Looking for things to do in Funchal Madeira? With its charming streets, stunning views, and rich culture, Funchal offers a plethora of activities that will make your visit unforgettable. Read on to find out about 29 cool things to do in Funchal, the capital of Madeira.

A city street with a bench and trees in Funchal Madeira.
Funchal Madeira
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I spent a week travelling around Madeira in summer 2023. It was my mission to cram as much into one week as possible, visiting all of the main towns, sampling the local cuisine, going on levada walks and meeting the locals. It was a solo trip, but Madeira is also ideal for couples and families. Read more in my Ultimate Madeira Travel Guide.

In a hurry? Here are some Madeira quick links:

29 Wonderful Things to do in Funchal, Madeira.

Here is your guide to some of the best things to do in Funchal, Madeira. There are 29 entries, plus a list of frequently asked questions about things to do in Funchal, and some advice on where to stay in Madeira.

1. Stroll Along the Waterfront at Marina do Funchal.

Start your day with a leisurely stroll along Marina do Funchal. The sparkling blue waters and colourful boats create a perfect backdrop for a relaxing morning walk. Grab a coffee from one of the nearby cafes and soak in the maritime atmosphere.

A group of boats docked in a marina in Funchal, Madeira.
Funchal Marina

2. Explore the Historic Funchal Old Town (Zona Velha).

Lose yourself in the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Town. Lined with traditional houses painted in vibrant hues, this area is a treasure trove of local shops, quaint restaurants, and historic sites. Don’t forget to snap some pics of the iconic painted doors! You can find them on Santa Maria Street.

Funchal old town, Madeira island, Portugal
Funchal old town, Madeira island, Portugal

Further reading: How to See Street Art in Santa Maria Street, Funchal.

3. Visit the Funchal Farmers’ Market (Mercado Dos Lavradores).

For a taste of Madeira’s local flavours, head to the Farmers’ Market. From exotic fruits to fresh fish and local crafts, this bustling market is a feast for the senses. It’s the perfect spot to pick up souvenirs and indulge in some authentic Madeiran treats.

4. Take a Cable Car Ride to Monte.

Looking for things to do in Funchal with panoramic views? Hop on the cable car that takes you from Funchal to the charming village of Monte. The journey itself is an adventure, and once at the top, enjoy breathtaking vistas of the city and the lush landscape below.

Funchal cable car
Funchal cable car

5. Experience the Famous Monte Toboggan Ride.

For a dash of excitement, try the traditional Monte Toboggan ride. Picture this: you’re sitting in a wicker sled, cruising down the winding streets guided by local drivers in traditional outfits. It’s a unique and thrilling way to descend from Monte to Livramento.

A group of men carrying crates on a street.
Toboggans and staff

6. Wander Through the Botanical Garden (Jardim Botânico).

Looking for the best things to do in Funchal for nature lovers? The Botanical Garden in Funchal is a green oasis with a diverse collection of plants from around the world. Take a leisurely walk through the well-maintained paths, and be sure to capture the stunning views of the city.

7. Enjoy a Relaxing Afternoon at Santa Catarina Park.

Need a peaceful break? Santa Catarina Park is the place to be. With its lovely green spaces, ponds, and sculptures, it’s a perfect spot for a picnic or a quiet afternoon with a good book.

A pond in a park in Funchal Madeira.
Santa Catarina Park. Funchal Madeira.

8. Discover Funchal’s Art Scene at the Frederico de Freitas Museum.

Art enthusiasts, don’t miss the Frederico de Freitas Museum. Housed in a historic mansion, the museum showcases a fascinating collection of art, antiques, and Madeiran artefacts. There are lots of things to do in Funchal for art enthusiasts – this is just one of them.

9. Try the Local Poncha.

No visit to Funchal is complete without indulging in the local favourite alcoholic drink, Poncha. Head to one of the taverns or bars in Funchal and immerse yourself in the island’s culture by trying this traditional drink. Made with local rum, honey, and citrus juice, Poncha is a tasty concoction that embodies the spirit of Madeira.

