This charming and cosmopolitan capital city lies on the south coast of Madeira, backed by hills and mountains
The historic centre is perfect for exploring, with its cathedral, churches and choice of museums. Perhaps stroll through the cobbled streets taking time to browse the shops and market.
For garden lovers there's the botanical gardens, and the famous tropical gardens of the Monte Palace. After exploring the city, ride on the cable car to the Monte, or brave one of Funchal's famous toboggans!
An insight into the culture of Funchal....
Funchal is a brilliant city, with lots of old architecture, lots of history, lots of local traditions and handicrafts, but at the same time they're really cosmopolitan with all the big designer shops.
And all you have to do to enjoy it is sit outside, drinking the local drink, poncha (which is like the Brazilian Caipirinha), made from fresh fruit like tangarines.
- Christopher Yianni, Holiday Creator
See All Holidays to Funchal
Things to do
Visit this Portuguese island on holiday and you’ll get the opportunity to visit Madeira’s public gardens, including the Botanical Gardens of Madeira, Ribeiro Frio and the Monte Palace Tropical Garden – so you’ll be spoilt for choice! Alternatively, you can choose from guided tours of the island’s west and east coast, and jeep safaris for the adventurers.
Funchal Old Town
Funchal has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries, and it’s a city teeming with old-fashioned charm. The Old Town is a particular highlight for history lovers, and it’s just one of many jewels in Madeira’s crown. Funchal’s Old Town is packed with cosy side streets and impressive architecture, such as the Sé cathedral, and features an original outdoor art project called Arte de Portas Abertas (the Art of Open Doors). The project aims to create a permanent outdoor art gallery and revitalise old, abandoned doorways by encouraging artists to make art out of them.
At weekends, market sellers line the Old Town’s streets with boxes full of enticing fruits, flowers and fish. Live like one of the Funchal locals while you’re on your holidays in Madeira and spend a warm morning browsing the local produce before stopping off at a nearby cafe for a traditional Madeiran breakfast of bread, ham and cheese, with a hot cup of coffee.
Curral das Freiras
Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley) is a tiny village in the centre of Madeira. The village sits between two gigantic mountains in a small valley – believed to have been formed by a volcanic eruption. The valley became a home to nuns in 1566, after a pirate attack on Funchal caused them to flee from their Santa Clara convent.
Visit the valley by taking a tour or catching a local bus. You can get a bird’s eye view of the village from Eira do Serrado before you make your way down to the village itself to explore local shops and learn about the village’s intriguing history.
The Botanical Gardens of Madeira
Madeira’s Botanical Gardens are located about 3 kilometres from the centre of Funchal, just a short bus ride away. When you arrive, you will be mesmerised by the views of north Madeira’s mountains, south Madeira’s waters and the 2, 500 different types of plants and flowers in the gardens. The luscious Botanical Gardens are the perfect spot to take in Madeira’s superlative landscape.
The Botanical Gardens were created in 1960 to help to preserve indigenous Madeiran plants, some of which are very rare in the wild. During your visit, you’ll be able to explore areas of the garden dedicated to different types of plants, like indigenous, succulents and tropical. There are plants at Madeira’s Botanical Gardens that don’t exist anywhere else in the world, no matter how much you may want to plant them in your garden!