If there’s something you should know about the capital city of Madeira. It’s that there are plenty of things to do in Funchal. It is by far one of our favourite places on the island. Simply because of the amount of things you can do in Funchal.
Funchal is a coastal city but it’s also built up into the mountains so you’re close to both cute cafés AND hiking at the same time. The city has a great food scene and also lots of places to do sports. Funchal has a diversity of locals, digital nomads, and expats as well. So as you can see, this small capital city pretty much has it all!
After spending a few months as digital nomads in Funchal, we realized there is so much to do in this city. If you love being outdoors, doing sports, and spending time in cute cafes you’re going to love Funchal and everything it has to offer.
In this guide, we share our favourite activities, places to eat, attractions, and other things to do in Funchal. We personally enjoyed all these activities during our two months here. We hope this blog post inspires you to figure out what to do in Funchal and around the beautiful island of Maderia!
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26 fun and exciting things to do in Funchal, Madeira
Madeira is an island rich in history and culture, and the capital, Funchal, is no exception! Funchal has some breathtaking viewpoints, cool museums, delicious Portuguese food, and natural swimming pools.
Here you can also find amazing local drinks like Poncha, Nikita, Pé de Cabra, and Cane Liquor. Funchal is also famous for the Monte Toboggans (sled rides) which will blow you away when you see it in person.
Let’s get right into it and look at 26 fun things you can do in Funchal anytime of the year!
#1 Enjoy a delicious coffee at Art Food Corner Madeira
From freshly pressed juice to amazing lattes and delicious food, Art Food Corner always (and we mean always) hits the spot.
One of our favourite things to do when travelling is checking out the local food and cafe scene. In our opinion, Art Food Corner has to be near the top of the best cafes in Funchal.
The staff is super friendly, the location is perfect, and they even have a little art store connected to the cafe. If you need a coffee to get your day started or just want to meet up with a friend, Art Food Corner is perfect!
If you’re into specialty coffee, healthy food, and art then this is the cafe for you.
#2 Funchal Cable Car
One of the most popular things to do in Funchal is to ride the cable car (Teleférico do Funchal). You take it from the bottom of the city up into the mountain area of Monte. The ride in the cable car is amazing! It takes you directly over the city of Funchal and up into the mountains of Madeira.
For roughly 15-20 minutes you’ll be floating over Funchal. The views views of the ocean behind you and the mountains in front of you. Once you step out of the cable car in Monte you’ll be greeted by an amazing cafe and beautiful gardens nearby!
The cable car in Funchal is fun to do on a warm sunny and clear day. That way you can enjoy being outside up in the mountains above Funchal and really take in the views! Later in the post we also mention a FUN way to get back down into Funchal…it may be with a toboggan! 😉
If you wish to make a full day out of it, you can also go on a full-day tour to Monte with a guide. The tour includes pick up at your accommodation, a guide, and the cable car trip, a trip to the church of Monte, the public gardens of Monte, and more.
#3 Hang out at Funchal Beach
Even though Madeira isn’t really known for its beaches there are still 21 beaches in Madeira we recommend visiting. One of those is actually located right in the heart of Funchal. It may not be the most beautiful beach on the island but it’s still a place to relax, swim, and enjoy the sunshine.
Funchal Beach is quite rocky but still very relaxing and super easily accessible if you’re staying downtown. You can easily walk from the city and drop a towel and enjoy the sun for a while. Our favourite part of Funchal Beach is that it’s great for swimming. You can also walk out to the lighthouse from there and try to spot some dolphins!
During the summer months when it gets hot, the ocean and the beach are going to become your best friends. Even though there are nicer beaches around Madeira you really don’t have to go far for a swim and beach day!
#4 Try some local Poncha at Rei da Poncha
If you walk by Rei da Poncha anytime after 5 pm you’ll see it’s completely packed and it’s because it’s one of the best Poncha places in town. Now you’re wondering what Poncha is?
Poncha is an alcoholic drink that is local to the island of Madeira. The drink started out as brandy cane sugar, lemon peel, and sugar. Over time they’ve dived into other flavours to cater to tourists and the younger generation.
Even if you’re not a big alcohol drinker you should at least try one to see what all the hype is about (just keep in mind that they are strong (!) and contain about 40% alcohol). There are so many delicious flavours to pick from. Dom’s favourite is the English Tomato Poncha and Jo’s favourite is the Maracujá Poncha (passion fruit). The vibe is really good at Reid da Poncha.
Any day of the week if you go in the evening you’ll have a great time hanging out with some locals and tourists at Rei da Poncha.
