I am always happy that anyone wants to visit me and my city – Funchal.
You see we (the madeirans) share this passion for the Island and we want visitors to experience the best spots.
Funchal is a beautiful city. I know I’m biased since I just love living here (the more I travel the more I appreciate the benefits of this Island), but I challenge you to spend a few days in Funchal and then you can see it for yourself.
Here I share 5 cool things to do when someone visits Funchal:
# 1 Head to Largo do Socorro
Funchal, the capital of Madeira, has three historic districts: Santa Maria (renown as Old Town), São Pedro and Sé.
São Pedro |This photo was courtesy of Budgettraveller
Many of the streets in these areas of Funchal are pedestrian, which means strolling around, photographing and discovering palaces, manor houses from the XIX century (which are now museums), viewpoints overlooking the sea, houses with flower gardens and typical Madeiran pavements made with pebbles.
Explore monuments such as the São Lourenço Palace or the Santa Clara Convent, the buzz of Rua da Carreira and the peace of Largo do Socorro.
In this square, lays the Barreirinha Bar Cafe, the perfect place to take a break and soak up the local lifestyle:
Barreirinha Bar Café
São Tiago Beach nearby Largo do Socorro
# 2 Taste the Madeira Wine at Blandy's Wine Lodge
A Madeira wine glass on Blandy's Wine Lodge
I often say that coming to Madeira without tasting Madeira wine is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. This is the perfect gift to celebrate life: a light fragrant flavour with a golden color.
There are wines for every kind of taste; dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet or sweet, as is the case of the wine of Malvasia, which offers a full-bodied and dark coloured wine. Madeira wine was chosen to celebrate the US Independence Declaration, on the July 4, 1776. There was also an English Duke that faced with his death sentence in the XV century, asked to be drowned in a Madeira wine barrel, such was his devotion!
Do not miss the opportunity to understand the why behind these stories, and visit the Madeiran wine cellars, such as the Blandy's Wine Lodge, which is one of my favourites. Enjoy and have a glass or other Madeira wine. Cheers!
Blandy's Wine Lodge
# 3 Go for a dip in Formosa Beach
Just like the first navigators who arrived on the island, admire the bay of Funchal from the sea. Take a boat ride and enjoy the views of this natural amphitheater full of flowers, trees, gardens and houses with terracotta roofs. Contemplate this town nestled in a valley that opens to the sea as if saying - "Welcome".
Funchal - Sea View
There are also several places around the marina of Funchal. I invite you to walk to the old pier and sit on a bench - breathe the sea breeze.
And, most importantly, you can not leave the island of Madeira without taking a dip in the waters of the Atlantic.
One of my favourite beaches is Formosa Beach, made from black sand and pebbles, it offers a fabulous view of Cabo Girao, one of the highest sea cliffs of Europe. This is also a good spot to go for a walk to Camara de Lobos or watch sunset, while enjoying the local limpets washed down with the local beer.
Sunrise in Formosa Beach
Limpets and beer at Formosa Beach
# 4. Drink a 'Poncha' in Mercearia do Bento
Funchal has a few of the so-called "mercearias" or old grocery stores that in the past served as a meeting place for shopping, having a drink or eating a snack. Some of these places are beautifuly stuck in time, loyal to itselves. Stop over at Tanoeiros Street 2, "Mercearia Bento" and sample the Poncha, the regional drink made with sugar cane brandy, bee honey and lemon.
Mercearia do Bento
# 5 Visit Palheiro Gardens
"Madeira is a garden" - true. In Funchal there are so many gardens to meet and visit, that a week is not enough. I advise you to go to the Tropical Garden of Monte, the Municipal Gardens, the panoramic Gardens; but if I had to choose one, it would be the Palheiro Gardens, definitely one of my favorite gardens in Funchal.
Be amazed with the colors of camellias and magnolias, visit the charming chapel of São João and taste the homemade cakes at the local teahouse.
Here's hoping you spend a great time in this city- Enjoy! :)
Ready to visit Funchal?