Guida di Funchal

Funchal guide to Madeira: what to see, what to do and where to eat

It was discovered by accident. But she hasn’t been abandoned since. Indeed, despite being in the middle of the ocean first became one rich colony and then one successful tourist destination. And the irresistible rise of CR7, to the century Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, did the rest. We are obviously talking about the island of Madeira in general and of the city ​​of Funchal in particular. Once, as every Funchal guide will tell you, it was the refuge of the Princess Sissi, in search of a healthy and mild climate. While today it is the place where the cruise tourists. And those obsessed with the game of football.

Funchal guide: a storm and lots of wood

The first to land, however, were the Portuguese navigators beaten on its coasts by a storm in 1418. After thanking fate for that landing place of safety they looked around. Was full of forests and, thus, without much imagination, the they baptized Madeira. Which then means, in fact, wood. A few years later the king D. João del Portugal decided to put that piece of land in the blue for income. And they began to be born here first sugar cane plantations. There was the sun, the heat and the right humidity: the island thus became a important landing point in the middle of the Atlantic for the ships that supplied themselves with wine and sugar on the voyage to New world. And Funchal grew and prospered. And now he is striding with his own 500 years of history all to be discovered walking among the its alleys and squaresbetween a glass of local wine and a taste of its swordfish and banana dishes.

Discovering Funchal: the old districts

The starting point could be the neighborhood of Santa Maria Maioralso called “Zona velha“. After having been for centuries the heart was forgotten for many years but today it is reborn and the real center with a nice choice of restaurants and cultural spaces. And the nightlife is not lacking. In its historic core, the fort of São Tiagobuilt in 1614, which currently houses the Contemporary art museum and a pleasant restaurant overlooking the Ocean. Also worth a visit there chapel of the Holy Body, built in the fifteenth century and the Church of Santa Maria, also known as Igreja do Socorro. For the rest it’s just a matter of letting your legs go, strolling through the narrow cobbled alleys and stopping to taste a “poncha”: It is sugar cane grappa mixed with lemon and honey and here everyone is crazy about it.

The old houses and the colors of the market

Then go wild and photograph the doors of the old neighborhood houses painted by local artists: the project is called Open Art and the streets have thus become a museum. Not far away is located cableway which connects the old part of Funchal to the hamlet of Mountain. Every Funchal guide will tell you it’s worth the climb. First, however, a visit to the “Mercado dos Lavradores”, Which is located in a historic building with walls covered with the inevitable azulejos while inside it is a triumph of colors: there are fruit and vegetables and there are the clothes of the vendors. The right photo for Instagram is guaranteed.

Do you still want to walk? So go and pay your respects to the Se cathedral, built in 1550 or to other churches in the area such as the Church of San Giovanni Evangelistaa work of the Jesuits which preserves a presbytery covered with carved and gilded wood from the seventeenth century, considered one of the most precious pieces of the Portuguese seventeenth century. And if after so much triumph of gold and wood you can also make a stop in the coffee right next to it, than one of the oldest in the city. So, as mentioned, it’s time to go up to admire the amphitheater shape of Funchal and the charm of its gardens. The destination is there as mentioned Mountain. The name explains it all: it is high up and you arrive with the cableway that leaves from the historic centermaking a small flight over the roofs of the city.

The gardens and the villas

This hilltop neighborhood is famous for gorgeous villas – which are called quintas here – as well as for the parks and gardens. The most famous is the Madeira Botanical Garden which collects plants from the islands and the world, as well as exotic birds. A little paradise? Perhaps. But that is discounted if you want to go down with the more traditional method. Also Hemingway he tried it and wrote about it as a rather disconcerting experience. And if he said so, you have to trust him.

The medium to use is called carros de cesto do Monte and in practice it is a kind of wicker basket where you sit and slide down a steep hill to the valley. Originally in the 19th century it was a rudimentary form of public transport while today the tradition continues today for tourists being pushed downhill by two carreiros, that is to say men dressed in white, in straw hats, using their rubber boots as brakes to maneuver the descent. The route lasts 4 km and leads to the center of Funchal. Where it is normal to catch your breath while walking on the sea.

Strolling along the seafront

The avenida which serves as seafront among other things it is the area where they are located many hotels and where, easily, you will have chosen to stay. Then there are cafes, restaurants and scenic areas and at the bottom also some beaches. Remember it is Atlantic: and water can be a nasty surprise for us. However, if you browse the Funchal guidebook or walk a bit, you will discover that it is at the bottom Praia Formosa, the largest beach in Madeira, made up of four beaches in a row. Look for a place that you like and let your gaze go by remembering that for swimming there are other establishments not far away that guarantee the comfort of sea ​​water pools. But you look around and remember that there is also there around here villa of CR7. Find yourself a ball and try to dribble. You will not win the Champions League but this is also a way to discover Funchal.

Funchal guide

Wine and fish. The guide to Funchal and its food

The island of Madeira is famous all over the world for wine namesake which according to Shakespeare was the favorite wine of kings. And as a commercial you can’t think of better. Actually Madeira it is not a single wine but it has several differences according to the types and vines used. There are drier ones like the Sercial and the Verdelho which is suitable to accompany the entire lunch. Then there is the sweeter one, called Malmsey or Malvasiawhich is also perfect between meals.

The cuisine, on the other hand, is obviously influenced by that of Portugal and privileges fish and seafood. Classic dishes are those based on tuna, swordfish and cod but very common are also the skewers of meat of beef flavored with bay leaf to accompany with bolo do caco which is not a dessert, but bread baked on stone topped with garlic butter.

Funchal guide

The best restaurants

Or Tasco

To taste the best local cuisine Or Tasco is the right address. And a restaurant without too many frills without a fixed menu that offers the proposals of the day, especially fish. Do not miss the rich choice of appetizers in the form of tapas. The service is warm and the environment pleasant.
137 Rua Bela Sao Tiago,
+351 291 623 374

Restaurante Do Forte

This restaurante unites the its position, in one of the most visited places in the city, with excellent food and creative. It is located in the fortress of Sao Tiago, which also houses the Museum of Contemporary Art and often hosts events: in this case the menu is fixed and themed.
Av. Santiago Menor 14,
+351 291 235 470


Despite its location in the historic center, O Portao still managed not to be overwhelmed by the success by remaining a quite informal place specialized in local cuisine with affordable prices. It has both indoor and outdoor spaces and the menu offers a good choice of obviously fresh fish. Try the desserts.
Rua Portão de São Tiago
+351 291 221 125

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