Funchal Shore Excursions
Santa Catarina Park
Just across from the end of the cruise ship pier lies lovely Santa Catarina Park, an ideal place for a stroll or a picnic, especially just before returning to ship. There’s a central lawn area, surrounded by a maze of pathways between colorful flowerbeds. Hardened horticulturalists may also like the more specialist Botanical Gardens at Quinta do Bom Sucesso, 3 km from Funchal.
A cable car lifts you from Funchal center to the small mountain village of Monte. The ride take around 15 minutes. Once up in Monte, visit the small but lovely Monte Palace tropical garden. To get back to Funchal, choose between three options. First is to return on the cable car. Second is to walk down one of the unique Madeiran levadas (irrigation ditches turned paths), though be careful as the levada walk from Monte to Funchal follows the Levada do Bom Sucesso, which has precipitous drops beneath it. Third is to shoot down the road on a traditional wicker toboggan (a two-passenger wicker sled controlled by two men working as outriders).
Mercado dos Lavradores
The most authentic shopping experience in Funchal is the Mercado dos Lavradores, which contains a fish market, a huge fruit and vegetable market, and a flower market. Flower stallholders are often dressed in a Madeiran costume of corselet, striped skirt and leather boots. They’ll be only too happy to be in a photo if you buy some flowers! Next to the market you’ll find many embroidery stores – Madeira is world famous for its embroidery – and the stores offer towels, sheets, blouses, purses and lots more delicately decorated with fine needlework. The market is situated slightly inland, about half-a-mile east of the cruise pier.
Fortaleza de Sao Tiago
The Forte de Sao Tiago was built in 1620 to defend the city against attacks from pirates. It now holds a contemporary art museum, with works from a wide variety Portuguese artists. A walk around the walls offers tremendous views across the bay. Located about a mile east of the cruise pier.
Barreirinha Swimming Pool
Madeira is a steep island of volcanic origin, so there are no beaches to speak of, only small strips of black powdery lava under high cliffs. The Barreirinha Swimming Pool makes a great stand-in, with a child’s pool and direct access into the sea for adults. Facilities include lockers, changing rooms, umbrellas, sun loungers, a café,and a lifeguard. Located next to the Forte de Sao Tiago.
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