With its mild climate, Funchal has become a great getaway for cruise ship shore excursion guests as well as Europeans seeking warmth.
Funchal has been the capital of the island of Madeira for more than five centuries. The introduction of grapes for wine happened soon after the first settlers landed and by the 1600s the Madeira wines became popular and even mentioned by Shakespeare.
The islands geographic location, between the Mediterranean and all ports west and its abundance of fresh produce and water made it an important maritime port for pirates as well as captains such as Christopher Columbus. The island of Madeira lays off the south-west point of Portugal about a one and half hour flight.
By the 1700s, Funchal was trading with many parts of Europe in return for their wine. It was common for houses to be built with a 3rd floor for wine storage. Even the monasteries were involved with wine production.
In Funchal itself, highlights cruise excursions and things to do include examples of its more than 500 years of architecture. You will see styles such as Baroque, Gothic as well as other European influences including the austere architecture during Madeiras period under a dictatorship. The Old Town section is a great place just to lose yourself in the narrow streets and squares. Of the three historical sightseeing Funchal Excursions areas, Sao Pedro, Se and Santa Maria, the last is the oldest section of Funchal and has some of the best architecture that you will be able to admire while on our Funchal City Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Excursion. You will also find the famous painted doors here along Rua de Santa Maria.
Near the old town, there is a cable car that will take you up to Monte, which was once the summer residences of the wealthy. Besides the spectacular views over Funchal, you can join one of our Funchal Excursions and visit the Monte Palace, now a museum and gardens, Monte Park and its gardens or the center of Monte's social life, Fountain Square. For over 100 years, product and people descended from Monte via wicker toboggan sleds that are steered by two runners using ropes. This is a tradition everyone should try once and it is fun for all ages - kids to grandparents. You will be able to experience this fun tradition while in our Funchal Four-in-One 4X4 Excursion.
Outside of Funchal Cruise Port and city, there are more gardens, scenic overlooks, rugged mountains and wine lodges worth visiting.
Fun Fact: It was given its name by Portuguese settlers who found fennel growing wild on the island.
Enjoy our Funchal Shore Excursions in Madeira, Portugal