facts & Live Weather of Monte to botanical Garden
> Duration: 2-3 hours
> Length: 8.00 km
> Suitable for people with acrophobia: Yes
> Best-Time-To-Walk: All day
> Accessible with Public Transport: Yes
> Secured: Partly Secured
> Refreshment stops available: Yes
> Loop trail: No
> Family Friendly: Yes – But watch your kids
Location of the Walk Monte to Botanical Garden
Tip: This map will automatically show you the best route from your current location to the start of the trail.
Highlights of Monte to Botanical Garden
Description of the Walk Monte to Botanical Garden
We from Madeira-Portugal-Guide are all for safety. That is why we recommend to never walk any of the Levadas alone. Some of them can be dangerous and involve passing high altitude areas. Falling off a steep slope or cliff, can lead to severe injuries or worse. If, for whatever reason, you decide to go alone, let someone know which Levada you will hike and report back to them, once you have safely returned.
All information on this page is made to the best of our knowledge, belief and care. A guarantee for the correctness can not be given, a liability due to the contents is therefore excluded. The use of the information is at your own risk. For accidents, which might be due to our information, is not liable. Mountain hiking, mountaineering and rock climbing are potentially dangerous activities. Each hiker must decide for himself whether the goal he aspires to corresponds to his mountaineering abilities. He has to inform himself before the tour about the current weather conditions and the degree of difficulty of the tour and decide for himself whether this tour meets his abilities. The suggestions on this page do not mean that the destination is easily accessible, unforeseen weather events can make the most harmless way impassable! This applies to every altitude. Meanwhile, the track or parts of this track can be locked.
History of Monte and sledge riding
Pilgrimage Church “Nossa Senhora do Monte”
On this walk you will get to see four significant attractions. The first, and most notable, is the famous pilgrimage church “Nossa Senhora do Monte”. This building took 77 years (1741-1818) to construct. The builders needed such a long time, because a violent earthquake in the year 1748 forced them to halt construction for several decades.
The second attraction is located inside the church at the altar – a little statue of Holy Mary. Legend has it, that a female shepherd had a vision of the legendary figure appearing exactly at this spot. She returned to the location with her father and to their surprise found a little statue of Holy Mary. Since then, a large number of people have reported of being healed after they were close to the relic.
Also inside the church is the third attraction – the remains of the last Austrian emperor Karl I. He was exiled to Madeira, only to succumb to pneumonia two months later.
Last, but definitely not least, we have Madeiras funniest transportation system – sledge riding. Located at the bottom of the church stairway, you will find a unique mode of transport that was commonly used in the 1850s. Back then up to 10 people could go down the hill on a sledge. Today it simply serves as a tourist attraction. Up to three people per sled can have a fun ride down the hill.
How to get there
Since you are not hiking on a loop trail and it is close to the city center of Funchal, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use a car. Instead make use of the funicular or the public bus to get there. To make it special we decided for this hike to start at the funicular heading to Monte and then use the public bus for our return trip.
Of course, if you don’t want to start with the funicular, you can also use the public bus to Monte. Follow this link to see the official schedule of all public bus lines on Madeira.
Important to know
The final part of this walk is tough, as you will have to head down a steep mountain for about 20 minutes. If you have problems with your knees, I do not recommend this walk for you. Instead take the much easier Levada “Torres”.
While following the Levada you will pass some remote areas where you will not be able to access the internet. I recommend to you, to save this guide as a PDF on your mobile device. To do that, click on the Printer-Button in the share-section and save this page as a PDF file. This will allow you to access the trail description without the need for a stable internet connection.
Let us have a little adventure before we start the walk from Monte to the botanical garden. Head to the base of the aerial cable car in the center of Funchal. Once you are there buy a ticket. As of writing (2019), a ticket costs € 11,-. Of course, prices can change over time. After that hop on board an aerial cable car and enjoy the 20 minutes ride up to Monte.
Once you have arrived at the top, exit the building and first head left. We are going to do a little detour, but trust me, it will be worth your time. On this path you will walk alongside the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. If you have a lot of spare time, definitely check it out. For now, follow the street shown in the picture below:
A few minutes later you will arrive at the starting point of the famous sledge ride. As mentioned above, it is now a tourist attraction and allows visitors to slide down the mountain. The sledge is controlled by two professional drivers called “Carreiros”, whom are dressed in white and wear a straw hat on their head. It is a lot of fun, but a bit expensive.
