Madeira Gardens & Flowers Tour 2024

Madeira Gardens & Flowers Tour

May 30th – June 6th, 2024

Nicknamed ‘The Land of Eternal Spring’ for its subtropical climate, compact Madeira island lies around 1076 kms from Portugal, and is blessed with beautiful weather. With its superb mild all-year round climate (between 73°F (23°C) – 61°F (16°C)) Madeira has become an important destination for garden and plant lovers from all over the world. The capital, Funchal, has a natural harbor where, on old trade routes, visiting ships took on supplies of wheat and sugarcane, often giving plants from their native lands in return. This may explain why the island is such a botanical paradise today. Flowers and fruit trees line the hills and terraces and every possible bit of space is utilised to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in the fertile volcanic soil. The Portuguese word madeira means wood, because forests coated the island when navigators first settled its shores in the 15th century. Safe, beautiful and with a balmy climate, this mountainous island is a joy to visit.

 Much of the island is a conservation area where rare flowers cover the island like a green mantle. Orchids, bougainvillaea, lilies, hydrangeas, magnolias, jacarandas and azaleas bloom effortlessly throughout the year, and delight the eye at every turn. One of the nicest ways to explore the island is by following the footpaths alongside the “levadas” (small man-made irrigation canals), which wind their way around the island, and we have included a gentle levada walk for you to experience. The flat Levada trails are suited to all fitness and experience levels.

 With influences stemming from Mediterranean and Portuguese cuisines, Madeira boasts an exciting culinary scene. Plenty of shopping too with many quaint shops lining the main street. Many buildings are pink—a color that during a past era signified that the owner was wealthy. The main street—Avenida do Mar—is known as the city’s own Champs-Élysées with its ample stores, café culture, wide sidewalks, spewing fountains and artistic illumination in the evening.

 There are plenty of aromatic local wines to sip on as you take a break in one of the many bars or restaurants in Funchal. Madeira is known for its legendary wine from dry to sweet – of interest… The fortified wine Madeira came into being during the 15th century, when European ships carried barrels of sweetened wine around the globe only to find that, in the heat of the tropics, the brew matured faster and with fruitier notes. It became even more popular during the 18th century when a heating process replicated the sloshing of the casks on the sunny seas. Poncha—typically made with citrus fruit, rum and honey. Originally medicinal, this elixir was concocted by fishermen to soothe throats irritated by sea spray. Today, the drink is often paired with a snack known as tremoços—lupini beans sprinkled with salt and garlic. I have tasted all… As well, sweet exotic fruits are available at the farmers’ markets such as Mercado dos Lavradores – an open-air market popular with the locals which we will also visit.

 The currency used in Madeira is the Euro, and there are plenty of ATMs in Funchal. There is no expectation to tip in Madeira, so don’t feel obliged to leave anything after you finish your meal or when using local taxis.

 Our guide, who I have used on previous tours and is wonderful, and I are waiting to show you how magical this part of the world really is……Hope you will join me!

 Oh, I am so excited to share this ebook with you….

 ‘It is not only to lovers of flowers, who, should they become the happy possessors of a garden in Madeira, will find in it a never-ending source of enjoyment, but also to those who wish to explore the natural scenery of the island, that I heartily recommend a visit to Madeira. Probably no other island of its size has such grand and varied scenery.’ ‘The Flowers and Gardens of Madeira’, by Florence Du Cane   I cannot wait to sit down and read this in preparation for our tour…gorgeous old artwork, easy to read, and amazing to find it I think….I hope you enjoy it as well and feel richer for it.

 PLEASE NOTEI am holding just 5 Twin/Double rooms and 4 Single rooms for this small group tour. Once gone I have no more rooms left!

Please Click on Each Day to bring up the Itinerary for that Day

Day 1 Thursday, May 30 Arrival day

Independent arrivals, then make your way to your hotel for the next 7 nights. 

