Funchal is best-known for its brightly coloured gardens and famous Madeira wine. Its cobbled streets contain a delightful clutch of historic buildings and the fancy marina, while its spotless beaches are perfect for lounging in the city’s balmy weather.
Things to do in Funchal
Funchal is scattered with charming architecture centred on the historic seafront. See the delicately carved wooden ceiling of Funchal Cathedral, then visit the Museu de Arte Sacre and admire its outstanding collection of gold-embroidered vestments and 16th-century Portuguese paintings.
The best place to see Funchal’s lush plant life is Madeira Botanical Gardens, a medley of colour and scent encompassing several thousand exotic plants and an aviary. Monte Palace Tropical Gardens also has an impressive collection of tropical plants and is set around lakes filled with koi carp. Take the cable car up for mesmerising views of the coastline.
The largest beach in the city is Praia Formosa, a short walk from the city centre. The award-winning beach has sports facilities and is lined with cafes and restaurants. The long promenade connects them to the Lido complex, which boasts two seawater swimming pools, a play area and water slide.
You can’t leave Madeira without trying some of the island’s renowned fortified wine. Take a tour of the local vineyards and taste some of the rare vintage and new wines being developed. Be sure to take home a couple of bottles from Blandy’s Wine Lodge.
Getting around Funchal
Madeira Airport has flights from several major European cities and is 20 kilometres from the centre of Funchal. The city bus network has regular connections to the airport and covers most attractions, while the beaches and main attractions are all within walking distance. If you want to explore the island outside of the city centre, hiring a rental car is best.