Fabulous Funchal holidays
Fortified wine, flower festivals and old-fashioned charm: welcome to Funchal. This cosmopolitan capital city lies on the south coast of Madeira, backed by hills and mountains. The historic centre is perfect for exploring, with its cathedral, churches, museums and markets. Get lost down atmospheric side streets and seek out cosy cafes for coffee and a doorstep slice of Madeira cake (it’d be rude not to).
For garden lovers there are the botanical gardens, a couple of kilometres from the centre of town. Created in the ‘60s, a visit here is a real highlight on Funchal holidays. There are thousands of species planted, plus mesmerising views over the mountains and coastline. You’ve also got the famous tropical gardens of the Monte Palace. They’re set high above the city – ride on the cable car up here, then brave one of Funchal's famous toboggans back down.
Funchal has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries, and it’s a city teeming with old-fashioned charm. The old town is a particular highlight for history lovers, and it’s just one of many jewels in Madeira’s crown. Look out for some unusual doorways around the town – an original art project called Arte de Portas Abertas (the Art of Open Doors) aims to create a permanent outdoor gallery by revitalising old, abandoned doorways, encouraging local artists to make something beautiful out of them.
Curral das Freiras (Nuns Valley) is a tiny village in the centre of Madeira. The village sits between two gigantic mountains in a small valley – believed to have been formed by a volcanic eruption. The valley became a home to nuns in 1566, after a pirate attack on Funchal caused them to flee from their Santa Clara convent. Visit the valley by taking a tour or catching a local bus.
Madeira’s botanical gardens are just a short bus ride away. When you arrive, you’ll be mesmerised by the views of north Madeira’s mountains, south Madeira’s waters and the 2,500 different types of plants and flowers in the gardens. The botanical gardens were created in 1960 to help to preserve indigenous Madeiran plants, some of which are very rare in the wild – in fact, there are plants here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world!
The flight time from the UK to Funchal is around four hours.
Like the rest of Madeira, Funchal has a subtropical climate with scorching summers and mild winters. Autumn and spring are the best times of year for comfortable temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
Funchal is the same time zone as GMT.
Portuguese is the official language of Funchal although English is also widely spoken, especially in hotels and resort areas.
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