In the ‘old city’ of Funchal you’ll find the Mercado dos Lavradores (workers’ market): numerous stands selling various fruits, vegetables, spices and flowers. Madeira cultivates a variety of fruits, and you can find all of those at Mercado dos Lavradores. For instance, at this market they sell at least ten (!) different flavors of passion fruits. I honestly never knew so many different flavors existed. Some of the flavors you’ll find here: apple passion fruit, banana passion fruit, tomato passion fruit, lemon passion fruit and lime passion fruit. We sampled several and although we didn’t love all of them, some were very good!
Another fruit you’ll find in abundance on this market is the banana. However, this banana looks very different from the bananas we buy in the Netherlands. The bananas on Madeira are much smaller and thicker than the ones in our stores. We like the Madeira bananas much better! These little guys are chock full of flavor!
Of course, Madeira being the famous ‘Flower island’, there is no absence of flower stands on this market. These flower stands will sell you full-grown plants, or seeds so you’ll be able to grow your own piece of Madeira at home. But the highlight of this market is situated in the back of the building: the fish market. Right under your nose, the catch of the day is prepared for sale and sold to the markets’ visitors. The large stairs overseeing this fish market are always crowded with tourists: it’s quite an attraction. It’s good to know that on Madeira, the majority of fish is still caught by local fishermen. At the many harbours of Madeira, you can see them depart in small boats late in the evening or very early in the morning.
The market sells al kinds of fish, big and small, but the most remarkable fish is the peixe espada preto: a large black deep sea fish. You can’t miss it while strolling the market, because of its outstanding and somewhat frightening appearance. The espada fish is a traditional meal on Madeira, you’ll find it on the menu of many a restaurant.
The Mercado dos Lavradores is definitely worth a visit: there is lots to see! If you want to buy fruit on the market, use your common sense: in our experience, tourists sometimes get charged higher prices here.
Mercado dos Lavradores can be visited on the following days. Monday to Thursday: 8am to 7pm, Friday: 7am to 8pm, and Saturday: 7am to 2pm. Visit this website for more information about the market.
There are many markets on Madeira, this one in Funchal is quite the touristic attraction. Be sure to also visit a less touristic market in a small village.
After visiting the market, go into Funchal and explore!