Holidays to Funchal

Explore Funchal's bustling streets, exciting activities, and delicious food & wine in this year-round summer destination

Funchal is a lively, sprawling city – famous for its harbour, mountain backdrop and flower displays. The city’s split into about 10 parishes, all slightly unique, so there’s plenty of nooks and crannies to explore on holiday.

Most hotels are in the São Martinho area, and you should definitely pop to the old town to get a proper feel for the history and culture. The narrow alleyways are always fun for a wander, with lots of lovely cafés and restaurants to stop in when you feel peckish. Take some time to explore the busy harbour, too. We love sitting by the water to watch the world go by.

Explore Funchal's culture: street art on the doorstep

Take a stroll down the street of Rua de Santa Maria to see a colourful collection of nearly 200 doors that have been painted by local artists. It was an effort to breathe some life into an area that was previously a little run down – we’re happy to confirm it’s a thriving spot to explore and a must-see on your holiday.

Funchal's thriving food scene

Get your hands on some fresh tropical fruit, like bananas and passion fruit, at Mercado dos Lavradores, the local farmer’s market. The ones at home won’t taste the same after you’ve tried these. The market is a magnet for food-lovers as the sights, smells and colours are irresistible – maybe pick up something to bring back?

If wine is what gets you excited, there are a few tasting venues for the full experience, but most local bars will have a selection of Madeiran wines to try. The sweet, rich taste makes it very distinctive – you can’t leave without giving it a go.

You won’t be short of restaurants either. Funchal has a great foodie scene including a surprising amount of fine dining options and Michelin recommendations. Try a bolo do caco – a bread dish you’ll find most places, usually smothered in garlic butter and optionally topped with seafood like octopus or made into a sandwich.

The full Monte

To get a different view of the city, jump on the cable car to Monte and head for the Botanical Gardens, they're particularly beautiful in the summer. You’ll get great views across the bay before heading into the gardens for an explosion of colour and design.

It’s easy to get around Funchal, you can walk but it’s hilly in places so if you’re not up to the challenge there’s a reliable bus service that’s reasonably priced.

Activities for the itchy feet

You’re spoiled for choice with activities - bike tours, guided walks and diving to name a few. It’s also a good base to explore other parts of the island.

The Levada walking trails don’t come into the city but there are some lovely coastal paths or you can just take the time to wander the city. To see the Levada trails we always recommend booking with a guide.

Why book a summer holiday in Funchal with Inghams?

With over 85 years of outdoor travel experience, our holiday packages to Funchal include flights, transfers, and accommodation, so you can relax and leave the small details to us. Our experts can help you choose the best holiday for you, and our team in resort can give you the inside scoop on how to spend your time away with us.

At Inghams, we do walking holidays differently. With no fixed itinerary, you have more time in your destination and the freedom to walk as much or as little as you like, discovering some of Madeira's best walking routes and activities at your own pace.

Plus, we've included two optional guided walks every week in Madeira. Join a professional walking guide and really get to know the area (see more details in the ‘walking’ tab below).

Added value

Guided Walks included (subject to availability)

All holidays include flights from the UK and transfers

24/7 support & tailored advice from our local resort team

Walking in and around Madeira

On an Inghams walking holiday, you have the freedom to explore the area at your own pace. Each day, a new adventure, with as much or as little walking as you like.

Why we love walking in Madeira

We love Funchal as a base for walking, the city has so much to offer and those sea views are hard to beat. Whether you’re looking to explore the island on foot and journey a little outside the city to hit the levadas or relax and breath in that sea air then Funchal caters to all.

The trails and Levadas are what make Madeira a truly unique destination for walking – the mountains make for some fantastic scenery along the way and the mild year-round climate doesn’t hurt either. From Funchal you’re only a short journey from some of the nearby levadas but we always recommend walking with a professional guide as starting points can be hard to reach and routes can be difficult to navigate so it’s always good to have an expert on hand. You can also join a guided walk. You get two included with your holiday but if you’re looking to do more, no problem, head to our excursions to see what additional walks you can join (extra charge).

Guided Walks

Don't forget, you have the option to join two included guided walks per holiday, with a local, professional guide. Get to know our favourite walking trails with insider knowledge. Pre-booking is essential - check out the Guided Walks section below for more information.

Getting around Funchal

Public Transport

Getting around the local area of Funchal is easy to do by bus, the main centre has a good network of routes available that are reliable and reasonably priced. 

