40 things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here are 40 of my favourite things to do in Funchal, Madeira. I’ve been there enough times now that I feel I can give plenty of tips on how best to spend your time in this beautiful island city.

I’ve tried to avoid anything too obvious like the Monte toboggans and I’ve only focused on the city of Funchal itself and day trips you can easily do from it without a car rather than looking at the entire island of Madeira… Otherwise, this will turn into 40 million things to do and no one will have the patience to read it. I’ll be impressed if anyone actually reads all 40 things to be honest…

Anyway, read on if you want some tips from a self-confessed Funchal addict. Enjoy.

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira

1. Have a poncha or three

What better way to start this huge list than with a drink. A potent one. Poncha is Madeira’s national drink and it is bloody LETHAL. You’ll be off your tits after two of them. It comes in several flavours including passion fruit and orange… but the original lemon is the best in my opinion. I am a very bitter person. You can find out more about poncha over here. Apparently, if you drink too many you’ll be able to speak fluent Portuguese. You’d be lucky to be able to speak full stop to be honest.

2. Ride up the cable car to Monte and wave at EVERYONE who goes past

Bonus points if it’s someone who looks like they’re hating life and really doesn’t want to wave back but they do anyway because that’s the law of the cable car. Why is it that as soon as you’re in a boat/novelty train/cable car on holiday, it’s perfectly acceptable to start waving at people and expecting them to wave back? I don’t know but I love it. Funchal’s cable car will take you up over some gorgeous views to Monte, where you can visit the gardens (see #18 and #19).

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3. Look at the weird-looking statue of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo

I have no idea about football or who any footballers are but this statue is amusing nonetheless. Apparently, it looks nothing like him. Note the cringe-worthy bulge too. I’ve deliberately not included a photo of it because you’ve got to see it for yourself to appreciate it. You can find it outside the CR7 Hotel in Funchal’s cruise ship port area. There’s also a museum about said footballer, which we’ve been to. Chris seemed to like it but that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.

4. Find the prettiest square in Funchal

This is my favourite photo spot in the whole island. I think it’s the pink, the art and the glimpse of mountains in the background. Just so lovely. You can find it where the old town meets the main road along the seafront, where all the buses go from.

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5. People watch from my favourite bar, Mercearia Dona Mécia

No trip to Funchal is complete without having a beer or poncha at Mercearia Dona Mécia  and watching local people go past on their way home from work, usually very well dressed. It’s my favourite bar for this reason but I do have a whole list of my best bars in Funchal. You also always get a good snack with your drink. It’s basically just a test of how many olives it’s acceptable to get through in one sitting.

6. Do a day trip to Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns)

My favourite trip from Funchal has got to be the journey to Curral das Freiras: the Valley of the Nuns. Have you ever wanted to see your life flash before your eyes as you career along a precipice in a speeding bus? No? Well, here’s a chance to anyway. Luckily, the views and village at the end of the trip are worth it. You’ll understand why the nuns made it their valley. You can read my entire post on the Valley of the Nuns here.

There’s nothing to do there but wander around, finding the best graveyard you’ll ever see (really!) and looking at the views. Curral das Freiras is famous for its chestnuts served with a sweet syrupy sauce but I have to warn you, that’s an acquired taste. I prefer them in an actual meal rather than on their own. The best place to eat in the Valley of the Nuns is Sabores do Curral. Good for a lunch with a seriously incredible view from their rooftop terrace. It does things other than sweet chestnuts, don’t worry.

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7. Walk along a levada

I’ll admit I haven’t yet done this because I’m an incredibly lazy mess who begrudges buying sensible footwear. But going for a walk/hike along one of the levadas (irrigation systems) around Funchal is one of the most popular things to do there. Apparently the scenery viewed from them is beautiful, which I’m sure I’ll find out when I finally drag myself round to it, but I’m sure it is because Madeira’s scenery is fantastic everywhere.

8. Find your favourite door in the old town Painted Doors Project

Who doesn’t love a good door? The Painted Doors Project is an art installation spread around Funchal old town. Unsurprisingly given its name, it’s a collection of painted doors. They’re painted with the most stunning art: some of them are amusing, some beautiful, and some edgy. It really adds something unique to the old town and is one of the many reasons it’s nice to walk round there. I seem to find more and more every time we visit so my favourite keeps changing, but I do enjoy the mermaid one.

