24 hours in Funchal
Our top tips for how best to spend 24 hours in Funchal
Now that you’ve booked your EWS Travel tour to Madeira with us you need to plan your travel to Funchal, a beautiful island set in the Atlantic Ocean.
We recommend you arrive at least one day before your adventure begins to allow for any travel or luggage delays. It’s also good to acclimatise to local time and recover from your journey before you start turning the pedals.
To help you make the most of your extra time in Madeira, we’ve created this handy city guide to help you get the most out of your 24 hours in Funchal.
After a laid back breakfast at your hotel, first head to the Old Town and the Farmers Market. This lively collection of stands is an explosion of colour, with bountiful local products you can try. As well as being one of the most beautiful flower markets we have seen, the florists are usually dressed in their vibrant traditional clothing.
Next stop, head across to the Monte Palace Tropical Botanic Garden before it gets busy. Heavily influenced by the Orient with its mini Kyoto garden and Chinese architecture, it is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the tropical temperatures as you wander around. The café does a good coffee, so get your caffeine fix before you continue your exploring!
You’ve probably worked up an appetite by now, so pay a visit to Do Forte Restaurant, located at the Historical Fortress of São Tiago. It has stunning views across the ocean and has gained a reputation for its excellent service and fantastic food. Madeira is known for its delicious seafood – tried the grilled tuna or ‘Espada’ – Blackfish with banana – trust us!
After lunch, enjoy a leisurely stroll from the restaurant to the ArT of opEN doors – this was an art program that was aimed at transforming the Old Town into an outdoor gallery, and as you walk through the streets you’ll see over 200 artworks paints on the doors of Rua de Santa Maria.
From here, head across to Arriaga Avenue and the San Francisco cellars, also known as Old Blandy Wine Lodges. This vast wine cellar is home to hundreds of vintage bottles that are over a century old, some available to purchase if you are feeling extravagant! While you’re there, you can enjoy a wine tasting too.
Just across from here stands St. Lawrence Fortress, built in the 17th century. This historic building is now classified as a national monument, and was home to the island’s governors between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
After all this exploring, a relaxing, typical laid-back island evening is in store. In the Old Town make your way to the lovely Taberna Madeira Restaurant – this warm and relaxed restaurant has wonderful local food, great wines, and is set right in the heart of Funchal’s down town historical centre.
End your whirlwind day with a night cap at one of the bars by the ocean – the traditional Poncha has to be tried! It comes with a warning… It’s stronger than it tastes!
4 Local Phrases
‘Bom dia/Boa tarde/Boa noite’ ; Good morning/good afternoon/goodnight
‘Por favor/Obrigado’; Please/thank you
‘(Você/O senhor/A senhora) Fala inglês?’; Do you speak English?
‘Como chego ao (à)…’; How do I get to…?
Funchal Transport Links
There is an urban bus service in Funchal which goes to many of the hotspots across the island. (Some do allow bikes.) There are also fully electric mini buses to get around the city centre. Taxis in Madeira have to use fixed fares, so you don’t need to worry about being overcharged. You can of course rent a car, but the roads are narrow, twisting, and have some steep drops to the side, so we only recommend this for the more confident drivers!
Madeira Top Tips
- If you have time to head out of Funchal, a 40 minute beautiful drive away is Camara De Lobos – the ‘Valley of the Nuns’. This lush valley is well worth the visit for some stunning walks in the countryside
- Madeira is a volcanic island, which means there are some unique black beaches – one of the best is Praia do Porto do Seixal. This sheltered beach is the perfect swim spot with a truly dramatic backdrop!
- If you’re keen to do some hiking, head to Ribeiro Frio and hike up to the Vereda dos Balcõe viewpoint for some of the most breathtaking views on the island
- We’ve already mentioned that Madeira is a volcanic island, so you should also take a dip in the volcanic pools! The Doca do Cavacas have magnificent views of the Cabo Girão cliff and are a great way to spend a couple of hours
- The seafood here really is excellent, so don’t leave without trying it!
- If you have longer than 24 hours, take in a boat trip to the small island of Porto Santo to enjoy the underwater life – snorkelling here is a wonderful experience, and keep an eye out for the wild dolphins!