Funchal is made up of cobbled streets, modern cafés and high-end restaurants, and surrounded by a stunning backdrop of gardens, hills and mountains. With four beaches just a short walk from the city centre, Funchal offers the best of both worlds. Love soaking up the sun? Top up your tans and bask on the black sands. There’s also plenty to do if you’d rather surround yourself with all the city life and wander around the streets blooming with flowers.
Regardless of whether you’re taking your holidays for a week or a weekend, you won’t run out of things to do in Funchal.
Levadas and the Old Town
Of all the Funchal things to do, taking a hike along the levadas is one of the most popular. These are a network of channels used to carry water from the rainy north to the sun-soaked south and stretch for around 2500km. With water flowing through these miniature canals, the vegetation that lines them is lush and green and attracts a variety of wildlife.
If the great outdoors isn’t your thing, take a stroll to the city’s old town, known as the ‘Zona Velha’. Along the winding labyrinth of shops and restaurants, you’ll find buildings that date back as far as the 15th century and squares that hold the likes of the local farmers’ market and the city’s famous flea market.
Book your break between April and May and you might be lucky enough to catch the sights, sounds and smells of the Madeira Flower Festival; one of the most spectacular things to do in Funchal. The city is transformed into a kaleidoscope of perfumed blooms and there’s a fantastic flower-themed parade complete with colourful costumes, sizzling street-food, and incredible fireworks.
If you’d rather see blooms in a more natural setting, head to the Madeira Botanical Garden. There you’ll find a parrot park and a seemingly-endless sea of flowers and plants.
If you’re travelling with the children, you might find you need to pull some entertainment out of the bag to keep everyone happy. One of the best, family-friendly Funchal things to do is to take a trip to the Madeira Theme Park. Just 40 minutes’ drive from the city, it offers an easy day out, with a huge array of attractions including a miniature Madeiran village, the country’s largest playground and, for older children, an extreme sports centre located at its heart.
For an extreme sport of a different sort, head to the Forum Madeira for some hard-core haggling. It’s an open-air shopping mall, which is owned by Cristiano Ronaldo and is packed with shops, ranging from quirky, local boutiques to big-name brands.
A fantastic destination for a city escape or a traditional beach holiday, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Funchal, whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or prefer the hustle and bustle of city life.