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9. Do a tour of Blandy’s Wine Lodge and sample some Madeira wine

This is a good rainy day thing to do in Funchal and involves an interesting tour of the famous wine lodge. And yes, before you ask: you do get some tasters at the end of the tour. Most people will probably like Madeira wine, even if the only way you’ve had a sweet wine before is port as part of that student classic, Cheeky Vimto. Ahem. Perhaps don’t mention that on the tour… They don’t have Blue WKD available as a mixer anyway. But it’s a very drinkable thing for a sweet wine and worth having a taste of. You can buy some to take home from the shop at the end, too.

10. Visit the market, Mercado dos Lavradores

This is a bustling market that’s seen some real investment and improvement since we started going to Funchal years ago. It now has a lovely rooftop bar/café and some good places to sit for a drink inside, as well as a shop where you can buy poncha and all the condiments you didn’t know you needed. Although it can have plenty of tourists wandering round, locals do shop there so it has a great atmosphere. The fish market in the covered bit is intense. One thing to look out for while browsing the market is passion fruit. There are millions. You can sample them and buy some to eat as you walk round (see #39 of this list for more on my Madeiran passion fruit obsession). Like with any bustling market, be careful and watch your bag while you’re browsing.

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11. Watch the sun go down from Barreirinha Bar Cafe

Barreirinha Bar Cafe is another of my favourite bars in Funchal, and believe me I’ve sampled a lot of them. You’ll be surrounded by locals here, with good music and a nice atmosphere. I always remember them playing a full War on Drugs album the first time we visited. It’s not often you hear that when you’re out. Barreirinha Bar looks out over the sea from the best vantage point of any bar on the island, so it’s perfect for a pre-evening-meal drink while the sun goes down.

12. Get your fix of winter warmth in January or February

We always go to Funchal in the miserable post-Christmas months because it has a high likelihood of nice warm weather. Even if it’s not fully sunny all the time, it’s a decent warm temperature so you can wander round in a cardigan. And you tend to get a good dose of Vitamin D because when the sun is out, it means business. One of my favourite things to do in Funchal is just to have a sit looking out to the sea and basking in the sunshine, thinking of all the poor suckers back home in the rain and cold.

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13. Have afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace

This has got to be done. I’ve eaten a lot of afternoon tea at home in the UK and around the world but Reid’s Palace tops the chart for best afternoon tea ever. It’s all served on a gorgeous balcony overlooking the sea and the city. Don’t be put off by it being 30€ish a head. We don’t splash out on food generally, but we’ve been back there twice, which says a lot. You get seconds if you can manage it and the portions are really good sized. I’ve paid more for a lot less afternoon tea at home in the UK.

Also, I’m always telling people that Madeira isn’t just a holiday destination for old people (honestly, it really isn’t) but just be warned: in Reid’s Palace, you will be bringing the average age down if you’re under 50. But that’s fine – the OAPs know a good scone when they see one. And they’re right. I still think about Reid’s cakes on a regular basis… especially the green tea macaron I had last time. Too good. You can read more about Reid’s afternoon tea and other good places to eat in Funchal in my post all about food.

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14. Go to a local football match

We’ve done this twice now. I hate football. It is marginally more tolerable with a sea view and sunshine, which is why I agreed to a second trip. If you don’t like football but your other half does, it isn’t too bad but make sure you take your book/Kindle and a jacket because it can be boring and breezy.

If do you like football, then I will leave this to my other half, Chris, to explain: Funchal is home to two (usually) top-flight Portuguese football teams – Maritimo and Nacional – both of which are actually quite good. We’ve been to see Maritimo twice. They have a bright, clean and safe stadium called Estádio dos Barreiros, which you can find in the Barreiros area of Funchal. It has a great view over the city and the sea, too. You can buy tickets on the day easily and it costs about 15/20 euro each. One appeal of going to see football in Funchal is that you can have a beer while watching the match – something you can’t do in a lot of countries.

