Ferry to Porto Santo Island
From the harbour of Funchal you can take the ferry to Porto Santo Island every day. The ferry leaves ussually at 8 am from Funchal. The boattrip will take two and half hours.
You can return with the same boat, which leaves from Porto Santo island the same day at 6 pm. This way you can easily make a one day trip.If you wish you can bring a car at the ferry.
There are bars with snacks and little shops at the ferry. You can buy a regular ticket or a first class ticket. The first class lounge is at the front of the ship. In this ticket the breakfast in the morning and evening snacks are included.
Hop on hop off bus around Funchal
Like in many touristy places there are since the last years also the so called hop-on hop-off buses in Funchal. When you hp off there is every half an hour a next bus to hop on. A good opportunity to get familiar with a place when you visit for the first time.
Though we knew allready every place along the route for ten years or more, we decided to take the bus in 2011 for the first time. If your are too tired to walk, it's good way to go around. I liked the explanations by earphone. Even learnwed some new facts of the island.
I liked the views from a higher point of view and the relaxed way to see all the places we visited before.
The route of the buses passes not only the old citycentre, the viewpoint Pico dos Barcelos, the lido area in Funchal, but also heads to the fishing village Camara de Lobos. Here we made a longer lunch stop
- Historical Travel
Landrovertrip to the west
In 2008 I made a full day off landrover trip to the west of the island. After a visit to the view point Cabo Giraõ we followed unpaved tracks in the woods close to Jardim da Serra.
The most spectacular part of the trip was following the track from Ribiera Brava up to high plains of Pau da Serra. I loved the rough landscape along a stream. We saw only some cows along the track.
From Pau do Serra we followed unpaved tracks down to Porto Moniz at the North western point of Madeira Island.
The other parts of the route we knew from our trips by hired car.
- National/State Park
- Road Trip
Boattrips, catamaran sailing trip
In the marina you can book a trip by catamaran two times a day. The main reason to do so is to see dolphins and whales in front of the coast of Madeira Island. The trip will take about 3 hours.
We made the trip in 2011. At sea the sails went in top. A pity the day we sailed out we didn't see any dolphins and whales like the day before. At the end of the trip two whales were spotted, but we couldn't reach them.
Finally the only things we saw at sea were fishing boats and a few jellyfishes. Anyway we enjoyed the relaxed boattrip with the great views at the coast.
Airport, just above the sea
The airport Santa Catarina is built just at the shore of the ocean. Because of the mountaineous area it was necessary to built the runway on stilts in the ocean.
The first time we visited Madeira island, we went back to the airport the next day to have a look at its construction. We saw, they had started new construction works to extend the runway by building new stilts. By this extension it is possible, that also larger planes can come to Madeira.
From the air you have a great view at the runway just before landing.
- Budget Travel
Boattrips, Santa Maria
In the marina near the pier in Funchal you can book several boattrips like half-day trips or full-day trips and cocktailcruises. On sea you have the opportunity to sea dolphins and turtles. There are also deep sea fishing trips. In the port also leaves the ferry for Porto Santo island .
The first boattrip I booked was a half day trip with the Santa Maria, a traditional, newly built ship, like the one of Columbus used a few centuries ago. Especially for kids it is a lot of fun.
The Santa Maria heads west till Cabo Giraõ. If you are lucky you can see dolphins like we did.
The boat leaves in the port, west of the marina. You can't miss it.
- Sailing and Boating
In Funchal you can take the cable car to Monte, just in the mountains. It takes about 15 minutes.
There are 41 cabins with 8 seats each. So there can be transported 800 persons per hour !
We were lucky and the only persons in the cabine, when we go up, so we had very good views all around, at the mountains, the city, the harrbour, the ocean. It was also very nice to have a close look at Funchal from above.
One way: 8 euro
Roundtrip: 13 euro
Children 4-14 years: half money
Children 0-4 years: free
Operation schedule: 10.00 am to 7.00 pm
Mini Bus Tours
Several companies will offer you guided tour for levadas walking or island explorations. All companies offer the same price more or less 10% of difference. I prefer small group than large one so I could recommend this one Macaronesia-tours, they will pick you up from your hotel, you just need to book the tour the previous day. They have a special during my stay if you book 3 tours, they will offer one.
My native guide was multilanguage and knowlegable about the local fauna, plants, history, culture... and the driver was safe on the narrow mountain roads.
Enjoy the ride!