#5 Go for a swim at one of Funchal’s natural swimming pools
💵 Cost: Roughly €5
🎟 Tickets: Buy your tickets at the entrance
⏰ Hours: 10:00 to 20:00
Piscinas Naturais da Doca do Cavacas is a natural swimming pool in Funchal that you can go hang out and swim at for hours. You have the comfort of a swimming pool but fresh ocean water constantly comes into this natural swimming pool.
There are a few around Madeira but this one in Funchal is one of our favorites! It’s a bit of a walk to get there if you’re in Old Town Funchal but it’s still manageable. You can also take a bus or Uber/Bolt to the pools as well.
The Piscinas Naturais da Doca do Cavacas are also in the most beautiful location. A great spot to watch the sunset in Funchal. There’s a restaurant connected to this natural swimming pool too. You can literally spend the whole day swimming and relaxing at the pool and then finishing off your day with some delicious seafood while catching the most beautiful sunset.
This is another fun activity to do in Funchal on a warm sunny day. You can suntan and hang out and when you need a refreshment you can either go for a quick swim or upstairs for an ice-cold beer.
#6 Eat some yummy food at FALA FALA Veg Food
FALA FALA is a vegetarian cafe in the heart of the city. They make the most delicious vegan and vegetarian food in Funchhal. Their menu isn’t that big with only 5-6 items on the menu + a daily meal which makes it easy to choose what you want. And every meal is delicious!
If you’re looking for a nice and healthy lunch spot in Funchal then this is the place. The atmosphere and staff are also great and we always have a good experience whenever we go. Highly recommended for anyone wanting some yummy vegetarian food in Funchal!
#7 Go dolphin and whale watching off the coast of Funchal
Madeira is known for its amazing dolphin and whale watching. If you’re in Madeira during the months of April and October, then you’re very likely to see both dolphins, turtles, and whales if you’re lucky. There are a bunch of different whale species that visit Madeira every year including pilot whales, sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, and even blue whales!
Between May-September (and sometimes in April and October as well) it’s very common to see pods of dolphins and whales roaming around the coastline of Funchal. Boat tours go all the time in the search for these beautiful mammals. However, you can be lucky and see these beautiful creatures year-round (especially dolphins). We went in February and saw a ton of dolphins (check out this Reel to see them).
If there’s one tour to do while you’re in Funchal then a dolphin and whale tour should be at the top of your list. It’s not many places in the world where you can see dolphins and whales this easily but Madeira is one of those places.
We went on this 3-hour tour and even though we didn’t get a chance to see whales because it was out of season we saw a bunch of dolphins which was amazing.
#8 Toboggan down to Funchal – the Madeiran way
This is hands down the most unique experience you could possibly do in Funchal. This isn’t your standard toboggan going down a snowy hill on a cold winter day. Instead you cruise down the steep hills of Funchal on this wooden toboggan with two locals guiding it.
It’s hard to understand exactly what it is but once you see it in person you’ll see how fun it looks. The best way to do this is to go on a guided tour where a Tuk-Tuk driver will give you a tour of Monte and the local area and then you’ll finish off by riding the toboggan back down to Funchal.
The toboggan ride is definitely a fun little adrenaline rush. It shouldn’t be scary and the “drivers” are very experienced. You’ll have the time of your life and a story you’ll be able to tell everyone.
Going on a toboggan ride is always on the top of our list when people ask us what our favourite things to do in Funchal are. It’s one of those tours you only have to try once to experience but it’s crazy fun!
#9 Free walking tour in Funchal
One of the best things you can do anywhere is to go on one of the free walking tours. Usually these tours are run by a locals who are experts on the area. Locals or expats living in places for a long time always know the hidden gems and share all the secrets on these free walking tours.
Free Walking Tours Funchal runs tours quite often where you can go and explore the city with a local. It’s also a fun way to meet other travelers and people who know a place. We love free walking tours since they’re a fun, easy, and cheap way to see a new location!
Obviously, these types of tours are run by donations. You can simply “donate” or “tip” your guide what you think the tour was worth. We find between €5-10 per person to be a reasonable amount for a 2-hour free walking tour!
#10 CR7 Museum
💵 Cost: €10 for the entrance, €50 for a private guided tour
🎟 Tickets: Grab your tickets at the entrance or book a private guided tour here
⏰ Hours: 10 am to 5 pm
Yes, the Cristiano Ronaldo Museum! In case you didn’t know, the famous soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira. You’ll probably see his statue multiple times if you end up walking by the pier in Funchal – and next to the famous statue is the museum dedicated to his football career.
