A guide to Funchal
For most visitors to the sun-soaked island of Madeira, the harbour city of Funchal is their arrival point, but there are plenty of reasons why you might just end up staying there for the entire duration of your holiday.
Whether you're hoping to enjoy a cheap holiday in Madeira by keeping costs for activities low, or want to live it up in style, Funchal has plenty to keep travellers of all budgets entertained.
Let's take a look at all the fun things you can get up to while you're there:
Monte Cable Car
The most visible and arguably most popular attraction in this sunny seafront city is the Monte Cable Car, which whisks visitors up the steep hillside surrounding the town for stunning views out across the buildings and the ocean below.
Although it's quite pricy to ride Madeira's cable car (€15 return for adults; €7.50 for children), you can get better value for your visit by combining it with one of Funchal's other attractions at the top of the hill. A number of combi tickets are available, including the tropical and botanical gardens (see below).
As well as enjoying a commanding view over Funchal, the botanical gardens are well worth a visit in order to take in the sights and smells of 2,500 exotic plants, which thrive in Madeira's mild climate - much like the visitors.
Spread over 35,000 square metres, there's plenty of space here to find a secluded spot and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
The cable car sightseeing tour with entrance to the gardens included costs €30.25 for adults and €14.75 for children.
Blandy's Wine Lodge
As well as it's sunny climate, Madeira is also renowned for its unique brand of wine, which uses heat in the production process to give it a distinctive burnt quality. Much like Champagne, Madeira wine was first made by accident when a boatload of wine that had been on a journey to the Tropics returned to the island with its cargo unopened.
With no visit to the island complete without sampling some Madeira wine, what better place to do so than Blandy's Wine Lodge, where production has been taking place since 1840?
Tours lasting 45 minutes take place between Monday and Saturday and cost €5.50. During that time you'll learn about how the barrels are made, how the wine is aged and, of course, get a chance to taste some of the finished product.
The lodge is located in the centre of town, so if that's where you're staying you won't need to worry about drink-driving.
Santa Clara Monastery
Blandy's Wine Lodge isn't the only historic building in Funchal. The Santa Clara Monastery has been a Franciscan convent for many hundreds of years.
Decorations of note within the monastery's walls include the glazed tiling in the 'Santa Clara' pattern covering the walls of the nave and you will also encounter art and attractive pieces of architecture.
If it's a particularly hot day, taking a stroll around this historic building is the idea