15. Work off all the food and drink you’ve consumed by exploring Funchal’s very hilly streets

Funchal isn’t a place for strappy sandals or heels. You’re going to have to pack your Converse or brogues for this bad boy. Half the fun of exploring the city is getting lost in its many steep side streets, so you don’t want to be hampered by blisters for that. It’s actually hard to get properly lost because the sea is a useful navigation tool, and because it’s so hilly there’s usually a nearby viewing point to get your bearings.

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16. Try out Funchal’s many little snack bars

Forget pub crawls. In Funchal, you could easily do a snack bar crawl that would last all day and you’d still not have covered them all. They’re tiny little family-run bars that serve beer, poncha, coffee and hot/cold snacks for incredibly cheap prices. Some of them also serve proper meals – also very cheap. They’re really popular and a good insight into local life. Regulars pop in and out throughout the day and there’s usually an old man reading a newspaper in the corner. Lovely stuff.

17. Enjoy amazing rooftop views across the city

Funchal is full of viewpoints. My personal favourite is shown below – it’s just on the way up to Barreirinha Bar Cafe from the old town. There’s a very famous one with a glass-bottomed platform to look out from called Cabao Girau. If you fancy a trip out to that, I’d advise not going there in the morning if you’re there in winter. Otherwise, the sun will be all up in your face and it’ll be rubbish for pictures. Let the sun settle down and go in the afternoon. It’s actually not one of my favourite views, even though it’s very famous. I prefer some of the viewing spots to the east of Funchal, but you’ll find your own: there are so many of them.

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18. Visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden

The cable car will deposit you up in the hills, where you find Madeira’s two beautiful gardens. There’s the Monte Palace ones, which we usually start with. You’ll find Japanese-style gardens in them, with koi ponds and red bridges and loads of bright blue agapanthus flowers. Oh and this is where you can see some of Madeira’s traditional ‘Santana’ houses (see #26 of this list).

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19. Visit the Botanical Gardens

The other gardens are the Botanical ones. They have patterns in their borders made from plants, spelling out their name and year, as well as a cactus garden. There’s also a great viewing point and a café that does my favourite pastel de nata (see #27 of this list).

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20. Take a picnic to Santa Catarina Park and watch dogs

Santa Catarina Park is the meeting place in Funchal and more importantly, the dog walking place. There’s nothing better than sitting in the sunshine and rating every dog that goes past on a scale of ‘quite cute’ to ‘inaudible squealing’. It’s also very close to H&M in case you need to buy a cardigan for the cooler evenings because you’ve forgotten to bring one even though you knew you’d need one. I mean, that would never happen to anyone who professes to be an expert at travel. No.

21. Eat a steak with the locals at Zarco’s

Zarcos (don’t be put off by the retro website) has the best steaks in Madeira and portion sizes that you can write home about. It’s always full of locals, has a great atmosphere and is really worth going to. They also serve passion fruit mousse (see #39 on this list). For more on Zarco’s and other gluttony, read my post on where to eat in Funchal.

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22. Eat gelato in the square

Madeira has its fair share of excellent ice cream/gelato eateries. My favourite place to take it to eat is the main square to have a good people watch. There are usually some kind of street performers doing their thing in Funchal’s main square, but if you’ve heard one too many of their questionable Ed Sheeran covers then you can take your gelato away to eat overlooking the harbour. Either way, Funchal has plenty of gelato shops and frozen yoghurt shops to fulfil your sunny holiday ice cream quota.

23. Do a day trip to Porto da Cruz and watch the surfers and/or people getting soaked

Porto da Cruz is actually my favourite place to visit in Madeira. Buses you can get there vary, so check the SAM bus website before you go. There’s a surf school, which is pretty entertaining to watch as people learn to surf/spend a lot of time falling off. Equally entertaining is if it’s a windy day and the waves are really crashing. There’s a hill jutting out to sea that you can walk around, and in this kind of weather the waves can come up and crash right over the path. If you’re lucky, you might see someone getting an unexpected soaking. If you’re less lucky, it might be you.

There’s also the Sugar Cane Rum Museum to visit, which is pretty interesting. The village of Porto da Cruz itself is lovely and you can sit and watch the sea with a beer and some lunch. Oh and there’s a very ‘unique’ art sculpture on the sea front of a gigantic vagina. No idea why. So er, don’t miss that.