Hotel Quinta Penha de França

Rua Imperatriz da Amelia no 85, 9000-018 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Your lovely Superior Room includes a balcony with a side view to the ocean and also to the tropical gardens surrounding the hotel.  Free Wifi, hair dryer mini fridge, tea & coffee tray, safe, tv and aircon.  Unpack that bag and don’t even think about it until the end of the tour. 

TBC  Drinks and Guest Greetings at the hotel – the timing depends on when everyone arrives.

Day 2 Friday, May 31 Walking Tour in Funchal

9:00 am Depart with Guide

Funchal guided tour on foot – a wonderful walk along the streets tells you just how much life goes on here.  Mosts of the shops and restaurants are located in this area and there is lots of shopping and eating to be had! The concierge should have lots of ideas for you.

… a visit to Mercado dos Lavradores or The Workers Market, filled with exotic fruits and flowers – another must visit.  The building dates from 1940 and so well organized…and we are so lucky, we shall even see the ‘flower ladies’ in their traditional costumes.  Large Batisttini Faience tile panels of Maria de Portugal, dated 1940 and painted with regional themes by João Rodrigues, adorn the facade, the main entrance and the fishmonger.

…Cathedral – built in the 16th Century and a main historic landmark, a symbol of power and prosperity.  Of undeniable historical, architectural and artistic value, one of the interior highlights of the Cathedral is the chancel’s altarpiece ordered by King D. Manuel I in 1510-1515. The altarpiece, surmounted by a Gothic canopy, is in the form of a large polyptych, composed of gilt woodwork, supplemented by small sculptures, and oil paintings on wood. The high value of this altarpiece derives from the high technical quality of execution and the fact that it constitutes the only altarpiece of the Manueline period which remains, entirely, in its place of origin. Funchal’s Cathedral (Sé) also features one of Portugal’s most beautiful ceilings, made with wood from the island and the stalls of the chancel boast in Flemish style. The main entrance displays Gothic lines and the gilded woodwork pieces of the 17th Century point to some features of the Manueline period. The church also features an exceptional processional cross, donated by D. Manuel I, considered one of the masterpieces of the Portuguese Manueline goldsmithery.

… Municipal Garden – Also known as Donna Amélia Garden, in memory of the Queen, the Municipal Garden boasts beautiful flowers, plants and trees indigenous to Madeira as well as many other exotic species from all over the world. The construction of this garden dates back to 1880, and the first plants came from Paris and Porto.

… House Frederico Freitas –  The building, identified as a palace in the 19th century press, is the result of successive renovations and expansions, with the romantic interventions, bordering on the exotic, carried out in the second half of the 1800s being particularly striking. In 1941 the House was leased to Dr. Frederico de Freitas (1894-1978), Madeiran lawyer, notary and collector, who lived there for around 40 years, gathering an impressive collection of works of art, later bequeathed to the Autonomous Region of Madeira.
An illustrious personality, Frederico de Freitas played an active role in the local society and culture. He started collecting in the 1930s, but it was the move to the spacious house on Calçada that allowed him to organize his Casa das Coleções. And if its initial focus was on objects related to Madeira, it soon became more encompassing, involving a vast array of sculpture, painting, furniture, ceramics and engraving, of national and foreign origin including an extremely important collection of tiles.

Also of note is the Jardim sobre a Calcada, one of the rare traditional raised gardens still existing in the city complete with flower beds, pebbled pavement, vineyard corridor and the Casinha de Prazer or Pleasure House.

…Explore Rua Santa Maria with the characteristic painted doors.  The perfect example of how a bit of imagination can bring a city to life.  Completely reborn and wonderful!  It is now a public outdoor gallery displaying over 200 works of art, most painted on the doors of the houses and local cafes. Up until 2010, Rua de Santa Maria was an old cobbled street in Funchal with old abandoned buildings.

In comes photographer José Maria Zyberchem. He wanted to bring this historic street back to life and make it a center of art – alive and full of spirit. He started the Painted Doors Project, calling on local artists to start painting the old doors in the street. The talented artists were to ‘make something nice’ of these ordinary doors. More and more artists signed up to be part of the project and revive the area door by door. The result is impressive. And the goal of bringing back life to this area? Definitely accomplished! Now it’s filled with good restaurants and galleries, and is a must see destination in town.

