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25+ Tips & Things to do in Funchal on Madeira, Portugal

Fortress in Funchal Madeira

Madeira attracts more tourists every year due to its mild climate, breathtaking landscapes and lush vegetation. The island's capital Funchal is the perfect base for exploring the flower island. In this Madeira travel guide I share the best things to do in Funchal and the island itself. All Funchal tips are based on my own travel experience of 3 weeks.

Funchal is the ideal starting point for your Madeira vacation, mainly because of its great tourist infrastructure. My personal funchal tips will help you make the most of your time there.

1. Things to do

Due to its history the capital of Madeira offers a wide selection of sights besides all the natural beauty you can find throughout the island. Both nature lovers and those interested in history will get their money's worth here. My following tips in Funchal are located very close to each other and can be easily reached on foot or by cable car.


map of funchal with markers of all the things to do in funchal that I covered covered in this segment
In this map I marked all the things to do in Funchal that I cover in this article. The Mercado dos Lavradores is located a 5 Minute walk from the cable car station.

Wie du erkennen kannst, lassen sich die wichtigsten Funchal Sehenswürdigkeiten relativ einfach zu Fuß erkunden. Um auf den Hausberg Monte zu kommen, kannst du die Seilbahn nutzen und mit dem Korbschlitten wieder hinunter fahren.
The main sights in Funchal are only a short walk away from each other. To get to the top of Monte with its gardens and the Monte Palace you can use the cable car. A fun way to get back down is the toboggan option which starts right next to the Monte Palace.

Most of the beaches and pools are located along the promenade in the west of the city. The big beach of Praia Formosa and the smaller Praia do Gorgulho are just a few examples you should check out during your visit to Madeira. Contrary to the ones on the mainland most of the beaches in Madeira are pebbly beaches. The only beach in the center of the city is located right next to the yellow fortress of São Tiago.

I recommend to choose a hotel near the historic city center due to the proximity to most sights. Here are a few of my personal recommendations for hotels in Funchal:

Top 3 Hotels in Funchal (more below)

a) Old Town & Harbour

We start our exploration in the center of Funchal with the old town. The historic city center stretches from Parque Santa Catarina to the fortress of São Tiago.

The best way to explore the center and the harbor is on foot. You can walk either from west to east or from east to west and combine several of the following tips and things to do in Funchal.

Funchal's old town can easily be explored on foot. The city center is home to the majority of sights in the capital of Madeira.

b) Parque Santa Catarina

The beautiful park Santa Catarina is located in the west of the old town and particularly worth a visit for its great views. Access to the park is completely free of charge, at the western end you will find beautiful gardens and a pond with fountains.

Just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Funchal you can find the Parque Santa Catarina with its beautiful gardens and views to the harbor.

c) Monte

The true beauty of Funchal lies in its diversity and amphitheater-like setting. Accordingly, the cable car ride up the local mountain is one of my favorite things to do in Funchal during your visit as it offers great views over the city and access to the gardens located at the top.

You will find the station right next to the promenade, at the “Almirante Reis” park. You should combine your trip with a visit to the local gardens (see d) and the famous Toboggan ride (see f). When buying tickets, you can choose between single tickets and packages that combine attractions with the ride (wich is often cheaper!).

Opening Hours: daily 09:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Prices: One-Way 6,50€/12,50€; Roundtrip 9,00€/18,00€; children up to 6 years free of charge

With the cable car you can reach the Monte quickly and effortless. At the top you can visit the gardens and enjoy some of the best views in Funchal.

d) Tropical Garden (Monte Palace)

The two following Funchal tips can also be found above the roofs of the city. The parks of the tropical and botanical garden are equally worth a visit and offer a refreshing change to sightseeing in the old town.

If I had to choose only one of the gardens I'd go for the tropical garden in Funchal. It is located right at the top of Monte and offers a little more variety than the botanical garden. Besides the plants you will find various beautiful buildings, water features, art objects and minerals in the gardens. The gardens are part of the Monte Palace which was once a hotel complex.

