View Funchal on a cable car ride
Up until 1943, Funchal was connected to the district of Monte by the Monte Railway. Construction of the Madeira cable car wasn’t started until 1999 and was then finished a year later in 2000. The lower station is located in the Alma Reis Garden, which covers around 13 square metres of parkland, criss-crossed by pathways made from wood and stone. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic before you head up the mountain.
The trip takes around 15 minutes and during the journey you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the city of Funchal. These give way to even more impressive vistas of the mountains, as your gondola rises to around 560 metres above the ground. There are almost 40 cabins, allowing the cable car to carry up to 800 passengers per hour.
Once you’ve passed over the mountain tops, you’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view of Funchal Bay, which is the perfect moment to get your camera out and start snapping. With every seat by a window and 360° views, even the most inexperienced photographers are sure to come away with some shots that are worth sharing with friends when you get back home.
Those with mobility problems are well catered for; both the lower and upper stations of the cable car system are well equipped for wheelchairs, and the cabins are equally accommodating.
The Madeira cable car is open for business all year round between 9am and 5.45pm, only closing its doors on Christmas Day.
Once you’ve got to the top and explored the Monte Church and the Tropical Garden, you’ll then have to decide how you’re going to get back to the bottom. You could hop in another cabin and drift gently back down, taking photos as you go. You can catch one of the regular buses and savour the scenery from closer quarters, or enjoy the thrill of a sled ride.
Don’t think sleighs and snow: the toboggan from the top of the mountain is made from wicker and housed on top of two ski-style runners made from wood. You’ll be conducted safely by two experienced drivers, who’ll navigate through streets and paths, using the rubber soles on their boots to control the speed of your descent. While it might sound a little hair-raising, your drivers will be happy to adjust the speed to your tastes, so you can go as fast or as slowly as you like.