If you’re looking to explore more of Madeira then we recommend booking onto some of our excursions to see more of the island as the bus service outside of the local Funchal area is less reliable and hard to navigate.

Cable Cars

With its mountainous terrain its no surprise that Madeira has a number of cable cars across the island. In Funchal you'll find one to connect you to the parish of Monte, the views are superb and the botanical gardens are worth a visit (bookable and payable locally).

Guided walks from Funchal

Guided Walks - included in your holiday

We’ve included two walks per holiday in Madeira. Join a group and be led by a professional walking guide on some of their favourite trails. It’s a great way to get to know the area.

There will be a full-day walk on Tuesdays and a half-day walk on Thursdays. You can add them onto your holiday at the time of booking, through My Booking or by calling us on 01483 319 652.

Routes may vary from week to week but as a guide you can see some of our planned routes below:

Paradise Valley with an afternoon tea

On this walk you will have the chance to walk along a Levada with marvellous views to the mountains and sea. Then heading to the rock valley where you will be greeted by wild flowers and magnificent landscapes. The final stop will be at a local tea house where you can not only enjoy the views and visit the herb garden but will be served a fantastic afternoon tea, which will include sweet potato bread, homemade jams, cakes, and fruit of the season.

Grade: Easy

Distance: 3km
Duration: approx. 4 hours (walking time approx. 1.5 hours)
Ascent/descent: Walking path is on a low level
Terrain: Mostly level but can be uneven in some places
Useful information: You will be collected from your hotel and be taken to the starting point of the walk (return to hotel also included). There is a point to re-fill your water bottle on route. Please also note that there is nowhere on this route to access toilets until the end of the walk.

Caldeirão Verde

Join us for this full day walk where you'll find a majestic waterfall, wonderful views over the village São Jorge, a variety of plant species, and dramatic mountains. Half way through the walk you will find yourself at a Levada located in the Laurissilva Forest which has been named a world heritage site by UNESCO since 1999. Make sure to pack your torch! Along the way you will find some tunnels to walk through, finishing the walk at Caldeirão Verde where you will see the huge waterfall cascading on the crystalline lagoon – dreamy!

Grade: Moderate

Distance: 13km
Duration: approx. 8 hours (walking time approx. 4 hours, 30 minutes)
Ascent/descent: 100m ascent and descent
Terrain: Mostly level, uneven in a few places along the way
Useful information: You will be collected from your hotel and be taken to the starting point of the walk (return to hotel also included). Please note you will be required to take a packed lunch. There is a café on route ‘Cafetaria des Queimadas’ which may be available. There is a public comfort stop, which costs €0.50pp. On top of the recommend items of clothing, we also recommend for this walk a flashlight, as you will go through some tunnels. Please be aware that whilst the tunnels are very impressive and dramatically built into the rocks they are very dark, narrow and low in places so you may be required to crouch down. There are around five tunnels that vary in length on this route, some can take a few minutes to pass through and there are no alternative ways around them.

For every walk you will need: suitable walking shoes with good grip, appropriate clothing, sun cream, sun glasses, rain jacket, a warmer layer, rucksack, at least a litre of water and a snack. You may find walking poles useful and a torch is recommended for the Caldeirão Verde walk.

Early booking is strongly recommended as spaces are limited. All walks are subject to availability of local guides, weather conditions and maximum numbers. Planned routes are subject to change. Any times, distances and ascents/descents stated are approximate. Full details of the walks with the meeting points and routes will be provided to you on arrival. In some instances there may be a small charge for local transport that is payable locally. In resorts where the walks run over more than two days, the day of the walk will be allocated to you by your Rep in your welcome meeting. Where we cannot confirm your preferred option in resort, we will endeavour to offer an alternative subject to the above conditions.

Please ensure you are comfortable with the grade of walk, planned distance covered and terrain before booking. The decision of the guide on the suitability of the walk for you is final and no compensation will be paid where the guide believes, in their professional opinion, that it is not suitable. Please ensure you are well-equipped for the walk have suitable clothing and footwear. Walks are not recommended for guests under 12 years. Any guests under 18 years will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Useful information & guidelines

Recommended Equipment

The weather can be unpredictable in Madeira and whilst it can be sunny by the coast the weather in the mountains may be quite different and can change quickly. We recommend taking rain jackets and suitable walking clothing that caters to changing climates. Always ensure you have the correct shoes for hiking that offer good grip and support and don’t forget to bring a rucksack with plenty of water, lunch and supplies.
If you're challenging yourself with a steeper walk then we'd recommend getting some adjustable walking poles that you can take with you.