Opening hours: daily. 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. (museum 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
Prices: 15,00€, free for children under 15

The Tropical Garden is my personal favorite among the gardens in Funchal. The area is also referred to as Monte Palace as it is was once a hotel complex.

e) Botanical Garden

The botanical garden focuses on subtropical plants and a palm garden. Since the gardens are a bit outside you can also enjoy different views of the city given the additional cable car ride (14 Euro).

Opening hours: daily. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Prices: 7,50€ or 3€, free for children under 6

The botanical gardens towers over the roofs of the city. The views from here are just as beuatiful as the different gardens itself.

f) Wicker Baskets

Funchal's Monte Toboggan Wicker Sledges are a type of traditional mode of transportation that dates back to the 1890's. At the time this was the only way to get from the Monte hill to the valley (unless you went by foot). The large baskets are mounted on wooden sleds and steered by two men called carreiros. To this day, the Toboggan sleds are used on the steep streets of Funchal as a popular tourist attraction.

In order to get to the starting point of the ride you need to do a short walk from the mountain station of the Monte cable car to the Monte Palace. The ride is almost 2km long and leads down steep streets. It's certainly a lot of fun despite the high price of 15€ pp (for 3 people). One of the most thrilling things to do in Funchal during your visit in Madeira for sure!

If you want to book it in advance I recommend a combined tour:

A traditional basket toboggan ride is a unique experience in Madeira that may not be cheap, but worth it. The ride starts right next to the Monte Palace.

g) Poncha

Poncha is THE traditional drink on Madeira. Pocha consists of a third of Aguardente de cana-de-açúcar (Madeirian brandy made from fresh sugar cane juice), honey and local lemons. Therefore a poncha tasting definitely belongs in my personal list of things to do in Funchal.

There are numerous opportunities to try different versions of this delicious drink in town. But be warned: Poncha contains between 40% and 50% of Alcohol (!). The two best bars in town to enjoy Poncha are “Bar Number 2” and “Rei da Poncha” – more on this in Section 4.

By the way: In addition to Poncha, Madeira is also known for its extremely sweet wine, similar to the types of wine you will find in Porto . You can also try the Madeira wine in the local bars.

My personal favorite poncha bar in Funchal is Bar Number Two.

h) Street Art

You can admire a special art project in the Rua de Santa Maria, a narrow alley in the eastern part of the old town. Here various artists have teamed up to counteract the decay of the district and began to color up the house entrances with paintings and street art. Sice then the streets have turned into a real tourist magnet. Worth seeing!

The street art in the east of the old town is definitely worth seeing…
…and features diverse, colorful motifs

i) Barreirinha

You should definitely combine your stroll through the Rua de Santa Maria with a detour to the “Barreirinha”. This is a small café that turns into one of the trendiest bars in the city in the evening and offers one of the most beautiful sunset panoramas.

The Barreirinha bar is located right above a beautiful swimming pool – so you could also go for a swim before you have your sundowner!

j) The promenade

Unfortunately most of the big ressorts are located outside of the old town to the west of Funchal. However, the various hotel complexes are connected by a beautiful promenade that leads to the center of Funchal. Along the coastal path you can not only find restaurants and cafés but also several beautiful swimming spots. One of those is the “Lido” another one the natural seawater pools of the “Doca do Cavacas”.

The promenade is also a good spot for watching the sunset

2. Tours

If you have chosen Funchal as your base in Madeira, day tours are a great option to explore not only the city but the island with locals. In my following tour tips in Funchal I list the best tours in Madeira, all of which start in Funchal. This way you can explore the highlights of the island without the need of a rental car and you'll learn more about the local culture and history.

a) Jeep tours

As stated Madeira is a true mecca for outdoor lovers. You can use a jeep tour to explore the diverse landscape of the island in a more adventurous way. The following tours combine several sights, so you can make the most of your day!

By jeep you explore places that are otherwise hard to get to with a rental car

b) Hike the Levadas

Madeira is a popular hiking destination and offers some of the most spectacular sceneries in Europe. With its mild climate, a variety of well marked trails along the levadas and an impressive mountain panorama it is a true paradise for hikers.

Levadas are the maintenance routes along the irrigation system that supplies the island with water from the mountains to the valleys. The network of canals is huge which results in a good network of trails for extensive hiking tours.

