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Discover the capital of Madeira
A quick overview
What to see? Musea, markets, Madeira wine and a bustling capital
Costs? Most things are free, but sights are paid
Where? Funchal, the capital of Madeira
Worth it? When you visit Madeira, you can easily spend a few days in the capital!
Things to do in Funchal
Funchal is a beautiful city to stay in for a few days. It lies on Madeira’s southern coast, about a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport. Madeira’s capital boasts several sights and plenty of activities for all ages. Ready? Let’s find out what things to do in Funchal!
Mercado dos Lavradores
Mercado dos Lavradores (the Farmers’ Market) is one of the most colourful places in Funchal, and the market is a must-see! Oh, boy, you can buy so much exotic fruit! The market hall is a whopping 9.600 m², and you can purchase fresh papaya, passion fruit, flowers, fish, cheese, spices, and herbs. The perfect place to try new flavours, discover regional products or enjoy the hustle and bustle of a market. The structure was designed by Edmundo Tavares and opened its doors in 1940. Aside from being a market hall, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
The market is located at Largo dos Lavradores. It’s split over two floors, both accessible for people with reduced mobility. The opening hours of Mercado dos Lavradores are:
Monday to Thursday: 7 AM – 7 PM
Friday: 7 AM – 8 PM
Saturday: 7 AM – 2 PM
Cathedral of Funchal
You’ll find Sé Catedral do Funchal in the heart of the old centre. It was built by order of King Manuel I, and it showcases the Manueline period on Madeira. Construction started in 1493, and the Catholic Church opened its door in 1517. The church is open daily from 7.15 AM until around 6.30 PM.
Palácio de São Lourenço
Palácio de São Lourenço is a striking building on Av. do Mar. It was built between 1529 and 1540. Inside you can visit a small exhibition about the history of the site. It´s open from Tuesday to Saturday and closes shortly during lunch hours.
Capela de Santo António da Mouraria
Another gorgeous spot on Av. do Mar is Rua dos Capelistas. You’ll discover Madeira’s Parliament Library and Capela de Santo António da Mouraria and a beautiful square here.
Madeira Story Centre
You can visit the Madeira Story Centre to learn more about Madeira’s history. You’ll discover more about the volcanic origins, the discovery, and hydroplanes. Inside you can also visit a handicraft store with regional souvenirs. It’s open daily from 10 AM until 7 PM. Tip: read this comprehensive guide for the best souvenirs in Portugal.
Rua de Santa Maria
Another bustling place is Rua de Santa Maria. It’s probably the best-known street in Funchal and famous for its doors decorated with street art and many restaurants. It’s located in the parish of Santa Maria Major, is 600 meters long and lies between Rua dos Profetas (close to Mercado dos Lavradores) and Fortaleza de São Tiago. It’s a lovely place to wander about and check out the colourfully decorated doors. If you fancy a bit to eat, this is also the place to be. The street is, however, pretty touristy, so if you prefer a more local approach, there are different places in the city to eat.
Take the Cable car to Monte
To say Funchal and Madeira are hilly is an understatement! Thankfully there are ways to get around more manageably, the cable car being one of them. Taking the Teleférico do Funchal is a must if you’re not afraid of heights. Not only will you enjoy a stunning view over Funchal, but you’ll also arrive at Monte Palace Madeira. The Funchal Cable Car departs from Av. do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirenses, and the teleférico covers a distance of 3.200 meters, mostly upwards! The cable car runs from 9 AM until 5.45 PM, and the trip takes between 15 and 25 minutes. Every cabin fits 4 to 6 passengers.
Children 0 – 6 years old: free
Children 7 – 14 years old € 6,50 one way or € 9,00 return
Adults: € 12,50 one way or € 18,00 return
Monte Palace Madeira
Once in the Monte parish, you can visit Monte Palace Madeira. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Funchal and one of the most popular to visit. Monte Palace Madeira boasts a massive garden (70.000 square meters) with exotic plants, flowers, and a lake. There are peacocks, flamingos, ducks, and swans. Plus you can visit the Monte Palace Madeira Museum, with interesting exhibitions.
You can walk around here for hours! Actually, you’ll probably need a minimum of 3 to 4 hours to discover most of the park. Besides nature, you’ll find art, Hispano-Moorish tiles, Monte Palace, statues, fountains, and pagodas.
