Holidays to Funchal dish up walks around flower-freckled gardens, lazy days at seafront lidos and boat trips to spot sperm whales.

Madeira's capital city

As the island’s capital, Funchal packs in loads to do, from museums and art galleries to shops, bars and restaurants. This city’s got green fingers, too. Thanks to its super-fertile, volcanic soil, blooming gardens and port-producing vineyards pop up all over. Plus, the whole place is cuddled by mammoth mountain peaks, so the scenery’s swoon-worthy.

Pebble beaches and pool complexes

Mountainous Madeira isn’t a beachy kind of place. It’s got a handful of manmade sand-and-pebble stretches, including silver-tinted Praia Formosa, which is 10 minutes’ drive from central Funchal. What it lacks in golden sand, it makes up for in facilities, with changing rooms, snack bars and a car park. A clutch of lidos stocked with saltwater swimming pools and sea-view sunbathing platforms are on hand, as well.

Flower power

May’s when the city’s flower festival takes place, marking the start of the summer months. Colourful blooms carpet the city’s streets, plus there’s a parade and musical performances. The Madeira Botanical Garden’s open all year round. This kaleidoscopic park is on top of a hill, with 360-degree views of Funchal and the sea. You can get there in the cable car that chugs up the hill, and daredevils can take a hair-raising toboggan ride back down.

Daytrips from Funchal

Funchal’s harbour’s a pick-up point for ferry rides to other Portuguese islands, like Porto Santo. This place is home to a whopper of a sandy beach, the whitewashed village of Vila Baleira and a network of hiking trails. You can also sign up for boat trips to spot whales and dolphins, or set out on a 4x4 tour up and around the island’s sky-scraping mountain peaks.

At a Glance

  • Ride the Monte cable car for eye-popping views
  • Sink a glass of port by the seafront
  • Brush up on footie facts at the Ronaldo-inspired CR7 Museum

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