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.
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1 Funchal Airport (FNC IATA) 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 1½ hours. Also, there are good connections from London (mostly Gatwick) with TAP/Air Portugal and British Airways; its flying time is estimated at 3½ 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). Giro cards can be bought from the office for €2.20, which are pre-loaded with two journeys, and can be topped up with additional journeys for €1.50 each. A single ride costs €1.90 when bought from the bus driver. 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 office. Timetables and a map are also available.
- 1 Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro Park (Jardins do Palheiro), São Gonçalo, Palheiro (about 5 km from downtown), ☏ . 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, with old Platanes forming 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 all over the world, so all year round there are plants blooming. The main part of the park is formed by several gardens: a French Garden, a Sunken Garden, the Ladies Garden, a Rose Garden and some more. Opposite the main gate is a Tea House, which is connected to the golf course. They 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, so choose the afternoon for a more laid-back visit. Entrance fee 10,50€
Public buses frequently connect Funchal with the park: line 36 or, if you have strong nerves, line 37 for a more spectacular ride.
- 2 Madeira Botanical Garden (Jardins Botânicos da Madeira), Caminho Meio Quinta do Bom Sucesso (about 3 km 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.
- 3 Mercado Dos Lavradores (Peasants' Market), Rua Brigadeiro Oudinot, Down Town (Zona Velha). Mon - Thu 7 - 16 h, Fri 7 - 20 h, Sat 7 - 15h, closed on Sundays and holidays. This historic building, with an open patio, offers, on two levels, fresh fruits and vegetables from all over the island. On the lower level is a separate hall where fish vendors sell fresh-caught fish. 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, as some may try to rip you off and sell you over-ripe fruit, 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. These are often crowded when it's raining, and when large cruise ships are on the pier.
- 4 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.
- 5 Santa Clara Convent (Convento de 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.
- 6 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.
- 7 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.
- 8 [dead link] Colegio Church (Igreja de São João 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.
- 9 IBTAM Museum (Núcleo Museológico do IBTAM), Rua do Visconde de Anadia. Museum of the Institute of Embroidery, Tapestry and Craftsmanship of Madeira. The exhibits give some idea of the tradition of embroidery in the island in the past centuries
- 10 São Tiago Fort. Built in 1614 to defend the city from pirate attack, the fort today houses a small contemporary art museum.
- Visit the fair/market, old port and gardens.
- 1 Madeira Casino (Casino da Madeira), Avenida do Infante, ☏ . 15:00-3:00 (Su-Th), 16:00-4:00 (M-F). The only casino on the island. The building's unusual shape was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Casino da Madeira offers table games such as Texas Hold 'em, blackjack, baccarat and American roulette (with 0 and 00) and slots. Outside of gambling there is the Palm bar, the Rio casual restaurant, the formal Bahlia restaurant and the Copacabana nightclub that hosts live musical performances (just like the Barry Manilow song). Note that the premises have dress code that forbids sandals, flip-flops and sports wear. Free parking and Wi-Fi for patrons.
- 2 Palheiro Golf Course, Rua do Balacal 29.
- 3 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.
- Watch football (ie soccer). Funchal has two teams playing in Primeira Liga, the top tier of Portuguese football.
- Madeira Paragliding (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 tasty, 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 is bacalhau (dried, salted codfish), which is also 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.
- O Castelo Dos Hambúrgueres, Rua da Carreira, 306. This place sells only 3 types of hamburgers: normal, special, and super. Also try their smoothies.
- 1 Barreirinha Bar Cafe, Largo do Socorro, 1 (just east of the Fortaleza de Santiago, on the water, where R. de Santa Maria meets Largo do Socorro.), ☏ . 07:00–00:00. While many affordable cafes in Funchal have similar prices on burgers and tostas, Barreirinha also offers plenty of outdoor tables overlooking the ocean. Relaxing yet hip atmosphere. Occasional live bands or DJs. €2.60 tostas, €5.50 burgers, €2 poncha.
