descent from the village of Monte to the city of Funchal in a traditional basket sled that dates back to the early 19th century.

Originally used as a means of transport by residents to quickly travel between Monte and Funchal, the toboggan ride has become an iconic symbol of Madeira Island and a must-do activity for visitors. The descent covers a distance of approximately 2 kilometers and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

The basket sleds are operated by two runners dressed in white and wearing traditional straw boater hats. The runners control the speed of the sled using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. The ride can reach speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour, providing a thrilling and unforgettable experience for visitors.

The route from Monte to Livramento is located in a picturesque area and offers spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. Monte is renowned for its lush gardens and stunning views over the city and beyond, making it an ideal spot for visitors to explore before or after their toboggan ride.
Museu Monte Palace (Monte Palace Museum)

4) Museu Monte Palace (Monte Palace Museum)

Nestled within the Monte Palace Madeira Gardens, the Monte Palace Museum is an absolute treasure trove of fascinating artifacts and exhibits that leave visitors feeling captivated and inspired. As soon as you step inside this museum, you will be surrounded by an incredible collection of artifacts that have been sourced from a variety of different geographic locations and cultures.

The Monte Palace Museum is divided into three galleries, each with its own unique charm and character. The 'African Passion' collection is one of the highlights of the museum, showcasing a mesmerizing collection of over 1000 contemporary Zimbabwean sculptures dating back to the years 1966 to 1969.

The 'Mother Nature Secrets' collection is equally impressive, featuring hundreds of minerals that have been sourced from some of the world's most fascinating locations, including Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Zambia, Peru, Argentina, and North America. Visitors to this gallery can marvel at around 700 different samples of minerals, each one more striking and beautiful than the last.

Of course, the beauty of the Monte Palace Museum is not limited to its collections and exhibits alone. The museum is set amidst one of the most incredible tropical gardens in the archipelago, with over 100,000 different plant species spread out over an area of 70,000 m². Visitors can stroll through this lush garden, surrounded by exotic flora and fauna, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of nature at its most stunning.
Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mountain Church)

5) Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Monte (Our Lady of the Mountain Church)

The Church of Our Lady of the Mount is a renowned landmark situated in the charming town of Monte, Funchal. Its historical significance, distinctive architecture, and cultural value make it a cherished site among tourists and locals alike.

Visitors can take a tour of the church and its premises, admire the mesmerizing views of Funchal from its hilltop location, and immerse themselves in the tranquil and spiritual ambiance. Monte is known for its picturesque gardens and green spaces that exhibit exotic plants and flowers, some of which are accessible to the public. The Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte can be accessed by climbing 68 inclined steps, which leave an impression on the mind, but the view from the top is worth the climb.

Constructed in the 18th century, the Church of Our Lady of the Mount is a remarkable example of Baroque architecture. Its stunning façade is adorned with intricate stonework and ornate decorations, which reflect the exceptional craftsmanship of that era. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the church is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Portugal. The interior of the church is equally captivating, showcasing splendid artwork, paintings, and sculptures that are a visual delight.

One of the most significant events celebrated at the Church of Our Lady of the Mount is the Assumption of Mary, observed annually on August 15th. The festival is a grand affair and one of the most prominent in the region. The festivities take place on the church grounds, where locals light fires and prepare traditional Madeiran delicacies. The atmosphere is filled with music, dance, and merriment, creating a colorful and joyous occasion.

Walking Tours in Funchal, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Funchal

Create Your Own Walk in Funchal

Creating your own self-guided walk in Funchal is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Funchal Introduction Walking Tour

Funchal Introduction Walking Tour

In 72 AD, Quintus Sertorius, a Roman general, encountered some sailors in Cadiz. The sailors spoke of two idyllic islands in the Atlantic; the "Isles of the Blessed." Quintus was intrigued, but he had other fish to fry. The islands slipped back into the mists of historic oblivion.

In 1418, Joao Goncalves Zarco and Tristao Vaz Teixeira, while in service to Henry the Navigator, were...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles