You have to visit the Lavradores Market in Madeira's capital, Funchal. Whether it's the festival of colors with its spectacular flowers or for the opportunity to try an incredible variety of tropical fruits with exotic flavors, or to walk along the benches is an experience. Smells, colors and flavors ... It's all there. Do not hesitate to try dried fruit such as mango, papaya and coconut on the 1st floor. For amateurs to photography, this market has a WORLD of possibilities!
When I took the cable car to reach this site, I didn't realise I was on the verge of discovering one of the most beautiful botanical gardens I've ever seen in my life. There are plants from around the world, as the climate here is very suitable for growing them: azaleas, heathers, different types of trees, giant ferns and encephalartos, which are regarded as living fossils. There are 72 known species of them, and you can see 60 in this garden. Then, of course, there is a space dedicated to the lovely flowers native to Madeira. Besides the impressive vegetation and oriental gardens, you can also visit two exhibitions located within the park: one shows an interesting collection of minerals, and the other shows the sculptural work of several artists from Zimbabwe
A small trip with atmosphere, with both the cable car ride up, as well as going down in bus (how the people operate them), make a visit to the Botanical have that small touch of adventure, that normal city gardens may lack. If you visit on a sunny day, which is common since Funchal is in the south of the island, you will notice that the colors are more incredible when you see it all together. A lovely walk of going up and down will complete a whole morning's worth of exercise and pleasure for all the senses. I took enough pictures to fill up a memory card, but I leave you with seven.
I do not want to discuss a particular cliff on the island of Madeira but rather all of them in general. They are wonderful. When I came back from my trip and showed people the pictures, I remember a friend told me it looked like photos of a trek through Nepal. We rented a car in Funchal, the capital, and drove until Câmara do Lobos, a small village of fishermen, very charming. They are dedicated, above all, to Swordfish fishing, so we could not leave the place without trying swordfish. The village was named after the sea lions that frequent this beach. On the way out, suddenly, we found Cape Gira, a cliff over 500 meters high over the sea. Seeing this cliff was unbelievable. I remember they told us it was the second highest in the world. From there we started to find several other cliffs, no less impressive, of volcanic origin, soon it changed from being completely clear, to being completely covered with fog, which enveloped everything and even us. Do not miss the road from Porto Moniz to Sao Vicente, it is indescribable. It is a road that crosses the cliffs, through tunnels and waterfalls. They explained to us that they created this road in 16 years, without the help of any machines. Without doubt, Madeira, is considered the pearl of the Atlantic, and they were right. There are many more places to discover there, but that is for another day.
For many years, Funchal Airport in Madeira was considered one of the most dangerous in the world. This was due to the geography of the island, where it is almost impossible to find a long and flat enough piece of land to build a decent runway on. Luckily, in 2000, the current track was expanded, a true feat of engineering, to create part of the runway that is over the sea. Today, unless the weather is almost hurricane weather, Madeira airport is no longer dangerous, but no less exciting, with its runway that allows you to get a glimpse of the volcanic and ocean sights. It is also fun to watch planes take off and land from its observation deck. Since then I have had it in my list of favorite airports in the world.
The Golden Gate Grand Café, located a few steps from the Ritz, is one of the best and most famous in town. It has been in business for over a century, attracting tourists and Funchal locals with its good food, bright atmosphere, and amazing views. The terrace is incredible!
Pico dos Barcelos is partly viewpoint, and the rest park.. Open daily from 8:00 to 20:00 pm, with free access, and offers a nice view of the Madeiran coast. If you go up, which is easily done by car, you can see from three different heights over 180 degrees of ocean and mountains. If you bring kids, there is a playground with swings to play while the adults enjoy the view. You can also have a coffee there, or take a souvenir. In the stalls, they will be happy to sell you a cheerful Cristiano Ronaldo shirt.
The Fort of Sao Tiago is one of the more colorful places in the old town of Funchal and well worth a visit. It is located at the end of the Santa Maria promenade and with the bright yellow of the walls I do not think it's possible not to notice this place on a sunny day. The fort now serves as headquarters of the Contemporary Art Museum of Funchal. It also has an elegant restaurant inside.
The cathedral of the island's capital was built in 1514, by order of King Don Manuel, and is a fine example of Gothic art. It's very simple, inside and outside, and the baptismal font, the pulpit, and the altar were donated directly by the sovereign. Inside you can admire an interesting seventeenth century painting of the Last Supper.
