Flights to Funchal
Funchal is both the capital and the largest city of Madeira, an archipelago under Portuguese control that lies in the Atlantic Ocean to the south west of Portugal. Funchal has long been popular with tourists for its climate, history and scenery.
Flights to Funchal land at the Madeira Airport (airport code: FNC), which is also known as the Funchal Airport to the locals. Most flights to Funchal coming from Johannesburg have 2 connections. With either Virgin Atlantic or British Airways, you will have transfers in London and then Lisbon, but Lufthansa stops in Frankfurt and Lisbon. For another option, you can book with South African Airways and take a flight to Funchal with them via Dakar and Lisbon.
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The Tourist Attractions of Funchal:
Funchal has been Madeira’s capital for over 500 years and was founded as a settlement in 1424. Its position out in the Atlantic meant that Funchal quickly developed as an important port and the city remains a busy an important port to this day. The settlement was named Funchal after the large amounts of wild fennel that the first inhabitants found growing in the region when they landed here.
Today Funchal is a lovely tourist destination where you can explore the historic streets, enjoy some great meals, and wander into the hills surrounding the city for great views, scenery and flora. Amongst the things to see and do in Funchal are the following:
Madeira Botanical Gardens
The Madeira Botanical Gardens are a great place to enjoy those hillside views and flora mentioned above. Perched on the hillside these gardens are one of the top attractions in Madeira as a whole and feature more than 2000 different plants, and of course those great views over Funchal and out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Funchal Passenger Ropeway
Another way to experience some great views is from the Funchal Passenger Ropeway. This is an aerial gondola lift that transports passengers from within downtown Funchal up to the suburb of Monte. You’ll enjoy views as you climb and you can also enjoy a couple of attractions in Monte itself including a fast speed toboggan run 2 kilometres down the streets of Monte to Livramento.
Landmarks in Funchal
Many of the landmarks in Funchal are historical religious buildings. The Cathedral is one of these and it’s said to be the most visited ‘monument’ in Funchal. It was built between 1493 and 1517. Santa Clara Convent is another and it’s now recognised as a national monument. The convent dates from the 15th century.
A non-religious landmark is the Sao Lourenco Palace. It seems to be a cross between a palace and a fortress and was constructed in the mannerist architectural style. You can take a tour of the palace and the gardens.
Ferry to Porto Santo
For a change of scenery you can take a ferry trip to Madeira’s other main island, Porto Santo from Funchal. This is a smaller island and offers some beautiful beaches, the home of Christopher Columbus, and more lovely scenery.
When Should You Visit?:
Funchal is most popular during the summer when the days are hot and there is little rainfall. August is the hottest month when the average high is 25.6C and the average low is just under 19C. Rainfall picks up considerably in October and is heaviest until March but temperatures remain warm over the winter with the average high still a warm 19C in January.