Situated on the southeast coast of Madeira, the beautiful town of Funchal is the region’s capital and the first place settled on the island. It’s also the largest and most popular holiday resort!
Funchal is split into three distinct areas: to the east visitors will find the Old Town, around the harbor you’ll find the buzzing central commercial area, and to the west, you’ll find the Lido, where the majority of popular hotels are located.
Funchal in particular and Madeira in general are hugely popular for travelers and tourists because the region enjoys what many consider to be a ‘perfect’ climate all year round.
If you’re looking for the best time to go, though, we recommend June-September when you’ll experience highs in the mid-20’s and virtually zero rainfall.
Want to avoid the summer crowds? Head to Funchal in May, October or November where you’ll still enjoy nice, warm days, but with fewer people around. While rainfall is more likely, the region doesn’t get more than seven days of rain maximum per month throughout the year.
Whether you prefer lounging on the beach or sight-seeing, there’s plenty to do in Funchal.
The Funchal Lido is one of the most notable attractions featuring a large solarium, two salt water pools and access to the sea. You’ll also find dozens of hotels and resteraunts nearby.
If you’re keen to get out and explore, check out the Madeira Botanical Garden, just south of the harbor. There, you’ll find hillside gardens, stunning sea views and a bird park.
For a taste of local life, head to the Funchal Farmers’ Market. This famous market selling local fruits, vegetables, flowers, and fish was opened back in 1940 and visitors are welcome every day but Sunday.
There are a number of beaches in Funchal. Formosa Beach is the only public beach that runs along the promenade and has historical importance dating back to 1508.
Gorgulho Beach is a typical pebble beach off the Lido Promenade that has a bay perfect for relaxing. Finally, Sao Tiago Beach is popular among locals and is also known as ‘Fisherman’s Beach’. Like the others, it’s a pebble beach with free public access.
As the islands most popular resort, you’ll find restaurants of all kinds, from trendy tapas restaurants to hidden gems serving local fare. If you want to play it safe or are looking for home comforts, you’ll find plenty of options, too.
While you can, of course, spend your holiday relaxing, if you’re in the mood for a drink or some live music, Funchal is the place to be.
Downtown you’ll find more modern discos and clubs, in the Old Town you’ll find more quiet cafes and bars, and near the marina you’ll find handcrafted cocktails.
Because the town of Funchal dates back several hundred years, there is a wealth of history and culture to explore while you’re on holiday.
In particular, look out for the beautiful Episcopal Se Cathedral and Church of Our Lady of Monte.
For those looking for recreational activities, walking the levada footpaths is must. You can hike these man-made irrigation channels across the island, enjoying views that are impossible to beat.
If you aren’t keen on walking, take the Madeira Cable Car up to see the beautiful views surrounding the capital.
Of course, a trip to Madeira isn’t complete without some water activities. Because of Madeira’s position in the Atlantic, it’s an especially great plate for whale and dolphin watching. There are several catamaran cruises available.
While Funchal is the largest town on the island it is still easy to get around on foot. There are also local buses available and cars to hire.
The climate of Madeira is similar to that found around the Mediterranean or coastal California - Madeira has mild winters, and generally warm, sunny summers. The ocean moderates the climate so the island never suffers extreme heat or extreme cold. Winter months are slightly wetter - especially in mountain regions, however these spells only last a day or two at a time. In winter there is typically 5 - 6 hours of sunshine, and in Summer there can be up to 8.