Madeira. Funchal

View from Pico dos Barcelos
Funchal is the main city of Madeira and it has quite a lot to offer. The coast is very touristy but if you go a little bit inland then this is where the locals live. The city center is very lively with lots of restaurants, bars and hotels. In the beginning of January all the Christmas decorations were still out and it was a little bit weird to see Christmas displays in a tropical climate.

Christmas village

Christmas market - why not buy some orchids from the elves?
In city center everything is in the walking distance. From the main resort area you can walk to the city center in about 20 minutes. Many view platforms, botanical garden and tropical garden are quite far from the city center so you need a transport. The bus network is very good, there are also cable cars going to the gardens. Driving  in Funchal can be quite challenging. There are lots of very narrow and steep streets. We mostly got around on foot, used the cable car to get to Monte (area where tropical garden is) and only took a rental car in the end of our stay in Funchal and then we drove to Pico dos Barcelos. There are lots of bike rentals in Funchal but I don't think it's a good idea to rent a bike - the streets are too steep for biking.

So what did we do in Funchal? We stayed there 2 full days and if you really want to see everything Funchal has to offer, it is not enough time.

We spent about half a day in the Tropical Garden which I really recommend. Unfortunately I didn't have a memory card in my camera and therefore I don't have any photos. It has different themes, mainly Asian but you can see lots of orchids there. In January most of the plants were not in bloom so other months might be better for a visit but we still really liked it.

Close to the Tropical Garden is Botanical Garden but we didn't visit that. We did go to a church of Monte and also saw one of the big tourist attractions - a sledge ride down from Monte.

Church of Monte

Sledge riders waiting for the customers
You should go to Monte only with the nice weather, otherwise you miss half the experience because there are nice views over Funchal.

In city center we visited the cathedral and also Jesuits temple. Jesuits temple is really richly decorated. You can also visit the Jesuits college but we were there too late in the afternoon and were not able to do that.


Jesuits temple
We walked along the coast to Camara de Lobos and this is a really nice walk. In some areas you have to be careful not to become totally wet from the waves.

Public pools

We also visited Madeira Story Center which gives a nice overview of the history of Madeira and Blandy Wine Lodge where we did wine tasting. There were several other museums that I would have wanted to visit but we just didn't have enough time.

Town Hall square
Kids in traditional clothes