You can read my full post on Porto da Cruz here for more info.

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24. Have a good people watch as they arrive off cruise ships

A good spot for this (if you don’t want to sit right on the harbour) is Santa Catarina Park. If you go to the edge of the park, there’s a viewing area with an excellent view of the cruise ships coming in. You also get the weird experience of them leaving, playing music and full of people waving. So much waving. I prefer when they’re getting off though and walking along into Funchal. I like guessing who’s been before and knows exactly where they’re going, who’s in for their visit Funchal visit and is going to love it, and of course who’s British and who’s German (the two most common types of pensioner visitor). Top tip: socks and sandals are the best way to distinguish them.

25. Find a ‘Bird of Paradise’: Madeira’s national flower

There’s some of these beauties in both the Monte Palace and Botanical gardens, but you can also see them in florists all over the city. The name gives away how they look – like a surprised and flamboyant emu – but here’s a photo of one anyway.

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26. See the traditional Madeiran houses

You can go to Santana for the real deal, or stick around Funchal and hunt out the ones they have in the Palace Gardens in Monte. The latter option is easier, especially if you’re doing your holiday without a car. They’ve got triangular thatched rooves and are built of stone, with colourful red doors and blue window frames. Very cute.

27. Eat your own bodyweight in Pastel de Nata (custard tarts)

When staying in Funchal, a pastel de nata a day keeps the doctor away. Because you’ll be so massive you can’t fit through the doors of your local medical centre. These are just the most delicious pastry in the history of all pastries. If you’ve already been to Portugal, you’ll have probably already eaten a few of these. They’re a crispy tart (no soggy bottoms allowed) filled with creamy custard, about a million times nicer than the British version of a custard tart. They might come with cinnamon on (vom) but you can often avoid this if you get naked ones with a cinnamon shaker to add your own, if you’re weird and like cinnamon.

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28. Buy some amazing earrings at Donna Hortensia

This absolute gem is my favourite shop on the whole island, if not the world. You can get so many gorgeous and quirky things in Dona Hortensia that no one else will have, but it’s especially good for affordable and unusual jewellery. I think my biggest haul over the years has been 6 pairs of earrings in one go. A glorious day. I even wore earrings from here for our wedding. Anyway, there’s a bit more about this shop and where to find it in my full Funchal city guide.

29. Get the bus out to Camara dos Lobos

This fishing village is probably the easiest place to get to outside of Funchal on the bus, just 20 minutes on any Rodeste bus heading west. Camara dos Lobos is full of colourful fishing boats and has a little harbour to walk round and have a drink in. Winston Churchill apparently did some painting here and there’s a church dedicated to St Anthony, where people used to go and pray that the fishermen would come home safe. It’s still a fishing village, so they might still do that, but it’s also full of bars and cafés for tourists so there are probably some prayers for good TripAdvisor reviews as well these days.

I have a full guide to Camara de Lobos here.

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30. Eat delicious vegan food at Coraco Vegano

Even if you don’t follow a vegan diet, you may get a bit meat-ed and bread-ed out in Funchal if you don’t actively try to mix it up. We usually eat mainly vegan food at home so I’m always on the hunt for the best vegan options wherever we go on holiday. I found Coraco Vegano on our last trip to Funchal and so we went for lunch – it’s more of a lunch place than evening. I had a vegan plate for €14, with crispy seitan, Japanese-style veg and rice. My insides breathed a sigh of relief to be fed something clean and healthy after a week of salt, sugar and fat. Standard holiday problems. You can read more about it on my where to eat in Funchal post.

31. Find the best street art

My favourite piece of street art in Funchal (after much deliberation) is this one pictured below. It’s by Olliemoonsta, a Spanish street art team. You can find it at Funchal port, next to the police station. Here’s the Google Maps link. Obviously, the aforementioned Painted Doors Project counts as street art and that’s all over the city, but there are plenty of other individual pieces to spot. I never normally link to other travel blogs on here because you should all only be reading this one, of course… but my favourite Madeiran blogger, Sofia at ‘From Madeira to Mars’, has this detailed post about street art in Funchal. Have a look if you’re interested in finding more.

