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!
There is a sightseeing bus which tours around Funchal in a half day - you can get on and off at the various stops on route and pick it up again. It cost about 7.50 euros (2003) and your ticket was valid on the local busues for the rest of the day too. Funchal centre is easily explored on foot but if you wanted to travel a bit further out of town to one of the gardens then its not bad value.
Down at Funchal harbour many sailing and deep sea fishing tours are advertised - also trips to see the dolphins. we didn't manage time to do any of these but the one that caught my eye was a half day sailing on the Santa Maria de Columbo- a replica of Christopher Columbus's galleon - built only in 1998 and exhibited first at the Expo in Lisbon. Don't be fooled by the sails though - there's also a motor on board!
Most visitors to Funchal arrive via the airport some 18km away and bus transfer. Another option is on a cruise visit. During our stay in Funchal crusie boats were arriving and departing daily - on one day 3 cruise ships were docked in Funchal's Harbour. This ship here is the well known cruise ship "Oriana"
Funchal's yellow taxis are fairly good value - there are set prices for the tourist destinations. Check first and always insist on the meter being put on. They can also be hired for half day/full day tours of the island - your own itinerary if desired and for a group of three or more can be more economical then the organised tours.
When arriving in Maderia it was quiet a shock to come around a mountain and almost straightaway see the runway, they have extended it lately so it must have been tiny before. I must admit I was helping the pilot to brake!!!
Cheap and cheerful, we spent a full day travelling to the north side of the island on a bus with only 3 other passengers. We had lunch overlooking the sea from a terraced cafe with only 2 other people. We travelled back over the mountains down the centre of Maderia to Funchal and the whole experience cost only 20.00pounds for the 2 of us,including lunch!! We set out at 9.ooam and got back at 8.00pm, not a bad ehh??
To see the Island, you can book halfday and full day trips with a taxi driver. Most of them do speak understandeable english. Half day trips cost about 50 Euro, full day around 90 Euro (prices summer 2003)
Take the cablecar up to Monte. The cablecar station is at Avenida do Mar in the Zona Velha of Funchal.
The end of the ride is at Caminho das Babosas, right at the entrance of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
Cost in April 2003: € 8,50 one way.
The tobogan ride! In Monte you can hire a so-called 'tobogan' which is a cane basket assembled on ironwork in which 2 people can take place. The tobogan is controlled with ropes and man-power - two men will pull and push the tobogan 2 km further down, from Monte to Livramento. From Livramento you can either hike to Funchal or take a bus or taxi.
Cost in April 2003: 20 euro (for 1 or 2 persons).
Start of the ride: corner Caminho das Babosas/Caminho do Monte.
In fact this tobogan ride can be classified as a tourist trap although it was fun.
The best way to visit Funchal! It takes you to all the miradouros or view points in Funchal area!
To other Madeira areas there are also many bus companies, like Rodoeste and SAM.