…We will taste some local food and drinks… a different way to explore Funchal though its local shops, little restaurants and cafes.

Night: Quinta Penha de França

Breakfast and Food tour Lunch included with Dinner on own

Day 3 Saturday, June 1st Quinta Velha do Palheiro, Vale Paraiso for al fresco Lunch and Garden visit

9:00 am Depart with Guide and Driver   

…Palheiro Gardens have been featured in the book “The Gardener’s Garden” by Phaidon press. The book contains a selection of 250 noteworthy gardens from around the world. Of the 250 selected gardens, five are Portuguese and of those, one is in Madeira. This is the Palheiro Gardens, praised among the most beautiful in the world. Palheiro Gardens has also been noted in the Spanish edition of the tourism magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

The land first belonged to the Count of Carvalhal back in 1801. Here he built a hunting lodge with a carriageway entrance of 200 plane trees and imported exotic trees from all over the world including Camelia. In 1885 the estate was purchased by John Blandy and the following generations devoted themselves to the continuous development of the gardens so that today it is considered a Mecca for all botanic lovers. The gardens are famous not only for the variety of plants that grow there but for the beauty of their setting in the hills to the east of Funchal. Many tropical plants have found a home and the visitor can see Hibiscus and Bougainvillea in flower almost all the year round along with Jacaranda, Spathodeas, Erythrinas and Bauhinias in their season. Large specimens of tulips trees, sequois, ginkgo and cedars feature next to South African and Australasian flora for which the gardens are justly famous. Don’t forget to take a look at one of the rarest trees in the garden – the Burmese Saurauia nepalensis.

The family continued the development of the Gardens in the 1900s and it was Mildred Blandy who introduced many plants including proteas from South Africa. In 1997 the Counts’s house was renovated and converted to a hotel known as the Casa Velha do Palheiro, a Relais & Château member.

This Eden is divided into several areas: Main Garden, Sunken Garden, Ribeiro do Inferno, Rose Garden, Lady’s Garden and the Tea-House area where you may admire a Brazilian auracaria and a magnificent New Zealand metrosideros. You may also enjoy lakes with water lilies, an interesting bush-sculptured family of hens and beautiful flower beds with purple and orange flowers. The preservation of this natural treasure has the personal touch of Christina Blandy and a team of dedicated gardeners.

…Leave for Vale Paraíso for an al fresco lunch followed by a visit of their gardens. The owner, Sofia Camara, will lead the visit and introduce us to the Madeira rich flora here.

Night: Quinta Penha de França

Breakfast and al fresco Lunch included with Dinner on own

Day 4 Sunday, June 2 Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, Lunch at Quinta Jardins do Lago & Gardens

9:00 am Depart with Guide and Driver   

…Monte Palace ‘‘Every corner another surprise, so well kept. We walk down to the sound of birds & the water from all the water features. It’s impossible not to go photography mad lol. The richness of the fauna & flora is formidable’  Thousands of plant species and a section devoted solely to the flora of Madeira.’

In the 18th century the English Consul Charles Murray, bought a property south of the church in “Monte” and transformed it into a beautiful estate, then called “Quinta do Prazer” (The Pleasure Estate). Towards the end of the 19th century, some of the wealthiest families of Madeira lived in fine estates situated on the outskirts of Funchal. In 1897, Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues acquired the estate and, inspired by the palaces that he once saw on the margins of the Rhine River, he built a palace-like residence which was later converted into a Hotel named the “Monte Palace Hotel”. This Hotel was visited by eminent national and foreign people who appreciated and enjoyed this lovely resort with its breathtaking views of Funchal and the natural surroundings.

In 1943, Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues passed away. Unfortunately his family did not pursue his undertaking, consequently leading to the closing of the hotel which, in the meantime, was taken over by a financial institution, the “Caixa Económia do Funchal”. In 1987, that Financial Institution sold the Monte Palace Hotel to the entrepreneur José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo. This was how the “Monte Palace Madeira” originated.

