Things To Do In Funchal
Declared during the 1500s as an official city in Portugal and the official capital of the Madeira Archipelago, Funchal City has greatly improved and serves as the connecting link between the old and new of Portugal. Tour the Madeira Mountains on board a rented Jeep and you will have an unforgettable adventure in the city of Funchal. You will get an excellent idea of this beautiful island starting from its altitude and natural heritage. Be in awe of its well preserved nature paired with the smell of fresh flowers and eucalyptus trees along the road. Climb on top of the Pico do Arieiro and be one with the clouds hovering over the fantastic rock formations. For those seeking tranquility, Funchal City has lots to offer along with a view of its magnificent sunset at the end of the day.
When To Go:
Madeira climate is unfathomably collected for its mean temperature that floats in the 70s and 80s all throughout the year. You'll appreciate days with degrees in the mid- to upper-70s from December through May and all through the 80s from June through November; from October through April, the chance for precipitation climbs and you'll most likely need to pack an umbrella.
Even with its gentle temperatures all year round, the degrees can drop the higher you go on the island in this way, whatever time of year you visit, make certain to bring a couple of cool climate increments (like a sweatshirt or sweater) if you want to visit the higher elevations of the city.
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In spite of the fact that summer is prevalent for its basically sunny days, soothing breezes, and open air exercises, New Year's Eve is a most loved time for some tourists to visit the city because of the breathtaking fireworks display held along its waters.
These are the must see places and top things to do in the city of Funchal…
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
The Monte Palace Tropical Garden is a tropical paradise in the Atlantic Ocean. If you go to Funchal you should visit this beautiful botanical garden. Inside there are lots of tropical plants that survived the gorgeous weather of the island that live outdoors or in the well maintained greenhouses. The garden has a wide selection of plants like; palms, cycads, orchids that looks striking and has successfully acclimatized with the cold weather of the hill town part of Funchal City.
At the entrance you will be given a map showing the various routes available; the longest is named "Flora and Fauna" and you can cover it in about two and half hours. The ticket price of the entry also includes a taste of the Madeira liqueur that you can taste in the food court of the garden. In addition to plants there are also beautiful statues, a Chinese temple, lakes with carp, parrots, peacocks, swans, and an elegant looking villa. Do not miss this vast botanical garden in which it is nice to walk after the ascent by cable car. It has a stunning display of orchids and plants from all over the world and at your feet the beautiful city of Funchal and the expanse of the Atlantic.
Monte Cable Car
In Funchal you can make use of the Monte Cable Car to get to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. You can in fact buy a ticket that allows you to save a ‘little' and be able to have a forward stroke / return by cable car and the entrance to the tropical garden located just off the plant. The cable car is very nice, modern, functional, clean and safe and above all a spectacular view of the city. Planning an excursion here is not exceptional given the difficulty of reaching the entrance of the small cabins and walking along a road that quite uncomfortable for those who are not physically fit.
On the descent, you can appreciate a good view of the city and its port with ships of large tonnage which are often the berth during the warmer months (it is a port of call for many transatlantic cruises). It's a great way to reach the summit of Funchal. Once there you can buy up to admire the 180 degree view of the island and you can visit the church after covering a large staircase. After the tour you can descend from the summit or the bus or the cart or again by funicular. This cable car is located in the center of Funchal, on the waterfront. The cost is 10 euro for round 15 with the return and takes about 15 minutes to get done.
Pico do Arieiro
The view from the top of the Pico do Arieiro is wonderful! If the sun is shining and it's a clear day you can see the island of Porto Santo, if there are clouds you will feel like being in another part of the world. You can get there by car (about twenty minutes from Funchal), there is a large parking lot, and then if you want you can take the path leading up to Pico Ruivo, the highest peak of the island, it's a pretty difficult path with many steps, tunnels, and very few crowded areas that is very tiring to climb but worth venturing.
Getting to Pico do Arieiro is not difficult because it is accessed easily or with the car or with organized tours. From this beautiful observatory mountain range you will see the rocky backbone of Madeira Mountains that majestically opens your eyes to a nice view. If it is not cloudy, the view extends up to the Atlantic Ocean. It is easy to access along the road and you can feel the emotion of a sudden change of nature as you pass by the tropical cultivation of bananas and the endemic ferns. For the more daring, it is worth making the hike to Pico Ruivo. It‘s a spectacular walk which must be done accompanied by a local guide. It is not difficult but it is not recommended for those suffering from vertigo. You need boots and a torch to pass through the tunnels and it is worth starting from Pico do Arieiro once you have climbed to the summit continuing the descent to the Achedo Texeira from where, you must have a rented car to pick you up. It's definitely worth a trip to discover the Madeira mountain up to the summit of Pico do Arieiro.
Universo de Memorias Joao Carlos Abreu
The Universo de Memorias Joao Carlos Abreu is undoubtedly a place of culture that is worth visiting in Funchal City. It is situated in front of the Museum of Crosses parish of St. Peter just above the Church of St. Pedro in Funchal. You cannot be indifferent to the building itself. It is great to see the passion of one man who represented the tourism of Madeira for decades. As for the content of this museum, you cannot help but praise the dedication and commitment invested in the acquisition of so many works and the ability to view after all the works inside this museum which is neatly organized and demonstrates a great deal of sensitivity.