Everyday except December 25th
Garden Visiting Hours: 9.30 AM until 6 PM
Museum Visiting Hours: 10 AM until 4.30 PM
Children younger than 15 can enter for free (must be accompanied by an adult). Adults pay € 12,50 per person.
Read the complete guide by clicking here.
Church of our lady of Monte
After taking the cable car to Monte, you can take a look at the Church of our lady of Monte. Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte is located behind the starting point of the toboggan ride at Associação dos Carreiros do Monte. High steps will take you to the entrance of the Church, and sometimes it’s open for a visit.
A toboggan ride in Funchal
What goes up must go down! And although you can take a bus, taxi, or cable car back to Funchal, a toboggan ride is SO much more fun! It’s known as one of the most unique commutes in the world, and sliding down the mountain in Funchal happens already over 100 years.
You’ll take place (2-3 people) in a wicker basket, and the two drivers (Carreiros) will slide you down the mountain. You’ll cover 2 kilometres downhill and end up at Livramento about halfway down. From here, it’s a 15-minute walk back to Funchal city centre. You can also take a bus; a taxi will cost around € 10,00. Please note you can pay cash only for the toboggan ride in Funchal!
Children up to 5 years old: free (must be accompanied by an adult)
One person: € 25,00
Two people: € 30,00
Three people: € 45,00
Read the guide –> Toboggan in Funchal
Jardim Botânico da Madeira
Not far from the endpoint of the toboggan, you’ll find the Jardim Botânico da Madeira, another stunning garden! From this point, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking view over Funchal, and the park is full of exotic plants and flowers. Every season is different, and around 3000 plant species are on display. Don’t forget to visit the herbarium, with a unique collection of dried and pressed plants.
The Botanical Garden in Funchal is open daily except on Christmas Day. Opening hours are from 9 AM until 6 PM, and you can buy tickets until 5.30 PM.
Children under 6 years old: free
Children from 6 to 12 years old: € 3,00
Anyone over 12 years: € 7.50
You can visit the gardens for free on April 30th (The anniversary of the Madeira Botanical Garden) and July 1st (Madeira Autonomous Region Day).
Dolphin and whale watching in Funchal
Madeira lies in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and the island is surrounded by sea life! What better way to explore this than by booking a boat tour? Boat tours usually last 2 to 3 hours, and you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the island and Funchal. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot dolphins and different types of whales along the way. Especially between March to September, the animals like showing up.
Did you know Cristiano Ronaldo is from Funchal? You may have already noticed the airport in Santa Cruz is named after him (Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport), and he also has a museum in Funchal. The CR7 experience offers several attractions, and in the museum, you’ll see fan correspondence, signed football shirts, and replicas of trophies, such as the golden boots up close. You’ll dive into the life of the famous footballer and learn more about his magnificent career.
The museum is close to the harbour, and the address is Av. Sá Carneiro – Praça do Mar Nº27. It’s open from Monday to Friday from 10 AM until 5 PM. Admission is € 5,00 per person.
Go to a Madeiran football match
It’s even more fun to attend a football match in Madeira! The two teams on the island are C.S. Maritimo and Nacional da Madeira (also known as Clube Desportivo Nacional). Both teams play in the Primeira Liga, and teams like Porto, Benfica, and Sporting visit the island regularly. A third club in Madeira is União da Madeira. Maritimo is the largest club, and they played the UEFA cup several times. Cluba Desportivo Nacional was the home of Cristiano Ronaldo. Check the calendar, and maybe a game is on during your visit!
Bordalo II Plastic Mero
When you’re walking around the harbour, it’s hard to miss a huge plastic fish! It’s the Plastic Mero, created by artist Bordalo II. Artur Bordalo created street art all over the world from plastic waste. If you look closely, you’ll notice all sorts of objects, such as helmets, tires, and fishing nets. The sculpture highlights overconsumption and is fully made from ocean litter. If you travel around Portugal, you’ll probably see many more of his colourful works. The mero fish, or Atlantic goliath grouper, has been standing here since 2019. And in the nearby Câmara De Lobos, you’ll spot a plastic seal on the wall. This artwork is located in the harbour and is named Lobo Marinho.