On the right side you will see the waiting line for the sledges. Pass it and follow the path.
You should immediately see stairs on the right side. Take them.
When you have completed the stairs, turn right again and follow the path upwards.
You will now reach a large set of stairs that lead to the pilgrimage church “Nossa Senhora do Monte”. This church contains something special inside – the tomb of the last Austrian emperor, Karl the First. At the end of World War 1 he had to step down from his royal position and was exiled to Monte. He died young and his remains are kept in this church. Head inside and take a look at it yourself.
After the visit, head down the stairs, turn left and keep going on that path.
Turn right and you will see the starting point of the sledge ride again. We are going to head back to the funicular station, so take a left on the road.
Once you have reached the station follow the street straight ahead.
You will reach an open square called “Largo de Babosas”. The chapel “Nossa Senhora da Conceicao” used to be located here. Unfortunately it was destroyed by a fire in the year 2006. Also covered in flames was the surrounding valley “Ribeira de Joao Gomes”, of which you can have a nice view of from here. On the square you will see a little black building. Go towards it and take the street on the left. There are several signs saying “Curral dos Romeiros” or “Bom Successo” or “Teleferico”.
Head down the path to another funicular station.
Once you get to the entrance of the station, take the path on the right, this aerial cable car goes directly to the botanical garden, so if you are lazy (and I hope you are not :-D) take it and you are done with this walk.
The following part will be easy. Just follow the road. After a little while you will cross this bridge:
This is the point from where we will start ascending again. After about 5 to 10 minutes you will reach the cross section from the picture below. Take the path on the right to “Curral dos Romeiros”.
Follow the path until you reach its end.
Keep on heading upwards on the road until you reach the cross section from the image below. Take the street that is next to the yellow building (the one in the middle).
Shortly afterwards you will reach the end of the street. Just keep going straight.
Soon you will see a staircase on your left-hand side. Follow it upwards.
You will come across a professional sign that says Levada with a heart next to it. The arrow shows the direction we have to walk in.
About 20 meters further in you will reach the “Levada dos Tornos”. We will follow it for a while. You will probably already have noticed the drastic change in landscape.
We will follow the Levada for about 30 to 40 minutes. After that you will reach this cross section. Ignore the stairs and keep going straight.
You will reach the private property of the hotel Choupana Hills Resort. Like the chapel on the square, it too, was a victim of the fire in 2006 (fun fact: should you have 14 million dollars in your pocket, you can purchase the former accommodation). It is allowed to enter the private grounds, which is exactly what we are going to do.
Follow the Levada dos Tornos. Look to your left and right and you will see lodges that have been destroyed by the fire. Just make sure to stay on the path. Even though the hotel has been closed down, security guards still look after the place.
It will take you about 5 to 10 minutes to pass the private hotel. When you have reached the point in the picture below, you will exit the property.
Keep on following the Levada for another 5 minutes, until you get to a little street.
This is where we leave the “Levada dos Tornos” behind and follow the street downwards. You will pass the private chapel “Quinta do Pomar”. It will be to your left-hand side.
Approximately 5 minutes the street takes a hard turn to the left. Do not follow it, instead head straight on the street in front of you. This is the most challenging part of this walk. We will go downwards on that steep street for about 20 minutes.
Take your time with this one. I stopped for a rest several times. As you can see from the picture below, the street is pretty steep.
10 minutes later you will reach a cross section. Just keep on going downwards. I know it is exhausting, but look at the bright side! You have a great view! Right :-D?! If you can’t take it anymore, there is a bar at that corner. The owner saw me coming and tried to lure me in with a fresh cold beer. I swear, I shouldn’t have refused his offer.
Keep on heading downwards for another 10 minutes or so, to reach the botanical garden (right-hand side).
At the entrance is a big parking space with a lot of cabs that can bring you back to the center. Additionally there is a bus (line 31) arriving every hour to pick up tourists and bring them back to town for around 2 euros. Before you head back, I advise you to check out the botanical garden. It is absolutely beautiful!
High Five yourself and/or your friends for completing the walk!
Detailed map of the Levada dos Tornos
Tip: This map can also display the elevation of the route. To use this feature press play. Then go to the top right corner, click on menu and select “Hills”. Unfortunately the trail on the “Levada dos Tornos” could not be mapped out on this map – just follow the plan.
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