Funchal is Madeira's capital, a fascinating town set in a stunning natural harbour with views out across the Atlantic. It's an idyllic destination, perfect for couples, families and those who want to relax in a laid-back atmosphere on Madeira holidays.
Lush mountains climb behind the town, providing a warm, sheltered climate that first attracted settlers. Joao Goncalves Zarco first established the town in 1421, and King Manuel I granted city status in 1508. The name Funchal was chosen because of the abundance of fennel ('funcho' in Portuguese) that was growing there. The city prospered as shipping post, and has been island's capital for five centuries.
Today Funchal is a modern town that still retains its old world grandeur, particularly in the historic centre and old quarter. The seafront and marina are natural attractions for people on holidays to Funchal, and the west of the town is the hotel zone. There's plenty to keep you busy on Funchal holidays, you could probably spend an entire holiday exploring the town, but luckily the rest of the island is easily accessible from here so it's a perfect base for a Madeira holiday.
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Things to do
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Madeira enjoys a wonderful sub-tropical climate due to its location and mountainous landscape. Funchal's sheltered bay lends the town especially fine weather. The sun shines all year and temperatures range from a low of 16° Celsius in the winter to about 25° Celsius in the summer. Outside the summer you should expect some rainfall, but these showers rarely last long.
Funchal is set in a magnificent location, a natural amphitheatre that curves around a beautiful bay. The seafront, Avenida do Mar, forms a crescent round the harbour with cafes and restaurants looking out to the Atlantic, and a marina where you can take boat trips to the other islands of the Madeira archipelago. Mountains climb steeply away behind the town, covered in lush vegetation.
Don't miss the cable car that runs from the east of the town up to the mountain village of Monte, affording visitors on holidays to Funchal spectacular views and the opportunity to ride back down on a thrilling dry toboggan run. Good road connections link Funchal to Machico, the islands second town, and Canico is a great stop-off along the way.
Things To Do on Funchal Holidays
Funchal boasts a wealth of attractions in a relatively small area; most places can be reached on foot and strolling through the steep cobbled streets is probably the best way to experience the town. The Se, Funchal's cathedral, was built between 1485 and 1514 and is a must-see for any visitor, as is the religious art collection housed in the Museu de Arte Sacra. The Praca do Municipio is an attractive square with black and white paving and the town's municipal centre. The Mercado dos Lavaradores is a covered market where flower growers, farmers and fishermen bring their wares from all over the island and shouldn't be missed!
No holiday in Funchal would be complete without a spot of wine tasting. For a taste of the famous Madeira wine head to Old Blandy's Wine Lodge, the oldest lodge on the island. Madeira is famous as a garden island, and Funchal's Botanical Gardens are a place of pilgrimage for flower lovers, with blossoms from around the world on show. With so much to see and do, you'll come back from your Funchal holidays rejuvenated and with some great snaps.
The town is Madeira's cultural centre with a busy calendar of events and festivals, so there's always plenty to do on Funchal holidays. Funchal Carnival takes place in February or March each year and has developed into one of Europe's biggest. Festivities cover an entire weekend with the highlight being the Rio-style parade on Saturday night. In April or May the Festa da Flor is a three-day flower festival that sees the town awash with beautiful blossoms. June 24th is St John's Day, with shopkeepers marking the day by building mock altars.
September sees the Madeira Wine Festival with special shows and exhibitions in the town. New Year celebrations in Funchal have gained a reputation as some of the best in the world, with an enormous firework display on the stroke of midnight, traditionally accompanied by a glass of fine champagne.
Funchal's nightlife is more diverse than the rest of the island, because of the town's size, but is still geared towards a tranquil atmosphere. There's a wide choice of cafes and restaurants to enjoy a romantic meal, and plenty of good bars to enjoy an evening drink including the gentle, jazzy Cafe de Museu. There are several clubs in the town, with Clube A probably the most attractive and friendliest.
Book a Funchal Holiday now!
Funchal is an extremely appealing town, a perfect base for your trip to Madeira. On The Beach has the best deals and you can find flights and accommodation on our live online booking system, to create holidays tailor-made for you needs. Book now for fabulous holidays in Funchal today!