In this article, you’ll discover the 7 places you can’t miss when you visit Funchal, Madeira, a city where 37 % of the island’s population live (around 100 526) .
You’ll discover one of the most wonderful gardens in the world, the beautiful streets in the historic centre, monuments with so much to tell, a colourful market and you’ll even have the chance to try a surprising and original means of transportation.
The places you’ll find throughout this article are the ones I visited during my fourth day in Madeira. You should visit these places in this order so that you won’t lose too much time between them.
Throughout the article you’ll also find tips about each place that will help you better prepare your visit to the beautiful Madeira island.
What to do in funchal: Monte Palace Tropical Garden
In 1987, José Berardo bought an abandoned property (70 hectares) in Monte, not far from Funchal, and converted it into a marvellous garden, Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
During your visit (you’ll need at least 2 hours) you’ll have the opportunity to discover flora and fauna from all over the world, works of art, glazed tiles, two magnificent oriental gardens, a museum and an old luxury hotel (Monte Palace Hotel), built by the previous owner in the beginning of the 20th century (1900).
I could say that this garden is one of the most beautiful places in Madeira but it’s more than that: Monte Palace Tropical Garden is the most beautiful garden I have ever seen in all my life!
You don’t believe me? Then take a look at these photos!
- Location: Monte Palace Tropical Garden: Caminho das Babosas, 4, Funchal
- Site: http://montepalace.com
How to go to Monte Palace Tropical Garden?
My suggestion is that you go to Monte Palace Tropical Garden by car or simply take the cable car in Funchal.
If you’re driving there, know that there’s a parking lot next to the entrance; the cable car trip ends there as well.
- Parking lot location: Caminho do Desterro 62, Funchal
Information: If you put the coordinates of the parking lot in the GPS, it’ll make you come from the bottom of the street. The problem is that it’s a very narrow two-way street and, worst of all, with an important road gradient.
My suggestion is that you try to get there through the top of the road, by putting the following address in the GPS: Caminho da Lombada 58, Funchal. When you get to this location, you’ll just have to turn left and a few metres ahead you’ll be next to the parking lot and the entrance of the garden.
Check below the best itinerary from the centre of Funchal to Monte Palace Tropical Garden:
The other option is take the cable car in Funchal (Rua Dom Carlos I, 36).
Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte
After you visit the garden, you should go to the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte (18th century), just left of Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
- GPS: 32°40’32.1″N 16°54’08.7″W
Before leaving Monte, the uptown of Funchal, Madeira, know that there’s a second garden you can visit – Madeira Botanical Garden. To get to this garden you have to take another cable car located in “Largo das Babosas”, 200 metres to the right from the entrance of Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
Monte Toboggan Ride
Right beside the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte you’ll find Monte Toboggans that were used by the inhabitants many years ago as a means of transportation to the centre (downtown) of Funchal.
Nowadays, these toboggans are used only for tourism purposes. If you want to try a different and thrilling means of transportation, then get inside a toboggan and go straight down the streets of Monte at a speed of 40 km/h until you get to the crossroads, the intersection with Livramento road (1.5 km).
How to go to the historic centre of Funchal, Madeira, after a toboggan ride?
If you parked your car next to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, the only way up (if you don’t want to get tired) is by taking a taxi.
If you took the cable car, then you can take a taxi or walk to the historic centre. It’s a 2-km hike (45 minutes).
You won’t have any problems walking towards the historic centre because it’s straight down and there’s no way you’ll get lost. Most of the route is made in a street and when you have to choose between two streets, choose the one going down – inevitably you’ll get to the marina and to the historic centre.
If you decide to take a taxi, then ask the driver how much will it be to take you to the historic centre. As it happens in other places, some taxi drivers may take advantage of the fact that you’re a tourist to charge you more.
Some may think that, if you’re willing to pay 30 € for a toboggan ride, then you can pay 20 € for the same distance in a taxi ride.
- Site: www.carreirosdomonte.com
Centre of Funchal, Madeira
If you’re driving to the centre, then my suggestion is that you park your car in “La Vie” shopping centre (Rua Doutor Brito Câmara 18, Funchal) and, from there, go to Santa Catarina Park, beginning, this way, your visit to the centre of Funchal.