Hiking Guidelines

Maderia has lots to explore and discover. To help it stay that way and remain an enjoyable and safe place for everyone, we recommend following our little list of do's and don'ts:

  • We always recommend hiking with a professional guide in Madeira
  • Plan your route well and don't overestimate yourself
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Tell someone where you're planning to walk and what time you're expecting to be back
  • We always recommend walking with a professional guide as starting points can be hard to reach and routes can be difficult to navigate so it’s always good to have an expert on hand
  • The sun sets very quickly in Madeira so always make sure you plan enough time to complete your walk before nightfall
  • Take all the recommended equipment
  • Make a note of emergency numbers
  • Don't leave the marked trails or venture into technical walking routes without a guide
  • Let nature stay wild by not picking alpine flowers (it's illegal in some places) or getting close to/making contact with wild animals
  • Always leave gates as you found them and don't climb over fences
  • Leave no trace

Check out our Responsible Walking insider guide if you want more tips for your summer walking holiday.

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51687599085 892E668d96 O

Close to the sea and within easy reach of the city centre, Suite Hotel Eden Mar is an excellent family option. Part of the Vila Porto Mare resort, the hotel is set in tropical gardens with access to excellent leisure facilities, and a variety of great on-site bars and restaurants.

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Quarto Vista Jardim (1)

A stylish hotel overlooking Quinta Magnolia Park, with sea views in one direction, and garden views in the other. The picturesque old town and Teleférico Funchal-Monte are within walking distance. The excellent public transport links nearby make it easy to explore the sights of Funchal.

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Hotel Exterior and Outdoor Pool

A hotel with a host of facilities to enjoy from the 13,000m² of tropical gardens to the fives pools on offer to enjoy, there is plenty to see and do, during your stay. Especially those with families with a host of activities and facilities on offer including mini-golf and a children's pool.

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Gardens with Sea Views (1)

Enjoy exceptional facilities and world-class dining at this beautiful five-star resort. With panoramic views, grounds that slope down to the sea's edge, and beautiful gardens to enjoy you might not want to leave, but you'll have easy access to the city centre and many other attractions if you do want to explore this beautiful Island.

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Lobby Area (4)

A light, elegantly designed, and contemporary hotel in the centre of the Lido district. A short walk from the natural sea pools of Balnear Lido, and within easy reach of the city centre too. Each of the hotel's 86 rooms has a balcony with views over Funchal or the bay.

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Panoramic Outdoor View (1)

The Melia Madeira Mare Resort & Spa offers sea views and fantastic facilities. Make use of the outdoor pool, spa facilities or enjoy the onsite bars and restaurants (spa and dining payable locally).

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Outside Pool (20)

Its hard to beat the views at the Golden Residence Hotel. It sits right on the cliff edge to the west of Funchal and outside of the main city centre. Its peaceful location along with the outdoor pool and terrace area is the perfect spot for enjoying those endless ocean views.

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Pestana Miramar Casa Mae (1)

The Pestana Miramar is a traditional hotel with beautiful antique furnishings and plenty of character. The facilities and location with distant ocean views and a 30 minute walk into Funchal’s centre are perfect for anyone looking to make the most of their time in Funchal.

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PSR 6192 PESTANA1 (1)

With ocean views that are hard to beat, friendly staff and a great mix of restaurants to choose from it makes the ultimate relaxation escape.

Things to do in Funcal

Explore Funchal's botanical gardens

Funchal is the perfect holiday destination for garden and flower enthusiasts. Flowers thrive in Madeira’s tropical climate so you’ll see a whole host of floral displays. Madeira Botanical Gardens have five hectors to explore with tropical plants and array of colourful flowers, while Monte Palace Tropical Gardens are a must-see in the summer with over 100,000 species of plants and 70,000m² of gardens.

The Palheiro Gardens sit within a large estate on the outskirts of Funchal and are also worth a visit. There are a variety of plants to see as well as a great hill-top location, allowing for wonderful views towards the Funchal bay.

A number of our hotels offer fantastic gardens but the Quinta Splendida in Caniço is truly spectacular. You’ll find 30,000m² of Botanical Gardens with an abundance of plants and flowers to admire.

