In 1419, Tristao Vaz Teixiera and Joao Goncalves Zarco discovered the island of Madeira, on which was established the exquisite city of Funchal. This is a city of incredible lights and sights, a place of dreamy sunsets and gorgeous scenery. The wildlife in the surrounding area is remarkable, and the museums are outstanding. Although Funchal is quite built up, the remainder of the island is remote and made up of dense jungle. Funchal is an architecturally diverse city with many interesting landmarks.
The island itself is located in the Madeira archipelago and belongs to Portugal. Madeira is 530 miles southwest of Portugal, and is only one of two inhabited islands in the region. Funchal is a coastal city and is definitely the most active city on Madeira. Nearly all the fun and exciting activities on Madeira are located in Funchal, and the restaurants here are splendid. You are sure to be pleased by the fine dining facilities, good shopping, and active nightlife. There are a number of very nice stores, lively bars, and nightclubs. One of the world's highest ocean cliffs is found on Madeira, and there are plenty of places to hike, explore, and see all kinds of terrain. Madeira redefines the word vacation, as there are so many leisure spots laced throughout Funchal. The Golfe de Madeira golf course is outstanding, but the course itself is actually outdone by the fabulous scenery that encompasses the greens. The hills and coastline of Madeira are extraordinarily beautiful, and the climate on the island is lovely. Funchal is bordered by sparkling blue waters that only get more beautiful the more you look at them.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Funchal, located at Avenida do Mar. From there, you can walk to many of the tourist destinations in the city, or opt to take a bus, taxi, or rent a car.
Many people choose to rent a car while staying in Funchal. There are several rental car companies to provide you with assistance. Avis Rent-a-Car has an office in Funchal, located at Larguinho Antonio Nobre 164 (291/764-546). You can rent a motorcycle or scooter, as well. Contact Joyride, located at Avenida do Infante 210-211 (291/234-906) for complete rental information
The beautiful Praca do Municipo, also known as Municipal Square, is in the center of town. The atmosphere is wonderful, and everyone has a calm and comfortable air about them. This is the place where the locals get together during the afternoons or evenings, and the decorative plaza is lovely. White and black half-moon designs made of lava make up the tile seen all around you, and the buildings are simply charming.
The Jardim Botanico is located on Caminho do Meio (291/211-200) and is perhaps the best botanical garden in Portugal. The beauty here is unparalleled on the island. There are plants from all over the world, some of which are incredibly exotic and rare. The birds-of-paradise are the favorites for both tourists and locals, and you are sure to snap off a couple of pictures of these beauties. Legend has it that the petrified heather tree in the middle of the gardens is ten million years old.
The Museu Municipal do Funchal is located at Rua Mouraria 31 (291/229-761) and is a combination museum and wildlife refuge. All of the animals of the Madeira archipelago can be seen here, including eels, scorpion fish, puffers, and turtles. If you are a bird fan, then this is definitely the place for you, because the bird displays and open-air habitats are remarkable.
Fleur-de-Lys is located at the Hotel Savoy, found at Rua Imperatriz D. Amelia 108-110 (291/223-103). This is a wonderful French restaurant with a charming décor and scrumptious entrees. From the patio, you can see all the lights of Funchal, and the oriental carpets add to the mood of this great establishment. The open-grill kitchen gives you a sense of closeness and comfort, and the aromas from this kitchen will make you ravenous. The three premier items on the menu are the mouth-watering steak, veal medallions, and lobster with shrimp. Quinta Palmeira is located at Avenida do Infante 5 (291/221-814) and features tremendous Portuguese food. The tasty and authentic dishes prepared at this restaurant will leave you very pleased, and the beef filet is excellent. The seafood, particularly the shrimp, swordfish, and salmon is spectacular, and when you eat out on the veranda, life could not be better. For dessert, try the peculiar yet delectable avocado ice cream. Casa dos Reis is located at Rua Imperatriz D. Amelia 101 (291/225-182) and has the feel of a country club, yet is surprisingly relaxed. The formal dining room may require nice dress, but the mood is cozy and unstuffy. The rack of lamb is incredible, as are the prawns and fish fricassee. This is the place to come if you are in the mood for an upscale dining experience.
Palheiro Golf (São Gonçalo, 291/792-116) is a great place to play a round, and is surrounded by pine and eucalyptus trees that add the perfect touch to an already dazzling golf course. The conditions here are always ideal, and the scenery is picturesque.
Bordados de Madeira is located on Rua do Visconde de Anadia 44 (291/223-341). The embroidered pieces here are excellent, and there is a wide selection of items that would be perfect for your home, or to give as a gift. Casa do Turista can be found at Rua do Conselheiro José Silvestre Ribeiro 2 (291/224-907). The handmade crafts here are great, and there is a wide selection of desirable goods.
Macelino Pão y Vinho is located at Travessa da Torre 22A (291/230-834) and is a great dance club with music that is always pumping. It is an exciting and fun place to be, and the party goes on all night. Prince Albert is a wonderful Victorian style pub featuring great beer and an even greater atmosphere. Prince Albert is located on Rua da Imperatriz Dona Amelia (291/235-793).