Blandy's Wine Lodge
Do you enjoy a good glass of wine? Then you should take advantage of a visit to Blandy’s Wine Lodge in the heart of the old town. And here, you won’t discover just any wine but the unique and famous Madeira wine! Blandy’s Wine Lodge offers guided tours, wine tastings, and events, and it has been in the family for seven generations! You will visit the ageing rooms, learn more about Madeira wine, and taste a wide selection of wines. You can enjoy them with a cheese platter or delicious hand-made chocolate truffles from the island! Nom nom!
Tours start at € 12.50 and are available from Monday to Saturday (Saturday closes at 1 PM). Visitors with children are welcome and are available in Portuguese, English, German, French and Spanish. Open from 10 AM until 6.20 PM. Saturday, it closes at 13:00. Blandy’s Wine Lodge is closed on Sundays.
3D Fun museum
Here’s one for your kids, the 3D Fun museum! And when you think a museum is boring for children, think again! Bring your camera and discover the craziest creations and scenes. This museum, full of optical illusions, is fantastic for all ages. There is 3D Fun Art, an Upside Down Room, and people shrink in front of your eyes in the Ames Room. In total, you can find 40 different scenarios to take pictures in!
Tickets cost € 7,00 for children and € 11,00 for adults. There are special family tickets for € 25,00. This ticket is valid for two adults and one child (5-12 years). Open daily from 10 AM until 6 PM.
Quinta da Boa Vista
Boa Vista means as much as a nice view, and that is exactly what you’ll find at Quinta da Boa Vista! The historic estate also has a gorgeous orchid garden and one of the city’s last remaining walled stair terrace gardens. If you like parks and orchids, don’t miss this!
Address: Rua do Lombo da Boa Vista 25. Open from Monday to Friday from 9 AM until 6 PM. Closed on Saturday and Sunday. Price: € 4,50 per person (over 12 years old).
Quinta das Cruzes
History enthusiasts will like a visit to Quinta das Cruzes. The gardens are inspired by the Romantic era and are surrounded by large century-old trees. Inside you’ll find antique furniture, a collection of ceramics, drawings and paintings, sculptures and jewellery. This collection belonged to César Filipe Gomes, who donated all this to the General Council of the Autonomous District of Funchal in 1946. The museum is open from Tuesday until Saturday from 10 AM until 5.30 PM.
Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro
Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro is the largest Quinta in Funchal, located just outside the city. It was built by João Carvalhal Esmeraldo in 1804, and the views from the Quinta are mesmerisingly beautiful. The gardens are 500 meters above sea level! You’ll find many trees, herbaceous plants and hedges in the park. The pond is a paradise for frogs and water lilies. The garden is often called the Blandy’s Garden, as the family has owned it since 1885. Later it was inherited by Graham, who opened the park to the public. You can visit from Monday to Friday from 9.30 AM until 4.30 PM. Tickets cost € 10,00 for adults, and children under 15 can visit for free.
Santa Catarina Park
A fabulous place for people-watching is Santa Catarina Park. Plenty of benches are in the shade, and the park is filled with beautiful flowers. Parque de Santa Catarina is very close to the harbour and has a small lake. Next to the park, you can also visit Quinta Vigia and the surrounding gardens.
Visit the beach in Funchal
When the weather is good, and the sun is shining, it’s the perfect day for the beach. And in Funchal, you can! There are a few of them, such as Praia Formosa. It’s almost 2 kilometres long with plenty of space for everyone. Like many of the beaches in Madeira, it consists of black sand and pebbles. The beach actually combines three beaches; Praia Nova, Praia dos Namorados and Praia do Arieiro. There are excellent facilities, such as toilets, showers, restaurants and a lifeguard. The promenade is a stunning place to see the sun go down. You’ll reach Praia Formosa after a short 10-minute drive from the city centre.
Praia do Almirante Reis is a beach in the city, close to the old town. The pebble beach is located between Teleférico and the São Tiago fortress. You can also visit natural pools in Funchal. Head over to the Piscinas Naturais da Doca do Cavacas for a fresh dip into the water! The pools are open daily from 10 AM until 6 PM. You’ll get to use sunbeds and parasols for a small fee, and there is a nice bar at the lava pools.
Shopping in Madeira
For an afternoon of shopping, you can visit Forum Madeira, one of the biggest malls in the city. There are over 80 shops and some restaurants. Other malls are La Vie Shopping Center, close to the Casino and Madeira Shopping, the largest shopping mall in Madeira. Anadia Shopping is close to the Lavradores, and the nearby Rua do Aljube and Rua Fernao de Ornelas have many shops.