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32. Seek out Funchal’s emerging craft beer scene

Nowhere escapes the creeping takeover by hipsters American-style IPAs. It’s taken a while for Funchal to succumb to the hops, but on my last trip I discovered that it finally had. There’s a craft beer shop called Vilhoa, which is supplying bars around Funchal and getting craft beer to become a ‘thing’ there. The best two places to drink it that we found are Local Shop in Monte by the cable car and FugaCidade in Funchal centre. I’ve written about them both (and more) in great detail on my bars in Funchal post, so have a nose over that instead of me copying and pasting it all into here.

33. Go on a guided tour of the west of the island

I never recommend tours usually – I like exploring on my own terms. But there are bits of Madeira that you can’t easily get to from Funchal on the bus, like the west. And hiring a car is not for me. So I really recommend doing the Go West tour with Madeira Happy Tours. And no, I’m not being paid to say that, it was just a good tour we did on our last trip (side note: if they want to pay me, feel free to get in touch…). You get to go to a good few places over the day, including the highest plateau in Madeira where you can befriend the local cows in incredible scenery.

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34. Don’t stay in the touristy hotel area

To the west of Funchal city, there’s a resort area full of hotels. Obviously, most people tend to stay round there. It’s actually quite a walk into Funchal centre so I wouldn’t say you’re actually staying right in Funchal if you’re there. We’ve never stayed there – we always stay at the same B&B every time we go, called Quinta Sao Goncalo. It’s a beautiful pink mansion located in a residential area to the east of Funchal old town, and is an absolute bargain at £75 a night.

You can read more about it in my Funchal city guide, but even if it doesn’t take your fancy I’d recommend staying in Funchal itself rather than in the hotel zone. Not only is it better to get a feel for the place if you’re bang in the middle of it all or in a locals’ area, but it’ll be much easier to stagger home in the evenings.

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35. Explore the island on horseback

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m horsey and the one downside of travel is missing my horse when we’re away. I hardly ever ride when I’m away though, because so many horses abroad are stabled 24/7 and don’t get what we call ‘turnout’ in the UK (time in a field to graze, move around and interact with other horses). This can be a choice or can be due to lack of land, but I don’t feel comfortable with it.

Anyway, I managed to find somewhere in Madeira that really looks after its horses and offers beautiful rides through stunning scenery. It’s called Quinta do Riacho, located in Santa Da Serra. I’ve only ridden there once because Chris doesn’t ride so it means me going off for a day and leaving him to it, but from this one experience I know I’d go back again. It was unfortunately quite foggy when I went, so I didn’t get any good photos. My horse was a little gem called Vivaldi and the owner of the stables even picked me up and dropped me off at our B&B. Highly recommended for any of my horsey readers.

36. Have a trip out to Porto Moniz to watch the waves

Porto Moniz village is in the north west of the island, with lava pools that naturally fill with seawater. If you can swim (neither of us can so don’t trust me on this), you can swim in them almost all year round. Even if you can’t swim, they’re really good for having a sit and a watch of the waves crashing against the rocks. The sea is incredibly blue in Porto Moniz so make sure your camera battery/phone is fully charged. There’s a good viewing point above the town that you can walk up to, called Miradouro da Santa.

This is a hard one to get to without a car, but you can do it as part of the Go West tour (see #33 on this list). If you’re keen to do it on the bus, it is possible but means an early start and being careful not to miss the last bus back. You can get the 139 bus there and then the number 80 back but study the Rodeste bus site like your life depends on it.

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37. Discover Funchal’s amazing bakeries and eat ALL the pastry

It’s not all about pastel de nata, because there are plenty of other cakes and sweet goods to shovel into your face in Funchal. I highly recommend going into a bakery – doesn’t have to be a fancy one, the chain Opan will do – and just staring at the insane amount of choice for a good 10 minutes. If the thought of endless choice sends you into a blind panic, I recommend going for the salami cake. It doesn’t contain actual salami, but layers of delicious moist chocolate and cream. For more specific pastry-based recommendations and general gluttony, read my post on where to eat in Funchal.