For any football fan, you’ll feel like you’re in heaven seeing replicas of all the trophies Ronaldo has won and the different uniforms for the different clubs he’s played for. If that’s you then it’s definitely worth visiting the CR7 Musem.
It’s also quite cool since Ronaldo is from a small town only a short drive from Funchal. Seeing where he comes from, his roots, and the history of his upbringing and football past is quite awesome. If you’re a football lover, you can’t miss this one!
#11 Hike the Levada do Bom Sucesso trail
🗺 Distance: 4.2 km to the top
📈 Altitude: Roughly 768 m
👞 Difficulty: Moderate
⏰ Length: 1.5 to 2 hours
This is just another reason why we absolutely love Funchal and Madeira! There’s a hike that literally starts inside the city. From the city it takes you up into the mountains and towards Monte (where the cable car goes).
The Levada do Bom Sucesso is a moderate hike that starts in Funchal. Slowly but steadily makes its way up the mountain. It’s crazy because even though you’re so close to the city you truly feel like you’re in the middle of the forest far away from everything.
The hike goes all the way to where the cable car from Funchal goes so it is a fairly long hike with quite a bit of elevation but the trail itself is really nice to walk on.
One thing worth mentioning is that if you are afraid of heights, the beginning of the trail has a few sections that are a little sketchy but after that it’s super chill (apart from the incline) and the trail is really nice.
#12 Chill out at the Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva
The Nini Design Centre is one of those places you wouldn’t know exists unless someone told you about it. It’s located down at the pier where the cruise ships dock. Basically you walk up a flight of stairs (or take the elevator) up into this tower and that’s where the Design Centre Nini is.
The best part is that it looks all fancy and expensive but it really isn’t. The Design Centre is used for all sorts of things like coworking for digital nomads, a cafe if you just want to hang out, a bar in the evening, and a place to host events.
You can also catch some of the best sunsets in Madeira from up here since you’re right on the coast and up high in this building. It’s a cool place to check out whether you want to come for a coffee in the morning or a drink in the evening.
The Nini Design Centre has also become a popular place for digital nomads to co-work from. You pay a flat fee daily of €10 to co-work and you can then use the money towards food or drinks of your choice.
#13 Relax at the Madeira Botanical Garden
The Madeira Botanical Garden in Funchal is the perfect place to relax and get away from all the tourists. You’ll find a hillside botanical garden, a bird park, and a natural history museum. Give yourself a few hours to explore everything there is to explore at the Madeira Botanical Garden.
The Botanical Garden is located around 3km from downtown so it is possible to walk there but it’s uphill so you might want to consider taking a Bolt instead if you aren’t ready to get your sweat on. Make sure to put the right botanical garden into Google Maps though because there are a few nearby. This one in particular is within walking distance from downtown Funchal.
#14 Madeira Pirate Ship Tour
Ready to feel like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean? For 3 hours you can cruise on the Santa Maria de Colombo which looks very much like an actual pirate ship.
While it’s more of a fun relaxing ship ride where you’ll try a local cake and get to sample local Madeira wine you’ll also be on the lookout for whales and dolphins.
This ship isn’t as quick as some of the smaller boats so you won’t be able to follow the whales or dolphins the same way but you’ll still have the chance to see them from aboard the pirate ship.
This Pirate Ship Tour in Madeira is a fun way to experience both history and the views along the southern coast of Funchal.
#15 Walk down Rua de Santa Maria restaurant street in Funchal
This isn’t your ordinary restaurant street! Santa Maria Street in Funchal (Rua de Santa Maria in Portuguese) has a special charm to it. It may be all the murals painted on the doors of all the buildings or all the small locally owned restaurants and bars.
There are tons of different restaurants (mostly seafood related) to pick from but also some cafes, bars, even little bakeries, and shops you can check out. Most of the time when you walk there, it does feel a little crowded, though. Santa Maria Street is quite a narrow street full of chairs and tables for the restaurants and it’s also a highlight for tourists.
However, it is definitely worth a visit. Even if you don’t want to eat there or don’t like seafood it’s still cool to see and experience this historic street in Funchal. The murals alone on all the doors are stunning and worth checking out.
It’s touristy and the staff may seem a little pushy to have you sit down but it’s just one of those things you have to do while you’re in Funchal. It’s an iconic and cool street in the heart of downtown Funchal that you need to add to your bucket list.
#16 Guided hike from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo
💵 Cost: €39
🎟 Tickets: Book your tour on GetYourGuide
⏰ Length: 8 hours
The most famous hike on the island is the PR1 from Pico Arieiro to Pico Ruivo. It’s one of the best day trips you can do from Funchal and one of our favourite hikes on the island.