- Location: Avenida Do Infante 16, Funchal
If you’re a football lover, know that you can find in Funchal, Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo Museum, one of the two best footballers in the world.
I know that there is much speculation about who is the best football player in the world – is it Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? In my opinion, they are two incomparable players.
One of them is a genius, even without trying too hard he would be among the best; the other works hard everyday to be one of the top players in the world.
In CR7 museum you’ll find Cristiano Ronaldo photos from childhood up until now, the trophies he won, the medals and even some footballs from matches he played.
Even if you’re not a Cristiano Ronaldo fan, you should visit this museum. I loved to see the trophies from the main leagues (Premier League and La Liga) and the one from the Champions League. It’s wonderful to see up close trophies that you’re only used to see on television.
- Location: Avenida Sá Carneiro – Praça do Mar Nº27, Funchal
- Site: https://museucr7.com
Funchal Historic Centre
After visiting CR7 museum, go down the street until you get to Avenida Sá Carneiro and then walk for 1.5 km along the coastline. You’ll find Santiago Fortress (Portão Rua de São Tiago, 21), built in 1614 to protect Funchal, Madeira, against pirate attacks.
After your visit to the fortress, turn right on Rua de Santa Maria and go to Largo do Socorro to admire this beautiful church and the amazing view over the sea.
Next, turn back and go to the end of the street Rua de Santa Maria (650 m). You’ll come across with some street art in the doors of buildings, bars and restaurants.
At the end of the street, turn right and visit Mercado dos Lavradores where you can buy flowers, fish, exotic fruit and much more.
This market is perfect because here you’ll get to know some of the best things Funchal, Madeira, has to offer – the problem is that many tourists go there.
To be honest, I found it hard to visit this market. The minute I entered the market, someone approached me to sell me something. After three or four times I was fed up with this situation and so I left this beautiful place – I was there only for a few minutes.
Usually, when someone goes to a market, is to buy something (fish, fruit, etc.) but in a city like Funchal there are more tourists than clients. Because of that, sellers become disappointed and fed up with all the tourists taking photos but not buying a thing.
In part, sellers are right, but the problem is that if they are too pushy with tourists / customers, then people will go away and nothing will be sold / bought.
Maybe the problem would be solved if tourists had to pay a symbolic fee. Take the example of Lello Bookshop in Porto – it charges an entrance fee but customers can deduct that value if they buy a book.
At the end of the day, everybody wins – those who don’t want to buy anything pay for the visit and those who buy something can deduct the entrance fee.
After your visit to Mercado dos Lavradores, go towards “La Vie” shopping centre. On your way, stop to admire Funchal Cathedral (Rua da Sé, 2).
Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll through the streets surrounding the cathedral to discover the beauties of the city centre.
If you rented a car, then visit the biggest beach in Madeira, Formosa beach. It’s located 6 km from Funchal historic centre and is a place where you can admire the sunset just sitting on the sand or relaxing in one of the nearby bars or restaurants.
Information: you can also take the bus to go from the historic centre to the beach. Take the 01 or 24 buses next to Parque de Santa Catarina in Funchal, Madeira, and get off at Praia Formosa S central bus station.
- Location: rua da Praia Formosa, Funchal
- GPS: 32°38’33.5″N 16°57’19.0″W
Information: enjoy your stay in Funchal and book one of the many activities that local companies offer.
In a short 2-hour sidecar ride (affiliate link), you will explore the historic centre of Funchal and then go throughout the island’s ancient roads to one of the most beautiful sites in Madeira, the Garajau Partial Natural Reserve, where you will find a statue of Cristo Rei.
Departing from Funchal’s marina, choose a 2-3 hour boat tour (affiliated link) that will take you through the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean in search of some of the most beautiful mammal species you can find: dolphins and whales.
Click here to see how was my fifth day of my visit to Madeira – on this day, Pico Ruivo was my place of choice.
Are you going to visit Madeira? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!
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