Even if you stay in Funchal you can tackle many of the best hikes as day tours. The following tours include both transport and local guides (except for the self-guided tour, of course):

One of my Funchal tips you should really consider doing is a levada hike

c) Boat Tours & Dolphin Watching

Due to its location far from the mainland Madeira is also ideal for dolphin and whale watching tours by boat. During my time in Funchal I did a sunset dolphin watching tour and saw the first group of dolphins shortly after embarking!

You can book the following boat tours in advance via GetYourGuide:

A boat tour is one of my top tips in Funchal for the sunset…
…in addition to dolphins, you can also enjoy unique panoramas!

d) Camara de Lobos in combination with Cabo Girão & Porto Moniz

Camara de Lobos is a charming fishing village with picturesque streets and colorful houses on the southwest coast of the island. Due to its location, a visit to the town can be perfectly combined with some of Madeira's other well-known sights, such as the spectacular cliffs to the west or even a wine tasting.

The fishing village of Camara de Lobos is another recommendable day trip from Funchal.

e) Faja dos Padres

Faja dos Padres is a natural bay surrounded by high cliffs that can only be reached by boat or cable car. The cable car ride itself is one of the most spectacular cable car trips I've ever done. It's definitely one of my personal top things to do in Funchal even though it's a bit outside the city limits.

The valley station is located directly inside an impressive farm where all sorts of vegetables, fruits and even wine is grown in the surrounding gardens. Together with the local restaurant and the natural beach Faja dos Padres is another truly idyllic place that stands in contrast to the bustling center of Funchal.

Apart from the option of a day trip by rental car (about 20 minutes from Funchal), you can also consider staying 2-3 nights here. This way you have the entire facility to yourself after the last gondola has departed.

The cable car ride down to Faja dos Padres is spectacular and tops even the one to Monte.
If you want, you can even spend the night in this paradise


f) unique experiences

There are many more activities you can do in Madeira. From active adventures such as canyoning or surfing to culinary tours, you will find a variety of options to make your visit truly memorable.

Following I have pre-selected a few fun tours that start in Funchal:

A tour of the island's highlights is your chance to see the breathtaking mountain scenery aside from the rather small Monte in Funchal.

3. Restaurants

Due to its remote location Madeira has developed its own cuisine, detached from mainland Portuguese cuisine. Particularly noteworthy are Bolo do Caco, Poncha, Espetada (beef skewers) and Filete de Espada (Scabbard Filet).

In this section you will find a small selection of my culinary tips in Funchal.

a) Kampo

If you are a fan of fine dining and modern fusion cuisine but don't want to spend too much money, you should definitely mark Kampo in Funchal. Our dinner at the chic eatery was by far one of our best dining experiences on the island.

The creations offered in Kampo are modern interpretations of classics from the local cuisine with regional, fresh ingredients. Due to the popularity of the restaurant among locals I strongly recommend booking a table in advance!

The Kampo is one of the best culinary Funchal tips. Beside the food you also have a decent wine selection to choose from.
The dishes are based on local specialities of Madeira with fresh ingredients from the markets in Funchal.

b) Terra

One of my favorite Funchal Tips for vegetarians and vegans is Terra. Located in the historic center of the city you will find a wide range of international and regional cuisine with numerous delicious options not only for vegans and vegetarians!

Like the presentation, the taste of the dishes offered at Tierra is also impressive. A great tip for vegetarians who visit Funchal.

c) Beerhouse

As the name suggests the Beerhouse is more of a traditional brewery. In addition to the numerous beer choices I recommend the “Prego no Bolo do Caco”. Among the locals it is considered the best steak sandwich in all of Madeira. I can only confirm as I returned several times to eat exactly that during my visit of Funchal 😉

The Prego sandwich in the traditional “Bolo de Caco” at the Beerhouse is awesome and a true must-try when you visit Funchal.

d) Tasca Mallassada

We stumpled upon this traditional tasca on our way from our accommodation to the old town of Funchal, so it's a bit out of the way. But at the same time the location makes it so special as this is a very simple and inexpensive restaurant with basic dishes and incredibly charming owners. For little money you can get large portions here from breakfast and lunchtime snacks to late-night bites.

e) Penha d’Aguia

Penha d'Aguia is a typical regional Portuguese bakery with a wide range of sweet and savory treats from pastries to solid sandwiches. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for breakfast or lunch, it’s actually worth a visit at any time of the day. But if you stop by you should try the queijada. So good!

