Welcome to the picturesque city of Funchal, Madeira, where vibrant natural colours harmoniously blend with charming streets. If you’re planning a trip to this mesmerising island, Funchal is a must-visit destination that promises a day filled with awe-inspiring experiences. From breathtaking botanical gardens to thrilling toboggan rides, Funchal offers something for every traveller. In this travel guide, I’ll explore the top seven things to do in Funchal, ensuring that your visit is truly unforgettable.
Where to stay
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Monte Palace – Discover the Wonders of a World-Renowned Botanical Garden
Located in the heart of Funchal, the Monte Palace Tropical Garden stands as a testament to the island’s rich biodiversity. Voted one of the most beautiful botanical gardens globally, this enchanting oasis is home to an array of exotic plant species. Stroll along meandering paths, marvel at lush landscapes, and immerse yourself in the serenity of this natural paradise. The vibrant colours and fragrant blooms will captivate your senses and create lasting memories.
Opening HoursEveryday except the 25th of December.
Garden Visiting Hours : 9.30 til 18.00 hours.
Museum Visiting Hours : 10.00 til 16.30 hours.
Adults 12,50 Euros
Children younger than 15 years old: Free Entrance as long as they are accompanied by adults.
Cable Car – Reach New Heights for Breathtaking City Views
For an unforgettable panoramic view of Funchal, embark on a cable car journey to the top of Monte. This hilltop neighbourhood offers stunning vistas of the city, lush hillsides, and the azure Atlantic Ocean. As you ascend, the scenery unfolds before you, painting an awe-inspiring picture of Madeira’s natural beauty. Don’t forget your camera to capture Instagram-worthy snapshots that will leave your followers in awe.
As you get out of the cable car in Monte you’ll be greeted by two of the things to do in Funchal on this list: the Monte Palace and the Toboggan. I’d recommend heading straight to Monte Palace and then getting the Toboggan to take you partway back into the city centre to continue your day of exploration.
Opening Hours9am – 6pm daily
Adult – €12.50 One way/€18.00 return
Child (7-14) – €6.50 one way/€9.00 return
Child (0-6) – Free
Flower Festival – Embrace the Extravaganza of Floral Beauty
If you’re lucky enough to visit Funchal in May, prepare to witness a true floral wonderland. The annual Flower Festival transforms the city and the entire island into a breathtaking display of blossoms and vibrant colours. Delight in the meticulously crafted flower carpets, marvel at the intricately designed floats parading through the streets, and soak in the enchanting atmosphere as the city comes alive with celebrations.
Dolphin & Whale Watching – Embark on a Memorable Catamaran Cruise
Take your Funchal adventure to new heights by joining a captivating dolphin and whale watching catamaran cruise. Madeira’s rich marine ecosystem offers a unique opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Board a comfortable catamaran from Funchal’s harbour and set sail into the sparkling Atlantic waters.
As you venture further from the coast, keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins gracefully leaping through the waves and majestic whales breaching the surface. The experienced guides on board will provide fascinating insights into the behaviour and characteristics of these marine mammals, making your encounter all the more rewarding.
Poncha – Sip on Madeira’s Iconic Traditional Drink
No trip to Funchal is complete without indulging in the traditional drink of Madeira – Poncha. This zesty concoction of local rum, honey, and citrus juices offers a delightful taste of the island’s rich culinary heritage. Join the locals in a taverna, savouring this authentic drink while immersing yourself in the island’s vibrant culture. It’s the perfect way to unwind and connect with the spirit of Madeira.
There are a few different flavours of Poncha you can try, some of which include:
- Maracuja: Made with the vibrant flavor of maracuja, the Portuguese term for passion fruit, this poncha is a favourite among fruit lovers (and my favourite!).
- Pescador: A very traditional version, the only ingredients here are cane sugar brandy, lemon juice and sugar.
- Ragional: This one is made with cane sugar brandy, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. It might also have honey.
- Ginger: Infused with the warm and spicy notes of ginger, this variation adds an invigorating kick to the traditional poncha.
Toboggan Ride – Experience the Thrill of Traditional Transport
For a unique and thrilling experience, take a toboggan ride into town, guided by skilled carreiros. These traditional wicker basket toboggans, originally used as a form of transport for locals, now offer an exhilarating downhill adventure for tourists. Feel the rush as you glide along the streets, marvel at the scenic surroundings, and embrace the island’s rich history in an unforgettable way.
Opening hoursMonday – Saturday 9am-6pm
€15 per person
Farmers Market – Dive into Madeira’s Culinary Treasures
Immerse yourself in the heart of Funchal’s gastronomic delights at the Farmers Market. This vibrant marketplace offers a captivating array of fresh produce, regional delicacies, and local crafts. Engage with friendly vendors, sample exotic fruits, and bring home some souvenirs that encapsulate the spirit of Madeira.
Funchal, Madeira, is a destination that boasts a splendid fusion of natural wonders, cultural richness, and delightful experiences. From the lush Monte Palace to the thrilling toboggan rides, and the explosion of colours during the Flower Festival, each moment spent in Funchal will be etched in your heart forever. So, pack your bags, bring your adventurous spirit, and embark on a journey to Funchal – an island paradise that promises an unforgettable experience at every turn. Discover the magic of Funchal, Madeira, and let its beauty captivate you in ways you never imagined.