Welcome to Madeira
My first hi to Madeira and Funchal was from the air. Christiano Ronaldo, yes the worldwide famous soccer player is from the island and people are so proud of him that the airport in Funchal (FNC) even got renamed in his favor. It was though a short and hi from the air for me. The plane I was sitting in was forced to do two go-arounds in the middle of the night due to strong winds then they returned to Lisbon so I had to spend the night at the airport. But giving up is not my thing so I used the next morning to get on a flight to Funchal and the rest is another chapter of travelstories of 2020. Finally I made it there and could check in at my basecamp in Funchal. The largest city at the island.
After waiting for the result of my covid-19 test I was good to go out and explore. I got loads of positive vibes right away when I sat at my balcony watching the ocean waiting for the test result that came as a text message less than six hours after arrival. During this times you need a negative test to move around the island and the testing process was very smooth. Once you arrived to Madeira it took you five minutes to do the test (that the government is paying for, oct-2020) and within 6-12 hours you get the result. If negative you can move around freely and if positive the government will pay your stay at a corona isolation hotel for 10 nights.
Funchal is very hilly so get your sneakers on is my best recommendation. The first evening I went for a long walk to explore the area. The harbour was worth a visit and you could stroll along an esplanade and have a break at one of the many ice cream cafés. Of course I did that, I’m not the one saying no to an ice cream. If you like running this is also a good path for it and I am sure you will be surprised about how many runners there are in this city.
Once again I would like to share my passion for streetart. Funchal is a lively cultural scene with loads of musical performances but outdoor you have a very beautiful gallery in the old town where you find streetart at more or less every door. And if you walk around on the streets you will also end up seeing even more creative masterpieces.
Even though the whole city felt like a garden a visit to Jardin de Botanico at the hill is a must. I had a plan to take the cable car up there but guess what? the strong winds made it impossible so I got the idea to walk up. Well, was a great idea if you don’t mind a bit of exercise. 45 minutes of hill climbing. The garden was stunning. Must add to your Funchal to do list.
Old town of Funchal
I would say this is the best area to get out at during the night when you are looking for something to eat and drink. It is not big but it is cozy and you will find a lot of food options. If you head to this area during the day don’t miss out to have a look at the fish market and the fruit market at Mercaodo dos Lavradores.
Running along the coast
I bet you know I am a running addict and especially I enjoy to run at places where the scenery is beautiful. In Funchal I went twice for a run along the coast and it was stunning. This city warmly welcomes runners of all kind and you don’t need to feel you step in someones way once running on the walking paths.
Beaches of Funchal
Funchal do have some options for swimming except the Lidos’s that is a must try. There are a few beaches. One pebble stone beach and one lava beach for example. Even if you don’t want to take a swim there they are worth a visit. I managed to fit in both the lava beach and pebble stone beach during a run.
Parks and gardens
As said, the whole city of Funchal feels like a garden. All parks and green areas are very well maintained so bring your coffee and a book to one of the parks to just enjoy the moment is a recommendation that will make you feel as you are on vacation to 100%.
Funchal is the city where the airport is located in at Madeira. There are however a few other larger cities at the island like Santa Cruz and Machico but I would recommend to at least stay a few nights in Funchal since it is easy to get out to other places from there and also the city center offers a lot of things to see and do. The town itself is rather good for shopping since there are loads of stores and also gallerias. So easy to get around, stunning beautiful and always something to do – what more can you expect from a holiday basecamp?
/ Pernilla that really enjoyed traveling to Madeira