4. Bars

Funchal is known for its bustling nightlife. The city offers a wide range of bars and pubs – from cozy taverns and wine bars to elegant cocktail lounges and live music clubs. Below I summarize my nightlife tips in Funchal.

a) Bar No. 2

As mentioned above, Bar No.2 is one of the best places to try Poncha during your visit in Funchal. In the evening, however, the bar sometimes turns into a kind of mini-club, depending on the crowd and the DJ.

During my time in Funchal, I stopped by with some friends for 1-2 Poncha on a Friday night… before we knew it we made friends with half the bar, 2 Poncha quickly became 5 and the cozy bar became a dance floor. A night to remember!

b) Three House Cocktail Bar

If you are in the mood for really good cocktails with a view during your visit in Funchal you should definitely head to this rooftop bar. Located right in the center of Funchal this hotel bar not only offers beautiful views over the rooftops of the city – there is also a pool here.

I recommend arriving just before sunset and to look for a cozy spot with a good view over Funchal.

The rooftop bar in the Three House is also one of my tips in Funchal for the sunset. It is another local favorite among the younger people of Madeira.
The drinks at the Three House are really creative & delicious!

c) Barreirinha

Another good place to treat yourself to 1-3 sundowners is the Barreirinha, a rather small bar that has a great outdoor seating area. In fact this “outdoor area” is more like the promenade above the local outdoor pool, but the view from here is unique!

In the evening the transition from a snack bar to a classic bar/pub with local flair takes place, often with a DJ and/or live music in the summer months.

d) Rei da Poncha

Situated in the old town of Funchal this local favorite is particularly recommended as a stop in the late afternoon. At that time you will mainly find locals stopping by for an after-work drink. Very authentic!

5. Hotels

In addition to all the things to do in Funchal this article also includes my personal recommendations for places to stay. I have several accommodation tips in Funchal in different categories on offer because friends of mine have stayed in other hotels. This way you can make the right choice depending on your budget and preferences.

Villa Catanho (entire house) – my choice

Located just above the old town Villa Catanho is one of the best options for a relaxed Madeira holiday with a base in Funchal. The holiday home is surrounded by a banana plantation and has a large garden area with a barbecue. There were 5 of us and I can recommend the house especially for groups and families. The price-performance ratio of Villa Catanho is truly unbeatable.

Hotels in the Old Town

The previous mentioned holiday apartment is almost always fully booked. I have therefore summarized other great and affordable alternatives in Funchal in the following list. All hotels listed here are in walking distance to the old town of the islands capital:

BudgetRatingReasons to stay

Villa Catanho (whole house, my choice)
9.5great value for money, entire house, perfect for families & groups, banana plantation with a great garden
Jaca Hostel8.9central location in the old town, modern & cozy, good value for money
Hotel Catedral€€8.2perfect location, spacious rooms, breakfast included
Villa Camacho€€8.8Great facility including a pool with a view, a bit outside (30 minutes walk to the center), nicely furnished rooms, good breakfast buffet
Museum House€€8.9great location in the old town, modern and well-kept rooms, very helpful staff
NEXT - by Savoy Signature€€€€8.9Modern complex with chic rooms, great location near the old town, gorgeous terrace with pool and sea view, good breakfast

The Villa Catanho was our base in Madeira. The little house close to the center of Funchal even features a shower with a view of banana trees!

Any Funchal Tips or Things to do in Funchal on Madeira you'd like to add?

I wrote this Madeira travel guide based on my own travel experience. If you have been to Madeira as well and you have something to add to this list of things to do in Funchal please feel free to contact me via DM. In case you liked my Funchal Tips and found them helpful, I would appreciate if you could share it with your friends or link to it from your homepage!

Funchal Airport is just as spectacular as the other sights in Madeira.

Disclosure: This Madeira Guide is filled with helpful Funchal Tips but also contains Affiliate Links for services and products I’m using on my travels. Therefore I can highly recommend them. By using these links you won’t pay any additional fees. All recommendations, tips, opinions, and ironic remarks are, as always, my own.

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