Since it’s acquisition the “Monte Palace Madeira” has been re-established, with both exotic plants native to various countries (Cycads and Protea from South Africa, azaleas from Belgium, heather from Scotland, among others) and indigenous plants from the Madeira forest namely, “Laurissilva”, such as ferns, cedars, laurels, Canary Laurels, etc. The garden was also enriched with the introduction of Koi fish into the existing lakes. Two more lakes with a capacity of 300,000 litres of water were also built. These incorporate a sophisticated filtering system and water purifier, without the use of chemicals that ensure a healthy habitat for the fish, which provide an enjoyable display of colours for their visitors.

The garden lanes were adorned with blazonry, squared stones, windows, niches, pagodas, Buddhas, lanterns from different parts of the world and sculptures in natural or cut stone. Walking through the garden, you can admire the renowned ceramic tile collection (dating from 15th – 20th centuries), a panel of 166 terracotta glazed tiles entitled “The adventure of the Portuguese in Japan” and a group of 40 panels portraying the History of Portugal, including the most important events of the kingdoms and the Republics.

During a trip to Japan and China the beauty, culture, way of living as well as the influence of the Portuguese on the Orient charmed Berardo. This is the reason for the existence of two oriental gardens and of a panel called ‘The Adventure of the Portuguese in Japan’. The last is an iron structure where 166 ceramic plates tell the story of a social, commercial and cultural relationship between Portugal and Japan. Among many Chinese and Japanese elements the visitor can find two ‘Fó’ dogs in marble, mythological animals usually put in the temples’ entrance as guardians, several Buddhist sculptures, a dragon surrounded by children representing fertility and several stone lanterns used in Japan to light the way to the tea house.

…Visit Monte village.   

…Lunch at Quinta Jardins do Lago followed by a visit to its tropical gardens, one of the most beautiful quintas on the island and which is now used as a luxury “botanical” hotel. History tells that during the occupation of Madeira, at the time of the Napoleonic wars, this Quinta served as the residence of General Beresford, commander of the British forces. His magnificent sideboard, a reminder of his stay, still adorns their dining room. Dating from 1803, the garden has a fantastic collection of centenary trees, such as Dracaena draco from Madeira, Syncarpia glomulifera from Australia, Cinnamomum camphora from China/Japan, as well as many other fantastic varieties from all over the world as the Jacaranda mimosifolia from Brazil, Pandanus útilis and Revenala madagasceriensis from Madagascar. Recently the gardens have been enlarged by the addition of many new plants including bromeliads, cycads and palms. The different owners of this Quinta always kept in contact with various Botanical Gardens worldwide and invested lots of love and time improving these relaxing and colourful gardens which for 47 years have been the home of “Colombo”, the Quintas giant tortoise.

Night: Quinta Penha de França

Breakfast and Lunch included with Dinner on own

Day 5 Monday, June 3 Quinta da Vigia, Quinta da Boa Vista, Special Visit

9:00 am Depart with Guide and Driver   

…Quinta da Vigia… Bigger isn’t always better, and if you want to enjoy a small but perfectly formed secret garden, then this is it. It isn’t flashy or large, but it makes up for that by being beautifully curated. As part of the president’s residence, this garden is very well cared for, and it has been maintained by many leading figures since the sixteenth century, and it enjoys an elevated position above the port. There is a wide range of stunning flora throughout the garden, and you will see and hear many tropical birds swooping through the air. Wander through the peaceful pathways and spot the resplendent fountains adding a deeper sense of peace to this little and lovely oasis.

…Continue to Quinta da Boa Vista, where we will tour a spectacular habitat for American bromeliads, martinets from Australia and with a superb collection of hybrid orchids, with owner Patrick Garton.