38. Put your photography skills to the test

There’s a photo opportunity around every corner in Madeira. You’ll probably want your ‘proper’ camera at the ready rather than your phone, to attempt to do it justice. People grumble about the lack of beaches (which isn’t true, there are stony beaches) but it’s a huge advantage scenery-wise having the rugged coastline opening straight onto the sea. It makes for some very dramatic landscapes.

Also, there’s the fact that Madeira is so lush and floral. There are flowers everywhere waiting to be framed in that perfect shot. Obviously, don’t go around with your camera glued to you because you’ll want to live in the moment and enjoy it all too, but you’ll probably find that you end up with a lot of photos worthy of printing out and framing when you get home.

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39. Eat passion fruit everything (especially mousse)

If there’s a better fruit flavour than maracuja (passion fruit), I’ve not found it yet. Madeira is obsessed with passion fruit and has about a gazillion varieties. Some of them look nothing like a passion fruit of the usual kind you can get in the UK floating in your cocktails. They all taste amazing and Madeirans use them to flavour everything from ice cream to booze to desserts. My favourite dessert in Funchal is a maracuja mousse: kind of like an Angel Delight but nicer. Side note: that Wiki article about Angel Delight has just given me brand new information: Angel Delights are a UK thing. I had no idea. The rest of the world is missing out.

40. Visit the fort full of cats that’s kind of a separate nation (Pontinha)

I’m leaving this at the end because it sadly closed a couple of years ago but I live in hope that it’ll re-open one day. Allow me to explain anyway, in the hope that it’s not closed forever.

It’s called Forte Sao Jose and you can find it on the map here. But it’s actually the Principality of Pontinha – a ‘micronation’. It’s an independent country (not officially recognised by all governments) and based in this fort in Funchal’s harbour. And it’s FULL of cats. They’re all well looked after and spend their lives sunbathing and generally living the dream. There’s an inexplicable model of Father Christmas on the roof too. The whole thing is owned by this man called Prince Renato II. You can read his interview with the Guardian for more info. Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of tax scandal surrounding him that means it was shut last time we visited, so I didn’t get my fix of stroking kitties and posing with Father Christmas. Hopefully it’ll be open next time.

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Other things to do in Funchal…

So that’s the end of an absolutely mammoth post. Well done if you got this far.

I’ve actually left quite a few things to do in Funchal off this list but I could go on and on. Let me know in the comments if you do any of these suggestions and what your favourite things to do in Funchal are – or anywhere in Madeira really. I like hearing about other people’s experiences in my favourite places. Just keep it to yourself if you’re having too good a time while I’m stuck at work in the rain. Ta.

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Things to do in Funchal, Madeira – useful information for your trip

How to get there (and away)

We fly from Manchester, which takes about 4 hours non-stop. Then, getting into Funchal city centre from the airport is easiest by taxi. They’re yellow so hard to miss. Thus far, we’ve never been ripped off by a taxi driver in Funchal – unlike in many cities round Europe. It should cost about 25 euro from the airport to Funchal. If you stay at the place we always stay at (see below), they’ll sort you out with a pre-booked one and he’ll be waiting to greet you off the flight. On the way back, Madeira airport is about a million times better than it used to be and now has a Parfois shop, which is excellent for bags and accessories, and a bit more choice in places to eat. Flights can often be delayed due to winds because the airport is basically in the sea. And sometimes they have to land on neighbouring Porto Santo island. So brace yourself for a bit of a wait if it’s blowing a gale.

Where to stay

There are SO many places to stay in and around Funchal, but I really recommend Quinta Sao Goncalo. It’s a pink and beautiful mansion, located in a residential area to the east of the old town, and is an absolute bargain (£75 a night). You can read more about it in my Funchal city guide, but even if it doesn’t take your fancy I’d recommend staying in Funchal itself rather than in the hotel zone (see point #34 on this list).

How to get around

Most places in Funchal are walkable but to get further afield, the buses are great and really cheap. You can get a re-chargeable bus card from a GIRO machine – the easiest one to find is just by the cable car station. All the bus info is here.

