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Interesting facts about Funchal

The capital of Portugal’s autonomous island region of Madeira, Funchal is often said to be one of the nation’s most attractive cities. It has a long shipping heritage and a good blend of cultural and natural sites. Discover how to make the most of your time here with this useful Finnair travel guide to Funchal.

Sights in Funchal

At the heart of the city, Sé Cathedral is one of Funchal’s major landmarks. Constructed in the late 15th century and early 16th century, it’s an impressive piece of architecture. Other beautiful buildings in Funchal include the Mannerist São Lourenço Palace, a cross between a fortress and a palace, and the 15th-century Santa Clara Convent. Don’t miss the Jesuit-built Colegio Church too; now part of the university, it dates back to the 1640s. Stroll through the colourful Old Town for a glimpse into yesteryear. Madeira Story Centre takes you on a journey through the island’s past, and art enthusiasts will really enjoy Quinta das Cruzes Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Sacred Art Museum. Ride the Funchal Cable Car for great views over the city and coast. At the top, wander through Monte Palace Hotel Gardens, the grounds of a disused hotel, and admire the small lake, Chinese-style garden and outdoor art. Madeira Botanical Gardens is home to around 2000 plants plus a small collection of birds, and the Palheiro Gardens offer more pretty areas to explore. The park features gardens in different styles, including a rose garden, a French garden and the sunken garden. While there’s no real beach to speak of, the small man-made beach attracts visitors who want a taste of the seaside vibe without leaving the city. Thrill seekers can try their hand at paragliding, combining adventures with amazing views. The casino offers a different kind of adrenaline rush while the golf course is a great place to unwind with a little gentle competition.   

Things to See and Do Near Funchal

  • Câmara de Lobos– This small and scenic village has a pretty historic centre, and one of Europe’s tallest cliffs can be found nearby: Cabo Girão. If you’re feeling brave, step out onto the Cabo Girão Skywalk; one of the highest of its kind in the world!
  • Porto Moniz – These natural salt-water swimming holes are surrounded by volcanic rocks.
  • Ponta do Garajau – A large statue of Jesus Christ stands on the hilltops looking out over the sea. Seeing Cristo Rei do Garajau is one of the top things to do in Madeira.

Shopping in Funchal

At the heart of Madeira’s shopping scene, Funchal has several malls, markets and stores to provide a fun experience for all.

  • La Vie Shopping Centre - At the centre of Funchal, this modern mall has around 70 retail outlets, combining fashion, electronics, sports equipment and household goods. There is also a large hypermarket within the complex.
  • Galerias de São Lourenço – This is a small shopping centre in the middle of the city. It sells a wide range of products.
  • Anadia Shopping Commercial Centre – Another mall in Funchal, you’ll find a hypermarket and just less than 50 stores here.
  • Livraria Esperança – A fantastic place for reading enthusiasts, this large store has a wide selection of books, both new and used. There’s a foreign language section in addition to works in Portuguese.
  • Mercado dos Lavradores – One of Funchal’s main markets, you’ll find fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and other food items here.

Food and Drink

  • Black scabbardfish with banana – A Madeiran delicacy, these black scabbardfish can only be found in a few places around the world. The fish fillets are flavoured with lemon, garlic, salt and pepper before having fresh slices of banana added to be battered and then fried. The fritter-like items may be accompanied by potatoes and salad.
  • Bolo Do Caco – A type of garlic bread, this is a popular street food snack. The bread is toasted first and then spread with lashings of garlic butter.
  • Tomato and onion soup – Comforting and filling, this soup also contains garlic, olive oil and oregano. A poached egg floats in the soup and it is usually served with slices of toast.
  • Wine – Madeira is known for its extensive assortment of locally produced wines and the choices in Funchal are plentiful.
  • Passion fruit pudding – A delicious sweet treat, this pudding contains passion fruit pulp and jelly with cream and condensed milk.

Transport in Funchal

Funchal city centre is small and compact enough to explore on foot. Public transport in Funchal serves other parts of the island.

  • By foot – With most places of interest just a short walk from each other, wide pavements and a good sense of road safety, Funchal is easily enjoyed by walking.
  • Buses – Buses connect the city with other parts of the island, and local buses in Funchal can be useful for travelling up the mountain of Monte if you don’t want to walk. You can pay the driver for your fare.
  • Taxis – Taxis are generally fairly inexpensive and charge by the kilometre, as opposed to using a meter. Local taxis are yellow and blue with a large taxi sign on top. You can wave a taxi down on the street or order a ride from one of several companies.

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Weather in Funchal

15°C 21.02.2020
19°C 22.02.2020
20°C 23.02.2020
21°C 24.02.2020
21°C 25.02.2020
20°C 26.02.2020
18°C 27.02.2020
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