The city's name comes from the abundance of fennel (funcho) found on the island. It was an important shipping center during the 15th-17th centuries. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal.
Funchal Airport (IATA: FNC) is in nearby Santa Cruz, sometimes known as Madeira international/Santa Catarina/Funchal. Once famous for its hair-raisingly short runway ending at a cliff over the Atlantic Ocean, the airport has been expanded to handle all sizes of aircraft. There are several daily flights from most major cities in Portugal (Lisbon, Porto). Flight time from Lisbon is 1 1/2 hours. Also, there are good connections from London (mostly Gatwick) with TAP/ Air Portugal and British Airways; its flying time is estimated at 3 1/2 hours.
Funchal is served by highway ER101 which runs along the coast. An easy way to get to the city centre by car is to take exit 11 and head downhill towards Funchal. Continue on this road (ER103) until you pass under an overpass. Immediately on your right is a large parking garage (closed on Sundays). From here it is only a few minutes walk to Mercado Dos Lavradores / Sé Cathedral.
The city centre is small enough to explore on foot. Orange city buses can take you around and up to Monte (lines 20, 21). Buy a giro card from the office for €2.20, it is already pre-loaded with two journeys and can be topped up with additional journeys for €1.50 a piece. At the bus driver you pay €1.90 for a ride. Most city buses start from the waterfront area. If you are lucky you can acquire a bus timetable for the local and regional buses starting in Funchal at the tourist information. Timetables and a map are also available.
- Jardins Do Palheiro (Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro Park), Sao Goncalo, Palheiro (about 5km from downtown), ☎ 351 291 793 044. Mon - Fri from 9:00h - 16:30h. The Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro Park is a typical example of a manor in British colonial style. While the manor itself is private and can't be visited, you can enjoy the public park. On first sight it looks like an English park, old Platanes form a long alley from the main gate to the gardens. But when you look closer you see all the tropical plants that build the basis, completed by hundreds of plants from al over the world. So around the year there ar always some plants blooming. The main part of the park is formed by several gardens, e.g. a French Garden, a Sunken Garden, the Ladies Garden, a Rose Garden and some more. On the opposite of the main gate is a Tea House, which is connected to the golf course. The serve some good tea, cakes, pastries, snacks and small lunches. The way back to the main gate is formed by the Camellia Avenue, a flourish firework between end October and March.
The park is situated on 500m altitude. Between 9 - 11:30 the park is often crowded by bus tourists, choose the afternoon for a more laid-back visit. Entrance fee 10,50€ Public busses frequently connect Funchal with the park: line 36 or, if you have strong nerves, line 37 for a more spectacular ride. Palheiro Gardens
- Madeira Botanical Gardens (Jardins Botânicos da Madeira), Caminho Meio Quinta do Bom Sucesso (about 3km from downtown). The more than 2000 plants of these hillside gardens, plus the view of Funchal make this one of the major attractions of the whole island. The gardens also feature a collection of parakeets and parrots.
- Market - Mercado Dos Lavradores, Rua Brigadeiro Oudinot, Down Town (Zona Velha). Mon - Thu 7 - 16 h, Fri 7 - 20 h, Sat 7 - 15h, closed on Sundays and holidays. The historic building with an open patio offers on two levels the fresh fruits and vegetables from all over the island. On lower level is also a separate hall for the fish vendors selling the fresh caught fishes to everybody. Eat and buy local fruits like the small Madeiran mangos, bananas, philodendres and plenty kinds of maracujas. Taste the offers from vendors. But be careful, they sometimes try to rip you off and selling you over-ripe fruits or some heavy mangos for the (expensive) price of light maracujas. There are also some nice pastelarias and coffee bars in and around the building. Often crowded while rain and when large cruise ships are on the pier.
- Monte Palace Hotel Gardens. The gardens of this defunct hotel include a Chinese garden, artwork, a small lake, and a variety of flora and fauna.
- Santa Clara Convent (Convento da Santa Clara), Calçada de Santa Clara 15. Dating from the end of the 15th century, this convent, now a national monument, was founded by João Gonçalves da Câmara. The azulejo tiles are especially notable.
- São Lourenço Palace (Palácio de São Lourenço), Avenida Zarco. Half fortress and half palace, this construction is a good example of mannerist architecture. Highlights include the Noble Salon (Salão Nobre), the Green Room (Sala Verde), the Audience Hall (Sala de Audiências), and the gardens.
- Sé Cathedral. The central point in Funchal, and its most-visited monument. Commissioned by the king Dom Manuel I through Portuguese explorer Gil Eanes, the cathedral was built between 1493 and 1517. The ceiling is made from local wood.
