Funchal Mini Guide
Who Goes to Funchal?
Funchal used to be the winter holiday destination of choice for many British tourists who dreaded the cold UK
weather. The island has since remarketed itself as a year round destination, playing on its beautiful flowers, stunning scenery and warm but not searing, year round temperatures. The city began as a small settlement in the 15th century and grew with the increase in transatlantic exploration and trade. The island was also important for explorers travelling south around Africa and on to India
including Vasco da Gama. Today, the island remains relatively unspoilt and the tourists flock there to walk, cycle or simply to enjoy the picture postcard houses and churches.
How do I get to Funchal?
only airport, formerly called Funchal Airport is only a couple of miles from the city centre near Santa Cruz. Many scheduled and chartered flights call there including a daily flight from easyJet. Transport to the city is by local bus, taxi or by a rental car if you decide to choose that option.
What is there to See and Do in Funchal?
Mostly it’s botanical gardens and flower markets but these are so spectacular, they shouldn’t be missed. The Jardins Do Palheiro are amazing; set out as an English formal garden but under the traditional English trees are tropical plants ensuring colour all year round. Try the Mercado Dos Lavradores, a wonderful market selling all kinds of produce and great for a photograph. In the summer, the city hosts the annual flower festival and you'll find that you've never seen so many unusual flowers all together before in your life. Take the Funchal cable car up to Monte to look at the gardens there whilst enjoying a bird’s eye view out over the city. Finally, for history and architecture, visit Se Cathedral, the most important building on the island. Whilst simple on the outside, the inside is well worth a visit.
What can I buy to Take Home With me?
Most travellers pick up bouquets of flowers from the markets for friends and family back home. You’ll need to ask your airline in advance whether they will take them on board but most shouldn’t object. Another great purchase is the fantastic fortified island wine, naturally called Madeira, which is said to be a more subtle version of port wine.
What Should I eat When I’m in Funchal?
Fish is high on the menu with several delicious recipes using it including scabbard fish with bananas or ‘bacalhau’; cod which has been salted and dried then reconstituted. The main dish in which this is used has the cod served in a cream sauce. Everywhere, fresh fruit is in abundance and so you’ll find plenty on market stalls as well as being served in many restaurants as a platter after your meal.
What is the Entertainment Like in Funchal?
Entertainment is low key in Funchal with quiet local bars being the norm. Many locals simply sit and chat over a drink. The tempo is raised somewhat during religious festivals when street parades, music and light become the norm, especially during Holy Week.