Funchal viewed from Madeira Botanical Garden
Funchal is the capital and main city, of the autonomous region of Madeira, on the island of Madeira, situated in the south between Santa Cruz and Camara de Lobos cities.
The city's name comes from the abundance of fennel (funcho) found on the island. It was an important shipping center during the 15th-17th centuries. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal.
Funchal Airport (IATA: FNC) is in nearby Santa Cruz, sometimes known as Madeira international/Santa Catarina/Funchal. Once famous for its hair-raisingly short runway ending at a cliff over the Atlantic Ocean, the airport has been expanded to handle all sizes of aircraft. There are several daily flights from most major cities in Portugal (Lisbon,Porto). Flight time from Lisbon is 1 1/2 hours. Also, there are good connections from London (mostly Gatwick)(LGW), with TAP/ Air Portugal(TP) and British Airways(BA); its flying time is estimated at 3 1/2 hours.
Funchal is served by highway ER101 which runs along the coast. An easy way to get to the city centre by car is to take exit 11 and head downhill towards Funchal. Continue on this road (ER103) until you pass under an overpass. Immediately on your right is a large parking garage (closed on sundays). From here it is only a few minutes walk to Mercado Dos Lavradores / Sé Cathedral.
The city centre is small enough to explore on foot. Orange city buses can take you around and up to Monte (lines 20, 21). Buy a giro card from the office for 2,20€, it is already preloaded with two journeys and can be topped up with additional journeys for 1,50€ a piece. At the bus driver you pay 1,80€ for a ride. Most city buses start from the waterfront area. If you are lucky you can acquire a bus timetable for the local and regional busses starting in Funchal at the tourist information.
Jardins Do Palheiro: The Sunken Garden
- Jardins Do Palheiro (Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro Park), Sao Goncalo, Palheiro (about 5km from downtown), ☎ 351 291 793 044. Mon - Fri from 9:00h - 16:30h.
The Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro Park is a typical example of a manor in British colonial style. While the manor itself is private and can't be visited, you can enjoy the public park. On first sight it looks like an English park, old Platanes form a long alley from the main gate to the gardens. But when you look closer you see all the tropical plants that build the basis, completed by hundreds of plants from al over the world. So around the year there ar always some plants blooming. The main part of the park is formed by several gardens, e.g. a French Garden, a Sunken Garden, the Ladies Garden, a Rose Garden and some more. On the opposite of the main gate is a Tea House, which is connected to the golf course. The serve some good tea, cakes, pastries, snacks and small lunches. The way back to the main gate is formed by the Camellia Avenue, a flourish firework between end October and March.
The park is situated on 500m altitude. Between 9 - 11:30 the park is often crowded by bus tourists, choose the afternoon for a more laid-back visit. Entrance fee 10,50€
Public busses frequently connect Funchal with the park: line 36 or, if you have strong nervs, line 37 for a more spectacular ride. Palheiro Gardens
- Madeira Botanical Gardens (Jardins Botânicos da Madeira), Caminho Meio Quinta do Bom Sucesso (about 3km from downtown). The more than 2000 plants of these hillside gardens, plus the view of Funchal make this one of the major attractions of the whole island. The gardens also feature a collection of parakeets and parrots.
- Market - Mercado Dos Lavradores, Rua Brigadeiro Oudinot, Down Town (Zona Velha). Mon - Thu 7 - 16 h, Fri 7 - 20 h, Sat 7 - 15h, closed on Sundays and holidays.
The historic building with an open patio offers on two levels the fresh fruits and vegetables from all over the island. On lower level is also a seperate hall for the fish vendors selling the fresh caught fishes to everybody. Eat and buy local fruits like the small Madeiran mangos, bananas, philodendres and plenty kinds of maracujas. Taste the offers from vendors. But be carefull, they sometimes try to rip you off and selling you over-ripe fruits or some heavy mangos for the (expensive) price of light maracujas. There are also some nice pastelarias and coffee bars in and around the buliding. Often crowded while rain and when large cruise ships are on the pier.
Mercado dos Lavradores: In the patio
- Monte Palace Hotel Gardens. The gardens of this defunct hotel include a Chinese garden, artwork, a small lake, and a variety of flora and fauna.
- Santa Clara Convent (Convento da Santa Clara), Calçada de Santa Clara 15. Dating from the end of the 15th century, this convent, now a national monument, was founded by João Gonçalves da Câmara. The azulejo tiles are especially notable.