Visit Câmara de Lobos
After a short 20-minute drive from Funchal, you’ll reach the small town of Câmara de Lobos. Colourful boats are bobbing in the harbour of Baía de Câmara de Lobos, and plenty of restaurants are along the shores. The fishing town also had a famous resident, Winston Churchill! You’ll find some of this history back in the centre. You’ll need about a couple of hours to discover the town, but there are some nearby places you can visit. High cliffs surround Câmara de Lobos, and if you’re not afraid of heights, you can visit the Cabo Girão Skywalk. You’ll walk on a glass skywalk with a 500-meter drop!
Jesuits´College of Funchal
Colégio dos Jesuítas do Funchal, or the Jesuits´College of Funchal is of huge historical importance. You can visit Funchal’s Jesuits College on the Town Hall Square in Funchal. The Jesuits arrived in Madeira in 1570, and they stayed in one of the houses of the guesthouse São Sebastião. In 1572 they moved into the building complex further north. Construction of the college started in 1599, and it’s now the most significant building complex in Funchal. It’s now part of the University of Madeira which offers guided tours around the complex. You’ll discover the high altar, a collection of golden carved altarpieces, and many chapels.
Madeira Film Experience
Strapped for time but interested in Madeira’s history? At the Madeira Film Experience, you´ll enjoy a 30-minute audiovisual journey that covers 600 years of history. It is a story about the island, civilisation, and revolutions. It’s open daily (apart from Christmas Day and January 1st). The entrance fee is € 5,00 per person, and children under 12 can visit for free. Sessions are available continuously in Portuguese, Dutch, English, German and French.
Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias
If you prefer a visit to the theatre, then you´ll enjoy Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias. The building is stunning and well worth a visit! There are guided tours which take around 45 minutes. During this walk, you’ll discover the showroom, dressing rooms, technical areas, foyer, audience, boxes, web, noble hall, hall of mirrors, and even catacombs! The building is open from Monday to Friday from 10 AM. Tickets cost € 3,89 for adults. Children between 11 and 17 pay € 2,83. In the evening, there are many concerts, lectures, and shows.
Getting around in Funchal
Funchal is a small city that is partially built on a hill. So depending on where you’re going, you might be walking up and up and a bit more up! The old town is very accessible on foot. The area is flat, and you can even cycle here. Taxis and buses are excellent for exploring the city further afield.
One of the best ways to get around is by hop-on hop-off bus. This will stop at all the highlights in Funchal, so you don’t have to search for anything! You can also rent a car, and the city has many car parks. A car will allow you to explore the rest of the island easily!
Where to eat in Funchal?
As mentioned, many restaurants are in the old town, especially around Rua de Santa Maria. Madeira has some local specialities, such as Bolo do Caco. This is a Madeiran flatbread, usually eaten as a sandwich. There are many different flavours; one famous place to eat is Casa do Bolo do Caco. Is the queue too long? You can also enjoy one on the other side of the street at A Arte Do Bolo Do Caco.
Another place to enjoy a traditional meal is Restaurante A Parreira. It’s a folklore restaurant with dancing and local dishes. Try Espetada (Portuguese beef or chicken skewers), Caldo Verde (cabbage soup) or Picado (beef with chips.
Enjoy a € 20,00 discount on your next meal! Reserve your table with the code 8362E39E on TheFork.
Reid’s Palace is the place to be if you want a fancier meal. You can enjoy afternoon tea or a delicious dinner with a view. It’s also a beautiful hotel where you can stay during your time in Funchal.
Where to stay in Funchal
Accommodations are available for every budget and in any size. Most hotels are located around the old town of Funchal. The perfect spot to start discovering the city! Are you looking for a hotel with an excellent view? Then maybe Babosas Village, La Chambre de Ker Briac, Vila da Portada, and Quinta Belmonte Funchal are perfect for you! Check the complete offer of hotels in Funchal on the map below.
When you visit Madeira, the capital Funchal is a must-see! There is a lot to do and see, and you’ll easily spend 2 or 3 days in the city. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can also organise many tours around the island from here. This way, you can visit Santana, go on a hike, or visit the west coast. The climate in Funchal is fabulous all year round! The island is, however, often covered in a blanket of clouds, but they often move again quickly. Your holiday to Madeira doesn’t end in Funchal, but it’s a great starting point to start your vacation!