If you are using local yellow buses in Funchal best value are the Duplo tickets which are valid for 2 journeys. The journeys do not have to be taken on the same route or even on the same day so they are really flexible.
A single journey paid for on the bus is 1 Euro 40 cents but a Duplo ticket is only 1 Euro 50 Cents and is therefore virtually half price. Duplo tickets can be bought at most newsagents, small shops or at kiosks on Avenida do Mar ( The harbour front )
You need to insert the ticket into the little machine by the driver as you board the bus. There are easy to read maps showing all routes on most bus shelters. These tickets are valid to visit the top of the cable car at Monte.
Buses on Madeira can be confusing as there are about 6 different independant companies operating in different areas of the island. To make things worse most of these companies have buses coming into Funchal.
If you just need to travel in Funchal or within a few miles of it it's best to stick to the local buses which are yellow in colour. ( see tip on tickets )
If you need to travel outside the city area go to the bottom of the cablecar in Funchal where all buses start from. There are kiosks that can give you information, timetables and sell you tickets for your journey.
Journeys outside Funchal do not, generally, run that frequently but are reliable and cheap. A 45 minute journey to Ribeiro Frio cost less than 3 Euros.
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.
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.
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"
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!
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??
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.
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.
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.
I can recommen a taxi operating from the Monumental Lido area. The driver is Jorge, and he speaks good Engish, is very knowledgeable and likes to explain things about Madeira. He drives a new Seat Alhambra which can take 6 passengers and daysacks. He will take you to the start of walks and you can hire him for the day or 1/2 day. Much cheaper than the coach trips.
His door number is 1183 and his phone number 917842451
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!
Funchal has a good bus system that takes you all aound Funchal and the main towns on the island.
The main bus station is down by the harbour front in Funchal right by the cable car station.
A trip around Funchal or the nearby towns should cost you just under 2 euros and if you travel further to some of the towns around the island then it will cost you more, but prices are generally resonable for public transportation om Madeira.
The city busses in Funchal are actually specially made for the city cause they need to tackle some very steep hills, so thye are fitted with 4 wheel drive and truck engines so they can get to the higher suburbs without breaking down too often.