Opened in 1960 the jardim botanico da madeira (Madeira Botanical Garden) is situated on a steep slope, 4km north of Funchal.
The gardens contain around 2,500 different species of flower most of which flower in spring and summer. However a trip in winter is certainly not futile. If anything Madeira in winter is much better, because you’ll miss the bulk of the tourists.
Arriving and Paying
The entrance fee to the gardens alone is 1,60€ (children and between 6 to 18 years old) and 5,00€ for adults. €9.80 for our group of four. You can opt for a tour which I think is 15€.
Entries are free to the general public on the following days:
March 21 – World Forest Day
April 30 – Anniversary of the Botanical Garden
May 18 – World Day of Museums
July 1 – Day of the Autonomous Region of Madeira
September 27 – World Tourism Day
You are not given a map of the gardens or any information, and the ladies behind the counter didn’t even give me a smile, despite me speaking in my best Portuguese! <- which still isn’t great. But still, the reception was frosty and it didn’t help that there was a group of French ladies behind me, correcting everything I said….. Roll eyes.
You can get the bus or the teleferico from the ‘Zona Velha’ (Old Town) up to the gardens but we opted to drive. We took exit 13 off the expresso (motorway) and made our way up the steep and climbing roads. Parking is somewhat limited; there are two car park areas. The top car park will hold about 7 cars and the bottom about 15.
Jardim Botanico da Madeira
One of the Jardim Botanico da Madeira’s main purposes was the conservation of indigenous Madeiran plants, some of which are very rare or now extinct in the wild.
Up high above Funchal, the view over the bay from the gardens is wonderful and if it weren’t for the expresso (motorway) just below it would be eerily peaceful.
The Garden presents five areas: the Arboretum, with a collection of trees and shrubs from various parts of the world: the Aromatic and Medicinal Plants; the Indigenous Plants with a collection of indigenous plants of the Madeira Archipelago; the Succulent Plants, known for their capacity for water storage and the Agricultural Plants.
Without a map it’s quite difficult to know where you are so I do recommend taking a photo of the map which is on a display board at the entrance. Thank you to Sophie (No1 daughter) for snapping this with her phone – on our way out! Because we had no map, we missed over half of the gardens.
It feels like you’re deep underground in this cool, dark and sheltered part of the park. Water drips from the walls and sits in the green ponds.
There are a number of viewing points around the park. This one is on the north-western corner and overlooks the graduated landscape and the motorway.
Intricately designed with reds and greens, this garden spells out the name and dates of the Jardim Botanico da Madeira.
the Succulent Plants
Making our way through this part of the garden was a little creepy. Huge cacti towered over us and they’re covered in cobwebs!
Toilets and cafe
The toilets and cafe are discreetly blended into the rock-work and in the centre of the park. We didn’t go into the cafe but the toilets were in good condition and being cleaned.
I think these flowers are from the Madeiran orchid section of the gardens but I’m not entirely sure.
More from the nurseries
These gardens are well maintained and there were a variety of gardeners working on them when we visited. Obviously, visiting in winter many of the flowers won’t bloom but there’s still plenty to see.
The group tour seemed to be walking and being led at a very fast pace and it looked quite impersonal. I would definitely recommend going it alone and taking your time.
Make sure you photograph the map at the entrance so you don’t miss half the gardens. Doh. Silly us.
Over all, great value for money and you could easily spend half a day here!