Western Europe

Funchal Cruise Port Guide Info


Where in the world can you speed down steep streets in wicker baskets with straw-hatted tobogganers running deftly alongside? Mention Madeira and this may be one of the first thoughts that comes to mind, along with its famous floral charms, beautiful scenery and genteel ambience, which will thrill your garden loving customers. No wonder this Portuguese outpost is such a long- standing favorite with all holidaymakers; while its location in the Atlantic Ocean, 350 miles west of Morocco, makes it a natural port of call on cruises. 

The cruise terminal is located a 20-minute walking distance from the city center, and usually, there are shuttle buses provided for cruise ship passengers who can’t or don’t want to walk into the town. If you decide to go on foot, just walk along a beautiful seafront promenade overlooking the port area and marina, and on your way, you’ll come across the most popular and visited museum in Madeira – Cristiano Ronaldo’s museum, dedicated to the legendary football star who was born on the island. In front of the museum, there is a bronze statue of a football player where you take some nice photos! 

Funchal is a gorgeous, colorful city full of botanical gardens, exotic markets where you can buy tropical and rare fruit and flowers, historical landmarks, and places of interest. A toboggan ride, starting on the top of the Monte hill overlooking the town, and finishing in the vicinity of the city center – is a major Funchal’s attraction! Cruise lines usually offer the toboggan ride shore excursion, but you can also do it on your own. The starting point of the ride is the Church of Our Lady of Monte (you can get there on foot, by cable car, tuk-tuk, bus, or taxi) where you get on the toboggan, which is a wooden basket that can accommodate up to 3 people.

Once you get on the toboggan, you’ll be pushed by two drivers down the 2-kilometers long curvy road and end up in Livramento, located a 10-minute drive from the city center. The ride is a fun and safe activity, and both kids and adults can join! 
If you want to enjoy the panoramic views of Funchal and the surrounding countryside, you should go for a cable car ride. 

Another amazing experience, and if you want to explore further, head over to one of the main Madeira’s attractions: Cabo Girão, the highest cliff in Europe, located 15 kilometers away from Funchal. The place is famous for its see-through glass floor where you can stand and admire the breathtaking views of Madeira’s coastline. A visit to Cabo Girão is usually included in cruise ship shore excursions, but you can come on your own as well. 

On the way from Funchal to Cabo Girão, there is another charming place you can visit: Câmara de Lobos, a traditional fishing village boasting a colorful marina and old houses, the best admired from Pico de Torre, a viewpoint located above the village. 

Madeira is also famous for its wine, and there are numerous wine cellars in Funchal where you can taste the island’s strong, authentic wine. 

The pretty capital Funchal, with its dramatic mountainous backdrop, offers a slice of traditional Madeiran life with colorful markets selling the lush, tropical flowers for which this island is so well known. A cable car whisks visitors up to the picturesque old town where they can ride down in style in the famous wicker baskets. These started life in the 1800s as a means to bring rum barrels down to the harbor before becoming a chic way for well-to-do residents to get around town.

Now they are filled with tourists who can sit back and enjoy the views during the two-mile descent and then pop into the historic watering hole, Reid’s Hotel, which overlooks the Bay of Funchal, for afternoon tea. Beyond Funchal, Madeira is a rugged island of towering cliffs, dramatic cascading waterfalls and extinct volcanoes whose slopes heave with lush forests – it couldn’t be more perfect for the more active customer. It is hiking heaven for walkers keen to explore the terrain, while those wanting a more relaxing alternative can jump aboard coach tours to Pico do Ariero, which stands at nearly 6,000ft, or take an off-road Jeep tour. It certainly builds up an appetite for a slice of that famous Madeira cake.

For more ideas on what to do in Madeira, feel free to check out the article MADEIRA CRUISE GUIDE, THINGS TO DO, SHORE EXCURSIONS​​​​​​​

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