- São Lourenço Palace (Palácio de São Lourenço), Avenida Zarco. Half fortress and half palace, this construction is a good example of mannerist architecture. Highlights include the Noble Salon (Salão Nobre), the Green Room (Sala Verde), the Audience Hall (Sala de Audiências), and the gardens.
- Sé Cathedral. The central point in Funchal, and its most-visited monument. Commissioned by the king Dom Manuel I through Portuguese explorer Gil Eanes, the cathedral was built between 1493 and 1517. The ceiling is made from local wood.
- Colegio Church (Igreja de Sao Joao Evangelista), Rua dos Ferreiros, 105, . This Jesuit temple, completed in 1647, is a striking building with a stunning interior. Today it is part of Madeira University.
Interior of Colegio Church
Visit the fair/market; old port; jardim; casino. Enjoy Birdwatching.
- Palheiro Golf Course, Rua do Balacal 29, .
- Funchal Cable Car (Teleférico do Funchal), Almirante Reis, . 09:30-17:45. View the city from above in a gondola. The upper station is at Monte, where you can visit the Monte Palace gardens and the church at Monte. Another cable car goes down from this point to the Botanical Gardens. Combination tickets for the ride and attractions are available.
Flowers & fruit (check with the airline/ship if they can be brought abroad).
The island is world-famous for its wines. Several stores offer varying selections. Consult Wikipedia  and other sites for details.
Funchal has an abundance of good, if not necessarily cheap, eating places. Most places serve traditional Madeiran and Portuguese food, which is well-prepared and well-tasting, but not terribly exciting. One of the most typical dishes and served almost everywhere, is espada com banana, scabbard fish with banana. It is usually served with fresh salad and potatoes. A bit more expensive, bacalhau (dried, salted codfish) is served in many restaurants. One of the more common, and best, varieties is "bacalhau com natas", codfish in cream sauce.
- Bar Beer Garden, Estrada Monumental, Arieiro. Recommended dish is Picado (beef steak served with chips). The normal size (10 euros) should be enough for 2 persons. The bigger size (13 euros) could serve 3 - 4 persons.
- Café Do Museu - Bar and Restaurant, Praca do Munícipio, downtown, . It is located in a former access balcony of the Sacred Museum. They serve sandwiches, steaks and salads in a modern ambient. While there are Portuguese and tourists for dinner, the bar is crowded at the later evening by young locals. Open Mon - Sat, 10:00 - 02:00 (am) h
- Golden Gate Grand Café, Avenida Arriaga 21. Very centrally located, straight across the street from Palácio de São Lourenço. Its coffee, pastries, food and service is excellent and the café, opened in 1814, has a nice atmosphere with a good mix of local customers and tourists.
- O Castelo Dos Hamburguers, Rua da Carreira, 306, Tel: . This place sells only 3 types of prego-style hamburgers: normal, special and super. Also try their smoothies. 
Inquire at the hotel for English, Germanic, Scandinavian pubs/bars.
- Doca do Cavacas, Estrada Monumental, Ponta de Cruz, Tel: . Fish restaurant.
- Il Basilico, Italian Restaurant,next to the Lido's sea front promenade, Tel: +351 291 708700/08.
- Japanese Restaurant, 2nd floor, Monumental Lido Shopping, Lido. Buffet lunch for 10 euros.
- Olives - Bar & Restaurant, Rua da Queimada de Cima 47, , Small Restaurant, centrally located in a side road close to the Sé Cathedrale. Small menu with 10 fish and 10 various meat dishes from 10 - 15 EUR. portugese influenced european kitchen. Excellent housewine and other good wines. Nice interieur, friendly staff. Mon - Sat 10 - 24h
- Xôpana Restaurant, Choupana Hills Resort and Spa, Tel: (+351) 291 20 6020. Award winning restaurant at the Choupana Hills Resort, with a magnificent view over Funchal and world-class food and wine.
- Les Faunes, Estrada Monumental 139, In Reid's Palace Hotel, Tel: 291/71-71-71. Top quality French restaurant.
- Il Gallo D´Oro, Gourmet restaurant located at The Cliff Bay hotel (Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts) recently awarded with a Michelin star. Reservations tel: (+351) 291 707 700. Dress Code: Tie or jacket for gentleman.