The garden was founded in the 1960s by the late Group Captain Cecil Garton, O.B.E., in the grounds of the Quinta da Boa Vista, which had been in his family for the past 100 years or so, and where he was born. Cecil Garton’s widow, Betty, is the daughter of Sir William Cooke, one of the pioneers of orchid breeding, particularly of Cymbidiums, as well as being a collector of rare and beautiful natural species. As a bonus, many of the thousands of different varieties of orchids on show here are deliciously fragrant, a fact which is not widely known or appreciated.

Their son Patrick began painting after leaving Oxford University in 1990 with a degree in Botany, after which he pursued a horticultural career, spending three years at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, where he obtained his Horticultural Diploma. The gardens include one of the last and oldest remaining systems of walled stairs terracing, as they were back in the 19th century to be found within the close proximity of the city centre. Visitors to the estate will also chance upon the vestiges of that era such as the wine press and original storage house alongside, not to mention also the thatched cow house which looks so perfect in this setting. The quinta formerly grew market garden produce for visiting ships until approximately 60 years ago when the estate was prepared for Estrelicia (commonly known as the bird of paradise) plants and cut flower production

…Lunch in a local restaurant

…In the afternoon we have something special planned with a local family – you will just have to wait to see what it might be but it does involve exquisite freshly baked bread, garden chatter, food and a wee bit of wine! Oh, and two very special friends of ours who now make Madeira their home….

Night: Quinta Penha de França

Breakfast and Lunch included with Dinner on your own

Day 6 Tuesday, June 4 Ribeiro Frio for a walk along the Levada dos Balcões, Santana Village, Quinta do Furao & A Secret Garden Visit!

9:00 am Depart with Guide and Driver   

…The island’s characteristic levadas – an ingenious system of irrigation using ancient canals that brings mountain water to the slopes and valleys – offer a fascinating 1,400km course to explore a country side of rare beauty. The laurel forest, which dates back to the Tertiary Age and survived the last glaciations, covers about 22, 000 hectares of the island area. Due to its amazing richness, diversity and state of preservation UNESCO recognized and considered the Laurissilva forest a World Natural Heritage.

Funchal, the largest settlement, means “fennel” and was erected on the less windy south side of the island. The only problem, though, was that all the freshwater was on the blustery north side, so an elaborate system of levadas, or aqueducts, was constructed to carry water up and over 6,000-foot volcanic spires. Dug into the forest floor, they trace intricate routes through seven distinct microclimates.

…Visit the village of Santana where you can find the traditional houses of Madeira. These are small triangular and colorful houses made of straw from the cereal plantations and wood dating back to the century when Madeira was discovered.  The high slopes of the roof allowed rainwater to drain.,people%20of%20this%20autonomous%20region.

…Continue to lunch at Quinta do Furão,  a stunning and magnificent natural landscape that will take your breath away!

…A very special visit today is to a private garden – to be confirmed as we get closer to the tour!

Night: Quinta Penha de França

Breakfast and Lunch included with Dinner on own

Day 7 Wednesday, June 5 Madeira Botanic Gardens, Quinta Splendida & Belmond Reid’s Palace Garden Ending in Late Afternoon Tea

9:00 am Depart with Guide and Driver   

…Visit Madeira Botanic Gardens.  Since the 17th century Madeira Island had been waiting for a botanical garden, a dream that came true in 1960. Located 3 km from the centre of Funchal, at Quinta do Bom Sucesso – a private Quinta belonging to the Reid family – where the climate conditions are much in favour of exuberant vegetation.

Once home of hotelier William Reid, these 15 acres of gardens date from 1881. Although famous for its carpet garden (created from all kinds of plants with colourful leaves) the Botanic Garden has much more to offer the visitor. With more than 2000 different plant species and cultivars organised to reflect each of the different ecosystems of the Madeira Islands – coastal plain, mountain forest and upland plateau – there is a great deal to see. There are few places in the world where you can see plants from three continents and three habitats during one visit as you can here. The gardens reach up to 350 metres above sea level and offer a splendid view over the Bay of Funchal. It is owned by the Regional Government of Madeira and, apart from being a beautiful place of leisure, it also serves as a Science and Culture Centre. Throughout the gardens visitors can find the plants labelled with their scientific names, common name and origin.

