if you are going to make much use of buses, you are virtually bound to buy the bus timetable issued by the Tourist Office - if nly to discover where to get your bus among the several private companies and the multitude of separate termini of the city buses [Horarios de Funchal]
However you do need to check the latest changes, which are sometimes the cause of inaccuracy in a generally good guide.
Taxis are widely available in Funchal and can clearly be identified by the yellow car with blue stripes. However be careful - this is the only negative aspect that I discovered on the island, that taxis are taking advantage of tourists. Statements such as it is too long to walk, overprices etc. are common. I was told by one taxi that the distance of where I wanted to go to was 5 km and it turned out to be 1 km. Rates within the town should not exceed EUR 7.50.
One good way to explore Funchal is onboard the Open Bus. It is a hop on hop off tour that covers all important aspects of the city of Funchal. One of the departure points is along the marina waterfront. Commentaries are available in a number of languages.
Are you nervous about taking your baby or child on a plane trip? You aren't alone, most parents are nervous about it. We have moved with Iris to Madeira by plane this holiday and drove some distances by car on the island itself and we learned a few things that hopefully will help you.
Bring books, old favourite toys and new surprise toys. Do remember that balls are not a good idea as they can end up anywhere! Our best buys were definitely books, especially sticker books are great! They can peel the stickers off, are glossy, have thick pages to turn easy, have bright colours and come in endless subjects. They're a nice break from the other books your child might be tired of, too. Put aside fears of setting poor eating habits, and bring on the snacks! We told Iris: “Welcome to the world of boredom eating."
If your child is big ask for earplugs as soon as you board the aircraft. Make use of them for take-off then save them for landing as the crew may not have any fresh ones left by then. Also let them eat candies, this helps the kids tremendously if they don't know how to pop their ears.
Toy bars meant for stroller use are a big help in the car, as they often feature toys plus a snack cup, and are big and easy for you to grab from the front seat for refills. During the car trip it’s always a good idea to play a game and sing some songs. It sounds rather easy, but it does work!
We only have one last statement! Just do it! Don’t be afraid that it might go wrong. We have learned this, because we have been travelling with Iris from the beginning. She was only 6 weeks young when we had our first short vacation and stayed in a hotel. Iris has been used to it rather fast and (maybe because of it) has always been an easy kid to get along with.
If you are a TAP ( Air Portugal ) passenger coming from Lisbon you can get on the Aerobus free of charge if you show the driver your boarding ticket. If you are not a TAP passenger you will have to pay on the bus. ( 5 Euros ) The Aerobus runs from right outside the terminal building - look to the right and you will see the stop which has a timetable on it. The buses are not that frequent and run about every hour and a half. Times are on the web-site.
The Aerobus runs right into Funchal and a couple of miles out to the west of town. ( Praia Formosa ) If you tell the driver the name of your hotel he will tell you which stop to get of at. Timetables are on all stops for your return journey.
Taxis are located right outside the airport terminal and are easy to spot as all cabs are yellow with blue stripes. The standard fare into Funchal is 30 Euros for up to 4 passengers.
On a busy day your driver will try to do as many trips as possible so be prepared for an interesting ride!!!
This is one of the surprises Funchal had for us. Usually we are well prepared when we go on our journeys, but we never heared of the Toboggan ride before we arrived in Monte. We learned that originally it's a fast means of transport down to Funchal for people living in Monte, these toboggan sledges appeared around 1850.
The fun thing is that they are still in use today, of course as a means to attrack tourists. Asking around learned us that they attract thousands of tourists every year who want to make this exciting experience of sliding at high speed on narrow, winding streets down to Funchal. These two-seater wicker baskets glide on wooden runners, pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes.
They told us not to miss out on it, but we had our car parked on the hill in Monte and were there with the 3 of us. A bit difficult to arrange this downhill journey to Funchal which will be made in about 10 minutes on a total course of 2 km, reaching at times a speed of 48 km/hour. Adventurous, yet safe, an ‘old-fashioned’ toboggan ride to make your way down from Monte is the perfect contrast to the high-technology cable car going up to Monte.
Find the Monte toboggans at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Nossa Senhora do Monte Church.
If you like hiking, Madeira is your paradise! Walking the "levada" paths is one of the most popular activities with visitors.
We noticed that yhe walking paths are of a good quality and therefore hiking the island is something which is possible to do for everybody!
But walking in Funchal is a different story. Everything which is worth while to see in the city centre or close to it. So, everything can be explored by footh!
We did not stop hiking difficults paths, because of little Iris (she was 1 year at that time). She sat in a special bag at our backs adn she also had the time of her life looking around.
Take the cable car to Monte, you will see beautiful scenery on the way! The cable car station is located at the eastern end of Avenido do Mar promenade in Funchal. One-way ticket costs 8,50 EUR (in 2003), but it's great fun and worth it!
If you have a head for heights the cable-car trip up to Monte is a must for the views over Funchal. The modern cable-car has replaced the old funicular that used to connect Funchal with Monte. The lower terminal station is at the Parque Almirante Reis, located in the old part of Funchal town. For those of you that don't like cable-cars the local bus (number 20) also makes the journey up to Monte. The Monte Station is situated near Monte Palace Tropical Garden, at Caminho das Babosas. The ride takes about 15 minutes. You can return partway by the famous, if somewhat tourist, wicker basket sledge ride (see tourist trap tip) - different anyway!