Further reading: Food in Madeira: What to Eat and Drink on Madeira Island

10. Embark on a Levada Walk.

Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a Levada walk. These irrigation channels crisscross the island, offering picturesque trails through lush landscapes.

Two of the closest levada trails to Funchal are:

  1. Levada dos Tornos:
    • Location: The trail begins near the village of Monte, easily accessible from Funchal by car or cable car.
    • Highlights: This relatively easy trail takes you through picturesque landscapes, providing a peaceful walk along the levada. You’ll enjoy the lush greenery and natural beauty of Madeira.
  2. Levada do Bom Sucesso:
    • Location: Starting near the Botanical Garden in Funchal, this trail is conveniently located for those staying in or near the city.
    • Highlights: The trail offers a scenic path along the levada, surrounded by diverse flora. It provides a pleasant experience without venturing too far from Funchal.

These trails are suitable for different fitness levels and offer a great introduction to Madeira’s levada walks. Always check the current trail conditions, weather forecasts, and ensure you have the necessary equipment before setting out on any hiking adventure.

Further reading: 16 of the Best Levada Walks on Madeira Island

11. Attend a Fado Performance.

Dive into Portuguese culture by attending a Fado performance. This traditional music genre, often accompanied by heartfelt vocals and the soulful strains of a guitar, will transport you to the emotional core of Portuguese storytelling.

A group of people playing guitars on a cobblestone street in Funchal Madeira.
Fado band in Funchal Madeira

12. Witness the Sunset at Ponte João Gomes.

For a breathtaking sunset experience, head to Ponte João Gomes. This vantage point provides an incredible view of the city as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow over Funchal. Admittedly the photo below is not at sunset, but trust me it looks pretty cool as the sun goes down!

An aerial view of Funchal bridge over a valley.
João Gomes Bridge Funchal

13. Explore São Tiago Fort.

History buffs, don’t miss São Tiago Fort. Dating back to the 17th century, this fortress offers a glimpse into Madeira’s maritime past. Wander through its walls and enjoy panoramic views of the harbour. This is one of the best historical things to do in Funchal Madeira.

A yellow fort in Funchal Madeira next to the ocean.
Sao Tiago Fort Funchal

14. Indulge in Madeiran Cuisine.

Treat your taste buds to authentic Madeiran cuisine – one of my favourite things to do in Funchal. Dine in local restaurants to savour specialties like Espetada (kebabs), Black Scabbardfish, and the traditional Espada com Banana (scabbardfish with banana).

Further reading: Food in Madeira: What to Eat and Drink on Madeira Island

15. Discover All Things Cristiano Ronaldo at the CR7 Museum.

Football enthusiasts and fans of Cristiano Ronaldo, rejoice! The CR7 Museum celebrates the life and career of the football legend. Explore exhibits showcasing Ronaldo’s achievements and personal memorabilia.

16. Join a Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour.

Set sail into the Atlantic Ocean on a whale and dolphin watching tour. Funchal’s waters are home to various marine species, and a boat excursion offers the chance to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

17. Attend a Cultural Event at Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias.

Check out the events calendar at Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, Funchal’s historic theatre. From concerts to plays and dance performances, this venue hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year.

18. Take a Dip at the Lido Complex.

Enjoy a relaxing day at the Lido Complex. This seaside area offers swimming pools, sunbathing terraces, and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a perfect spot for unwinding with a view.

An aerial view of a swimming pool on the edge of the ocean in Funchal Madeira.
Lido Complex in Funchal Madeira

19. Visit the Madeira Story Centre.

Get a fascinating insight into Madeira’s history at the Madeira Story Centre. Through interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations, you’ll learn about the island’s evolution, from its volcanic origins to the present day.

20. Experience the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

Venture to the Monte Palace Tropical Garden, a haven of botanical beauty. Wander through terraced gardens adorned with exotic plants, water features, and oriental-inspired sculptures. The panoramic views of Funchal add to the enchantment.

A large garden with cactus and cactus plants.
Funchal Botanical Gardens

21. Go on a Funchal Food Tour.

Trying local dishes is one of my favourite things to do in Funchal. Cuisine in Madeira is deeply rooted in the island’s maritime surroundings and Portuguese heritage. Below are some of the top-rated tours in Funchal, from my preferred tour operator Viator (I also use Get Your Guide as well, but Viator is my go-to).

