Things to do in
Funchal

From historical wine cellars, shopping, and unique museums, Madeira’s capital has something for everyone.

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Our most recommended things to do in Funchal

Funchal: Dolphin and Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise

1. Funchal: Dolphin and Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise

Discover the natural beauty of Madeira coastline and look for marine life on this catamaran cruise from Funchal. Snorkel through schools of silver fish with high-quality snorkeling gear. Look for dolphins while sipping on a drink purchased from the onboard bar. See dolphins, whales, and turtles playing in their natural habitat. Throughout the year Madeira has different aquatic mammals journeying through its blue waters. Whether you come in summer or winter, the chances are high you’ll see one of these amazing creatures. Stop for a swim during the summer season or catch a glimpse of the world beneath the waves with the provided snorkeling equipment. Relax on deck with a refreshing drink from the onboard bar.

Funchal: Dolphin and Whale Watching by Luxury Catamaran

2. Funchal: Dolphin and Whale Watching by Luxury Catamaran

Make your way to Funchal Marina at least 20 minutes before your scheduled departure time to board a luxury catamaran. Once the group has gathered and all questions have been addressed, take a short walk to your boat for a safety briefing from the crew before boarding. Choose from the luxurious interior with comfortable seating and sun and wind protection, or the outdoor sun beds and trampoline nets. Then, sit back and relax as you sail out to sea and look back at the marina. Although sightings of the marine life cannot be guaranteed, dolphins and whales are often seen in the waters around Funchal. Keep a look out as you cruise across the water while the crew is on hand to answer any questions about the variety of species you may encounter. Then, head to the towering cliffs of Cabo Girão, looming 1,902 feet (580 meters) above the sea. Drop anchor at Cabo Girão and take a dip in the waters to explore the sea life below the surface with your complimentary goggles and snorkel mask. Then, cruise at a leisurely pace back to Funchal Marina, sailing along the coastline for fantastic views of Madeira’s landscapes. Arrive back at Funchal Marina for the speedy disembarking process so that you can continue with your day unimpeded.

Madeira Island: Swimming with Dolphins

3. Madeira Island: Swimming with Dolphins

In the crystal clear waters of Madeira Island, swim with dolphins in their natural habitat. With assistance from an expert team of guides and divers, learn about the specific approach techniques needed to interact with these amazingly intelligent creatures. You may have the opportunity to swim with 2 species of dolphins: Common Dolphins or Spotted Dolphins. As you enter the water, you remain safely connected to the boat at all times. Glide along the waters and swim with the dolphins in front, below and next to you as you admire these beautiful mammals in their natural habitat and make unforgettable memories. 

Madeira: Skywalk, Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools, and Fanal Tour

4. Madeira: Skywalk, Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools, and Fanal Tour

Depart from Funchal and head towards San Vicente along the north coast. Visit one of the most famous viewpoints, where you can look out to Porto Santo Island in clear weather. You will also be able to see the waterfall resembling a bride's veil, named Veu da Noiva. Next, stop at the natural volcanic pools in Seicxal, where you can swim in crystal waters. Also visit Porto Moniz's lava pools and Paul da Serra, the biggest plateau on the island at nearly 1500 meters high. This beautiful place provides stunning views and is an ideal spot for lunch. Visit Fanal, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal filled with centenary trees. As the last stop, go to Cabo Girão, the highest sea cliff in Europe and the second highest in the world. Try out the suspended glass floor viewpoint. Finally, return to your accommodation. 

Funchal Bay: Dolphin & Whale Watch Luxury Catamaran Cruise

5. Funchal Bay: Dolphin & Whale Watch Luxury Catamaran Cruise

Arrive at Marina Nova Funchal 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time and board a luxury catamaran. Receive some safety information from the experienced crew. Choose to sit in the luxurious interior with comfortable seating and protection from the sun, and lounge chairs or outdoor hammocks. Afterward, sit back and relax as you sail towards the open sea. Although sightings of marine species can not be guaranteed, dolphins and whales are often found in the waters around Funchal. Keep an eye on the movements in the water whilst the crew answers any questions about the variety of species. Continue up to the high cliffs of Cabo Girão, which rise 580 meters above sea level. Anchor the boat at Cabo Girão and immerse yourself in the refreshing waters to explore underwater marine life with a snorkel. Then, stroll at a leisurely pace around the Marina of Funchal, and marvel at the fantastic views of Madeira's landscapes. Return to Funchal Marina Nova for a quick landing process and continue to enjoy your day after the tour.

Madeira Walks - Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains

6. Madeira Walks - Rabaçal and the 25 Fountains

Rabaçal is a nature reserve on the island of Madeira that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. It is an area of intense natural beauty, brimming with waterfalls and unique flora and plant life, all of which you can experience on this wonderful guided walk. The 25 Fountains Walk starts by heading down the biggest valley of Madeira towards the Rabaçal reserve. Along the way you will walk along two of the oldest Madeira levadas each boasting a remarkable evergreen landscape with beautiful waterfalls scattered throughout. The 25 fountains refer to the 25 natural springs you will discover on the walk. Each spring falls into a small crystal clear lake surrounded by dense vegetation. Once you arrive here you may never want to leave! In this paradise-like oasis you'll be immersed in beautiful surronds, listening to the murmuring sounds of the water and the quiet chanting of the birds. For nature lovers this walk is an invitation into a unique and awe-inspiring slice of heaven. Rabaçal is a paradise of waterfalls, lakes and enchanting fountains and there is no better way to experience it than on a guided walk.