Presidential Palace Garden
The Presidential Palace Garden is a small but well-kept "Botanical Garden" with indigenous vegetation. It has cute fountains, an aviary with parrots and peacocks plus a beautiful view of the ocean and the harbor. Half an hour is enough to get around it and see everything. It provides a good place to rest in the shade of the trees or to go for a walk all around and discover its other features (admission is free). If you want to see the postcards type of Funchal, go to the park from the presidential palace to admire the views of the capital and the famous checkerboard garden.
The view of the harbor is of course beautiful and breathtaking. Going to the garden against the railing of the terrace can be seen through the windows on the garage where a parked Dodge 50s (presidential Dodge) is kept with an official flag on the hood. The small church, almost immediately on the right as you enter the area is truly exceptional by its paintings, antique tiles of a very particular bill, and its painted vault. The chapel is very small but it is a treasure and deserves a visit.
Colegio dos Jesuitas
The Colegio dos Jesuitas is one of the nicest buildings in the historic center of Funchal. It was recently opened to the public and is now boosted by the young students of the University of Madeira. In addition to the autonomous visits (free), the guided tours and visits to schools also has a shop with excellent souvenirs.
It is a place in Funchal City where you can get to know a little about the history of education in Madeira and buy a souvenir. The Colegio is a building with over 400 years of invasions, occupations, never before open to the public and now wants to see their stories unraveled. This landmark is ideal for those who want to know more about the history of Portugal.
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte
The Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte is located in Funchal City but in a high position and you have to make use of the cable car and arrive within 5 minutes to get there. The Church is beautiful and equipped with a staircase to go and access the entrance. There is the possibility of using the stairs to go up to a kind of internal balcony that allows you to see the aisle from above and still climb the access to a terrace where you can see a scenic view of the city and the nearby harbor. It is visible by day on the surrounding hills and at night because it is illuminated.
The church is considered as one of the symbols of Madeira. It has a collection of icons and sculptures and it is full of spirituality despite the influx of tourists. It houses the tomb (austere and imposing) of Charles I. Going up to the terrace you can have a breathtaking view of the entire Funchal. At the foot of the stairs, there are the "carreiros" waiting to take tourists to the valley on their baskets. These are two experiences that must be done absolutely while in Funchal City.
For those who love the places of worship, the Cathedral Se is one of the most beautiful churches of Funchal Madeira. At the entrance on the right you will be welcomed by the statue of Saint Pope John Paul II. The exterior of the cathedral is done in Romanesque style, simple and austere from the baroque interior up to the gold leaf decorations.
It offers a relaxing atmosphere of peace and meditation that is made even more mystical by the lighted wax candles. You can ask about the history of the church from the parish priest who is kind and helpful. Remember that if you are not asking for information, no one will give them to you in a church because they are places of worship to pray, not museums, but the locals here are very friendly and will gladly welcome and answer your inquiries.
Santa Catarina Park
The Santa Catarina Park is an amusement complex in the city center. It has nothing extraordinary, but it is very nice to spend some time to relax on one of the many benches, watching the harbor or the pond with swans. In June, when there is the Festival do Atlantico, you can have a good view of the fireworks display. It’s a delight to wander through the beautiful blooms and giant-trees, between fountains where water fountains evolve with multicolored rainbows and benches where you can read a book blissfully. It is not far from the theater and the beautiful cathedral.
The park is an oasis in the city with a magnificent view of the harbor, complete with tranquil surroundings with well classified trees and plants. You can go for a walk and there is a possibility to have a drink at the pond. It is also equipped with a playground for kids. This park is located next to the busy Avenida do Infante and it is ideal to relax or spend the rest of the day. It is just a little cozier and in the distance you can hear some live musicians and sometimes there is a small market on the roads.
The Palheiro Gardens is one of the chief ornaments of the island and a feast for the devoted soul to explore. The park is well laid out and has a large variety of tropical plants from all around the world. All of the plants here are well-groomed and fragrant flowering. There are small ponds to see and a tea house with delightful snacks. You can walk along the numerous paths and you can feel the peace and quiet as you take long walks inside the garden. Whether in fog, rain or shine - this garden still looks magical because every time the mood turns different.
The park is lined with carefully trimmed boxwood figures in art, an avenue of flowering camellias, white lilies which are like daisies on open meadows under trees, murmuring, flowing water, a wild gorge with tree ferns, lovely Mediterranean plants, and various flowers and fragrances. Right in the middle of this park there is a small chapel with stained glass windows with a simple and beautiful setting. Taking pictures is allowed in all corners of this so called “Magic Garden” in Funchal.
The tour of the Santa Maria boat (replica only) is very nice but do not expect anything to do with the story of the voyage of Christopher Columbus. The tour consists of going below the Cabo Girao where you can experience bathing, dolphin watching, and a good snack is served. The boat has a theme and follows the pirate atmosphere where the crew is dressed and welcomes you with the traditional colorful parrot. After the serving of loin ribs the vessel stops to give chance for the guests to enjoy a dip in the sea. There is a bar in the boat as well as collection of paintings and a bit of history provided by the guides.
The ride is a very interesting experience. First, it takes you to a different impression of Funchal with its view from the ocean while the other allows you to have a close feeling of what it would be like to navigate the boat. On board, they always serve some wine timber and honey cake. The journey continues up to Faja where the boat temporarily stops and the "passengers" are invited to dive into the water. If you’re in luck, dolphins and whales can be sighted.
Funchal may give everyone an impression that is a typical and small fishing village but no, you will be rather surprised to see a big city perched between sea and mountains and well organized with beautiful gardens, historic sites, specialty museums to see and the convenience of the cable car to climb rapidly upstream on the imposing Madeira Mountains.
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