You can book a guided tour for the PR1 trail and they will pick you up from your accommodation in Funchal and drop you back off later in the day. The tour is a full-day activity so be prepared to hike all day!
You’ll get to experience Madeira from the tallest peaks on the whole island and some incredible trails along the way. During the hike, you’ll pass through man-made tunnels through the mountains and learn a thing or two about the island from a local guide.
If you love hiking, being outdoors, and seeing the best Madeira has to offer this is the trip to go on. We’ve hiked all around Madeira and this is always going to be one of our favourite hikes. Once you get to the top of Pico Ruivo and have this panoramic view of Madeira you will understand why. It’s incredible!
#17 Play a game of Padel Tennis
Padel tennis is one of the fastest growing sports in Europe and it’s really started to become a thing in Madeira. There are outdoor and indoor courts you can play at but we’d usually go to a local one right in Funchal where you can rent rackets and balls at a very cheap price.
The place is called Centro de Padel e Lazer and it is located right in the heart of Funchal. There are three padel courts and you will have to book in advance (at least one day).
Padel can be played 1 vs 1 but we think it’s much more fun 2 vs 2. If there’s a group of 4 of you it’s absolutely perfect. Most of the time you rent the court for an hour and afterwards, you can stay and enjoy a cup of coffee or a sandwich there.
There’s also the option to go and play at some of the outdoor padel courts which can be really nice when it’s not steaming hot outside. Outdoor padel is always best to play in the morning or evening when it’s a bit cooler outside.
#18 Yoga Class in Funchal
If you want to practice yoga while you’re in Funchal, Yoga with Freddie is an awesome place right in town. The lady who runs the study is Portuguese-born but has English classes and they are wonderful. Her story is really cool since she went from being a lawyer to following her passion and starting a yoga studio in Funchal after years of training around the world.
Yoga is a wonderful thing to do anywhere you go but this studio in specific makes it a really great thing to do in Funchal. There are multiple classes a week and you check out when Freddie runs her yoga classes in Funchal here.
#19 Swim with dolphins
As we mentioned earlier, Madeira is really known for dolphins and if you’re lucky you can actually swim right up next to them in their natural habitat. It doesn’t happen that often but if you’re lucky you can actually get up close to them.
Basically, the tour boat cruises around and there’s a 99% chance you will see dolphins or whales as well as a 90% chance you can get in the water (as long as it’s safe). If you are unable to swim with the dolphins, a partial refund will be provided to you.
Once you’re out on the water, you’ll have the chance to get off the boat and into the ocean for a snorkel and swim and if the dolphins feel like playing then you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.
This dolphin tour from Funchal is unique in the sense that you can actually get off the boat and swim with the dolphins. If you like swimming and don’t mind the ocean then this is the dolphin tour you have to do!
#20 Sample some tea at Loja do Chá
If you’re a tea-lover, a thing you have to do in Funchal is to visit one of the local tea houses and try their crazy range of different teas. Loja do Chá in downtown Funchal is beautiful because it has this great outdoor seating where live musicians come and play piano, guitar, and sing.
There’s also a nice indoor seating area that’s a few floors and you can even sit outside on the balcony overlooking the square. The concept is really cool and the variety of tea they have at Loja’s is insane. If you love sweets and cakes they also have a nice variety that goes very well with the teas! 😉
One thing we thought was really fun about this place was the fact that they have a little bell you could pick up and ring when you wanted to order from inside!
#21 Walk to Câmara De Lobos
Not all walks and hikes have to be up mountains! There’s this beautiful coastal trail that starts from the edge of Funchal and takes you all the way to Camara de Lobos which is the next town over.
The walk from Funchal to Camâra do Lobos is awesome because you get to walk along the beach for a good portion of it and there are a bunch of little cafes and along the trail as well. There are also quite a few nice viewpoints between the two towns.
At the end of the coastal walk, you’ll end up in Camara do Lobos which is a very unique town. It’s always been known as a fishing town and has quite a few legends and stories associated with it (including one about Churchill). Also, this is where the original Poncha drink was created!
Even to this day, you can see that Camâra de Lobos is still very much a working-class town and the fishermen can usually be seen playing cards outside at the tables. But there’s also a slightly more touristy part to the town with all the nice cafes and restaurants right next to the water.
Camara do Lobos is a great place to grab a beer, Ponchas (wohoo), or some food before making the trip back to Funchal. Going back you can either go on the same coastal trail, order a Bolt, or take a public bus that will bring you back to the city center of Funchal.