- Colegio Church (Igreja de Sao Joao Evangelista), Rua dos Ferreiros, 105. This Jesuit temple, completed in 1647, is a striking building with a stunning interior. Today it is part of Madeira University.
Visit the fair/market; old port; jardim; casino.
- Palheiro Golf Course, Rua do Balacal 29.
- Funchal Cable Car (Teleférico do Funchal), Almirante Reis. 09:30-17:45. View the city from above in a gondola. The upper station is at Monte, where you can visit the Monte Palace gardens and the church at Monte. Another cable car goes down from this point to the Botanical Gardens. Combination tickets for the ride and attractions are available.
- Madeira Paragliding Adventures (0 - 4200 Ft), Madeira Mountains. 10:00 - 20:00. Tandem Paragliding flights.
Flowers & fruit (check with the airline/ship if they can be brought abroad).
The island is world-famous for its wines. Several stores offer varying selections.
Funchal has an abundance of good, if not necessarily cheap, eating places. Most places serve traditional Madeiran and Portuguese food, which is well-prepared and well-tasting, but not terribly exciting. One of the most typical dishes and served almost everywhere, is espada com banana, scabbard fish with banana. It is usually served with fresh salad and potatoes. A bit more expensive, bacalhau (dried, salted codfish) is served in many restaurants. One of the more common, and best, varieties is "bacalhau com natas", codfish in cream sauce.
- Bar Beer Garden, Estrada Monumental, Arieiro. Recommended dish is Picado (beef steak served with chips). The normal size (€10) should be enough for 2 persons. The bigger size (€13) could serve 3 - 4 persons.
- Café Do Museu - Bar and Restaurant, Praca do Munícipio, downtown, . It is located in a former access balcony of the Sacred Museum. They serve sandwiches, steaks and salads in a modern ambient. While there are Portuguese and tourists for dinner, the bar is crowded at the later evening by young locals. Open M-Sa, 10:00-02:00
- O Castelo Dos Hamburguers, Rua da Carreira, 306. This place sells only 3 types of hamburgers: normal, special, and super. Also try their smoothies.
- Golden Gate Grand Café, Avenida Arriaga 21. Very central, straight across the street from Palácio de São Lourenço. Its coffee, pastries, food and service is excellent and the café, opened in 1814, has a nice atmosphere with a good mix of local customers and tourists.
- Pingo Doce. The chain of department stores also have a restaurant in its more bigger stores. Two notable ones are in Dolce Vita (Mall) and Anadia Shopping Centre. These restaurants serve lunch and dinner offering various Portuguese dishes and is sold by weight. In Funchal especially, they also provide their dinner menu and their entire bakery catalog for half-price after 21:00.
- Il Basilico, Rua de Leichlingen, 7, Promenade (Funchal), ☎ . Daily, 12:30-15:00 and 19:30-22.00. Italian restaurant. À la carte lunch and dinner served inside and on the terrace. Children's menu. Reservation recommended.
- Doca do Cavacas (Estrada Monumental, Ponta de Cruz). Fish restaurant.
- Japanese Restaurant (2nd floor, Monumental Lido Shopping). Buffet lunch for €10.
- Olives, Rua da Queimada de Cima 47. M-Sa, 10:00-24:00. Small Restaurant, centrally located in a side road close to the Sé Cathedrale. Small menu with 10 fish and 10 various meat dishes from €10-15. Portuguese-influenced European kitchen. Excellent house wine and other good wines. Nice interior, friendly staff.
- Les Faunes, Estrada Monumental 139 (In Reid's Palace Hotel), ☎ . Top quality French restaurant.
- Il Gallo D'oro, The Cliff Bay Hotel Estrada Monumental, 147, ☎ . Daily, 08:00-10:30, 19:00-22:00. First Michelin Star restaurant on the island. Mediterranean gourmet cuisine. A jacket and tie required for gentlemen. Reservation recommended.
- Xôpana Restaurant, ☎ . Choupana Hills Resort and Spa. Award winning restaurant at the Choupana Hills Resort, with a magnificent view over Funchal and world-class food and wine.
Not the party capital of the world. Most of bars are very quiet. No decent Irish bars. Some think the best bar is Glorias Latino.
- Bar Amazónia, Rua de São Filipe 19. A pleasant little bar.
- Café do Teatro, Avenida Arriaga Ed. Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias.
- Chameleon Disco-Bar, Rua Imperatriz D. Amelia Nº119 (in front of the Carlton). Café and bar with a tropical atmosphere. Karaoke on Mondays and Tuesdays, live music on Thursdays, and ladies' night on Sunday.
- FX Bar, Largo das Fontes 39.
- Madeira Casino. The only casino on the island. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
- Vespas, Avenida Sá Carneiro 60. Dance club very popular with young people.
During low season (winter) prices may drop significantly, e.g., from €50 to 35. Time around Christmas is high-season.