– Indigenous and endemic plants: This is the place where one can see plants exclusively from Madeira and other Atlantic islands, like the Azores, Canaries and Cape Verde. There are about 100 indigenous plants exhibited, ranging from those characteristically found on the more exposed slopes of Madeira to those typical of mid-altitude vegetation and trees found in Madeira’s natural forest, the ‘Laurissilva’ forest.

– Tree Garden: Here you find plants from ecologically opposed areas of the Earth, like the Himalaya and the Tropics.

– Succulents: The capacity of storing water is what distinguishes the plants in this department, most of them coming from South America.

– Tropical/Cultivated/Aromatic/Medicinal: Several tropical and subtropical fruit trees, such as mango, papaya and avocado, as well as coffee trees, sugar cane and popular medicine plants can be seen in this area.

…Light Lunch at Quinta Splendida and visit the gardens…a botanical garden at a hotel!

….You have to admit…it has been a stellar time in Madeira and what a fitting finale.  Surrounded by lush subtropical gardens, Reid’s Palace perches above picture-perfect Funchal Harbour. We will experience a visit to these glorious gardens, soaking all we can in as a reminder of this wonderful time together and afterwards sit and relax over late Afternoon Tea on the terrace facing that beautiful sea before saying our final goodbyes….or will they be ‘see you again soon!’

On November 1, 1891, the first “afternoon tea at Reid’s” was served, a tradition that continues to this day. In order to celebrate its 131 years, Reid’s Palace, a Belmond Hotel, teamed up with the famous Portuguese porcelain producer Vista Alegre to design a porcelain tea set. Inspired by the blue jade flower, the highlight of Reid’s gardens and the iconic flower of Madeira Island, Vista Alegre conceived a commemorative collection, reflecting, according to Vista Alegre representatives, “the tradition, exclusivity, sophistication and the art of hospitality in forms, motifs and tones of this service, destined to perpetuate the famous five o’clock tea, which attracts visitors from all over the world”, and “Vista Alegre embraced the challenge with the Flor Jade decoration, full of sensitivity and symbolism, homage to the Reid’s Palace hotel and the natural beauties of the Pearl of the Atlantic”.

NOTE: Smart Casual attire for Afternoon Tea please

Night: Quinta Penha de França

Breakfast and Light Lunch and Afternoon Tea included with Dinner on own

Day 8 Thursday, June 6 Independent transfer to the airport

‘The ‘pearl of the Atlantic’ is in fact made of green, cherished among the ocean blue. And her gardens give Madeira all the colors of the world.’  Safe Journey Onward…..


7 Nights Accommodation Hotel at

Quinta da Penha de França

7 Breakfasts

5 Lunches with Drinks (Red/White Wine, Water, Tea/Coffee)

Food Tour on Day 2

1 Special Visit – Tidbits & Wine

Farewell Afternoon Tea at Belmond Reid’s Palace

All entrances mentioned in itinerary

English Speaking Guide Day 2 – 7

Driver & vehicle Day 3 – 7

Gratuities for Guide and Driver

Incredible Memories!!

Madeira Gardens & Flowers Tour 2024

May 30th – June 6th, 2024

Land package 2833 Euros per person for Twin sharing or Double Room

For those wanting their own room please add  410 Euros to above price

We can arrange pre or post tour nights as well at 170 Euros per room per night in Twin or Double or

Single room – 140 Euros per night

Please let me know if you want pre or post tour nights.  Includes Breakfast too!

Tour is priced in Euros.. please convert into your own currency.

Tour is priced in the currency we pay our suppliers at destination. Due to exchange rate volatility, we only convert to the prevailing exchange rates at final payment.

Not Included:

Flights, insurance, transfers, meals and drinks not noted, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges such as luggage porterage and daily maid servicing.

Note: Minimum of 8 must be registered for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you are notified that we have reached this.


Tour is subject to changes in itinerary but not in dates