1. Madeira Food & Cultural Tour: Walking tour in Funchal with seven food tastings with a local experienced guide. Learn about food in Madeira Portugal whilst eating your way through the town!

2. Genuine Food Experience at Recanto : Farm dining experience on the western outskirts of Funchal. Start your experience with a welcome drink, then tour the farm to harvest ingredients. Then, learn to prepare a 3-course meal of regional seasonal dishes including traditional espetada. Finish your meal with a local digestif.

3. Cooking Experience and Market Tour: Learn about food in Madeira Portugal with this food-themed experience. The trip starts with a visit to a local market that sells unusual fish, tropical fruits, seasonal vegetables, and exotic flowers. Continue the adventure to a hotel rooftop to make local dishes, followed by a generous lunch with Portuguese wine.

4. The Espetada Evening Food & Culture Tour: Pickup from Funchal included. Visit a local bar for appetisers and a restaurant for dinner with your local guides.

View all Madeira tours on Viator here. You can reserve tours immediately without paying anything up front, and cancel for free. Viator is a TripAdvisor company, so you know you will get a good service.

22. Explore Funchal Cathedral (Sé Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Assunção).

No visit to Funchal is complete without marvelling at the grandeur of Funchal Cathedral. Dating back to the 15th century, this historic cathedral stands as a testament to Madeira’s rich architectural heritage. Admire its Gothic and Moorish influences, intricate woodwork, and impressive ceiling paintings. Take a moment for quiet reflection in this sacred space, surrounded by centuries of history.

A church in the middle of a square.
Funchal Cathedral

23. Head to the Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint.

Head to Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint for a bird’s-eye view of Funchal. This elevated vantage point offers sweeping panoramas of the city, the harbour, and the surrounding landscapes.

A view of Funchal city and the ocean.
Viewpoint at Pico dos Barcelo, Funchal.

24. Explore the Forte de São João do Pico.

Explore the Forte de São João do Pico, a 17th-century fortress overlooking the sea. The fort has been well-preserved and offers both historical intrigue and stunning coastal views.

A castle sits on top of a hill in Funchal with trees surrounding it.
Forte de Sao Joao, Funchal

25. Visit the igreja do Colégio São João Evangelista.

This is the church of Saint John the Evangelist, a Jesuit church known for its ornate Baroque architecture and beautiful altars. The church is part of the Jesuit College complex.

A white church with a red door and a blue sky.
Church of Saint John the Evangelist, Funchal

26. Check out the Madeira Film Experience. 

Immerse yourself in the Madeira Film Experience, an audiovisual journey that takes you through the island’s natural beauty, history, and culture. Located in the heart of Funchal, it offers a unique perspective on Madeira’s allure.

27. Go wine tasting near Funchal.

Don’t miss the chance for wine tasting in Madeira. Dive into the rich heritage of Madeira wine with a visit to Blandy’s Wine Lodge, or go on an organised wine tour. Sample exquisite Madeira wines, learn about the winemaking process, and embrace the island’s vinicultural legacy.

Hazel's Travels - Autumn vineyard

Below are some of the top-rated wine tours in Madeira, from my preferred tour operator Viator (I also use Get Your Guide as well, but Viator is my go-to).

1. Half-Day Wine Tour in Madeira: Wonderful wine trail through the Laurissilva forest with wine and tapas included.

2. Full Day Wine Tasting Tour with Lunch: Great-value tour includes hotel pickup, lunch, and wine tasting. Visit wineries and wine cellars in Câmara de Lobos, Porto Moniz, or São Vicente. Sample a variety of Madeira wines and learn more about the winemaking process, then enjoy a delicious Madeiran lunch paired with local wines.

3. Private Wine Tour by Open Top 4 Wheel Drive: Join a private guide and visit vineyards built on cultivated terraces to learn about the famous fortified Madeira wine as well as table wines made on the island. Your tour also visits the Girao Cape viewpoint and the Seixal natural pools for a quick dip.

