Serving as the capital of Portugal’s Madeira archipelago, Funchal Centre is also the heart and soul of Madeira Island. It features centuries-old buildings that date back to the early colonisation of the island and a landscaped garden that ignites with seasonal blooms throughout the year.
Things to do in Funchal Centre
In the heart of Funchal Centre is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, which is one of only a handful of structures to remain from Funchal’s earliest years. It was designed in a Gothic style in the 15th century using blocks of volcanic rock from the nearby cliffs of Cabo Girão. Admire the Mudejar-inspired roof and the beautifully carved wooden choir stalls that depict elements of Madeira life.
Overlooking Funchal Bay is the São Tiago Fortress, which was built to protect Madeira from pirate attacks in the 16th century. It housed British troops during the Peninsular War and flood victims in 1803 before the Madeira Museum of Contemporary Art took up residence. Artists such as Ana Vidigal, Gäetan and Eduardo Batarda are represented in the collection, which includes works from the 1960s to the present day.
Nestled in the hills east of Funchal Centre is the Palheiro Gardens, which showcases tropical plants from around the globe. Originally established by the Conde de Carvalhal around an 18th-century residence, it features several themed spaces that include a French Garden, a Sunken Garden and the Ladies Garden. The Palheiro Gardens are particularly renowned for their camellia collection.
Getting around Funchal Centre
Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport is a 20-minute drive from Funchal Centre and has flights to destinations across Europe. Buses connect Funchal Centre to towns and villages across Madeira while ferries cruise from the Funchal Wharf to Porto Santo. Funchal Centre is compact enough to explore on foot.