- 2 Indian House, Rua da Carreira 144, ☏ . M–Sa 11:30–15:30, 17:30–22:30; Su dinner only. Quality Pakistani and Indian food with plenty of vegetarian options. Meat also offered for a few Euros more. veg entrees €8.
- Pingo Doce. This chain of department stores also has restaurants in its larger 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.
- 3 Olives, Rua Brigadeiro Oudinot, nº 2 - 3th floor (level) (a few meters from the left of the city market), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Monday-Saturday, 12:00-24:00. This small restaurant is close to city market, in an iconic building (Edifício Oudinot), with a terrace overlooking the port. It has a small menu of contemporary, author's cuisine, Portuguese (Mediterranean)-influenced dishes. There are ten fish dishes, ten meat dishes and a side vegetarian/vegan menu. Serves an excellent house wine and other good wines (from €12.50 house bottle). It has a pleasant interior, with an Art Deco-influenced staircase. The staff are also friendly. plates from €9 to €16.50 (mains)..
- 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 bars are very quiet, except during a football match.
- 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.
- [dead link] Palm bar, Casino da Madiera, Avenida do Infante, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A casual bar that's part of the Casino da Madeira.
- Vespas, Avenida Sá Carneiro 60. Dance club very popular with young people.
- Hole in One Madeira, Estrada Monumental 238 (in the hotel district), ☏ . daily 11:00–02:00. if you require an Irish pub
During low season (winter) prices may drop significantly, e.g., from €50 to 35. Time around Christmas is high-season.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Residencial Monaco, Rua das Hortas 14 (5-minute walk from the bus stop "Anadia Shopping Centre" for buses entering Funchal: Walk toward the sea and turn right onto R. Fernão de Ornelas. At the end of the street, at the taxi station, turn right onto R. do Carmo. After the Carmo church, R. das Hortas will be on your left.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Simple and somewhat cramped rooms but very clean and with a low price. Double rooms with private ensuite bathroom around €18–25/night depending on season. Located in the historical center, so ideal if you don't have a car.
- 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, ☏ , ✉ 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, ☏ , ✉ 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, ☏ , ✉ 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, ☏ , ✉ 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.
- The Cliff Bay, Estrada Monumental, 147, ☏ , ✉ 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: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Pestana Carlton Madeira, Largo António Nobre, nº 1, 9004-531, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pestana Casino Park, Quinta Vigia Funchal,9004-513, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Pestana Grand, Rua Ponta da Cruz, 23 - São Martinho, 9000-103, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pestana Miramar, Estrada Monumental, 182/194, 9000-098, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Pestana Palms, Rua do Gorgulho, 17, 9000-107, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pestana Promenade, Rua Francisco de Sousa Nº1, 9000-001, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Pestana Village, Estrada Monumental, 182/194, 9000-098, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 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.
- Internet Access - There exist various free public 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 called "Zon". These are usually password restricted but the owners are usually very friendly in providing them. One of the larger public squares called "Praca do Municipio", for instance, has free Wi-Fi. Other locations include Avenida Arriaga (2 x around the Golden Gate Café and the Cathedrale) and Praca de Colombo.
- Post Office - Stamps are rarely available at vendors selling postcards. There is a post office (CTT Correios) near the cathedral in the Avenida Zarco and the Rua Calouste Gulbekian, near the Casino. Postcards to EU countries are €0.72 (June 2015).
- Nivarte Barber/Hairdresser, Rua das Hortas 1, Unit 102 (Piso 1) (Very short walk from the center of Funchal, near the Carmo church. Enter the nondescript building at the beginning of the street and go up one flight of steps.), ☏ . Quality and inexpensive haircuts for both men and women. One of the barbers, Paolo Silva speaks English, and gives the best hot towel shave on the island. under €14 for men's haircut.
- 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.
- Anywhere else on the island of Madeira — Numerous guided day-tours around the island offer pick-up from Funchal hotels. In addition, Rodoeste buses connect Funchal to points westward, and S.A.M. buses connect to points eastward.