Not the party capital of the world. Most of bars are very quiet. No decent Irish bars. Some think the best bar is Glorias Latino.
- Bar Amazónia, Rua de São Filipe 19. A pleasant little bar.
- Café do Teatro, Avenida Arriaga Ed. Teatro Municipal Baltazar Dias.
- Chameleon Disco-Bar, Rua Imperatriz D. Amelia Nº119 (in front of the Carlton). Café and bar with a tropical atmosphere. Karaoke on Mondays and Tuesdays, live music on Thursdays, and ladies' night on Sunday.
- FX Bar, Largo das Fontes 39.
- Madeira Casino, . The only casino on the island. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
- Vespas, Avenida Sá Carneiro 60. Dance club very popular with young people.
During low season (winter) prices may drop significantly, e.g., from 50€ to 35€. Time around Christmas is high-season.
- Apartamentos Sao Paulo and Apartamentos Alegria . Owned by the Mendonza family. Has 2 apartment blocks. Located in the Old Town, close to the English Church & Rua da Carreira. Cheaper rates for weekly stays.
- Residencial Melba (Melba Pension), Azinhaga da Casa Branca 8. Lies in Western Funchal. 12 rooms.
- Pestana Hotels & Resorts - Funchal: Pestana Miramar, Pestana Village, Pestana Palms, Pestana Bay, Pestana Gardens 
- Quinta Perestrello Heritage House, Rua Drº Pita nº 3, . A small hotel, One adult 33€ per night and breakfast (special offer low season), 37 double rooms, located near Reid's Palace. 24 hour reception.
- Hotel Monte Carlo, Calçada da Saude Nr. 10. Beautiful, old hotel with a great view over the city of Funchal. Directly near the Convent St. Clara. Reasonable priced and not directly in a desiganted tourist district. Lots of good and affordable restaurants nearby.
- Porto Santa Maria ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Avenida do Mar, nº 50, ☎ (+351) 291 206 700 ([email protected]), . Just in front of the sea and the city harbour, in Funchal´s Old Town, near Cable Car, Forte de São Tiago and Mercado Lavradores.
- Porto Mare ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Rua Simplício dos Passos Gouveia, 21, ☎ (+351) 291 703 700 ([email protected]), . One of the three hotels in the resort Vila Porto Mare, near Lido´s promenade, tropical gardens with more than 400 specimes, five pools, four restaurants, sports and SPA...
- The Residence ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Rua de Leichlingen, 7, ☎ (+351) 291 708 700 ([email protected]), . One of the three hotels in the resort Vila Porto Mare, near Lido´s promenade offers a wide selection of carefully furnished and fully equipped apartments. The Residence apartments combine views over the ocean with tropical gardens.
- Suite Hotel Eden Mar ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Rua do Gorgulho, 2, ☎ (+351) 291 700 700 ([email protected]), . One of the three hotels in the resort Vila Porto Mare, near Lido´s promenade, kitchenette, tropical gardens with more than 400 specimes, five pools, four restaurants, sports and SPA. Totally refurbished in 2009..
- Pestana Hotels & Resorts - Funchal: Pestana Carlton Madeira, Pestana Casino Park, Pestana Grand 
- Choupana Hills Resort, Travessa do Largo da Choupana, , . One of the top hotels in Madeira just outside Funchal.
- The Cliff Bay ((Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts)), Estrada Monumental, 147, ☎ (+351) 291 707 700 ([email protected]), . direct access to the sea, stunning views over the Atlantic and Funchal´s bay, one michelin star restaurant.
Porto Santo - A wonderful quiet beach community, Porto Santo is a small island on the North-East of Madeira can be reached by either boat or plane. It is well worth a visit for it's nice small restaurants, it's long beach, and the Christopher Columbus house.
- Internet Access - In Funchal exists a public free wifi sponsored by the Madeiran gouvernment. You'll find a 2m tall white and blue board on several places and squares telling you that wifi is availlable here. Above that, some bars and cafés offer internet access too. Some spots are here: Praca do Municipio, Avenida Arriaga (2 x around the Golden Gate Café and the Cathedrale), Praca de Colombo and 3 or 4 more places
- Post Office - You barley get stamps at the vendors selling postcards. A post office (CTT Correios) is located near the cathedrale in the Avenida Zarco and the Rua Calouste Gulbekian near the Casino. Postcards to EU countries are 0,68€ (Oct 2010)