What to do in Funchal | Guide 2023

Funchal is the capital city of the island of Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal located in the Atlantic Ocean. The city is known for its mild climate, beautiful landscapes, and historic attractions, making it a popular destination for tourists.

One of the main attractions of Funchal is its historic centre, which features cobbled streets, colourful buildings, and several historic landmarks, such as the Sé Cathedral and the São Tiago Fortress. The Mercado dos Lavradores, or Farmers’ Market, is also a popular attraction, known for its vibrant displays of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, as well as its fresh seafood and traditional handicrafts.

Funchal is also known for its beautiful gardens, such as the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Botanical Garden, which offer stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Visitors can also take a cable car ride from the city centre up to the Monte neighbourhood, where they can explore the Monte Palace Gardens, visit the Monte Church, and experience the famous Monte toboggan ride.

In addition to its historic and natural attractions, Funchal offers a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. The city has a range of restaurants, cafes, and bars that serve local cuisine and wines, as well as several shopping areas that offer a mix of local handicrafts and international brands. There are also several cultural events and festivals held throughout the year, including the famous Funchal Carnival and the Madeira Wine Festival.

Overall, Funchal is a charming and vibrant city that offers a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a great place to visit for families, couples, and solo travellers alike.

What to see in Funchal

Funchal is the capital city of the Portuguese island of Madeira, and there are many things to see and do in this vibrant and historic city. Here are some of the top sights to see in Funchal:

  1. Monte Palace Tropical Garden: This stunning garden is a must-see for anyone visiting Funchal. It is home to a wide variety of exotic plants and flowers, as well as a beautiful lake and a museum showcasing the art and culture of Madeira.
  2. Madeira Botanical Garden: Another beautiful garden in Funchal, this one is home to an impressive collection of plants from around the world, as well as a charming tea house and stunning views of the city.
  3. Funchal Old Town: This historic neighbourhood is filled with colourful buildings, narrow streets, and charming squares. It’s a great place to wander and explore, with plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to discover.
  4. Funchal Market: This lively market is a great place to sample local food and drink, and to pick up souvenirs and handicrafts. It’s open daily, and it’s a great place to get a feel for the local culture and way of life.
  5. Monte Cable Car: This scenic cable car ride takes you from the city centre up to the picturesque village of Monte, offering stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains along the way.
  6. São Tiago Fortress: This impressive fortification dates back to the 17th century, and it now houses the Contemporary Art
  7. Museum of Funchal. It’s a great place to explore and learn more about the history and culture of Madeira.

These are just a few of the many sights and attractions that Funchal has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or culture, there is something for everyone in this beautiful and fascinating city.

Where to eat in Funchal

Funchal is a food lover’s paradise, with a wide variety of restaurants serving everything from traditional Madeiran cuisine to international dishes. Here are a few places to consider for a great meal in Funchal:

  • Restaurante do Forte – Located in the historic São Tiago Fortress, this restaurant offers stunning views of the city and the sea. The menu features a mix of traditional Madeiran dishes and modern international cuisine, all made with fresh, local ingredients.
  • Armazém do Sal – This restaurant is known for its creative takes on classic Portuguese dishes, as well as its extensive wine list. The atmosphere is cosy and welcoming, with exposed stone walls and wooden beams.
  • Taberna Madeira – For a taste of traditional Madeiran cuisine, head to this cosy restaurant in the heart of the old town. The menu features local specialities like espetada (skewered meat) and black scabbard fish, as well as a variety of tapas-style dishes.
  • Riso Risottoria del Mundo – If you’re in the mood for Italian food, this popular restaurant is a must-visit. The menu features a wide variety of risotto dishes, as well as pasta, pizza, and salads.
  • Mercado dos Lavradores – This bustling market is a great place to sample local food and drink, with dozens of stalls selling fresh produce, meat, fish, and wine. There are also a few restaurants inside the market, serving everything from seafood to traditional Madeiran dishes.

These are just a few of the many great restaurants in Funchal. Whether you’re in the mood for local cuisine or international flavours, you’re sure to find something delicious in this vibrant and diverse city.

Where to stay

Funchal offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts. Here are a few places to consider for a comfortable and convenient stay in Funchal:

  • Belmond Reid’s Palace – This iconic hotel has been a favourite among visitors to Funchal for over a century. Located on a hill overlooking the city and the sea, the hotel features beautifully landscaped gardens, luxurious rooms and suites, and a range of amenities including a spa, outdoor pool, and tennis courts.
  • The Vine Hotel – This modern and stylish hotel is located in the heart of Funchal, just a short walk from many of the city’s top attractions. The hotel features a sleek, contemporary design, spacious rooms and suites, and a rooftop pool and bar with stunning views of the city and the sea.
  • Quinta das Vistas Palace Gardens – Set in a beautifully restored 19th-century mansion, this charming hotel is surrounded by lush gardens and offers panoramic views of Funchal and the sea. The hotel features spacious rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant serving traditional Madeiran cuisine.
  • Molhe Apartments – For a more independent and budget-friendly stay in Funchal, consider renting an apartment at Molhe Apartments. Located near the city centre and the marina, these apartments offer comfortable and well-equipped accommodations, with fully equipped kitchens and private balconies with sea views.
  • Casa Velha does Palheiro – This elegant country house hotel is located just outside of Funchal, in the midst of a lush botanical garden and a golf course. The hotel features spacious and individually decorated rooms, an outdoor pool, a spa, and a restaurant serving gourmet cuisine.

These are just a few of the many great accommodation options in Funchal. Whether you’re looking for luxury and indulgence or a budget-friendly stay, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay in this vibrant and charming city.

