Nestled in a natural valley between the Atlantic and the mountains, Funchal is in an idyllic location. Here, the temperatures hit the 20s all year round and the flowers bloom in all seasons.
Book one of our Funchal hotels and explore a city that is relaxed by day and vibrant by night, with nightclubs open until 7am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Beaches and pools
Black of sand and warm of water, Funchal’s Praia Formosa is made up of three small sandy beaches and a large pebble beach. The city also has several outdoor swimming pool complexes, including the Lido, whose seawater pools are refilled daily, and Ponta Gorda, which has two adult pools and a children’s pool. Both complexes have bars and restaurants and access to the sea itself. The Lido and Praia Formosa are linked by a palm-tree-lined promenade with lovely views of the sea. Watersports and outdoor activities are popular here – you can go swimming with dolphins, whale-watching, diving, surfing or paragliding, take a boat trip or just enjoy long walks.
Funchal’s Botanical Gardens have more than 2,000 plants, including indigenous plants from Madeira and other Atlantic islands and trees from places around the world, from the Himalayas to the tropics. There are also tropical fruit trees, sugar cane, medicinal plants and some exotic and rare birds, including cockatoos, Australian parakeets and dwarf parrots. Attractions at the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens include two Oriental gardens with Buddhist sculptures and Japanese lanterns, and wildlife including koi carp, swans and peacocks. The gardens are also home to a collection of tiles from palaces, churches and private houses from across the former Portuguese empire. Quinta Magnolia is a beautiful park filled with thousands of colourful flowers. It also has an outdoor pool, tennis and squash courts, a jogging circuit, a play area and a café.
Funchal’s abundance of museums includes the Madeira Story Centre and the City Museum, where you can discover the history of the island and the city, and the Contemporary Art Museum. The unusual Universe of Memories tells the story of the life of Madeira’s former Secretary of Tourism, João Carlos Abreu, who travelled the world as a journalist and public figure. The museum contains 10,000 objects from across the globe, including books, ceramics, paintings and bronzes. You can also learn about the fauna, flora and geology of Madeira at the Funchal Municipal Museum, which also has an aquarium, or Madeira wine at the Wine Museum.
Eating and drinking
Housed in a 200-year-old former salt warehouse, the Armazem do Sal restaurant – whose name reflects its heritage – is popular for its modern Portuguese cuisine. As well as octopus and black scabbardfish, you can try some interesting-sounding desserts here, including red wine panna cotta, black tea crème brulee and chocolate volcano. Or for fine dining, classical music and waiters dressed in 18th-century costume, head to Restaurante Mozart, a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice 2014 winner. Afterwards, enjoy a drink and an ice cream at the Barreirinha Bar and Café, where you can sit outside and watch the ships coming in and out of the harbour. Occasionally there’s a live band, jazz musician or DJ.
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