Funchal Holidays (2021) - Balkan Escape

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Funchal Holidays

Nestled on Madeira's south coast, Funchal, the island's capital, is the perfect draw that blends fantastic weather, history and wine!

The city in which almost half of Madeirans call home, Funchal dates back to the 15th century where many historical buildings still stand including the Corpo Santo Chapel. Its old town is characterised by narrow cobblestone streets and the facades of old houses. For awe-inspiring vistas across to Funchal, Pico do Arieiro, one of the island's highest peaks, will tick all the right boxes for those who love to hike. Holiday makers are also drawn to Funchal for its museums, tropical and botanical gardens and cuisine.

 

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plane

Getting to Funchal - Fly from London and all main regional airports from the UK to Madeira Airport (FNC). Flight time is typically 3hrs 50 mins to 4hrs 10 mins. To get to Funchal, transfer by car is approximately 20 minutes. 

 

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When to go - One of Funchal's biggest draws is its weather with day time highs rarely getting below 20 degrees. This makes Madeira a great year round destination especially those looking to experience the island's beautiful outdoors. 

 

getting around

Getting around - As the island's capital, Funchal has great connections including buses around the island, cable car up to Monte and ferries to neighbouring Porto Santo

 

getting around

Weather - Funchal offers a warm subtropical climate throughout the year. Summers are typically hot and dry with temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees. Spring and autumn are relatively dry with temperatures rarely getting betlow 20 degrees whilst winter is wetter but still warm with day time highs of 20 degrees.

 

funchal santa maria street

Old Town: The historical old town is where the first settlers put down their roots. At its heart lies Corpo Santo Chapel, one of few remaining buildings dating back to the 15th century. The old is characterised by narrow cobblestone streets and the facades of old houses, many of which have been turned into excellent restaurants. The is also the heart of the city's nightlife with many bars located here. Rua de Santa Maria is the old town's most recognised street, with many of its doors painted by local and foreign artists. It is one of the highlights of the city's art and culture.

 

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

Monte and the Cable Car: Monte is one of the Madeira's most popular and symbolic places. Start your journey with a 15 minute cable car ride, rising 560m over green slopes with stunning vistas over the city. On arrival you'll find the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, home to over 100,000 plants from across the world. It's located at the Quinta Monte Palace, a beautful mansion with fairytale like grounds.

 

Blandy Wine Madeira

Wine: Another emblematic symbol of Madeira is its wine. The sweet fortified wine's unique taste comes from repeatedly heating the wine and is one of a few wines that hasn't changed in 300 years. There are several wine museums and cellars on the island, however Blandy's Wine Lodge is the one to visit, where you can not only learn about its great history but also sample the various styles of wine.

 

Funchal Madeira Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens: Located high on the hill above Funchal lies the fantastic Madeira Botanical Gardens. Dating back to the 1880's, this once private estate is home to various different garden styles, including Japanese and French. It offers a wide variety of plants from across the world and with the added bonus of magnificent sea views. It can be easily reached by cable car after taking the above mentioned cable car to Monte.

madeira whale dolphin watching

Dolphin and Whale Watching: Madeira is a great place to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. There are a number of different types of whales that can be seen throughout the year and there's always at least 2 species in the area. Whales are more commonly seen in May to June and September to November but that doesn't mean you won't see certain species outside these months. There's also 20 different types of dolphins and are a lot more common and in much greater numbers.

Madeira levadas

Levada Walk: Another of Madeira's iconic features is the 2,500km of levadas. Levada is loosely interpreted as "carriageway" which were built in the 16th century to carry water from the rainy northern coast of the island to the sunny south. They are essentially mini canals on a slight slope to enable water to trickle down its destination. Well maintained paths run alongside the levadas allowing for a calming yet truly scenic walks including to many areas that are not accessible by road.

Pico do Airiero madeira

Pico do Airiero: The third highest peak on the island at 1,818m and the most popular sunrise spot, its views are unsuprisingly awe-inspiiring especially when looking out above a sea of clouds. For more experienced hikers, one of the most spectacular trails from Pico do Arieiro is the 7km (4 hour) walk to the second highest peak at 1,862m Pico Ruivo, making your way through cliffs, tunnels and steep slopes.

Madeira Santana

Explore more of the Island: Madeira may only be a small island but there's so much to see. A great way to see more of Madeira is to take a tour which includes the highlights of a certain part of the island. Western Madeira includes beautiful fishing villages, high sea cliffs (580m!), lush green valleys and moutains. Whilst the east allows you to experience culture, history and traditions.

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