Cruise ships come into the port of Funchal, capital of Madeira, and the view is stunning.
The terminal is a short walk from the ship.
It has toilets, waiting area, ATM and information desk.
The information desk provides several maps and limited information on sites.
The walk into to the city center takes about 15-20 minutes, but many cruise ships off a free shuttle bus.
Taxis are available outside the terminal building.
The drop off point for the shuttle bus is a shopping center at the edge of the downtown areas.
A long line of taxis are for hire across the street from the drop off point.
The Hop on Hop off bus can be boarded here.
Alternatively, try the Yellow Bus. For about $6 you can get a one day pass that will take you around to the major sites.
ATMs and money exchanges are available in the area.
The city center is quite walkable and offers a full day of enjoyment soaking up its charm.
Built between 1485 and 1515the cathedral is plain on the outside but features an outstanding alter piece and ceiling.
This early 19th century town hall originally belonged to the Count of Carvalhal.
D’Oliveiras Wine Lodge
For an introduction to Madeira wines and a free wine tasting go to D’Oliveiras’ wine lodge located in an old timbered barn with a cobblestone floor.
Mercado dos Lavradores
This open air market features a large variety of goods from meat and cheese to clothes and wicker baskets. Open daily except Sunday
Kiosks are set up along shore line selling a large variety of goods. They can be seen from the ship but are best accessed from downtown.
Be sure to look down because the pavements are beautiful and vary as you walk from place to place.
Restaurants and cafes offer local specialties.
For a very upscale treat try high tea at Reid’s, a hotel founded when the first tourist trade began after the Napoleonic Wars.
Jardim de Sao Francisco
This small garden filling one block is filled with flowers in full bloom.
Jardim de Santa Catarina
Situated on a cliff between the city center and the hotel district is this terraced park includes a large pond as well as flower beds and a great view.
Located about two miles from the city the botanic garden features native plants, a topiary garden, parrot park, and formal beds as well as panoramic views. Open daily 9am –5:30pm; about $3
Funchal was founded in 1425 when Captain Joao Goncalves Zarco came to govern the southwestern part of Madeira newly claimed in the name of the Portuguese King Prince Henry the Navigator. The early settlers found that sugar cane was their most valuable crop and Madeira became Europe’s leading sugar producer and was granted city status in 1508. In the mid-sixteenth century when sugar became available from the Caribbean and Brazil Madeira turned to making Malvazia, a tasty sweet wine and it became the chief export. British influence started when Charles II married the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganze in 1662. By the end of the Napoleonic Wars tourism began when wealthy Europeans came to Madeira for winter fun. Although Madeira had some bad times after that and was considered one of the poorest areas of Europe by 1974 it became autonomous in 1976 and is now thriving due to the development of good infrastructure which has promoted tourism as well as internal transportation of agricultural goods.
Today Madeira has a population 267,000. It is the largest of the four islands in the Madeiran archipelago and lies in the mid-Atlantic ocean 310 miles west of Morocco and 600 miles southwest of Lisbon. Only one other island in the archipelago, Porto Santo, is inhabited. The name of the capital, Funchal, is derived from the abundance of fennel (funchal in Portuguese) that is said to have grown in the area.
The currency is the Euro. Banks, ATMs and money exchanges are widely available. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Bank are open Monday-Friday 8:30am o 3 pm. Internet cafés are easily found in Funchal.