Try Funchal's local food and drink

If you’re partial to a sweet wine then Madeiran wine might be the tipple for you, famous for its rich, sweet taste it can be enjoyed in many local bars but also in a number of wine tasting venues across the island.

On the local drinks menu you’re also likely to come across a Poncha. This rum-based cocktail was said to be what the local fisherman used to drink to warm themselves at sea.

Black scabbardfish is considered a delicacy in Madeira as fishing it isn’t an easy task. You’ll normally find it served with fried banana, it’s unusual but delicious!

Espetada Madeirense is a must-have on your holiday. Its beef that’s normally marinated in a salt and garlic rub, placed on a bay leaf or laurel skewer and grilled. It’s delicious!

Admire Funchal’s historic port and marina

Funchal is often compared to an amphitheatre that sits around its marina and we have to admit, it does make for a good show. The port which was built in the 19th century was a popular stopping point for many steamers crossing the Atlantic and was so until the Second World War.

The marina is great for a bit of boat spotting or watching the world go by but if its history you’re after then head to the Forte de Sao Tiago. At nearly 400 years old you can see the toll the sea has taken on this historic fort which was thought to have been built as a defence against pirates to protect the city of Funchal. Sometimes it is open for visitors to wander around the inside (at a fee, payable locally).

Wander Funchal’s old town

Funchal’s historic core has some buildings said to date back to the 15th century. In the area you’ll find charming and historic architecture, small alleyways and a lively atmosphere. Walk down the street of Santa Maria to experience the colourful and vibrant painted doors, that brought life back to the area after devastating floods. Or head to the Mercado dos Lavradores to experience some locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

The old town also has lots of restaurants and small shops, many selling local crafts. Keep an out for the beautiful black and white tiled floors, resembling a mosaic. Some are patterned whilst some depict people or objects.

Funchal's museums

Madeira is home to many museums and historic monuments but here’s a few of our favourites...

  • Casa Museu Frederico de Freitas is not only a beautiful building but also offers a great collection of art and objects on display
  • Museu da Eletricidade of Funchal is, as the name suggests, all around the history of electricity on the island, it might sound a little niche but its actually a really interesting display or engineering whilst detailing the history of the island – its also great value for money
  • And then there's the CR7 museum, dedicated to the football legend, Cristiano Ronaldo who grew up in Madeira. You’ll find memorabilia and even a few of his trophies that follow and describe the timeline of his career

Island hop to Porto Santo

For those looking to discover beautiful beaches they don't get more beautiful than on the island of Porto Santo, the boat journey is a little long (about two and half hours) but it's well worth it. 

Madeira's calendar of events

Madeira offers a busy events calendar with many throughout the year from the Madeira roller Marathon to classic car events there’s lots to enjoy. Please be aware that some events are ticketed and may need to be booked and paid in advance, event dates are approximate and should be checked before booking. Here are a few of our favourite events listed below:

  • Madeira Flower Festival, usually held in April or May: Arguably Madeira’s most iconic festival, experience the parade, the flower carpets or the Wall of Hope amongst many other celebrations taking place across the event
  • Carnival, usually held early to mid-February: Take in vibrant costumes, music and dance on the small parades travelling through the streets of Funchal and other events taking place across the city
  • Madeira Rum Festival, usually held around mid-April: You’ll find local rum producers at this event along with a lively atmosphere and maybe even the chance to taste the product
  • Madeira Classic Car Revival, usually held at the end of May: Car lovers and non-car lovers will enjoy this event, some of the best classic and vintage cars are brought in from across the region for spectators to marvel over
Funchal excursions

Pre-book your excursions online or give us a call

Flavours of Funchal from £51 per person (4 hours)

The ideal excursion to get to know the city of Funchal. Experience the vibrant market, full of exotic flowers, tropical fruit, and local craftwork. After, take a visit to the embroidery factory to see the production of the internationally-renowned Madeiran embroidery before heading to the botanical gardens, where you can take in the panoramic views of the city. Round off the day with a visit to the wine lodge to taste the famous Madeira wine and Madeira honey cake – delicious!

