The deciding factor for our trip to Funchal, Madeira, was its year-round warm climate. Sunbathing in March? Absolutely. After many a long winter in the UK, we were a team of sun seekers on a mission to find a place that would make the month of March one to look forward to. And what a delightful month it was…
Perfectly perched on the sunny south coast of Madeira, Funchal is known and loved for its fair weather – never too hot and never too cold. It’s a happy place of sunshine and smiles. A striking vision of dramatic green mountains against a glittering, deep blue Atlantic ocean.
As the aircraft approached a somewhat dubious looking runway (with a landing strip that seemed to be jutting out over the water), the sense of island adventure officially kicked in. Once on the ground, an easy drive along well-built, established highways, winding our way through tunnels and crossing long bridges spanning deep, rocky valleys, lush with flourishing trees and flowers, quickly dispersed any idea that Funchal was an insignificant island town. This was a bustling city, with lots to do and see.
The town itself is beautiful and clean. It’s as if the locals really take pride in every detail – one of the first things I noticed was a shop owner meticulously polishing his shop windows, taking care to get every spot. The cobbled streets are laid out in beautiful designs, each one a work of art. There are colourful flowers and lush trees blooming everywhere, and there is literally music in the air. A beautiful buzz of local musicians strumming guitars, the clinking of wine glasses and coffee cups, friendly chatter and the odd sound of a cruise liner blowing it’s horn as it approaches the harbour. Just lovely.
We stayed in an apartment in Sao Martinho, just west of Funchal’s main town. The location was ideal, as we were surrounded by beautiful cafes and restaurants, close to a number of stunning hotels overlooking the ocean, and still within easy walking distance of the main town. Each day began with a fresh cup of coffee on the balcony, soaking up the bright sunshine and marveling at the stunning view over the Funchal coastline. It was just the warm, sunny escape we were looking for.
It may be a small island, but Madeira has so much to offer that I wouldn’t be able to mention everything in this one post. In Funchal alone you can relax and enjoy an exquisite dining experience, shop till you drop, play a quick game of golf, enjoy the beautiful gardens, take a boat trip, go diving in the fresh, crystal-clear waters, take a cable car ride up into the cool mountains and marvel at the view, go whale watching or even swim with dolphins. If you like to surf, you can head out of Funchal, take a drive along steep winding roads and venture through some of the rural villages until you reach some of the raw and unspoilt surf spots. The options are endless.
One of my fondest memories of Funchal overall was the people. They are so friendly and helpful, and they really do seem to just be happy. It’s a safe, beautiful place – a little island of sunny dreams.