Funchal
History & Heritage

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Our most recommended Funchal History & Heritage

Madeira: Full-Day Skywalk & Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools

1. Madeira: Full-Day Skywalk & Porto Moniz Volcanic Pools

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. 

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From Funchal: Nuns Valley, Monte and Sleigh Ride Tour

2. From Funchal: Nuns Valley, Monte and Sleigh Ride Tour

Depart Funchal and journey to the Pico dos Barcelos to experience one of Madeira's unique viewpoints. Get a breathtaking view of all points of the island, before making your way up to Eira do Serrado. Admire the surrounding chestnut trees and eucalyptus plants of the natural wonderland. The ancient footpaths are still used by locals and tourists, and the narrow road and tunnels can still be seen. From an altitude of 1,094 meters above sea level, you will be able to see across to the Nuns Valley (weather permitting). Isolated from the rest of the island, the Nuns Valley (Curral das Freiras) is surrounded by lava rock and takes its name from the nuns that once inhabited the valley as they fled from pirate attacks during the 16th century. Try some traditional chestnut cake and pastries only found in the region, along with different traditional liquors. Then, go to Monte, one of Madeira´s old touristic stops, and visit the church where the tomb of the Emperor Charles I of Austria can be found. The last of the Habsburg rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he died in exile on April 1, 1922. Add a little adventure to the day and enjoy an unforgettable 2-kilometer toboggan ride down the old road of Livramento, where the bus will pick you up at the bottom.

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Madeira: Nuns Valley Half-Day Tour

3. Madeira: Nuns Valley Half-Day Tour

Explore the stunning landscapes of the Curral da Freiras (Nuns Valley) on a scenic half-day tour from Funchal. Journey to the center of Madeira to find dramatic, cloud-topped mountains and verdant valleys. Board the minibus in the center of Lido, and make your way to Eira do Serrado for one of the most beautiful views in Madeira. Continue down to Curral da Freiras, traveling past forest bushes and the quaint houses typical of the Madeiran countryside. Once in Nuns Valley, see a small village nestling between almost perpendicular mountains. How the huge cauldron in which the Nuns Valley formed is open to debate. Some people say it was the result of erosion, while older theories maintain it was a result of volcanic activity. What is beyond dispute is that the village is very isolated. The locals mainly live off what they cultivate, including the delicious chestnuts that are the centerpiece of the annual Chestnut Festival. Return to Funchal, stopping at the fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, where Winston Churchill painted his beautiful landscapes. Try some of the legendary Poncha drink before you leave.

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Funchal: 90-Minute City Tour in a Tukxi

4. Funchal: 90-Minute City Tour in a Tukxi

With a local guide on the driving seat this tour provides a fantastic introduction to Funchal’s history, culture and landmarks. The tour will take you to the 15th century Old Town, with stops at the fantastic viewpoints of Socorro and Villa Guida. Later, appreciate a mix of landmarks from different centuries in the city center, including the 15th century cathedral, the Mercado dos Lavradores (Farmers Market) and the Municipal Square where the City Hall and the Jesuit Monastery are found. Visit the neighborhood of São Pedro where the island's oldest convent, Santa Clara, the famous Museum of Quinta das Cruzes and the Church of São Pedro can be admired.  To finish your tour, drive by the Municipal Garden and Santa Catarina Park to get a taste of Madeira’s famous gardens. The Tukxi is small and maneuverable enough to take you comfortably around the city’s small back streets. This tour is the perfect introduction to the city of Funchal!

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Funchal: Old Town Walking Tour

5. Funchal: Old Town Walking Tour

Meet your guide at Jesuit's College of Funchal, Madeira University to begin this 2-hour guided walking tour of Funchal. Learn how the history of Madeira and Funchal shaped the city centre as you visit the most important points of interest. Travel down the 19th century public walkway between the Municipal Theatre and the Cathedral, where sugarcane was first planted in Madeira, during the 15th century. Explore the city’s medieval heart dating from the Golden Age of Sugar and discover the beautiful 17th century religious monuments. Visit the ruins of the old Pilory Square and other remnants from past floods and the area damaged by the Great Fire of Funchal in 1584. This tour helps to support students at the University of Madeira who are facing financial difficulties.  

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Northwest Madeira 4x4 Tour

6. Northwest Madeira 4x4 Tour

The tour will start at your hotel, cruise port, or guest house, taking you to Serra d'Água, where you will have the opportunity to learn about the island of Madeira. At the North side you will see Ginjas village. Then continue on, using the old roads and some forest roads where its only possible to go with a 4X4. Head to the top at 1500 meters at Paúl da Serra. Explore the natural beauty of this island, meet the people, and explore the cultures, traditions, and local food and drinks. Enjoy the expertise of a multilingual driver, who will take you on this full day journey to Encumeada, Ginjas, Estanquinhos, Paúl da Serra, Fanal, Ribeira da Janela, Porto Moniz, Seixal and São Vicente, with additional opportunities to see and swim in the volcanic lava pools.

