Funchal Cruises, Madeira
- Get to know Funchal. This spellbinding city is a portion of Portugal sprinkled with a dash of Garden of Eden and Edwardian Britain. The whole place seems to be smothered in vivid bougainvillea, jasmine and other exotic blooms. Don’t miss the covered market, a dizzying montage of exotic fruit stalls and flower-sellers wearing traditional costume. And take a look at the city’s impressive Sé cathedral with its ornate ceiling and artworks.
- If you’re really into blooms, meander around Funchal’s tranquil Botanical Gardens, admiring their dazzling displays of orchids, cacti and Madeira’s iconic dragon trees.
- Take a cable car up to the mountain village of Monte and hurtle back down the cobbles towards Funchal in a wicker toboggan.
- Gaze in awe at the colossal Cabo Girao, one of the world’s largest coastal cliffs. Then take in the simple charms of the quaint fishing village, Camara de Lobos, one of Winston Churchill’s favourite retreats.
- Sign up for a jeep tour to explore parts of the island that are usually off limits.
SHORE EXCURSIONS View all excursions
Start as you mean to go on - so the old saying goes. And that’s certainly the case on this trip. Your day begins with a cable car ride from Funchal to nearby Monte. Make sure you’ve got your camera ready because once you reach the top, on a clear day, the panoramic views are superb. When you get to Monte, head for the famous Church of Our Lady of Monte, known for its striking façade of dark basalt stone and whitewash. Then it’s decision time - do you slip and slide down the narrow streets in a toboggan, or rejoin the bus for a more sedate journey down the hill? Sitting in a wicker basket mounted on wooden runners, two drivers guide the sled down through narrow streets, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. Ernest Hemingway once described the experience as ‘exhilarating’. After your ride - whichever one you choose - relax in Funchal’s tranquil Botanical Gardens. Wander through the grounds, inhaling the sweet scent of exotic blooms. Your last stop is at a souvenir shop where you can admire delicate lace as you sip fine Madeiran wine.
One thing’s for sure, Madeira’s not short on natural beauty and this tour serves up some of the island’s best sights. Visit the quaint fishing village of Camara de Lobos where Sir Winston Churchill used to spend his time capturing the views on canvas. Then it’s on to Cabo Girao, a towering cliff that drops down into the sea – an awe-inspiring sight worthy of a place in your holiday scrapbook. Afterwards, you’re off to one of the most enchanting spots on the island - Eira do Serrado. From this viewpoint, look out over the remote mountain village of Curral das Freiras, framed by sweeping valleys and jagged peaks. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air and browse for souvenirs in the nearby local craft shop. Your final stop is at Pico dos Barcelos to take in those last dreamy views before making your way back to Funchal.
Your morning starts at Funchal’s Farmer’s Market, where stalls groan under the weight of fruits, vegetables and fragrant blooms. Then take a ride through the hills of Funchal and clap eyes on the greenery that gives Madeira its name ‘The Floating Garden’. Once you get to the Botanical Gardens you’ll get some time to yourself to walk the terraces that climb from 200 to 300 metres. Explore the paths that wind between dragon and coral trees, and see all those beautiful flowers that have been brought here from around the world. Set some time aside for the views, too – the city of Funchal stretches out far below you. When you’re done there, take an exhilarating cable car ride to the village of Monte. Perched high up on a hill, its landmark is a little church whose twin towers spear the skyline. After you’ve had a chance to explore, it’s time to head back to Funchal by coach, polishing off your trip with a visit to one of Madeira’s finest wine cellars.