Funchal (Madeira), Portugal
A pretty sight awaits you as your cruise ship approaches Funchal with rows of white houses dotting the hillside that serve as a backdrop. Funchal straddles the old and the new with aplomb. A popular port on many cruise liners itineraries, the best part is that the liners dock at the pier almost in the heart of the city – just a walk of 200 meters to the buzzing shopping area of this interesting city!
When walking from the pier to the city center, look around and notice the stunning architecture around – be sure to look down too on the walk to the city center as the paving is as decorative and pretty as they come, and is bound to 'floor' you!
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
- Climb up CaboGirao, the second highest cliff face in the world. Walk on to the glass skywalk there and get a vantage view that is quite breathtaking
- Want to be adventurous and have some fun? Try a basket sled slide down the mountain
- Take a hop on hop off tour of the city – all the important sights will be covered on it!
- Wander around in the narrow streets and alleyways – it's bound to be a serendipitous journey!
Madeira is known for lace and wine! So goes without reason this is what you should buy. For lace and other souvenirs to take back home head straight Rua do Castanheir where you are sure to find a bargain on the embroideries and tapestries. Check for the lead seal on your piece of lace – if it is authentic, it will have the seal.
Wine aficionados should pay a visit to the Madeira Wine Museum and wine cellars that are located next to the old convent of the Order of St. Francis. Learn about the history of Madeira wine, sample and buy!
GRAB A BITE
When in Funchal, go to the Old Town where there are many family run restaurants – this is where you must try the local 'espada' fish – It's delicious! But beware of the waiters hanging round outside the restaurants trying to solicit your business. If you fancy some afternoon tea, head to Belmond's Reid Palace to have a cuppa in true British style, accompanied by finger thin cucumber sandwiches.
Funchal enjoys even-tempered weather all year round. In May mean temperatures are in the 64°F/18°C range – a little nip, but warms up soon enough and by June and July the temps rise to the 70s/80s with summer reaching its peak in August, after which it starts to cool down again. September is still warm and from October it starts getting nippy again.
The Euro is the currency of the country. Credit cards are accepted most everywhere, and travellers checks can be cashed too, but the rate may not be what you expect.