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Enjoy a ride with the toboggan in Madeira!
A quick overview
What to do? Race down a mountain in a wicker basket!
Costs? From € 25,00
Where? From Monte Church downhill, close to Funchal in Madeira, Portugal.
Worth it? If you’re up for a thrill… YES!
The history of the Monte toboggan ride in Madeira
Before you think, ah… another tourist trap, the toboggan rides in Madeira actually have a very long history. Since the 19th century, the Monte Toboggan Sledges slide down the hill overlooking Funchal in Portugal. Back in the day, it was a form of public transport. It was the easiest way for local residents to travel from the village of Monte to Funchal. As public transport developed, there was no more need for sledges to travel down. Still, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island of Madeira, and now the Funchal toboggan transport tourists. And let’s be honest; it’s an unforgettable and unique experience for all ages!
How does the Funchal toboggan ride work?
The Monte toboggans are made of wicker, which is then connected to two wooden runners. They are traditionally handcrafted using techniques from the mid-1800s! The highest quality wood is used to make the sledges, and the toboggan sledges, or Carro de Cesto, are steered and powered by two men, Carreiros. The drivers are dressed in white, wearing the typical Madeira straw hats, the Straw boater. Check out their shoes as well! The rubber-soled boots are heavy, and the shoes assist in stopping the sledge downhill if needed. The boots function as brakes! How cool is that? All this is possible using ropes and greased-up rags to grease the wooden runners. The Carreiros are incredibly experienced, offering a safe journey down the hill. Back in the day, the sleighs had to be carried back up by staffing! How cool is this way of downhill public transportation? Check the pictures around the entrance to get a glimpse of the old days.
What to expect during your Madeira toboggan ride?
The Monte toboggan ride down is 2 kilometres long, and you reach speeds up to 30 kilometres an hour! It’s a steep hill with a curvy road that adds extra fun to the journey. Two men with their rubber-soled boots will assist the toboggans downhill the windy roads. The finishing point is in Livramento, a Funchal suburb. Here you can buy a picture that a photographer took during your ride, and there is a souvenir shop, bar and a toilet. From here, there is also a taxi and bus service back to Funchal. Check the video below to get an idea of what it’s like.
Where can you ride the Madeira toboggan?
Monte is a small village on top of a hill, just outside the capital city of Funchal. The Madeira toboggan ride starts close to the cable car, and the Nossa Senhora do Monte Church. The starting point is marked as Associação dos Carreiros do Monte (see the below map). From the cable car’s exit, it’s around a 5-10 minute walk. The exact address is Caminho do Monte nº4 (GPS: 32°40’31.32 “N16°54’9.67” W).
When you arrive, you can purchase your tickets and join the queue. This might be the most significant downside, as riding the toboggan in Madeira is popular! The line sometimes starts at Nossa Senhora do Monte Church ( a minute walk) on busy days. Depending on the time of year and day, you might have to wait a while (2 hours can be normal…). Please remember that all the toboggans and staff slide down but must also come back up! The sledges are placed onto trucks to be transported back to Monte, and the team will take a bus back up. This is a timely process, but one that’s been mastered. Waiting is, unfortunately, part of the game, but well worth it! There are toilets also in the waiting area, and you can purchase something to eat and drink nearby.
The Funchal toboggan route map
How to get to the Madeira toboggan?
Getting uphill is fun if you decide to take the cable car. The Funchal Cable Car starts in Funchal on Av. do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirenses. From there, it’s a 15 to 25-minute trip to the top. Teleférico do Funchal opens at 9 AM, and you can ride the cable car until 5.45 PM. A one-way ticket costs € 12,50 per person. A return ticket for the cable car costs € 18,00. Don’t purchase a return ticket if you decide to ride the toboggan unless you want to return to Monte afterwards.
If you prefer to avoid heights and like to take a bus, you can use services 20, 21, or 48. You can also take a taxi, which costs between € 8,00 to € 20,00. Bolt is usually the cheapest option, followed by Uber and the regular cab.
If you prefer a hotel pickup, there are taxi services between the toboggan rides and Funchal. From Monte to Funchal, you pay € 20,00. Between the start of the toboggan and the endpoint, you pay € 10,00. From the endpoint to Funchal, it’s also € 10,00. If you decide to walk back to Funchal, it will take around 15 minutes, and it’s all downhill.
Did you rent a car? You can also drive to Monte and park at a free car park. The closest place to park your vehicle is Parking Upper Cable car station.
Buying tickets for the Madeira toboggan rides
You can buy tickets to ride the toboggan in Madeira at Associação dos Carreiros do Monte. Please note that you must pay cash and card payments are not accepted! The wicker baskets have a place for 1, 2, or 3 people at a time.
Prices are as follows:
Children up to 5 years old: free (must be accompanied by an adult)
One person: € 25,00
Two people: € 30,00
Three people: € 45,00
Opening hours for the Madeira toboggan
The Monte Toboggan in Madeira is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM until 6 PM Departures. The Monte toboggan run closes at 17:45, and the Livramento Terminal closes at 18:15
If the weather is bad and it rains, the sledges will probably not ride. After all, it’s already slippery as it is! Depending on the number of waiting customers, the ticket booth might close early also. There are also some holidays that the toboggan isn’t available:
- August 14th and 15th (Festivities in honour of Our Lady of Monte)
- Christmas Day (December 25th)
- New Year’s Day (January 1st)
- Easter on Good Friday and Easter Sunday
Other things to do in the area
Don’t leave Monte just yet, as there is more! Monte Palace Madeira (pictured below) is a must-see when visiting Funchal! You can, of course, also visit these stunning gardens before you ride the toboggan. Other highlights in the area are Madeira Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico da Madeira), Quinta da Boa Vista, and Nossa Senhora do Monte Church (Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte). The Senhora do Monte Church is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9 AM until 7 PM or Sunday and Monday from 9 AM until 6 PM. When you visit the church, you can also see the tomb of Emperor Charles IV, also known as Charles of Luxembourg, who died in exile in Madeira.
Hotels in Monte and Funchal
From Monte, you’ll enjoy one of the best views over Funchal. So why not stay the night here? There is a fabulous selection of hotels here, such as Babosas Village, La Chambre de Ker Briac, Vila da Portada, and Quinta Belmonte Funchal. Do you prefer to stay in Funchals city centre? Then you can check the complete list of hotels in Funchal below:
The sledges in Madeira are located in Monte. You can get there by Teleférico do Funchal, taxi or public transport. The ride starts close to Nossa Senhora do Monte Church and goes down to Livramento, a suburb in the Madeira capital of Funchal.
Children up to 5 years old: free (must be accompanied by an adult). One person: € 25,00. Two people: € 30,00. Three people: € 45,00.
The route from Monte to Livramento is about 2 kilometres, and the toboggan ride down takes about 10 minutes.
A Madeira toboggan ride might not be for the faintest of hearts, but it’s not super scary, either. So if you are up for a bit of a thrill, do it! The Carreiros are dressed in white, wearing the typical straw hats and rubber-soled shoes, while tourists are racing in the toboggan down towards sea level. The queue moves quickly, and before you know it, you board one of the coolest commutes in the world! It’s one of the most famous attractions on the island, and a ride with the toboggans will be a great memory of your trip to Portugal. Enjoy the ride!
There is, of course, a lot more to do in Funchal. Check out this comprehensive list that will help you with your Funchal itinerary!