Madeira in Portugal is an archipelago comprising 4 islands off the northwest coast of Africa. This beautiful destination is a volcanic island with a subtropical climate and offers spectacular views over the deep blue sea. Funchal is the capital of Madeira Island and it is definitely worth it to explore. Do take the time to stay for a while and enjoy all the city has to offer. It is rich in history and a really nice city that you can easily explore by bus, taxi or by booking a day tour.
The reason for this article is not to give you a travel guide, but to share with you what we loved about our trip to Funchal and Madeira Island.
It all depends on how much sightseeing you want to do and how much leisure time you want to incorporate into your trip. We love to explore those quiet coastal spots, visiting farmers’ markets, have late breakfasts with beautiful views, enjoying a fabulous island sunset from a catamaran, and just enjoying a lazy day on a beach. So if you love these activities too, make time to really enjoy it. Therefore I would say anything from 3 to 4 days, is a good idea.
In my opinion, May to August would be the best time as this is the time of year with the least rain, but you will find that Madeira has awesome weather throughout the year. Keeping this in mind you would definitely want to visit during the annual flower festival, which usually takes place in springtime (April/May) – however, the dates might change so it is best to always check the news for updates on the festival dates. In my opinion, the flower festival is simply spectacular. As Madeira has a mild climate and rich soil, the island is covered with lush vegetation all year round, so exploring the island is fabulous, but the city really also offers fabulous things to do.
The beautiful Madeira is one of those places you must definitely visit at least once in your lifetime, and you will not regret it.
Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport (FNC), commonly known as Madeira Airport or Funchal Airport, or Saint Catherine Airport, is an international airport in Santa Cruz, Madeira.
You might be aware that Madeira’s airport is known for its tricky landings when the wind is strong, but the pilots are all well trained to handle it. So; Enjoy the view.
Due to the wonderful subtropical climate, the gardens of Madeira are beautiful. I believe, while visiting the island, you simply have to visit the following gardens:
Madeira is the ideal destination for garden lovers, but these gardens is also fabulous family outings.
Your visit to the Botanical garden can include a cable car ride – to enjoy the views.
Many of the parks in Madeira has free entrance, so if you’re looking for ways to explore while saving money, the gardens of Madeira are an excellent idea. Although Funchal is a big city, you can explore quite a large part of it easily on foot which will save you on travel costs.
Exploring the historic city centre / the old part of the city dating back more than 600 years.
Rua de Santa Maria (a street known for its great artwork on doors, art galleries, and street cafes.)
Shopping in the beautiful City Center: Remember everything closes on a Saturday afternoon at 13H00 and it is also closed on Sundays. So do your shopping in the week.
Going to the farmers market on a Friday or a Saturday is a great idea – as these are the two days the locals sell their fresh produce to the public, or you can buy fresh fruit from the street vendors. As the fruit of Madeira is kind of special, you should also try the chocolate with local fruit in it. Wow.
From Praia Formosa, you can follow the promenade and take a fabulous scenic walk to Câmara de Lobos. (A pretty little bay with boats and restaurants.) It is an easy walk with really beautiful views.
Having said that – if you love hiking you are in ‘hiking paradise’. The island has some of the best hiking trails in the world.
Madeira is, amongst other things, famous for its Levadas. Therefore a Levada walking tour is definitely a must. The Levadas are irrigation channels specific to the Portuguese Atlantic region of Madeira. There are beautiful scenic nature walks, but it can be very dangerous to attempt on your own. With this in mind, rather take a guided tour just to be safe.
Not only for the foodies: While in Funchal, do try the local bread called Bolo Do Caco, Madeira Honey Cake, and the local cheese. A stop to sample some Poncha, (a favorite drink as mentioned above) is also a good idea. BUT – a great idea on how to explore the city is to pre-book a food and wine walking tour. Not only will you have the opportunity to taste the fabulous food and wine of the island, but you will also get fabulous info on the island as part of your tour. It is great fun and you will maybe get to know places that you would otherwise not have known to visit.
From Funchal, you can easily explore the surrounding areas. If it is your first time on the island we recommend booking a ready-made holiday tour or two. Combine them to create your own perfect holiday. This way you know you’ll be in safe hands with trusted tour operators. Or book a car rental and do a self-drive holiday.
The Belmond Reid’s Palace, which dates back to 1891 (not sponsored) would be my first choice. If you watch the video, you will know why.
There are beautiful B&B’s, apartments, Self-Catering places, etc. all over Madeira. However, if you’re looking for fabulous places with awesome views to stay, follow our link to Madeira Portugal – Beautiful Places to Stay.
Public transport is good to use and in some places, it is better to go with public transport as the areas might be quite steep.