While Funchal may have reinvented itself as a modern and vibrant city, it’s successfully retained the old-world charm that brought visitors to its shores in the first place. When it comes to shopping in Funchal Madeira, those looking for a bargain will find themselves spoilt for choice.
The main streets boast familiar, big-brand names, while the sleek, chic and contemporary shopping centres offer exclusive designer goods and full-to-bursting hypermarkets. Head away from the main high street and down the cobbled passages and roads of the Old Town and you’ll find small, independent shops stocked with handmade goods and unique items.
Shopping in Funchal wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the city’s markets. Boasting everything from flea markets to farmers’ markets and the spectacular Noite de Mercado, you can shop ‘til you drop at almost any time of day or night.
If you want the convenience of having all the shops in Funchal you want in one place, complete with places to eat and even an entertainment complex, then look for one of the city’s shopping centres. The city’s downtown area is home to the latest addition to the shopping landscape, the La Vie Funchal Shopping Center. Marvellously modern, it houses around 70 shops, including some exclusive, Portuguese brands. It has an international food court where you can kick back and relax between bargains.
If you’re travelling with the family and your kids have had their fill of the shops in Funchal, make your way to the Forum Madeira. You’ll find it to the west of the city, and is home to around 90 shops. There are the usual high-street names rubbing shoulders with larger Portuguese stores. In addition, it boasts six on-site cinemas, so younger visitors can enjoy a film while you get in some serious retail therapy. The roof garden is a superb and unique feature, where you can soak up the spectacular view of the Atlantic while enjoying a battery-charging coffee.
For something smaller, take a trip to the Arcadas de São Francisco. On top of some excellent shops and boutique stores, this shopping arcade offers direct access to the Madeira Wine Company, where you can buy local and port wines. However, if you’re intent on sampling any of the drinks on offer, you’ll be better off taking a taxi, rather than driving.
New experiences in the Old Town
Funchal’s Old Town is a maze of flagstone streets and higgledy-piggledy houses. Among the narrow buildings, bars and cafés, you’ll find an excellent selection of local and independent shops. If you’re looking for handmade and crafted goods and souvenirs while shopping in Funchal Madeira, the Old Town is the place to go.
For shoes, the Rua dos Tanoeiros is a real treasure. In addition to finding current trends at knock-down prices, you’ll also find locally-made footwear and stunning leather goods.
The Old Town’s answer to the traditional high street is the Rua Dr Fernão de Ornelas. Here, you’ll find some of the best shopping in Funchal, and the array of jewellers is well worth exploring for exquisite items with affordable price-tags. With an eclectic range of shops in Funchal, you’ll even find bespoke hatters and ceramic shops, selling products created on the premises. The Old Town also makes a fantastic area for browsers, with plenty of places to grab a drink or a light meal when you feel like a half-hour stop.
Markets are an important part of city life and a must-do for anyone shopping in Funchal. Haggling is an integral part of the experience, so don’t be afraid to try your hand at bagging a bargain or two. Start small and get acclimatised to the way that markets work in Funchal by paying a visit to the Feira da Lagartixa (the Lizard Flea Market). However, you won’t find any reptiles on sale: this is a superb shopping spot for anyone on the lookout for small souvenirs and locally-produced keepsakes of your holiday to Funchal. Like most of the city’s markets, it’s open from around 10am, until around 11pm, giving you the whole day to get your bargain-hunting head on.
Head into the Old Town and you’ll find a regular farmers’ market, where you can buy fresh, local produce, beautiful flowers and sample local wine and port.
The ultimate experience for anyone shopping in Funchal must be the Noite do Mercado. Held every December, it offers superb shopping set against a carnival backdrop. The stalls are laden with plenty of last-minute gifts for any up-against-it Christmas shoppers, allowing you to combine your holiday with some festive treasure-hunting. The whole thing is underscored by live music, with delicious, sizzling street food and plenty of port to wash it all down. A once-a-year event, the Night Market opens later in the evening and carries on until the small hours.
When shopping in Funchal markets, it’s best to carry cash, as few of the stallholders will be equipped to take card payments. Carry lower denominations of Euro where possible, and expect to leave with plenty of change. For the city’s shopping centres and high-street shops, cards are welcome, and you’ll find plenty of ATMs should you need a Euro or two.
Have you ever been shopping in Funchal before? Tell us below about some of the bargains you picked up while you were there.