Things to do in Funchal
Madeira’s capital, Funchal, is a modern city bursting with life. Filled with top-class restaurants, fascinating attractions and beautiful green spaces, you’ll find plenty to do. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit and activities to try during your next visit.
Ride the cable car
There’s no better way to start your time in Funchal than with a ride on the cable car, which offers fantastic views of the city. At the highest point, you’ll be 560 metres above Funchal and will be able to see the stunning bay, traditional buildings and gorgeous gardens, plus a whole lot more.
The journey takes around 15 minutes each way, with the option for a round trip if you prefer.
Visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Spanning 70,000 square metres and located on the side of a mountain, Monte Palace Tropical Garden is home to an expansive collection of exotic plants from around the world. But there’s more than just plants; you can also see peacocks, chickens and swans walking around freely. Don’t miss the Japanese-style garden, complete with traditional torii gate and colourful koi carp.
In the centre of the garden lies a museum, which has an impressive collection of minerals.There are more than 700 in total and again, they come from all corners of the globe. The museum also boasts an exhibit dedicated to gems; there are more than 300 to see, but diamonds (both rough and cut) are the main focus of the exhibit.
Due to the steep climbs, Monte Palace isn’t for the faint-hearted – you need to be fairly fit in order to get the most out of this attraction. When you need a rest, we highly recommend stopping at the coffee shop, which offers wonderful views. You can also sample the attraction’s very own Madeira wine for free.
Walk along the levadas
Levada (canal) walks are a popular past time in Madeira, as they are both plentiful and beautiful. If you love exploring on two feet, they really are a wonderful way to experience the city and wider island. The huge number of levadas means there’s lots of choice when it comes to walks. Naturally, some and are longer and more difficult than others, so it’s worth doing your research before picking one.
We highly recommend the walk which takes you from Funchal along the Levada dos Tornos. It’s a delightful woodland trek and mostly flat. Many walkers stop at the charming Jasmin Tea House for a quick bite to eat and once you come to the end of the route, you can get a bus back to Funchal.
Tour Blandy’s Wine Lodge
The Blandy family first came to Madeira in the early 1800s and have remained important figures in the island’s world-famous wine industry ever since. Bought by the family in the mid-1800s and located in the picturesque centre of Funchal, the stunning Wine Lodge building is still used for producing and aging Madeira wine today.
Channel your inner wine critic and delve into the rich history of the Blandy family on one of the Lodge’s guided tours. These run for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending which tour you take. Best of all, every tour ends with a tasting of the Blandy’s famous wine and, with a 10% discount in their shop, taking some home is firmly recommended! The Lodge also has a fine dining bistro and wine bar and hosts annual events, such as the three-day wine festival.
The lodge is easily reachable on foot via the front entrance on the Avenida Arriaga or by the side entrance on Rua Sao Francisco and, if you choose to drive, there’s parking located handily close by in the Arcadas de São Francisco.
Visit Museu CR7
When it comes to international Portuguese icons, they don’t come much bigger than Cristiano Ronaldo. Situated on the Praça do Mar, right on the waterfront of Funchal’s beautiful harbour, Museu CR7 is a whole museum dedicated to Ronaldo’s illustrious career and (many) trophies.
A must-see for any football fans, and a great excursion for the whole family, the CR7 houses shirts worn by the man himself, alongside a whole host of the trophies he’s been awarded over the years. Entry’s cheap at only €5, with kids going free, and, if you’re looking for a diverting afternoon or a few hours out of the blistering sun – this is for you!
Santa Clara Convent
Built in the late 16th century by the second captain of Funchal, João Gonçalves da Câmara, the convent of Santa Clara was, for centuries, a secure place for nobles to leave their unmarried daughters when they were away on royal missions. It was also a residence for widows, for whom it provided much-desired religious and economic security.
The building and its surroundings are a series of centuries old courtyards and cloisters, resplendent with gorgeous gothic arches, ending in the São Gonçalo de Amarante Chapel. Inside you can marvel at the nave, decorated with 18th century glazed tiles in the “Santa Clara” pattern, as well as climb the chapel’s tower, with its impressive view of Funchal.
Suitable for the whole family, the chapel and convent are open Monday to Saturday from 10am – 12pm and then again from 3pm – 5pm. One of the gems in Funchal’s crown, the Santa Clara convent is a step back into a bygone age and a key part of the area’s history.
Try the Wicker Toboggans!
When it comes to attractions in Funchal, they don’t come much more memorable than the wicker toboggans. Originally intended as a quick means of transport for people travelling down to Funchal from nearby Monte, the sledges first appeared in the 1850s and are now one of the area’s main tourist attractions.
You can drink in the region’s stunning views on the cable car up to Monte and then make the 2km trip down in style, travelling up to 48 kph on the return journey! The toboggans are a fantastic piece of local culture.
We’ve only just scratched the surface of what Funchal has to offer – there really is so much more to see and do while you’re here. Our resort is just eight miles from the city, making it a fantastic place to stay. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch. We’re more than happy to answer all of your questions.Book your stay today