It’s not likely you’ll get bored in Funchal. There is really a lot you can do in the capital of Madeira. You could gaze at one of its many churches, visit several musea (like Cristiano Ronaldo museum, Sacred Art Museum, Madeira Story Centre), shop all day, visit the botanical gardens (Madeira Botanical Gardens or Palheiro Gardens), explore the nightlife, visit the local market, etc etc. Just some of the typical activities of a large city.
My personal highlights of Funchal have little to do with these typical tourist attractions. To be honest: I have not visited a single museum in Funchal (except for the gift shop of the Madeira Story Centre, but that doesn’t really count). To me, Funchal’s attraction lies in other things: in strolling and really experiencing this vibrant city.
The city is build around a magnificent historical center, with many large houses and dignified governmental buildings all in the same (white) building style. And between those buildings, which are already beautiful on their own: superb trees with bright purple flowers. It’s a sight for sore eyes!
When my feet long for some respite, I visit one of the municipal gardens. My favorite: Dona Amélia Garden. This garden is located in the center of Funchal, near the harbor and promenade. It is beautiful in its simplicity: not a very large garden, no giant fountains or artificial waterfall, but so very charming. While sitting on a bench in this garden, you’ll be able to view the colorful exotic plants and the surrounding distinctive architecture. Besides that, it is positively peaceful in this garden. Walking just a little more to the west, you’ll find two other municipal gardens: Santa Catarina Garden and Presidential Palace Garden. These two gardens are built on a large rock next to the ocean and will provide a nice view over Funchal and the ocean.
FUNCHAL’S OLD TOWN
On the promenade next to the harbor, you can stroll for hours. Especially since they finally finished renovating this area: in previous years, all you could see here was a large construction pit. But now, this area is totally renewed and it is a very nice improvement to the city. You can walk the promenade, all the while viewing the ocean and harbor, all the way to the Zona Velha: the old city. This is a very colorful area! You’ll pass the old fort (which is canary yellow), a lively street with brightly painted door art and many art galeries and narrow streets in which many boutiques and restaurants are situated. Don’t mind the large amount of proppers present, just enjoy the architecture and charm of this part of Funchal.
These are only a small fraction of Funchal’s highlights. There are many more options to enjoy a day or more in Funchal. Just see for yourself!