- Residencial Melba (Melba Pension), Azinhaga da Casa Branca 8. Lies in Western Funchal. 12 rooms.
- Pestana Hotels & Resorts - Funchal: Pestana Miramar, Pestana Village, Pestana Palms, Pestana Bay, Pestana Gardens
- Quinta Da Casa Branca (Funchal). An old quinta converted into a boutique design hotel, set in the heart of Funchal, among colourful gardens.
- Quinta Perestrello Heritage House. Rua Drº Pita nº 3. A small hotel, One adult 33€ per night and breakfast (special offer low season), 37 double rooms, located near Reid's Palace. 24 hour reception.
- Hotel Monte Carlo, Calçada da Saude Nr. 10. Beautiful, old hotel with a great view over the city of Funchal. Directly near the Convent St. Clara. Reasonable priced and not directly in a desiganted tourist district. Lots of good and affordable restaurants nearby.
- Porto Santa Maria ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Avenida do Mar, nº 50, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just in front of the sea and the city harbour, in Funchal´s Old Town, near Cable Car, Forte de São Tiago and Mercado Lavradores.
- Porto Mare ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Rua Simplício dos Passos Gouveia, 21, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. One of the three hotels in the resort Vila Porto Mare, near Lido´s promenade, tropical gardens with more than 400 specimes, five pools, four restaurants, sports and spa.
- The Residence ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Rua de Leichlingen, 7, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the three hotels in the resort Vila Porto Mare, near Lido´s promenade offers a wide selection of carefully furnished and fully equipped apartments. The Residence apartments combine views over the ocean with tropical gardens.
- Suite Hotel Eden Mar ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Rua do Gorgulho, 2, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. One of the three hotels in the resort Vila Porto Mare, near Lido´s promenade, kitchenette, tropical gardens with more than 400 specimes, five pools, four restaurants, sports and SPA. Totally refurbished in 2009.
- Choupana Hills Resort (Travessa do Largo da Choupana). One of the top hotels in Madeira just outside Funchal.
- The Cliff Bay, Estrada Monumental, 147, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Access to the sea, stunning views over the Atlantic and Funchal Bay, Michelin one-star restaurant.
- Pestana Bay, Praia Formosa,9000-247, ☎ , fax: +351 291761694, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Pestana Carlton Madeira, Largo António Nobre, nº 1, 9004-531, ☎ , fax: +351 29 1223377, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pestana Casino Park, Quinta Vigia Funchal,9004-513, ☎ , fax: +351 291232076, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Pestana Grand, Rua Ponta da Cruz, 23 - São Martinho, 9000-103, ☎ , fax: +351 291761024, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pestana Miramar, Estrada Monumental, 182/194, 9000-098, ☎ , fax: +351 291763988, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Pestana Palms, Rua do Gorgulho, 17, 9000-107, ☎ , fax: +351 291766247, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pestana Promenade, Rua Francisco de Sousa Nº1, 9000-001, ☎ , fax: +351 291762082, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Pestana Village, Estrada Monumental, 182/194, 9000-098, ☎ , fax: +351 29 1765727, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reid's Palace, Estrada Monumental, 139, ☎ . Has been the standard bearer for luxury hotel excellence on Madeira for over a century. Offering superb views of Madeira and the ocean, a luxury hotel spa, and gourmet restaurants. Famous for its afternoon tea. Including a Kids and Teens Club. Lovely hotel where Winston Churchill was a guest.
- Savoy & Royal Savoy. Reid's rival hotel. Boasting a beachfront location, this luxurious resort is set in the Bay of Funchal and combines quality facilities with a central setting. Surrounded by tropical gardens, the Royal Savoy has 174 elegant suites, each with private balcony.
Porto Santo - A wonderful quiet beach community, Porto Santo is a small island on the North-East of Madeira can be reached by either boat or plane. It is well worth a visit for it's nice small restaurants, it's long beach, and the Christopher Columbus house.
- Internet Access - There exist various public free Wi-Fi hotspots sponsored by the Madeiran government. One can find such locations by looking for blue and white boards with the Wi-Fi logo on them. A lot of bars and cafes offer Wi-Fi which is usually sponsored by an ISP by the name of "Zon". These are usually password restricted but the owners are usually very friendly in providing them. One of the larger public squares by the name of "Praca do Municipio" for instance has free Wi-Fi. Other locations include: Avenida Arriaga (2 x around the Golden Gate Café and the Cathedrale), Praca de Colombo.
- Post Office - Stamps are rarely available at vendors selling postcards. A post office (CTT Correios) is near the cathedral in the Avenida Zarco and the Rua Calouste Gulbekian near the Casino. Postcards to EU countries are €0.68 (Oct 2010).