Toboggans have apparently been sliding down the streets between Monte and Funchal since the 1850s. The two-seater, wicker, sledges slide on wooden runners, pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white trousers, blue jacket and a straw hat – they wear rubber-soled boots to use as brakes.
The easiest way to reach the toboggan is to take the cable car up from Funchal – the cable ride is spectacular by itself. Then, you should visit the amazing Monte Palace Tropical Garden. You could also take a second cable car to the Botanical Gardens – but these aren’t that impressive and not really worth the visit. I think you can buy a combined one-way cable car and Tropical Garden ticket in Funchal.
Or, you can take a bus to Monte. The buses aren’t expensive and you can buy daily, multi-day and weekly passes.
The Monte toboggans are at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Nossa Senhora do Monte Church – this isn’t far from the entrance to the Tropical Gardens.
Here’s the view from the church:
There are loads of toboggan guys; some waiting for customers, some on a break just hanging about chatting and smoking. There wasn’t much of queue. Ride for two people is EUR30.
We jumped in – there’s no fussy seatbelts, helmets nor a safety demonstration, the ride just starts, with two guys steering from the back of the sled. The ride lasts about 10 minutes and covers 2km – I managed to video the first stage before my phone memory was full:
The video ran out at what I thought was the end of the ride. But this was just a flat part where they pull you along until the second downhill stage.
The ride ended and I tipped something like EUR 4. I’d heard that they ask for tips, but I was happy to tip, considering the effort they put in, despite all being heavy smokers!
At least the toboggans are taken back up by a van – not sure what they did back in 1850.
At this point, we were halfway to Funchal. There are plenty of taxis waiting. We took a bus that stopped nearby – still using our EUR 20 weekly pass.
If you are visiting Madeira then you really should take the toboggan ride.