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Thanks to Keith Burley who sent this information, and could be of use to other blog readers.
Each year when I visit Madeira it disappoints me to note how few people use the cable car between the Botanical Gardens and Babosas/Monte. All the emphasis seems to be on that from the city center to Monte. Whilst I have used this a couple of times, I admit to feeling uncomfortable at the manifest invasion of privacy which is inevitable when travelling above people’s houses and gardens.
In contrast, the route from the Botanical Gardens does not pass over houses. Instead it passes over the lush valley (partially fire damaged in 2016) whilst also affording (at its lower end) views over the city. It is not even necessary to visit the Botanical gardens to access the cable car (although there is a gate between them at the top of the gardens). From the city centre town bus 31A goes past the gardens and further up the hill arrives at its terminus at the cable car station. it is not a very regular service, but the 1035 journey is at a convenient time for many people. On arrival at the Babosas terminal it is a short uphill walk to the Babosas ‘praca’ where the number 22 bus runs back to the city. For a fuller excursion it is then a 10 minute walk to Monte village square from where there are regular buses back to the city. An alternative route for anyone wishing to return to the hotel zone is to look out for the number 48 bus which travels via Penteada, San Antonio, Picos Los Barcelos, Sao Martinho and the Estrada Monumental.
This journey can be made in reverse, but in my experience the bus service back from the Botanical Gardens is sporadic, and sometimes the only way to avoid a long wait for a bus is to take a taxi.
For an alternative to the usual offerings from tour companies I recommend that people consider this ‘self-guided’ option.
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