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What to See and Do

Avenida Arriaga (Arriaga Avenue)

Explore Funchal on foot starting at this beautiful avenue aligned with jacaranda trees. From here you can easily reach the cathedral and many of this city’s cultural attractions. Don’t miss out on the Adegas de São Francisco (wine cellars) belonging to the Madeira Wine Company, the wonderful Jardins Municipais (gardens) and the monument to Prince Henry the Navigator.

Convento de Santa Clara (Saint Claire’s Convent)

This convent was built for the Santa Clara nuns at the end of the 15th Century. Its walls are decorated with stunning blue tiles (azulejos) from the 17th Century. Rumor has it that João Gonçalves Zarco (Madeira’s discoverer) and his family are buried in the church crypt.

Forte de São Lourenço (Saint Lawrence Fort)


Once part of Funchal’s extensive sea defenses, this 16th Century fort is now used by the Madeira City Council. You can visit the North Bastion where there is a small but interesting exhibition about the history of the fortress.


Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmer’s Market)


A truly sensual feast for the senses is to be had at this colorful market, which sells an array of exotic and mouth-watering fruits, vegetables and some locally grown flowers.


Blandy’s and Palheiro Gardens


Rare and exotic trees, shrubs, plants and flowers from all over the world thrive at these well-tended botanical gardens located 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) east of Funchal on the road to Camacha. The estate has been owned by the famous wine merchant family, the Blandy’s, since 1885.


Quinta do Bom Sucesso Botanical Gardens


These fabulous botanical gardens house some 2,000 species of tropical and sub-tropical plants in an 8.6 acre garden that used to belong to the Reid family who once owned the famous hotel of that name. Take an afternoon out to admire the exotic flowers, enjoy a coffee at the café terrace, admire the panoramic view over the Bay of Funchal from the Belvedere Terrace and finish up by visiting the aviary stocked with exotic and colorful parrots.

Casas de Santana (Santana Typical Houses)


Santana’s typical houses are one of Madeira’s biggest signatures. Spread in numerous promotional posters throughout the world. We estimate that these small-thatched triangular houses, built of wood and thatched with straw, are trace of primitive constructions. As being one of Madeira’s most abundant natural resources, it was easy to find and not expensive.
Cereals, such as corn and rye were part of the population daily menu. They were turned to flour, and afterwards to bread and home-made pasta or noodles. The straw was then put to use to cover the houses.
These houses belong essentially to humble people, mainly agricultures with no means to purchase more noble building materials.


The Monte Toboggan Run


Take an exciting ride down to Funchal´s city center on one of the Monte´s “toboggans”!

The Monte Toboggans first originated in the early 19th century as Funchal´s first means of "downhill" public transportation. Presently and for a number of years now, the "Carro de Cesto" is used to transport tourists. Made primarily out of wicker ad two wooden runners, these toboggans are driven by two men (carreiros) dressed in white, with straw hats and black rubber boots that are used as brakes. All this is possible by using ropes and greased up rags to grease the wooden runners.

The ride starts off below the steps of the Nossa Senhora do Monte Church. This is quite a fast 2km long ride down steep and winding roads that will lead you to your finishing point, Livramento, a suburb of Funchal. Visitors consider this ride a thrill and a “must-do” during your visit to Madeira Island.