#22 Hang out at Forte de São Tiago
This is a true gem in Funchal! It’s easy to spot the Forte de São Tiago because of its yellow colour. Not everyone thinks to actually walk out to the fortress, though, where you can find this cute little outdoor seating area by the water.
There’s a little cafe/bar where you can order drinks and chill by the ocean. There’s also a little platform where people sun tan and go for a swim in the ocean when the waves aren’t too crazy.
It’s a great place to hang out for a few hours and a lot of tourists don’t actually make it here so it’s quite relaxing for the most part (with the exception of random days when it gets really busy).
It’s nice and close to downtown Funchal and if you walk along the water from the cable car, you’ll reach it in no time. This is by far one of our favourite outdoor hangout spots in Funchal. It’s another great place to watch the sunset too.
#23 Hike the famous PR8 Ponta de São Lourenço
🗺 Distance: 7.4 km return
📈 Altitude: Roughly 412 m
👞 Difficulty: Moderate
⏰ Length: 4 to 5 hours return
This is another awesome day trip from Funchal that you can get to by bus, rental car, or guided tour. The PR8 Ponta de São Lourenço is one of the most iconic hikes on the island and it’s also known as the “Dragon’s Tail” hike in Madeira.
This hike is along the most eastern bit of Madeira and basically, you hike along this “Dragon Tail” until you get to the Miradouro Ponta do Furado which is an incredible viewpoint that overlooks the ocean and a few smaller islands.
You can book a guided tour for the PR8 hike or you can follow this guide about Ponta de São Lourenco to learn how to get there and do the hike yourself. It’s a great hike to do in Madeira and one you have to check off your list while exploring the island.
#24 Go on a day or weekend trip to Porto Santo
Porto Santo is a small island a 2-hour ferry ride from Funchal and it’s where you can find some of the best beaches in Madeira. The golden sand beach stretches for miles in Porto Santo and this small but beautiful island is a great place to relax!
Life moves a lot slower in Porto Santo than in Funchal but it’s a nice break from the city and a nice place to visit if you love beautiful beaches. Madeira isn’t necessarily known for its beaches the same way Porto Santo is. It was really cool seeing just how different the two islands were despite how closely they are located to one another!
Some of the other things you can do in Porto Santo are hiking, bike riding, golf, visiting delicious restaurants, and checking out some pretty incredible viewpoints.
Some people go from Funchal to Porto Santo as a day trip and it’s totally doable but if you have the time you should do at least 2-3 days on this beautiful island.
#25 Play some mini golf
We can’t forget about the mini golf in Funchal! It’s funny but wherever we go we always look for a mini golf course so Jo can kick my butt lol. I’m pretty sure she beat me again here.
Closer to the Lido area, there’s a 12-hole mini golf course in Funchal and it’s a whole lot of fun. The mini golf is actually inside Jardim Panoramico which also offers padel tennis and other fun activity. It’s a really nice place to play and after you can order a coffee or drink at the outdoor bar if you want.
#26 Try out Land Food & Cafe
The last, but certainly not least, thing to do in Funchal is to visit Land Food & Coffee up in Monte. So if you hike the Levada de Bom Sucesso or take the cable car up to Monte you have to stop at this delicious cafe.
The view from the outdoor seating is incredible and the food and coffee is simply amazing (check out their reviews here if you don’t believe us). They have a wide selection of food and we thought their coffee, which is locally roasted, was great! If you get a chance go on a sunny day because then you can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful view overlooking Funchal.
We love trying out new places wherever we go and randomly stumbled upon Land Food & Coffee – and we love it.
Related: 7 Awesome Cafes to Visit in Funchal
You may also like….
- 21 Pebble and Sandy Beaches to Visit in Madeira
- The Best Sunrise Spot in Madeira: Pico Ruivo
- The Most Famous Hike in Madeira – Pico do Arieiro (PR1)
- The Best Waterfall Hike in Madeira – Levada 25 Fontes
- 7 Awesome Cafes to Visit in Funchal
Recap of all the things to do in Funchal
Now you have some inspiration for 26 things you can do in Funchal including some great restaurants, hiking trails, and hidden gems to do in Funchal. It’s a big list but if you’re in Funchal for a week or two or maybe live there as a digital nomad you should be able to do most of these things.
The city is big but it’s mostly walkable (at least along the coast) and there are plenty of things to see. We hope you have an awesome time in Funchal and get to do everything you want to do in this beautiful city!
Let us know in the comments which of these was your favourite and if you end up tobogganing down to Funchal. We love hearing what you get up to and your favourite things to do.
Have an amazing time in Funchal!