When to go

We always go in January and February. It tends to be warm, even if you don’t get full-on sunshine every day. When the sun does come out, it’s proper sun so your Vitamin D levels will thank you. We’ve never been at any other time of year but I have heard spring is great. I don’t think the height of summer even would be a problem because a) they don’t seem to get unbearable heat and b) it’s not a child-centred city (probably the main reason why I love it, being allergic to children) so you won’t be surrounded by summer holiday families. New Year is also a good time to go because they go ALL OUT for it with fireworks.

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Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES Things to do in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal | PACK THE SUITCASES

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  1. Finally I’ve sat down with a drink and had a good read of this – brilliant and funny as ever and I’ve saved it for when we go x x

  2. Great photos! Must’ve been hard to limit your things to do to 40. Madeira/Funchal has so much to offer.

  3. Hi Madeira it’s amazing pls all ways eat we’re the locals eat,rent a car,and stay out of Funchal if possible just buy the plane ticket and rent a car before you go and book a hotel wen you arrive go around and look first don’t relay in taxis or public transport be free and enjoy ask for help if you need people are very friendly and Yong people speak English walk in levadas visit the mountains and make sure you inform the place you stay we’re you going just in case you get lost always carry a Mobil phone.

  4. Love this article, we’ve just got back from another great holiday with fabulous weather one day we hit 89 was so hot. We stayed in Funchal Old Town area Porto Santa Maria hotel an amazing hotel. I just love the way everyone is so welcoming and always eager to please. Madeira has stolen my heart yet again. Will be back there next November for my 50th Birthday can’t wait got major Funchal withdrawal symptoms. Looking forward to your next blog x

    1. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the post! I’ve heard good things about Porto Santa Maria hotel, someone we were on a bus with once always stayed there (we get talking to everyone in Madeira!). Enjoy your birthday in Funchal! x

  5. This is a great blog, and I hope you enjoyed Madeira. I have this going on my blog madeiraislandnews tomorrow.

  6. First time I have read your blog – it is lovely, and also so great to see that you mention other places other than Funchal as the island has much to offer. We moved to Porto da Cruz and into our villa exactly one year ago, and this area is superb especially for those who like to explore the rural side of Madeira. Having renovated the place we offer self catering accommodation at vivendalindavista in Porto da Cruz and dont regret out move from Britain at all.

    1. Thanks Carolyn! Porto da Cruz is my favourite place for a day trip. Love getting off the bus before you need to and walking down. We’ve probably been past your self-catering place! 🙂

  7. Loved your blog (and yours Tobi too – read it very day) I’ve been coming to Madeira for over forty years when the airport was short and there were few hotels after Lido crossroads, just banana plantations! In my view it’s the most beautiful place on earth

  8. Have been 3 times to Madiera and always find new things to do and see.This was a great read giving us even more things to do.Will be there for New Year looking forward to it even more .Thanks for the info .Susan.

  9. I picked Madeira as a surprise destination for my wife to celebrate our first wedding anniversary holiday, and your blog was a big part in confirming the choice. We only managed 14 off this list, but then we did want to relax poolside too. We plan on ticking off more of them when we return next year 🙂 Thank you for your inspiring blog.

  10. Have visited Funchal 2 or 3 times via cruise liner (sort of accidentally). Once was during the Spring flower parade!
    Can anyone confirm that the parade is on Sunday April 21 this year?
    And, somewhat more difficult, what cruise ships will be in port that day? Or how I can find out?
    I have searched and searched and get nothing but hotels, what to see, etc. etc. The port
    has handled at least 4 liners in one day so there be one that would be convenient for us.
    Thanks very much,

  11. Hi, I love your blog, on a recent visit to Porto da Cruz we saw a dance/keep fit display for children. They were in school uniform. The keep fit teacher was amazing – the kids were dancing and singing along and were so excited when they were chosen to go up onto the stage with him. I have tried to find a video or clip to show my own grandchildren, do you have any idea what this was or if there’s any clips anywhere. Thanks, Valderee xxx

    1. Hi Valderee, I have absolutely no idea. I’m allergic to children so wouldn’t have noticed anything about this in Porto da Cruz even if it was going on! But have you asked in local Madeira Facebook groups? ‘Madeira Active’ would be a good starting point.