Botanical Garden Cable Car Ticket

7. Botanical Garden Cable Car Ticket

Climb aboard the Botanical Garden cable car and ride to the mountains surrounding the city of Funchal. Botanical garden cable car is situated between 10-12 minutes (by car) from Funchal city center. Start out near the Botanical Garden, located about 3 kilometers from the center of Funchal. The Botanical Garden was created in 1960 and quickly became one of the major attractions on the island of Madeira. The cable car will take you over the Valley of João Gomes Ribeira, passing forest-covered mountains. Take some spectacular photos of the Bay of Funchal, the surrounding mountains, and the sea. The ride takes approximately 15 minutes. Your trip ends at the village of Monte, at an elevation of 1,025 meters above sea level. Monte is a small village that was initially a health resort for the upper classes in the early 20th century. Today it is one of Funchal’s main attractions and the site for trying a toboggan ride down the hill. Depending on the option selected you can end your journey in Monte or take the cable car back to the Botanical Garden. The cable car was designed and operates in accordance with the most strict European and international security standards, ensuring that you can focus on enjoying the ride.

Hike Madeira: Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

8. Hike Madeira: Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo

The sun rises over your hotel as you set out on your walking tour adventure. Leaving from the comforts of your room in Funchal on the Madeira Islands, we'll drive you up to the third highest peak in Madeira - the magnificent Pico Arieiro. You'll sip coffee or a drink on your way up to the base of the peak, looking out at all the stunning beauty this place has to offer. As we head from sea level up to the base at 5,964ft (1818m), you'll pass beautiful flora and fauna. Finally, we'll begin our mighty walk up the mighty Pico Arieiro up to the highest point on the island, the Pico Ruivo peak at 6107 ft (1862m). Finally, we'll walk down to Teixeira where you'll be comfortably transferred back to your hotel. And of course, no day of hiking is complete without a drink at a traditional bar, so we'll make sure to stop at one with a spectacular view to enjoy the closing of your day!

All Inclusive Whale and Dolphin Watching Luxury Tour

9. All Inclusive Whale and Dolphin Watching Luxury Tour

Your 3-hour luxury catamaran tour begins at the docks of the new marina of Funchal. Board the catamaran and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine before setting off. Sail into the ocean to find dolphins, whales, and turtles. Spot these creatures in their natural habitat. After sailing around spotting dolphins, whales and turtles enjoy a 30 minute stop next to Cabo Girão, the 1920 foot (586m) seaside cliff. Here you have a change o go swimming in the crystal clear waters. After a quick swim, you will get back on the boat where you can relax and enjoy the views of the coast of Funchal as you head back to the marina.

Madeira Pirate Ship: 3-Hour Boat Trip

10. Madeira Pirate Ship: 3-Hour Boat Trip

A magnificent replica of Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was built on the island of Madeira, between July 1997 and July 1998, in the fishing village of Camara de Lobos. Since it was built thousands of people have sailed aboard the ship, experiencing more than just a normal boat ride, as you’ll soon find out on this 3-hour tour. Santa Maria de Colombo is also the most photographed boat in Madeira. A number of local and international TV documentaries have been made on board this famous ship, including The Discovery Channel’s The Quest for Columbus. The idea of this boat trip is for you to experience history, while at the same time enjoying the breathtaking views of Madeira´s south coast. In addition to the views, you’re very likely to see dolphins and whales as well. The ship will anchor in front of the majestic cliff of Cabo Girao, the highest sea cliff in Europe. If you like you can enjoy a swim in the warm and crystal-clear water. A sail on the Santa Maria is your chance to re-live Christopher Columbus´s voyage of discovery and imagine how he and his crew felt as they headed into the unknown.

Frequently asked questions about Funchal

What top attractions are a must-see in Funchal?

Planning Your Visit

  • How to be safe in Funchal

    Funchal is known to be a relatively safe city. However, in some areas near the cable car lines, Old Town, and especially in crowded evening spots it's important to take precautions against pickpockets.

  • Where to Eat in Funchal?

    Don't miss the local fare in Funchal. Sample Portuguese and Madeiran cuisine while you visit Funchal. Top hits include espada com banana, a typical dish served at most restaurants, stars scabbard fish with banana, accessorized often by potatoes and salad. A less adventurous local dish we recommend is bacalhaus com natas, which is cod in cream sauce.

  • How to Get Around Funchal

    You'll be pleased to learn that the city center of Funchal is quite walkable. If you want to venture further, we advise hopping on a local bus. Fares are quite reasonable and a round trip ticket is under five euros.

Good to know

  • Language
    Portuguese
  • Currency
    Euro (€)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+01:00)
  • Country Code
    +351
  • Best time to visit
    Funchal is a good choice for a vacation any time of the year as it never gets too cool. However, the summer months are the warmest and most humid. March through December is considered to be most pleasant.

Other Sightseeing Options in Funchal

Want to discover all there is to do in Funchal? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Funchal

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 12,545 reviews

Wonderful attentive staff. We were able to see dolphins and a sea turtle. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn’t get the spectacular sunset but that couldn’t be helped. Drinks were flowing and everyone had lots of fun on the boat.

Great ride and very pleasant accompanying from Andrea our driver and guide. She gave away all the tips and tricks in Funchal on sooo many different topics. Worth all the euro’s spent! Carreiros do Monte, must do! Thanks Andrea!

We really appreciated a guide. Liucy told us a lot of interesting things and revealed delicious receptes how to cook polvo a lagareigra and famous bacallau. Thank you very much, Liucy!

A great way to travel around Funchal! Luis, our guide was very nice and knowledgeable about Madeira. He was also very flexible and accommodating to our plans. Lots of fun!

It was a great trip! We saw almost the most important parts of Funchal and had a great trip to Monte. Very polite driver, we had a great tour. Highly recommended!