Funchal is the capital city of Madeira and by far the largest conurbation on the island. Situated on the sheltered south shore it offers a pleasant year round climate as indeed does much of Madeira. Funchal in one day is a pleasant walk, mostly on fairly flat streets, with plenty of potential stops for refreshments.
A good starting point is the statue of João Gonçalves, aka Zarco, the Portuguese explorer who discovered the island; he stands in the center of town on Avenida Arriaga. Head down the Avenida Gonçalves Zarco toward the harbour. On your right you can see historic 16th century Palacio de São Laurenço which is the rather grand office of Madeira’s Prime Minister.
At the bottom of the hill, Funchal’s new promenade is laid out before you. The authorities reconstructed the whole area following the devastating floods of 2010. Huge cruise liners regularly tie up in the harbour especially during the winter when up to 75 can visit in any one month.
Turn right and walk in an westerly direction along the promenade towards the harbour. From here you can take a closer look at whichever liner is visiting. Aficionados of the beautiful game, or soccer, can visit the CR7 Museum, dedicated to Funchal’s most well-known modern son, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Return to the promenade and turn left before the Palacio. Head back up to the Avenida Arriaga and across the road is the Jardim de São Francisco where you can find a seat and enjoy this pleasant space.
A little further along Arriaga on your left stands one of Madeira’s most well known institutions, Blandy’s Wine Lodge. Here you can sample and buy the famous Madeira wine. After your tour and wine tasting head a little further along the avenue and on your right you can see Funchal’s 15th century Gothic Cathedral, or Sé as it is known in Portuguese.
If you’re ready for lunch, there are several restaurants in this area where you can enjoy excellent fish dishes, such as Espada, which Madeira is famous for. After some refreshment walk a little further uphill and admire the splendid Praça do Municipio. Along the north west side is the impressive Baroque façade of the Jesuit Igreja do Colégio.
Exit the square by the Rua Câmara Pestana.Turn left onto the Avenida Gonçalves Zarco, which will bring you back to the great man’s statue.
To book a suitable hotel or other accommodation in Funchal, you can use the map below, which shows current prices for hotels and apartments. To book further afield, then just enlarge the map (+/-) to see more properties or if you have somewhere else on the Island in mind, enter your preferred place in the ‘Where are you going?’ box.
Accommodation sorted? How about renting a car for your visit?