Tours from Funchal

Funchal and its surrounding areas offer a wide range of tours and excursions, from scenic walks and drives to boat trips and cultural experiences. Here are a few popular tours from Funchal:

  1. Levada Walks – Levadas are narrow irrigation channels that crisscross the island and provide a network of scenic walking trails. There are numerous levada walks to choose from, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. Some popular options include the Rabaçal to 25 Fontes walk, the Balcony Walk, and the Levada do Rei walk.
  2. Dolphin and Whale Watching – The waters around Madeira are home to a wide variety of marine life, including dolphins, whales, and sea turtles. There are several companies that offer boat trips for wildlife watching, with a chance to see species such as bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, and blue whales.
  3. Island Tour – For a comprehensive tour of Madeira, consider a full-day island tour that takes in the highlights of the island, including scenic viewpoints, quaint villages, and historic landmarks such as the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Pico do Arieiro mountain.
  4. Cultural Experiences – Madeira has a rich cultural heritage, and there are several tours that offer insights into the island’s history and traditions. These can include visits to museums and art galleries, guided walks through historic neighbourhoods, and cultural demonstrations such as embroidery and wine-making.
  5. Food and Wine Tours – Madeira is known for its cuisine and wine, and there are several tours that offer a chance to sample the island’s gastronomic delights. These can include visits to local markets, tastings of Madeira wine and traditional dishes such as espetada and bolo do caco.

These are just a few of the many tours and excursions available from Funchal. Whether you’re interested in nature, culture, or food, there’s a tour to suit every interest and budget.


Funchal offers a variety of shopping experiences, from traditional markets and boutiques to modern shopping centres. Here are some of the best places to shop in Funchal:

  • Funchal Farmers Market – Known as the Mercado dos Lavradores in Portuguese, this historic market is a must-visit for anyone interested in local produce and handicrafts. Here, you can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to flowers, spices, and souvenirs.
  • Old Town Funchal – The narrow streets of Funchal’s Old Town are lined with boutiques and craft shops selling everything from handmade pottery to locally-produced embroidery and lace. This is a great place to pick up unique souvenirs and gifts.
  • Forum Madeira – This modern shopping centre is located on the outskirts of Funchal and offers a wide range of shops and services, including fashion and accessory stores, electronics, a food court, and a cinema.
  • La Vie Shopping Center – This recently-opened shopping centre in the heart of Funchal offers a range of fashion, accessories, beauty and home goods, as well as a few dining options.
  • Avenida Arriaga – This busy street in the centre of Funchal is lined with shops selling everything from clothing and shoes to souvenirs and jewellery. It’s a great place to stroll and browse, and there are plenty of cafés and restaurants nearby for a break.

These are just a few of the shopping options available in Funchal. Whether you’re looking for local crafts, souvenirs or high-end brands, you’ll find plenty of shopping opportunities in this vibrant city.

Weather in Funchal

Funchal is known for its mild and sunny year-round climate, thanks to its location in the subtropical region of the Atlantic Ocean. Here’s what you can expect in terms of weather in Funchal:

  • Winter (December to February): Average temperatures range from 16°C (61°F) to 20°C (68°F), with occasional rain and wind.
  • Spring (March to May): Average temperatures range from 17°C (63°F) to 22°C (72°F), with increasing amounts of sunshine and occasional showers.
  • Summer (June to August): Average temperatures range from 22°C (72°F) to 26°C (79°F), with low humidity and plenty of sunshine.
  • Autumn (September to November): Average temperatures range from 20°C (68°F) to 24°C (75°F), with warm days and mild evenings.

Overall, the climate in Funchal is pleasant year-round, making it an ideal destination for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and relaxation. However, it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly, as weather conditions can vary.

Holidays with kids

Funchal is a great destination for families with children, as it offers a wide range of activities and attractions suitable for all ages. Here are some ideas for things to do with kids in Funchal:

  1. Visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden: This beautiful garden is home to a collection of exotic plants, waterfalls, and sculptures from around the world, as well as a children’s play area and a cable car ride with stunning views.
  2. Ride the Funchal Toboggan: Take a thrilling ride down the steep streets of Funchal on a traditional toboggan sledge, steered by two experienced drivers.
  3. Explore the Madeira Story Centre: This interactive museum tells the story of Madeira Island through multimedia exhibits, including a simulated earthquake experience and a 3D film.
  4. Visit the Quinta das Cruzes Museum: This historic mansion is now a museum featuring a collection of Madeiran art and artefacts, as well as beautiful gardens with fountains and statues.
  5. Swim and play at Praia Formosa Beach: This family-friendly beach is one of the largest and most popular in Funchal, with calm waters, lifeguards on duty, and plenty of amenities such as restaurants, showers, and restrooms.
  6. Go dolphin and whale watching: Take a boat tour from Funchal to spot these majestic marine animals in their natural habitat, with the help of knowledgeable guides.
  7. Ride the cable car to the Botanical Garden: Take a scenic cable car ride from Funchal to the beautiful Botanical Garden, where you can explore a wide variety of plant species and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Overall, Funchal offers plenty of fun and educational experiences for kids, with a welcoming and safe environment for families to explore and enjoy.

How to get to Funchal

Funchal is the capital city of Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The easiest way to get to Funchal is by plane. Madeira Airport (FNC) is the main airport on the island and receives regular flights from major cities in Europe.

From the airport, you can take a taxi or an airport shuttle bus to the Funchal city centre. The journey takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic.

Alternatively, you can reach Funchal by ferry or cruise ship, as the city has a port that receives regular services from mainland Portugal and other European countries.

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