Things to see in Madeira

There are lots of things to see in Madeira. Everywhere you go there is something of interest whether it is cultural, architectural or natural. Here is but a few things one should see in Madeira:

  • Fortaleza do Pico

  • Fotress
  • The main attraction of the Pico Fort, is its stunning views over Funchal. At about 110 meters above sea level, on the western part of Funchal, this extremely well preserved fortress, which is over 350 years old, is a must for all tourists that enjoy great views, museums and historic buildings.
  • Forte de São Tiago

  • Fotress
  • The beautiful Forte de Sao Tiago that was used to protect the city of Funchal from pirate invasions can be found just adjacent to the old town. The fort has nice small watchtowers and sentinel boxes from the 17th century. The fort is open for the public and has some amazing views from its towers and courtyards.
  • Palácio de São Lourenço

  • Fotress
  • Funchal’s first fortress was only built in the years 1529 to 1540 on a plea by the population of Funchal after a ship, moored in the harbor of Funchal, had been pillaged. Palácio de São Lourenço is one of the best-preserved examples of Portuguese fortification from the 16th and 17th century and was declared as a National Monument in August 1943.
  • Farmers Market

  • Market
  • This is absolutely a must see! Here you will find a huge variety of vegetables, exotic fruits and fish in a very picturesque setting near the Old Town. Locals dressed in their traditional colourful costumes, which add to the vibrancy of this magical place, selling their variety of flowers and fruit next to their spectacular stalls. At the fish section have a look at the black scabbard fish with its huge eyes, razor sharp teeth and long eel like body. Its white flesh is surprisingly tasty and is served all over Madeira grilled or fried with banana – a dish known as ESPADA.
  • Old Town

  • Old Town
  • Funchal’s most charming district, The Old Town, as it is called, was the first nucleus to be built after the beginning of colonization during the 15th century. Strolling through the narrow streets one can enjoy some of the old culture that’s left in this particular part of town. A lot of the old buildings still exist, transformed into typical restaurants and bars. There are restaurants located on the first floor of old buildings that have lovely small roof patios with beautiful views on the zona velha and the sea. This is where you will enjoy dinners, lunches or snacks and drinks.
  • Rua Fernão Ornelas

  • Fernao Ornelas
  • This must be one of the liveliest roads in Funchal, filled with various kinds of shops to suite everyone’s needs. In 2005 the pedestrian pavements where expanded to accommodate all the passing traffic and all the buildings where freshly painted to give this road a unique feel about it. Most of the shops where also revamped to keep up with the times and this is where you will go if you’re looking do some shopping. Down at the bottom end is where you will find one of the biggest supermarkets of Funchal. At the very end of the road you will find the famous workers market.
  • Madeira Wine Company

  • Blandys
  • Between the Municipal Park and the official Information Center, one will find the oldest Madeira Wine cellars which is also known as the Blandy Wine Museum. On a 1 hour tour around the cellars, one can admire letters, documents, books, objects and machinery of the old times. There is also a video on the Madeira Wine History and, obviously an opportunity to taste and buy wines. In the Taste and buy room, you can freely sample different Madeira’s of 5, 10 and 15 years old before deciding which one to buy. The room here is beautifully decorated with wall paintings related to the grape harvest and bottles of wine that date back to the nineteenth century.
  • Funchal Sé Cathedral

  • Cathedral
  • This late fifteenth-century cathedral is located right in the center of Funchal and is one of the few remaining structures that is virtually intact since the start of colonization of Madeira. This Gothic styled, Portuguese catholic cathedral kas three naves, that are intercepted by an ample transept to form a cross. The interior decoration contains Mudéjar and late Flemish Gothic elements together with other decorative details typical of the Manueline period. The roof is made of cedar wood and the walls are made of stone brought all the way from Cabo Girão. It also contains a silver cross which was donated by the then king of Portugal, Manuel I.
  • Funchal Marina

  • Marina
  • The beautiful marina in Funchal is a bustling place with a numerous variety of boats, waiting to take tourists on trips along the coast or on fishing trips. In the adjoining harbour, many cruise ships, of various forms and sizes dock there, sometimes up to five at a time. A favorite pastime seems to watch them enter and leave the harbor, either from the pier or from one of the numerous restaurants that make up the marina. A number of kiosks can be found that sell boat trips along the south side of the island as well as fishing trips and full day trips to the nearby Dersertas Islands.
  • Municipal Square

  • Municipal Square
  • Even if you’re not into architectural sightseeing you still have to visit this awe inspiring square that is surrounded by history and which set off the architectural quality of the city center. The City hall, was the old palace of the Count of Carvalhal, built in 1758 and was bought by the local government in August of 1883. It is a fine example of late 18th century architecture. It has an inner courtyard covered in tiles with a fountain in the middle. The architecture reveals elements of the baroque and mannerist styles. Nearby is an interesting group of buildings originally used by the military, which is where the Sacred Art Museum, is now situated. Here you will also find, Igreja de Sao João Evangelista, more commonly known as Colegio Church. This beautiful building of the Jesuits has 17th century gilt woodcarving that is considered one of the most valuable pieces of Portuguese carving from this period.
  • Columbus Square

  • Columbus Square
  • This unique square in Funchal is delightful as it is historic. Set among some of the oldest colonial buildings in Funchal this square with its beautiful cobbled streets that are only open to pedestrians, is also the home to some interesting shops, restaurants, bars and tea houses. Recently restored you will also find here the Sugar Museum. Housed in what was originally the 15th century house of a rich sugar merchant (João Esmeraldo, friend to Christopher Columbus) on Madeira, the Sugar Museum is essential viewing exploring the history of sugar plantations and the sugar trade on Madeira. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the sugar trade here with maps, charts and artifacts, recently excavated, related to the Sugar Trade all on display.
  • Lido Promenade

  • Lido Promenade
  • There is an absolutely lovely walk on the western side of Funchal, that starts from the public swimming area of Lido, all the way to Praia Formosa (Pebbled Beach). It is about 3km long and you have to follow the spectacular sea facing paths that are next to the sea. There are plenty of snack bars and restaurants all along the way, where one can sit and enjoy this amazing scenery. This leisure zone is in front of the hotel area of Lido. Along the way you will find three public swimming areas – the Lido swimming pool complex, Clube Naval which is for club members and Ponta Gorda swimming pool complex. All offer extensive leisure facilities with seawater and separate children’s pools, sea access, sports activities, restaurants, snack bars, etc. This is by far the best area to go for a swim in Funchal.
  • Monte Tropical Garden

  • Monte Tropical Garden
  • Botanical Garden

  • Botanical Garden
  • Palheiro Garden

  • Palheiro Garden
  • Orchid Garden

  • Orchid Garden
  • Municipal Garden

  • municipal garden
  • Santa Catarina Park

  • Santa Catarina Park

Other parts of Madeira

  • Monte

  • Monte
  • Ponta Pargo Lighthouse

  • Lighthouse
  • Volcanic Rock Pools

  • Volcanic Pools
  • Santana Theme Park

  • Theme Park
  • São Vicente Caves

  • Sao Vicente Caves
  • Ponta de São Lourenço

  • Ponta Louren
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