Nestled on the shores of the Atlantic, with dramatic mountain scenery providing a stunning backdrop, Funchal is one of Europe's most picturesque cities. The capital of the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira, Funchal is renowned for its relaxed, laid-back atmosphere and abundance of world-class eating establishments. Indeed, the city's burgeoning social scene has come to the fore in recent years, with upscale restaurants, chic bars and vibrant clubs bringing a cosmopolitan touch to the streets once the sun goes down.
During the day, Funchal offers relaxation and activity in equal measure, all under the cover of a cloudless blue sky. Stretching out on one of the four black sand beaches located in the area is a popular pastime here. For those who like to be a little more active, there are plenty of water sports such as surfing and diving on offer, in addition to opportunities to swim with dolphins or spend the day at sea in the company of the local whales.
The island of Madeira itself is justly famous for its lush, verdant landscape and the stunning array of flowers which bring glorious colour to the overall scenic vista. Funchal plays its part in Madeira's scenic splendour, its many magnificent gardens providing the perfect surroundings in which to enjoy a relaxing stroll in the afternoon sun, before enjoying a drink outside one of the cafes which line the cobbled streets of the old town.
When to fly to Funchal
The months of April through to September are the best times to visit this wonderful city. The weather is at its finest during this period and the abundant local flowers are in full bloom. Every April, the city plays host to the famous Madeira Flower Festival, where the streets burst into life with colourful carnival floats and dancers.
November, January and February are the cheapest months to visit the city. This is the rainy season here, so be prepared for a number of downpours, sometimes torrential.
Getting around Funchal
The compact nature of Funchal makes it easy to get around the city centre on foot. Most of the buses which operate in the city leave from the waterfront area. Tickets can be purchased on board the bus or, alternatively, travel cards can be obtained from the main transport office. There are a large number of taxis operating within the city, charging quite favourable fares in comparison to some other European cities.