Madeira islands – Funchal Portugal guide
Funchal is the capital of Madeira Islands filled with unexplored beauty.
Madeira Islands are one of the two autonomous Portuguese regions. Madeira, whose capital is Funchal, is one of those rare places in Europe where nature, old traditions, the food and the famous Portuguese hospitality go hand in hand, to welcome travelers and tourists from all over the globe.
Where are the Madeira Islands?
Funchal, is located on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Spanish Canary Islands. Madeira is an autonomous Portuguese region and part of the European Union.
MADEIRA ISLANDS AND FUNCHAL – THINGS TO DO
The people of Madeira
The famous hospitality of the Portuguese, is not restricted to the continent alone. The Madeirenses (people from Madeira islands) are incredibly friendly, welcoming and love making the tourists feel at home.
Because of its geographical location, Madeira developed a strong cultural identity. You’ll notice the typical costumes of the females are very colorful and radiant, resembling the colors of the flowers and nature of the island.
NATURE IN MADEIRA ISLANDS
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN PORTUGAL
Some people think they need to go to far away places to find exotic forests, waterfalls, flowers and animals… Little do they know there are a few spots in Europe where they can find all that!
The word “MADEIRA” literally means “WOOD” in Portuguese. It’s an island famous for its beauty and incredible nature. This island’s landscape is absolutely breathtaking, with its dramatic cliffs and rocks..
The macaronesian region is famous for the variety of flowers and flora, similar to the ones found in southern Europe and Africa a million years ago. The breath taking Laurissilva forest is one of the largest and oldest laurel forests in the world!
The geographic isolation and relatively mild climate, are propicious for a year round variety of flowers, some of which unique to this region. If you’re a nature lover, take you time to explore the island, take long walks and discover the variety of wild flowers and small animals around.
Madeira is also the home of some extremely rare small animals, such as the Madeiran large white butterfly, some vertebrates, lizards, bats and tropical birds.
For a deeper interaction with nature and to experience sustainable tourism, book a couple of nights at a “turismo rural” hotel or farm, where you can actually spend time, outside the city of Funchal and feel what the country side looks like.
yes, here you’ll find some of the most impressive waterfalls in Europe!
Madeira islands are wet on the northwest and dry on the southeast, but the waterfalls are very easy to spot if you take a trip around the island.
The waterfalls were actually one of my favorite attractions when visiting the Island with my parents. I was impressed by the size and power of these water falls.
Nature lovers can’t miss the chance to go for walks and hiking while visiting the Madeira islands. There are many trails and levels you can choose from and trust me: they’re well worth it!
DIVING IN MADEIRA PORTUGAL
Diving in Madeira is now a increasing popular sport. Thanks to the clear waters and geographic isolation, you won’t find the sort of marine life like in the Andaman Islands for example, but you will actually be surprised by the all the fish you’ll come across.
There are several nature and marine reserves and Sao Lourenco is the best spot for this sport.
MARKETS AND EXOTIC FRUITS OF FUNCHAL
Thanks to its warm climate all year round, Madeira has some of the most delicious tropical fruits in Europe!
You can find all sort of tropical fruits in Madeira. They’re fresh and delicious. Vegans and vegetarians will have no problem finding fruits and vegetables for a great price.
If you can, avoid the supermarkets and head on to the local vegetable and fruit markets.
Did you know that Madeira has the biggest production of bananas in Europe, together with Spain? The typical bananas from Madeira are smaller than the ones you’re familiar with. They’re called “dwarf bananas” but they’re also famous for being much more tasty than the regular sisters around the world.
ENJOY THE WINE IN FUNCHAL
Although Oporto is internationally famous for its Port wine, Madeira will surprise you too.
Take a tour to the wine cellars in the region and enjoy some wine tasting. The wine here is of high quality and above all, its local. Nothing is more interesting do explore when we travel than the local gastronomy and wine, isn’t it?
TRADITIONAL HOUSES OF MADEIRA PORTUGAL
For me, as a Portuguese, the Santana houses are one of the most fascinating things about Madeira. Santana means Santa Ana (Saint Anne) and it’s the name of a small village along the northern coast..
When I visited the island with my parents, I have to admit two things grabbed my heart: one was the incredible waterfalls, the second one , the traditional cob houses.
They’re Eco-friendly houses, using all sorts of local materials. Their colors remind me of the traditional flowers in the region. These traditional houses are a delight for the eye, but not used by the population anymore. Unfortunately.
THE CITY OF FUNCHAL
Funchal is the capital city of Madeira and the place to go for everything urban.
The word Funchal comes from the Portuguese “Funcho”, which means “fennel”. This is the most densely populated city in Madeira and home to some impressive architecture, unique to the region..
If you stay in Funchal, you’ll be able to combine the convenience of the city, with the proximity and easy reach of the nature. Rent a car and you’ll have total mobility to visit every beautiful spot around the island and come back to the city of Funchal to enjoy the night life or a relaxed dinner.
NEW YEARS EVE IN FUNCHAL
Did you know the firework shows in Funchal are the biggest ones in the world, winning the record by the Guiness world records ?
FUNCHAL AND MADEIRA PORTUGAL PRACTICAL INFO:
WEATHER IN FUNCHAL
Temperatures are mild and warm all year round, making Funchal a great winter destination.
For info on the current flights, departures and arrivals, check out the Madeira Airport info website. You can find cheap flights with Easyjet, from Lisbon or the UK.
ACOMMODATION IN FUNCHAL, MADEIRA
Hostel Santa Maria
Located within a traditional and historical building in Funchal old town, Santa Maria Hostel is a boutique hostel featuring a vintage-style décor. With a 24-hour reception, the hostel has a restaurant and the Gin, Wine & Beer Club.
Ranging from dorms to private accommodation, each unit at the Santa Maria is decorated with attention to detail in a very colorful way. Dorm rooms have lockers, individual reading lights and access to shared bathroom facilities. Breakfast is included in the room rate, and guests can use a fully equipped kitchen to prepare other meals.
A mezzanine floor encloses the lounge area, with a reading nook, a flat-screen TV and sofas. There is also an outdoor seating area, where guests are welcome to relax. The central location of Santa Maria means guests are a few steps from the lively bar street, and a cable car can also be found within walking distance.
The cheapest rates I found among all the online services was Agoda. Book it Here for the lowest prices starting at 15.08€!
Tourist apartments Atlantida
This property offers self-catering accommodations with free wired internet and a private balcony in central Funchal. It is a 5 minute drive from Funchal’s local supermarkets and restaurants.
All studios and apartments are decorated in warm colors and feature a comfortable armchair and cable TV in the sitting area. Each one has a work desk with good lighting.
All accommodations at Apartamentos Turisticos Atlantida have a kitchenette with microwave, a tea / coffee maker and cabinet space. Some apartments have a 6-seater dining table and separate living room.
Book it online from 55€ with the lowest prices Here with Agoda
HIGH END & LUXURY
Reids Palace Hotel
Set on a cliff in 10 acres of subtropical gardens overlooking the Atlantic, this 5-star resort features an oceanfront spa, 3 swimming pools and direct access to oceanic waters.
All rooms at Reid’s Palace are elegantly furnished and include a balcony and marble bathroom with amenities. A minibar with complimentary drinks and free in-room movies are available to each room.
Reid’s Palace Spa features indoor and outdoor therapy suites with a private whirlpool. It offers an indulgent menu of treatments using world-class spa brands. Dry and wet saunas are also on site.
For the lowest online rates from 295€ a night, book here with Agoda