Departs: Wednesday mornings

Classic Madeira mountains and valleys from £27 per person (4 hours)

Take a journey to the heart of the island to explore the beautiful Nun’s Valley and Monte village. Your first stop will be at Pico dos Barcelos, a viewpoint at 355m above sea level that looks out over Funchal city and the Bay of Funchal. From there you'll head up the mountains to the viewpoint of Eira do Serrado. Often talked about as one of the most beautiful places in Madeira, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the village of Curral das Freiras, the Nun’s Valley. Finally, your guide will take you to the picturesque village of Monte - famous for its beautiful church and gardens.

Departs: Monday and Saturday mornings

Classic west side tour from £36 per person (8 hours)

On the west side of the island you'll find dramatic landscapes and unforgettable views at every turn. The highlights of this multi-stop tour include the fishing town of Câmara de Lobos, and Cabo Girão where, if you dare, you can walk the suspended glass platform at one of the highest sea cliffs in the world. From there you'll head on to the Encumeada Pass. At over 1000 metres in altitude, you can enjoy spectacular views over the north and the south coastlines, and the deep Ribeira Brava and São Vicente valleys. Your final stop before lunch will be Porto Moniz, famous for its natural volcanic rock pools.

After a lunch in Porto Moniz you'll visit the vast volcanic plateau of Paul da Serra. The day ends with visits to the beach town of Calheta - the warmest place in Madeira, and to Ponta do Sol - a picturesque village surrounded by banana plantations and vineyards.

Departs: daily

Santa Cruz Walk from £36 per person (half day)

Explore the beautiful municipality of Santa Cruz - one of the oldest settlements on the island. Taking you from the ocean's edge to the mountain top, this guided walk incorporates history, nature, and local cuisine. Beginning with a stroll along the promenade, you'll visit charming gardens, the quaint market, and a 16th Century church. A quick 15-minute coach trip into the hills takes you to the village of Gaula. You'll be welcomed with a glass of wine, and a scrumptious cheese board served with locally-made sweet potato bread.

Difficulty: Easy, Distance:2km, Walking Duration: 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes. Departs on a Friday morning.

Maroços and Mimosa valley walk from £27 per person (half day)

A gentle walk along the Mimosa Valley, following a traditional 16th Century irrigation system ('levada'). Walking the levadas is a must-do for your Madeira holiday, and there's a variety of Madeira's fauna and flora to enjoy along the way.

Difficulty: Easy, Distance:5km, Walking Duration: 2 hours. Departs on a Wednesday morning.

Ribeiro Frio walk from £38 per person (full day)

A full day exploring the Ribeiro Frio Natural Park in the north of the island. Set in a deep valley and surrounded by mountains, the park is home to Madeira's UNESCO-protected Laurel forest. Enjoy the quiet, explore the waterfalls, and discover some of the flora and fauna endemic to the island.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, Distance:11km,Walking Duration: 4 hours. Departs on a Monday and Friday. 

Rabaçal and the 25 Fontes walk £38 per person (full day)

One of Madeira's most popular walking areas, the trails from Rabaçal take you through dense vegetation and into the Calheta mountains. Enjoy a waterfall walkway along the route, and discover the Lagoa das 25 Fontes. Here, water from the Paul da Serra plateau re-emerges via 25 springs ('fontes') and waterfalls - the weeping wall - creating a small natural pool.

Difficulty: Moderate, Distance:11km, Walking Duration: 4 hours. Departs on a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mountain bike tour from £68 per person (half day, 4 hours)

Explore Madeira by bike. A fun and eco-friendly way to get to know the island, the trails take you through rural villages and protected natural areas. The tour starts at Pico de Arieiro, the second-highest mountain on the island at 1818 meters above sea level. Cycling through beautiful landscapes, you'll discover the Montado do Pereiro forest park, Levada de Serra do Faial, and the village of Santa da Serra. The route ends at Miradouro da Portela, with stunning views of the port of Cruz. This bike tour circuit is around 35km and the difficulty level is considered as easy

Difficulty: Easy. Included bike and helmet hire. Departure day is confirmed before holiday departure, around 48 hours after making the booking. 

Good to know

Hiking trails: Around 3,000 kilometres of trails to explore across Madeira

Terrain: Mountain terrain. Levadas can be narrow, steep and require sure-footedness

Best time to go: Madeira has a mild climate year-round with it cooling off a little in the winter months

Best for: Walkers of all abilities, nature, sightseeing, activities, food & drink

Fly into: Madeira airport (Funchal)

Transfer time: approx. 25 minutes by car

24/7 Support and advice: Over the phone from our local resort team

Inghams Guided Walks included

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