The Madeiran capital
Funchal was apparently named after the abundance of fennel on the island. Although its great sea trading days may be over, today there’s a new form of trade in the form of visitors in search of off-season sun, natural beauty, fortified wine and, interestingly, migrating birds.
|Time zone:||GMT (GMT +1 hour in summer)|
|Flight Time:||4 hours 50|
|Holiday type:||Beach, Summer sun, City break|
|Weather:||Average maximum temperature: 18.5░C
Rainfall: 639.9mm a year
The 15th century Cathedral Se is the local hub. Its local wood ceiling is worth the trip alone. Spend a little time, however, and you’ll unearth centuries of local history on its walls, floors and side altars.
Must eat at:
Watch the world go by over a decent coffee and pastry in the company of locals and visitors at Golden Gate Grand Cafe, a local institution for nearly 200 years.
Must be there for:
Fantasy plays a key role in the annual Madeira Carnival, next to be held in Funchal between 21-24 February 2009, and almost anything goes. The streets are filled to brimming on Carnival Sunday in particular, with music, dancing and brightly coloured floats the order of the day.
Pick up a decent bottle of fortified wine while you’re here, but don’t buy the first bottle you see. Compare, contrast and taste – then decide.
Although the city centre is compact and can be explored on two feet, anything further afield will require one of the local buses. The good news is they’re orange, cheap and their pre-loaded Giro cards come with two journeys included in the price.
British citizens do not need a visa to visit Madeira.