Funchal is the capital and largest city on the island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal. Home to just over 100,000 people, the city was founded in 1424 and quickly became an important port of call for European ships.
Cable car © nutmeg66
Named for the abundant fennel trees in the area, Funchal has many beautiful parks and gardens, including the Madeira Botanical Gardens, which offer a stunning view of the city as well as more than 2,000 species of plant life. This is also a stopping point for the Funchal Cable Car, which goes up the mountain to Monte. The Madeira Botanical Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in Funchal, but also worth a visit are the Jardins Do Palheiro and the Monte Palace Hotel Gardens.
Funchal is home to lovely old buildings and cultural sites, including the 15th-century Santa Clara Convent, the São Lourenço Palace, the Colegio Church, and Sé Cathedral. However, even aimlessly wandering through the 'Old' city centre is a pleasant way to spend a day, with the port and promenade, and numerous shops, cafés and restaurants lining the winding streets.
The city is known for its excellent cuisine and local Madeira wine, and foodies will have no trouble finding treats like fresh seafood and baked goods to satisfy their appetites. To burn off those calories, there are plenty of active pursuits to enjoy in Funchal including golf, swimming, paragliding, boat trips, and the unforgettable Levada Walks.