The approach to the harbor is pretty with an excellent view of the city and the wooded hills above it. From the dock, it is a good 15 to 20 (depending how far along the quay the ship is docked) minutes slightly uphill walk into the center of town. Not recommended for wheelchair users, as the pavement is pretty but uneven.
Along the coast to the left there are main hotels, including the famous Reid's, where Churchill was a frequent guest. Traditional high tea is still being served here (about 30 Euros). Many new 5 stars hotels have recently joined in this area.
Taxis from dockside to the center of town are Euro 7.50 per taxi.
There is a shuttle bus to the city center for $9.00 (return ticket), sometimes free, depending on the cruise line.
A new cruise terminal with gangways and a few shops is in place. No duty free. Free WIFI. Tourist information desk.
Printable map to take along.
Check here for festivals and events in Madeira when you are in port.
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This city is the capital of the island of Madeira. Funchal, where rows of white houses climb the hillsides, is comprised of three distinct sections. The Old Zone, or Old Town, on the east side, boasts historic architecture. The west side is the "touristy" hotel area, with attractions like the Casino Gardens, Quinta das Cruzes Museum and bustling Carriera Street. Between the two you'll find the city center which brims with museums such as the Madeira Wine Institute.
Many nice webcams.
There are buses (6 Euro for an all-day ticket) and reasonable priced taxis running along the coast road. The tourist information office has printed suggested routes.
Hop on Hop off bus: Open bus with two decks, drives you around the most beautiful and historical points of the Town of Funchal. The route lasts one hour and fifteen minutes in Funchal. Recorded information is available in Portuguese, English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. The ticket for this route is valid for a whole day allowing you to get on and off the bus whenever you wish. Most buses run a 20 to 30-minute schedule (yellow line), the blue line which runs to Camara de Lobos (a small fishing village of the past) runs less frequently. Be sure to flag these buses down when you want to hop on again!
Both buses stop at the cable car station (Teleferico), which provides a rather nice trip up the mountain. 16 Euro round trip and 11 Euro one way. Or go down with the Monte Toboggan. Still in use today, they attract thousands of tourists every year who want to make this exciting experience of sliding at high speed on narrow, winding streets down to Funchal. These two-seater wicker sledges glide on wooden runners, pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. About 20 Euro pp.
Hiring a car is a good option as they are inexpensive and it is a relatively easy island to navigate. As you drive up the hills, the weather can change rapidly, with mist and rain reducing visibility and there are also, some narrow cliff top roads to cope with, which can be slow-going if you are stuck behind a tour bus, so allow yourself enough time, also to give you the freedom to stop at the many viewpoints and interesting villages.
Hiking the irrigation ditches, called levadas, is also a popular way to explore the island. There are hundreds of miles of walking trails along the levadas, some of which are strenuous: such watercourses are not unique to Madeira: what is unique is their accessibility and extent. You need only venture a little way off the main roads to begin to appreciate Madeira's myriad aqueducts - for their beauty, ingenuity of design and for the courage and determination needed to bring the concept to its present glory. The island's irrigation system now comprises an impressive 2150 km (1350 miles) of channels, including 40 km (25 miles) of tunnels - and the work started centuries ago.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
The volcanic island of Madeira is covered in colorful flowers and fruit trees. Madeira is a small island only 35 miles long and 13 miles wide. However, the rugged mountains and tortuous roads make it seem much larger. Just a speck in the Atlantic, some of Madeira's residents in outlying villages have never even been to the main city Funchal, much less to the mainland because of the ruggedness of the countryside. About half of Madeira's residents live in the picturesque capital of Funchal.
Câmara de Lobos : apart from its wonderful bay, has several points of interest such as Pico da Torre, Curral das Freiras, Boca dos Namorados, Boca da Corrida and Cabo Girão Skywalk. Camera de Lobos can be reached by bus from Funchal (5 km).
One of the most traditional feasts, and certainly the largest, is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which takes place on the 15th of August. It is incredible the amount of people who pay reverence to the Virgin Mary of Monte. If you are on the island at this time of the year you might like to go up there and get your own impressions. From 14 to 15 August This is considered the main religious folk festival in the region
The Church Our Lady of the Mount, patron saint of Madeira, is also very popular with pilgrims who come here to pray or fulfill vows by the tomb of Emperor Karl I of Austria. Karl I died in 1922 at Quinta do Monte, now called Quinta Jardins do Imperador or Quinta of the Emperor's Gardens. It is a lively celebration lasting two days and transforms the romantic, picturesque parish of Monte into one of the busiest places in Madeira, full of traditional food and drink stalls and plenty of music.
Most shopping streets in Funchal are all pedestrian areas and are very well maintained and are lined with sidewalk cafes and restaurants. Most stores remain open when cruise ships are in town. However, the boardwalk market is closed during siesta.
The locally caught Espada, Scabbard Fish, can be enjoyed simply grilled with lemon, or the more traditional battered version served with deep fried locally grown bananas! This is banana country! Do not forget to visit the local "Mercato" which is the center of town. Open mostly in the morning.
Madeira wines are labeled according to one of the four types of grape used: Sercial, pale in color and very dry; Verdelho, golden color with a medium dry taste; Bual, dark gold and medium sweet; and Malmsey, the original grape which produces a sweet wine with a rich chestnut brown color.
Soft drinks include fresh fruit juices, one of which, maracuja, is a particularly delicious passion fruit nectar.
On most busy points, especially where there are many sidewalk cafes, there are free WiFi spots. They are clearly marked and are courtesy of the local government. If you are looking for one just ask directions to "El Teatro".
January 1 - New Years Day; April 25 - Freedom day; May 1-Workers day; June 10 - Camões and Portugal Day; July 1 - Madeira Day; August 15 - Assumption of Our Lady; August 21 - Funchal day; October 5 - Establishment of the Republic; November 1- All Saints Day; December 1 - Restoration of Independence; December 25 - Christmas Day.
Religious holidays, which are movable feasts, are respected throughout the archipelago.
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