The capital of Madeira, Funchal, is vibrant and energetic, and it loves tourists! The sub-tropical island of Madeira is located in the Atlantic Ocean roughly 960km southwest of Lisbon. The island is framed by cloud-tipped mountains to the south and a landmass that sees a city unfolding over a series of steep hills and flattened terraces. Funchal’s wealth of historic monuments offers visitors to the islands loads to see and do while soaking up the beach vibe. The island with its rich plant life is scenic to say the least, and the daily markets have all the succulent fresh produce you could ever dream of. Whether you plan on sightseeing or just beach bumming, Madeira and its capital has a whole new world just waiting to be explored.
Jardim Tropical Monte Palace
The Monte Palace Tropical Gardens can be reached via the cable car from Funchal and offers some of the most luxuriant and tranquil atmospheres where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Among the free roaming wildlife that calls the gardens home, you might be lucky enough to spot herons, peacocks and black swans. You’ll also find the Monte Palace Museum within the garden grounds, housing one of the most comprehensive collections of Zimbabwean sculpture found in Europe.
Top Attractions in Madeira
Roughly 4km out of the main city you’ll find one of Madeira’s biggest attractions, the Botanical Gardens. The Jardim Botânico is draped out over the Quinta do Bom Sucesso estate and is best known for its rich and diverse sub-tropical floral collections. The old manor house now houses the Natural History Museum of Madeira and you can easily reach the gardens and museum onboard the Teleférico do Funchal cable car.
Madeira Story Centre
History buffs and beach bums alike should definitely head to the Madeira Story Centre as one of their first stops in the main city. Located near the Teleférico do Funchal, the center charts Madeira Island’s history and culture and makes for one fascinating experience. Interactive themed exhibitions allow you to really immerse yourself in the rich history and the on-site shop is perfect for picking up a few quirky gifts and local artifacts.
Teleférico do Funchal
While it’s not an attraction in its own right, Madeira’s Cable Car is the best way of getting around to the major attractions on the island. The cable car runs over the town and surrounding hills during a 15 minute trip and the specially designed cabins provide you with 360 degree views of the area.
Quinta do Palheiro
Madeira’s Palheiro Gardens is a haven for nature lovers. The distinct habitats include The Stream Garden, Sunken Garden, Rose Garden, Lady's Garden, and the wild and deliberately overgrown Hell's Valley. The gardens are home to some of the most exotic and rare plant species including delicate orchids and camellias.
Dating back to 1514, Funchal’s Cathedral is a fully functional religious building. It has a rather austere façade that leads to a rich interior featuring a 16th century gilded altarpiece and carved sanctuary. The white cedar and ivory inlay ceiling is seriously impressive and highlights the ornate Gothic woodwork.