  12. Wonderful stuff on here. I’ve been to M 3 times, about to go again and I’ve only come across 3 or 4 of your itemised places stuff really. I’m really thinking about going off on a horse now! I usually go in early Dec to get the great Christmas stuff before the prices go up. In April it rained the entire week but with a car you can drive to the dry bits, just like the Isle of Wight!

    1. Thank you Neal, I’m so glad you found the blog post useful. I’ve heard it can be wet in April but I’ve always been really lucky in Jan/Feb when I tend to go. Let me know if you end up doing/seeing/eating anything off this list!

  13. We will be in Funchai on 28 jan (our 30 th wedding anniversary). We will be one of those walking into town from our cruise ship (minus the desert wellies and socks) looking forward to sampling some of the delights you’ve mentioned here ,thanks for the info ,great read

  14. Love your posts about Madeira – thanks for all those tips! I’m going there in February with my family and we will definitely use your guide as we love doing all those things that allow you to experience the new place with all your senses 🙂
    It seems like you had a great weather, I hope it won’t rain the whole time in February!
    PS – I have a question that may not be related to the topic, but I’m just trying to get information from people who were on Madeira. I’ve heard that there are mosquitoes on Madeira. I have 3 small kids so I’m a bit worried about that… Have you had any problems with mosquitoes when you were there?
    Thanks!! Zooey

    1. Hi Zooey, so glad you enjoyed the Madeira posts!

      Even if it rains for a day, you’re usually guaranteed at least a bit of sun over a week.

      I’ve never had an issue with mosquitoes, no.


  15. this article brings back so many memories from my 2018 trip to Madeira, one of my favourites ever! got to do some amazing diving at the Arco Da Badajeira, and I absolutely loved the waters, the beaches, the landscapes, the locals – ah! Madeira is truly a gem in this world, and you’ve done it justice with your writing <3

  16. Thank you so much for all this fab information! We have booked to go to Madeira for the first time in March, can’t wait! Thanks for your restaurant tips too, it’s great to know places have good veggie options. Thanks again for such a useful blog 😊

  17. we are living here for 5 year and wish the winter is over..really hate winter here..we have hot bottles for night and elec.heaters for kids,pls god only few more months and will be nice and warm:-)

  18. “If you’re weird and like cinnamon” – I KNOW, RIGHT???
    This is your first post I’m reading, but discovering you’re an equestrian, like me, I’ll have to snoop around this site more thoroughly <3
    Good read.

      1. The only thing worse than cinnamon is cooked apple and cinnamon.
        Hello, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, already helped me some.

  19. After visiting Madeira, it is worth visiting the neighboring Porto Santo. 9 km of beautiful golden yellow beach is worth it 🙂

      1. Hi, we really did, beautiful island, very friendly people, lots to do and see. We will be back as much left to do but may stay nearer to the centre next time, the hill back to the hotel district is a killer! PS, if you can afford it, have the afternoon tea at Reid’s Hotel, a wonderful experience.

        1. Great! Yes, Reid’s is literally on this list haha. Been lots of times. I think it’s good value for afternoon tea though, not expensive at all! I also don’t recommend staying in the tourist hotel bit – much better to be central 🙂

  20. Hi… I agree that it would one million things to do in Madeira. It is just exceptional to squeeze this into 40 things to do in Funchal. Well written blog and can see that this sums up all the great attractions and things to do in Funchal. Thanks in tons for the information…Of course the pictures are just marvelous.

  21. Love your writing style, funny and very straightforward! And hopefully I got some nice ideas about Funchal as I’ll get there in a few hours

  22. Just back Friday on last flight to Glasgow. had to write and thank you for your great Blog, it helped make a great holiday even though the last few days almost all places were closed. Have to give you heads up on few places we loved. Head along west to Café Mona Lisa for an afternoon snack (with great sea view) and the finest house red I have tasted. Not like us to go to the same place over and over but we stopped 3 times in the week we were in Funchal. my other choice for a drink and great food is Tapas y Copas, Estrada Monumental Nro.258. Great food with particular mention to their “FRIED STUFFED OLIVES”. Their were many other that you guided us to so a huge thank you for your information.
    will be studying your other countries for the future. OBRIGADA!!!

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