On Funchal Street in Rua de Santa Maria, in the old area of the city, there's an outdoors art gallery. It's an initiative to take art to the street, "Portas Abertas Art," featuring the most colorful designs and original doors. There is also a website where all doors are detailed: http://www.zyberchema.net/portas/
This was one of my favourite places in Funchal, and although it can be reached by road, nothing beats the magic of the cable car. The views show the marine background, and large mansions contrasting with the slums as you ascend the mountain, which takes about 10 - 15 minutes. You can buy a combined ticket with the Monte Gardens, and it's open all year round (except Christmas) from 9am to 17:45.
No need to fly to a distant country for a rickshaw ride. If you walk through Funchal, you now have the opportunity to get on one of these popularly Asian vehicles. Motorized rikshaws of Tukxi have more advantages than either India or Thailand, as they are electric, and therefore don't pollute or make noise, and moreover, they are safe. They have belts and blankets if it's cold, are clean and convertible, more like luxury tuk tuks. You would like New Delhi. There is a Tukxi stop in Praça do Mar, Lido, and the historic center of Funchal, but make sure to reserve by phone. The cheapest tour costs 20 euros, for three people at a time, and it passes Farmer's Market, Town Square, and Municipal Garden. However, there are many other paths, and you even have the option to customize your own.
If you want to catch a football game in the middle of Funchal, go to Santa Catalina Park. In the huge fields, there is room for everything; picnics, walking, sport, lounging around, and as its next to the sea, you can enjoy the sea breeze on your face. In the Santa Catalina Park, you can also find a lot of flowers and tree species, almost all marked with little name signs, they even have Ceibas (the most sacred trees that másyas 'cotton'). It also has a pond with ducks and swans. At the opposite end of the pond, there's a monument to Christopher Columbus, and a plate on which the relationship between the people of Madeira and Gibraltar is explained. Entrance to the park is free, and it is open every day of the week, but closes earlier in winter (19:00 hours) than in summer (21:00 hours).
The church of Nossa Senhora do Monte, located in the town reached by cable car from Funchal, was built in the eighteenth century, on the site of a small hermitage from the fifteenth century. There's a small image of the Virgin Mary, who is considered the protector the island. The staircase is particularly striking, and in the period of the festival, it is bedecked with bright colours.
Although from there, you don't see the sun across the Atlantic, this high spot in Madeira is good place to end the day. Here, Lorenzo is softly hidden behind parts of Funchal. To the left, the ocean caresses the docking pier, where many cruise ships that arrive to the capital of the island are. To the right, the white houses that flood the slope gradually lose their intensity. It's a nice show. I really enjoyed it, even with the soundtrack of speeding cars. Recommended to go up by car or taxi (about 20 euros, maybe a little less). You can also go up by bus, as there is a stop right there.
The situation of Madeira and its volcanic terrain make it a mere 5km from the coast where sea depths reach 3,000 meters, and it's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean makes it a fantastic place to see whales. Dolphins are guaranteed, and with a little luck, maybe there's whales and sperm whales, too. The trip is in zodiac and depending on sea conditions, can become a hilarious amusement ride. There is an option of swimming with dolphins, but usually they are not usually very interested in humans, yet its awesome to see them close, released and jumping everywhere.
The view from this seventeenth century fortress is really the reward for climbing the slopes! With its four bastions, it played a key role in defending the island against pirates. The citadel stands at a height of 111 metres above sea level, and covers an area of 2,750 square metres (bigger than Monaco).
Wondering what to do in Funchal? Well, you can easily get a great view of all the things to see in Funchal from the sky! Hop on the cable car and enjoy the best views of the bay, the harbor, and the city. You can access the cable car from Avenida Almirante Reis. This is one of the most relaxing and picturesque Funchal activities, and the views get great as you rise 560 metres to the district of Monte. The 15-minute ride begins with a pass over the old town, which is home to some of the essential places to visit in Funchal like the Cathedral of Funchal, the Convent of Santa Clara, and Lavradores Market.
Known for its exotic subtropical flowers, the Madeira Botanical Garden is one of the most popular Funchal attractions. Located south of the city, its herbal greenhouses are located in spectacular terraces. Another one of the best things to do in Funchal is to visit the cellars of Blandy, a famous wine maker and a place where you can admire the craftsmanship of the prestigious wines of Madeira.
Other attractions in Funchal which have won international claim are its
volcanic sand beaches. Do not miss the Praia do Gorgulho, Praia Formosa, the Lido's two saltwater pools, and Ponta Gorda.
Have a look at what minube's users say about the city, and discover all the stuff to do in Funchal we have not yet mentioned, like the church of San Pedro, the Quinta das Cruzes, and the Museum of Sacred Art.