Madeira’s capital is nestled in a deep valley, with the lush green hills behind it and sparkling blue ocean in front. The city is a great mix of old and new, where an old town with traditional markets and winding streets mingle with a spacious cruise harbour and stylish shopping malls. Funchal isn’t a beach destination, but it’s perfect for those who enjoy exploring towns and venturing into the great outdoors.
Funchal is particularly well-known for its gardens, the most famous being the hilltop Monte Palace Tropical Garden in Monte. Monte can be reached on a cable car that offers panoramic views of Funchal below, and you can travel back down via the Monte Toboggan Run, a hair-raising ride in a wicker sledge steered by two experienced drivers. If you fancy getting out into Madeira’s countryside, head to the beautiful Funchal Ecological Park.
Funchal may not have its own beach, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do for water babies! Madeira is a spectacular location for snorkelling and scuba diving, and it’s a popular place to see dolphins and whales so there are plenty of tours available. If you do fancy cooling off with a refreshing swim, visit the Lido swimming complex or take the boat to Porto Santo island for a day at the beach.
If you’re not on an all inclusive holiday, Funchal has a huge choice of restaurants to suit your taste and budget. All cuisines will be on the menu, but if you want to sample local dishes you should look for espada con banana (scabbard fish with banana) or espetada (marinated meat skewers) and finish with honey cake and some Madeiran dessert wine. Funchal’s nightlife starts late – don’t expect clubs to open until midnight!