28. Explore Serenity at Santa Clara Convent.

Take a step back in time and discover the serene ambiance of Santa Clara Convent in Funchal. This historic convent, dating back to the 15th century, offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle. Wander through the cloisters, admire the intricate architecture, and feel the tranquility that permeates the surroundings.

A white building with a clock tower in the background.
Santa Clara Convent, Funchal

29. Admire the Painted Doors of Santa Maria Street.

Take a leisurely stroll through the enchanting Santa Maria Street in Funchal’s Old Town and be captivated by the vibrant, painted doors adorning this charming locale. Each door tells a unique story through its colourful artwork, showcasing the creativity and talent of local artists.

Further reading: How to See Street Art in Santa Maria Street, Funchal.

Conclusion – Things to do in Funchal Madeira.

Funchal, with its blend of history, natural beauty, and warm hospitality, has something for every traveller. So, lace up your walking shoes, charge your camera, and get ready to make some unforgettable memories in this charming city!

View all Madeira tours on Viator here. You can reserve tours immediately without paying anything up front, and cancel for free. Viator is a TripAdvisor company, so you know you will get a good service.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Funchal.

Here are some FAQs about things to do in Funchal Madeira.

Q: What are some must-visit attractions in Funchal, Madeira? 

A: Explore popular tourist attractions and landmarks like Funchal Cathedral, take a cable car ride for panoramic views, and stroll through the historic Old Town – just a few of the many things to do in Funchal.

Q: Are there any scenic viewpoints in Funchal offering breathtaking panoramas? 

A: Absolutely! Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint and Ponte João Gomes are excellent spots for stunning views of Funchal and its surroundings.

Further reading: 25 Unique & Amazing Things to do on Madeira Island.

Q: What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Funchal? 

A: When looking for outdoor things to do in Funchal, you could consider Levada walks for nature enthusiasts or take a dip at the Lido Complex, offering pools and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean.

Q: Can you recommend some cultural experiences and things to do in Funchal? 

A: Cultural things to do in Funchal include immersing yourself in Madeiran culture by attending a Fado performance, exploring the Frederico de Freitas Museum, and attending events at the historic Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias.

Q: What are the top historical things to do in Funchal? 

A: There are lots of historical things to do in old town Funchal. Discover the rich history of Funchal by exploring São Tiago Fort, the Jesuit church Igreja do Colégio São João Evangelista, and the Sacred Art Museum.

Q: How can I experience the local cuisine in Funchal? 

A: Indulge in authentic Madeiran cuisine by trying Espetada, Espada com Banana, and visiting local restaurants in the Old Town – a delightful part of things to do in Funchal. Also dont forget to try a wine walking tour, or visit the Blandy Wine Lodge for an authentic wine experience.

Further reading: Food in Madeira: What to Eat and Drink on Madeira Island

Q: Are there any family-friendly activities in Funchal? 

A: Yes, families can enjoy a day at the Madeira botanical Garden, take the kids to the CR7 Museum dedicated to Cristiano Ronaldo, and experience the fun Monte Toboggan ride. There are also family-oriented things to do in Funchal in the form of the Story Centre and Film Experience too.

Q: What unique experiences can I find at the Funchal Design Center? 

A: The Funchal Design Center offers a unique showcase of contemporary art and design, providing visitors with a creative and modern perspective on things to do in Funchal.

Q: Can you recommend any relaxing spots in Funchal? 

A: Unwind at Parque de Santa Catarina, a peaceful park with tropical plants, or enjoy a leisurely stroll at Marina do Funchal – both perfect for relaxation. Monte Palace Gardens are also beautiful.

Further reading: The 20 best towns in Madeira (and where to stay in each one)

Q: How can I learn more about Madeira’s history and culture? 

A: Visit the Madeira Story Centre, offering interactive exhibits, and explore the Quinta das Cruzes Museum, which displays an extensive collection of decorative arts.

Q: What are the top things to do in Funchal for nature lovers? 

A: Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the beautiful exotic flowers of Jardim Botânico, go on Levada walks, and visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden for a botanical experience in Funchal.

Q: What are the main attractions at the Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint? 

A: Pico dos Barcelos Viewpoint offers panoramic views of Funchal and the coastline, making it an ideal spot for breathtaking photos and a serene atmosphere.

