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There is no shortage of reasons to visit Madeira! This small island, which is 57 km long and 22 km wide, charms visitors with its lush, green vegetation and stunning scenery.
Funchal, the capital and Madeira's main tourist city, is located on the south coast of the island, 23 km from the airport.
It is a city full of history - cosmopolitan, lively and modern. Its name comes from the word "funcho" (fennel), a wild herb that originally grew abundantly on the island.
The town is formed in the shape of an amphitheatre on the water's edge and clings to the hill behind it. Steep slopes abloom with lush gardens and a swathe of houses with red tile roofs lead up the mountainside.
Funchal continues to bear witness to its colonial past and there's nothing better than a stroll along the narrow streets and tiny squares of the old town, past the baroque churches which evoke Portugal's rich heritage.
Madeira is the perfect place for an active holiday and a real change of scene.
Worth seeing in Funchal:
- The Mercado dos Lavradores: one of the town's landmarks. The market is located right in the heart of the historic centre. Colours, aromas and tradition come together here to welcome and delight visitors.
- The old town: Creativity flourishes all year round in this part of town, with lively events making it the place to be to get a feel for the city. Its many restaurants and teeming nightlife also give this part of town a different feel and way of life.
- The Botanical Garden: Located in Caminho do Meio, the fabulous garden features more than 2,000 exotic plants from all over the world. Extending over 35,000 m², they come from all five continents and include some endangered botanical species.
- Monte Palace Tropical Gardens: These gardens are on at the top of the hill at Monte with stunning views over Funchal Bay. Monte, with a history dating back to the 18th century, was transformed into an enchanting garden and museum belonging to the Berardo Foundation. Discover a wide diversity of exotic flowers and plants from all continents, as well as very varied wildlife including ducks, black and white swans, peacocks, chickens and Koi carp.
- Plus: The cathedral, the Santa Clara convent, São Tiago Fort, Saõ Lourenço Palace, the Frederico de Freitas museum (magnificent collection of azulejos/ceramics).
Things to do in Funchal: A Carros de Cesto (wicker sleds) ride is one of the most famous tourist activities in Funchal. An unusual and authentic form of transport, which the inhabitants of the town of Monte once used to travel to the centre of Funchal. It's a descent like no other: 1.5 km at 40 km per hour. For information, telephone: +351 291 783 919
Things to do on the island: On the south coast - Cabo Girão and wonderful cliffs, to the north west - the natural bathing pools of Porto Moniz.