Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Five Things To Love About Funchal, Madeira

Funchal Botanical Gardens

After cruising around the Canary Islands onboard Anthem of the Seas, we sailed north to the port of Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira. If you're due to holiday or cruise here, here's five things you can look forward to...

The Striking Cityscape
Pulling open my stateroom curtains, my eyes weren't quite prepared for the spectacular sight in front of me. Peppered all over the rugged green hills are bright white and orange buildings - the highest touching the wispy clouds.

Port of Funchal Madeira
Funchal city scape

With fantasy-like views, it was rather bewildering to then see a 'pirate ship' sailing below...

Port of Funchal, Santa Maria de Colombo

The Santa Maria de Colombo
The Santa Maria doesn't belong to Captain Hook however, it's a replica of the ship Christopher Columbus would have sailed in on his ocean voyages. 
Years ago, Columbus journeyed to the islands of Madeira before exploring the 'New World', and for a time lived in Porto Santo where his wife was from.

Columbus statue in Funchal

Today the Santa Maria sails from the Port of Funchal for visitors to enjoy a unique perspective of the island - and hopefully spot some wild dolphins!

Anthem of the Seas in Funchal Madeira
Yesterday's ship greets today's...

The Beautiful Botanical Gardens
After leaving the port, I headed up the hillside to enjoy the beautiful Santa Catarina park and gardens. It's a pleasant and relatively easy walk from the ship, so if you're cruising into Funchal it's worth exploring here before heading to the commercial centre.

Flowers in Funchal Madeira

The park is full of colourful plants, open fields and water features that really helped fuel my enchanting first impression of Funchal.

The best gardens in Funchal
Fountains and flowers in Funchal
St Catherines Chapel in Funchal Madeira
St. Catherine's Chapel, the oldest on the island. 

Presidential Palace in Funchal Madeira
Tropical flowers in Funchal, Madeira

The gardens host an amazing variety of flowers from all over the world including; North America, Asia, and Africa with Madagascar's fluorescent pink periwinkles.

Flower tunnel, Landscaped gardens
Funchal flower garden
Tropical plants in Funchal Madeira

The Ritz Café
Heading down into the commercial centre, I was greeted by familiar fashion stores like H&M, as well as shopping arcades and souvenir stalls.

Yellow taxis in Funchal
Ice cream at The Ritz, Funchal

The original architecture around here has been beautifully maintained, my favourite had to be The Ritz Café that proved to be a very popular spot for some al fresco dining.

Pontinha Island
Just around the corner from the Ritz Café is the Marina where I enjoyed a short walk along the water before heading back to the port. Before I boarded the ship, I decided to spend my final few moments not really in Funchal at all...

Pontinha Island, Unusual places in Europe

Pontinha is an intriguing little island that you can't miss when entering or exiting the Port.
Prince Renato II founded the tiny country himself a few years ago when he purchased the land off a British family (source). It has an intricate cave and roof top veranda that provides a lovely ocean view.

View of Atlantic Ocean from island of Madeira

Even though my visit here was only brief, Madeira has made a life-long impression.
Another attraction to consider when visiting the city is the Cable Car that takes you right up into them rugged hills - sounds amazing, right?!

For those of you interested in cruising to Funchal, it tends to feature on Canary Islands based itineraries. Have a look at my other ports of call guides by clicking here.
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© Explore With Ed | Wales based Food, Travel and Cruise Blog

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