Further reading: 20 Gifts and Souvenirs to Buy From Madeira.

Q: Are there any water-based things to do in Funchal? 

A: While in Funchal, take advantage of whale watching tours in the Atlantic Ocean for an exciting and memorable aquatic experience, or visit the lido complex for swimming.

Q: Where can I find information about local events in Funchal? 

A: Stay informed about local events by checking the calendar at Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias, a historic theatre in Funchal that hosts a variety of cultural performances.

Where to Stay in Madeira.

Below is an abridged version of my main Where to stay in Madeira post. You may also be interested in 14 of the Best Hotels in Madeira and My Review of the Savoy Saccharum resort & Spa Madeira.

Consider the following towns when deciding where to stay in Madeira. I have included links which will take you to Booking.com if you would like to check prices. Click here to see all availability in Madeira.

a. Funchal

The capital city offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly options. Funchal is bustling with restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions, making it a convenient base for exploring. It’s also a great choice if you want a mix of city life and coastal beauty. See prices and availability for Funchal.

Further reading: 29 Wonderful Things to do in Funchal, Madeira.

b. Calheta

This area is known for its golden sandy beach and is a great pick for those seeking a more relaxed and beach-oriented vacation. I stayed in Calheta in 2023 and wrote a review of the Savoy Saccharum Resort & Spa.

Calheta offers a selection of hotels and self-catering accommodations. See prices and availability for Calheta.

An aerial view of a beach and cliffs.
Praia Da Calheta

c. São Vicente

If you’re interested in exploring Madeira’s natural beauty, São Vicente offers a serene atmosphere nestled amidst mountains and valleys. It’s a great choice for nature lovers and hikers. See prices and availability for São Vicente.

d. Porto Moniz

Famous for its natural swimming pools, Porto Moniz is a picturesque coastal village. It’s an ideal spot for a peaceful getaway and is known for its unique volcanic landscapes. See prices and availability for Porto Moniz.

e. Machico

This historic town is close to the airport and offers a beautiful beach, making it convenient for a short stay or if you want easy access to transportation. See prices and availability for Machico.

f. Santana

Known for its charming A-frame houses and lush green surroundings, Santana provides a tranquil rural experience. See prices and availability for Santana.

g. Ponta do Sol

This sunny village is perfect if you’re looking for a quiet, laid-back atmosphere. It offers stunning sunsets and a peaceful ambiance. See prices and availability for Ponta do Sol.

h. Câmara de Lobos

A traditional fishing village with a vibrant local atmosphere, Câmara de Lobos is an excellent choice for experiencing authentic Madeiran culture. See prices and availability for Câmara de Lobos.

A group of boats on a beach.
Camara des Lobos

i. Ribeira Brava

This coastal town offers a mix of local life, historical sites, and beautiful sea views. I found it quite s imilar to Funchal but a lot less busy and with more of a local feel. See prices and availability for Ribeira Brava.

j. Ponta Delgada

Located on the north coast, Ponta Delgada is a small village known for its natural beauty and quietness. See prices and availability for Ponta Delgada.

Further reading: The 14 Best Hotels in Madeira, Portugal.

Accommodation in Madeira

Here is a map from Booking.com showing hotels by location. You can zoom in, zoom out, drag and move the map. If you click the map, it will take you to Booking.com where you can look more closely at your options.

Booking.com

I recommend reserving your room immediately to get the best price. It’s usually free to reserve, and you can always cancel later on. See the main Madeira page from Booking.com.

Booking links

Here are your booking links again, all in one place. These links will get you the best prices on Booking.com today:

Hotels in Funchal | Hotels in Calheta | Hotels in São Vicente | Hotels in Porto Moniz | Hotels in Machico | Hotels in Santana | Hotels in Ponta do Sol | Hotels in Câmara de Lobos | Hotels in Ribeira Brava | Hotels in Ponta Delgada | All hotels in Madeira.

Further reading: The 20 best towns in Madeira (and where to stay in each one)

Madeira Quick Links.

Here are some helpful links which may help you plan your trip to Madeira, Portugal.

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