Welcome to Funchal!
The island of Madeira is a nature-lovers dream containing an expansive, picturesque landscape of rolling green mountain ranges and turquoise seas teeming with marine life. It’s the city of Funchal, Portugal--the capital of Madeira is the gateway to the rest of the island and is where most people start off their journey. While Funchal makes a perfect base for expeditions across the island, make sure you discover the city’s hidden gems and leave no stone unturned. From its idyllic historic center to a vibrant local culture, you are guaranteed to have a great variety of things to do in the city. Expertly, make your way around the city’s attractions with this worldwide local’s guide to Funchal.
Where to Begin
A great place to start your exploration of Funchal is by gaining breathtaking views of the city. Grab a cable car ride up to the Monte neighborhood high above the city. Ascending up to 580 meters above sea level, save your legs from the steep climb for a reasonable fare of 11 Euros one way. As you get to the summit, you will be greeted with glorious vistas of the city and a seemingly endless sea. During your trip to Monte, stop by the tropical garden full of exotic flora and a Mineral museum. While the toboggan rides are a constant feature on travel guides to Funchal, it is still a great and unusual way to head back down to your Funchal hotel in the lower city. Hop on a cart that is pushed down through the winding streets, for a thrilling and unique experience.
Worldwide Local Tip: Local street art is thriving in Funchal, so head to Rua Santa Maria for colorful displays of striking art. The whole street has been transformed into an outdoor gallery with its canvas being the doors of unused buildings.
Enjoy the Funchal Weather by Getting Outdoors
Grab your hiking boots and take a trail away from the huge tourist crowds and trek the Miradouros do Paredao. Situated between popular spots like the Pico do Areeiro and Nun’s Valley, the viewpoints of Paredao is locally known to be the best in near Funchal. The footpaths are narrow and steep, but the reward is the magnificent views of the cloud-covered mountain ranges from its two viewpoints.
Worldwide Local Tip: Funchal has an extensive bus transport system that covers the majority of the city. But if you decide to take the more convenient taxi, be sure that the meter is turned on before the journey starts, to avoid being charged a higher price.
For the Naturalist
The marine ecosystem around Funchal is diverse with several species of fish and aquatic mammals. Dolphin and whale watching tours provide a close-up experience of these wonderful creatures, with some tour companies offering swimming and snorkeling stops along the way. Various species of whale can be seen all throughout the year, from Sperm Whale, Orcas, and many others. Dolphins are more prominent, very playful, and come out in groups.
Worldwide Local Tip: In Funchal, island living means enjoying local fare and stunning sea views at Doca do Cavacas. Serving nothing but fresh seafood from clams to sardines, and many others prepared in various delicious ways. Watch a glorious sunset with a cocktail as you kick back and enjoy the relaxed vibe.
Enjoy Your Stay in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal!
From the moment you land in Funchal Airport, you’ll find a gorgeous coastal city with an easygoing vibe and a community of welcoming locals that are proud of their city. Funchal is more than just a base for the island, it is also a vibrant city brimming with enriching activities for worldwide locals to find.