- The capital of Portugal’s Autonomous Region of Madeira, with a population of ~112,000.
- The city’s name is derived from the large amount of fennel (funcho) that grows on the island.
- First settled in the early 15th century by the Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves Zarco.
- Geographically, Madeira is closer to Morocco than it is to Portugal.
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Spoken languages: Portuguese.
- Best time to visit: from April to August for the best weather (mediterranean climate).
- Arriving via airport (Funchal Airport/Madeira international): many opt to rent a car and drive to the city directly from the airport, as renting a car is a great way to see the area in general. The Aero-bus is an express bus service between the airport and Funchal, and costs around 5€. Taxis are also available outside the airport, and a ride to the city is around 20€.
WHERE TO STAY
While Funchal is not the most affordable of places to visit, just remember that the beauty of the island and the quality of accommodations more than makes up for it! Try areas such as Cliff Bay and Porto Mare for great accommodation options. Luxury hotels can be found in the Lido area.
- Funchal is a small enough city that walking is often the best way to get around.
- Buses cover routes around Funchal and up to Monte (single rides are 1.90€).
- Taxis are ideal for trips further afield. A better alternative for longer journeys, however, is to rent a car for the duration of your stay. There are several rental companies at the airport.
- Drinking age is 18, last call is 6 AM.
- The nightlife in Funchal is fairly tame during the week (weekends are your best bet).
- Rua da Imperatriz Dona Amélia has cafe-bars and pubs on offer.
- For the most active weekend nightlife atmosphere, check out the nightclubs and discotheques around the central Funchal area.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Sé Cathedral (built between 1493 and 1517) is the most visited monument in Funchal, and a central point of the city.
- São Lourenço Palace (Palácio de São Lourenço) – with its beautiful architecture, this fortress/palace has many rooms and gardens to explore.
- Head up to Monte (the peak of the hill) via the cable car and view the city from above. You can also visit the church at Monte and the Monte Palace Gardens. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the wicker sled ride down the hill!
- Take a walk along the promenade, from the Lido to Praia Formosa. This walk is around 3 kilometres, and offers beautiful views of the ocean the whole way!
- Go for a walk in and around Funchal itself – most parts of the city are incredibly beautiful.
- Avoid taking coach tours to the popular places in Funchal or the surrounding areas in Madeira when possible – you’ll find that by hiring a car or walking that you can spend time at attractions how you want, rather than being rushed
- Whilst spending time in Funchal, make the most of the many boat trips that are on offer that can give you unique views of the island – they’re worth it!
- Where to find good cheap eats: the city is full of good places to eat, with many places offering traditional Madeiran cuisine. Look for small seafood restaurants in Lido and Praia Formosa. Keep in mind that most places are expensive. Ask the locals for the best affordable spots.
- Dangerous areas: none, as Funchal is extremely safe.
RECOMMENDED FUNCHAL GUIDE BOOKS
Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days