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From Funchal: Full-Day Madeira Peaks Tour by Open 4x4

7. From Funchal: Full-Day Madeira Peaks Tour by Open 4x4

Begin this full-day 4x4 tour with a pick-up at your hotel in Funchal and travel deep into the southeast of Madeira. You’ll come to Machico town and the line that divides the north and south of the island. Take in breathtaking views of the Eagles Rock from Portela. Drive down, stopping in Porto da Cruz, which is the next must-see point. Visit a sugar cane factory, continue to the Faial coastline and then up to see the typical houses of Santana. These small straw-thatched triangular houses are emblematic of Madeira and intricate in their construction. Head down into the valley and through the forest to Riveiro Frio at an elevation of 1818 meters, the third-highest peak on the Island.

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Funchal: Full-Day 4x4 Eastern Tour

8. Funchal: Full-Day 4x4 Eastern Tour

On this tour, see the best views of the eastern side of Madeira, a unique experience passing by the non-touristic villages. Start with a visit to Machico, where Portuguese captains landed for the first time. Move on to Portela for an experience with the amazing countryside of Madeira, overlooking Eagle Rock (Penha D'Aguia), known as the human face. Enjoy the view over the rocks and the coast. Afterwards, continue to the sugar cane and rum factory in Porta da Cruz. Taste the local rums and learn about the local production of rum. Travel down the serpentine roads to the village of Santana to visit the traditional thatched houses, and enjoy a delicious lunch during your stay in Santana. In the afternoon, visit the 3rd highest peak of Madeira. At 1818 meters you will have a 360° view over the surroundings, passing by Ribeiro Frio Village.

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Madeira: West Tour with Porto Moniz and Volcanic Pools

9. Madeira: West Tour with Porto Moniz and Volcanic Pools

Just over three miles from the city of Funchal, the first stop is the famous, quaint fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, a favorite painting spot of the late Winston Churchill. Afterwards, travel up to the magnificent 1,902-feet high, glass balcony view point of Cabo Girão, famous for being the highest in Europe and second-highest cliff in the world. Traveling along the coast of the island, arrive shorty at the village of Ribeira Brava, where you can visit a church dating back to the 15th century. Next, make your way to the 3,303-feet high viewpoint, Encumeada, to enjoy beautiful views over both the north and south coasts of the island, as well as the valleys of Ribeira Brava and São Vicente. From an altitude of between 4,200-4,900 feet, find the tourist attraction Paúl de Serra and it's several levada walks that connect to different points of the island through the Laurissilva forest, such as Rabaçal, Risco, and the 25 fountains. Stop then for lunch (not included) and extra time at the seaside town of Porto Moniz, home to the largest volcanic natural pools of Madeira. On the descent toward the town, enjoy fantastic views, especially those of the volcanic pools in their entirety. In the good weather it is possible to take a dip, so come prepared. Next, enjoy a brief stop overlooking the black sandy beach and natural rock pools of Seixal village. Along the way, you'll have the pleasure of passing several waterfalls, most notably the famous and stunning Bride's Veil. Staring up at the water pouring down the mountain, you can see how the rock-face has been delicately sculpted by the wind and rain over millions of years to form what can only be described as the perfect art form. Following, visit the picturesque neighboring village of São Vicente, where you can check out a beautiful church dating from the 17th century before returning to Funchal.

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Nuns Valley Tour by Tukxi

10. Nuns Valley Tour by Tukxi

Start your Nuns Valley adventure by meeting your driver/guide in the lobby of your Funchal-located hotel room or at the terminal of your cruise ship. With your driver/guide, begin the ascent up to your first stop 355 meters above sea level at “Pico dos Barcelos” to take in the city of Funchal in all its glory.   Your next stop is the “Eira do Serrado” viewpoint, standing in the “heart” of the island at an elevation of 1,095 meters. Admire the mountain views, the Nuns Valley and its village "Curral das Freiras" almost 500 meters below. Around the parish village the central mountain chain of Madeira stands guard, providing an amazing view of an almost-cinematographic landscape. Choose to either visit the village by driving through the tunnel that crosses the mountain or head back down to Funchal and make an extra stop at another viewpoint. After experiencing the wonderful changes in the landscape, from the seaside and urban environment of Funchal to the greener and dramatic mountain views, with changes in temperature and vegetation in between, you will be transported back to your desired drop-off point to relax after a day of adventure.

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What people are saying about Funchal

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,307 reviews

Great experience with Diogo who went out of his way to restructure the trip due to a poorly passenger. His driving was exciting and fun with rollercoaster rides through the puddles.

Great tour with spectacular views and a friendly driver. Highly recommended!

A good little half day tour with a lot packed in. Worth the effort.

Very good tour with a professional tour guide. Highly recommended!

Fantastic day out. Up high on of the old mountain roads