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
- Adventure Travel
Madeira Airport (FNC)
Fasten your seat belt and be ready for landing...
Madeira Airport (FNC) is located 20km from Funchal. In 2000 the runway was extended to 2.8 km long compared to the previous (too) short 1.6km and able to welcome Boeing 747 and Airbus A340. Capacity is 3.5 millions passengers with 40 check-in counters and 16 boarding gates. On top floor you could find the bar/restaurant and enjoy landing or take-off from the observation deck.
This airport use to have a bad reputation because of an accident in 1977. After 2 unsuccessful attempts to land the boeing 727, the aircraft overran the runway after an aquaplanning due to difficult weather conditions (heavy rain and wind). 131 people were killed. Recent improvments have strongly reduce the risks.
In 2008, 2.4 millions passengers fly to/from the island thanks to 22'800 flights operated by 30 airlines and from/to 45 destinations. So who's next ;-)
- Budget Travel
The Ride of a lifetime and very scary,the world-famous carro de cesto street toboggans, this is a must do ride, they attract thousands of tourists every year who want to make this exciting experience of sliding at high speed on narrow, winding streets down to Funchal. These two-seater wicker sledges glide on wooden runners, skilled drivers will push and steer your wicker sled through the streets and down three miles of steep winding roads traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes.
The downhill journey to Funchal is made in about 10 minutes on a total course of 3miles, reaching at times a speed of 48 km/hour. Adventurous, yet safe, an ‘old-fashioned’ toboggan ride to make your way down from Monte is the perfect contrast to the high-technology cable car going up to Monte. Don’t miss out on it! The cost is about €12
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
On the northern coast of the island the road is narrow and winding, clinging to the edge of the rock over the sea and often interrupted by tunnels.
Sometimes a rivulet flows down the tunnel wall and streams down to the valley. Such tunnels do not exist anymore in Funchal because of the flow of money coming from the European Union.
Coaches wind their way from Funchal with day trippers to have a look at the last of the once widespread thatched Madeiran farmhouses in Santana.
About 500 meters from the bus parking is a Gondola (cable car) providing transport to the steeply descending slopes of Rocha Do Navio. It is only used when required for a couple hours a day for farmers to transport their harvest from their inaccessible poststamp size piece of land perched on the cliff.
- Family Travel
Runaway airport Funchal
The Airport of Funchal is known for its short and unusual prolongation of the runaway into the sea. From the photo you can recognize the stilts on which the landing strip is prolonged out into the sea. With its grey concrete pillars it looks as if a giant had stuck it to the rocks directly over the sea. To land, the plane flies past the runaway, goes down steadily and then must start a sharp right-hand bend and the landing strip should immediately lie in front of the aeroplane.
Quite an achievement for the pilot.
Arriving by Airplane
Not sure if we were just unlucky or whether this is a frequent occurrence, but the pilots warned us during the approach and exits from the island that landing and take off might be a bit bumpy due to the high winds. In fact the pilot who flew us on to the island said conditions were 'at the limit' and that if at first he didn't succeed, he may need to pass round again. No pressure there then!!! He did land it with a good thump and to rapturous applause. The approach for landing is over the Sao Lourenco Peninsula at the east end of the island (see picture), along the south coast in a westerly direction, then a u-turn and return approach along the south coast in an easterly direction to land on the air strip. The end of this is built out over the sea, so as airports go this is quite a stunning location.
Apparently this airport is noted for dramatic landings and take-offs. We found the airport itself to be very clean and 'well groomed'. We didn't explore the restaurants or viewing terrace which are supposedly excellent facilities.
f you do decide to drive yourself, the dual carriageway from the airport is good although full of bends and tunnels. We were heading 8 miles west of Funchal, to the Holiday Property Bond (HPB) at Cabo Girao (the highest cliffs in the world?). The final mile or so from the Junction 3 exit of the 'Via Rapida' through Quinte Grande was quite steep with narrow roads and hairpins. If you are happy with this sort of driving (you will find yourself doing it all week), go for it and hire a car. We found it invaluable.
- Road Trip
Car Hire on Madeira
We decided to do our usual and do a DIY car hire for the week from the airport on landing. Used a price comparison website at http://www.economycarhire.com/ and from suppliers listed ended up with a category `A' vehicle for the week from a company called Amigos Do Auto at £101 all in. It was pre-paid in the UK to the aforementioned website and all went smoothly. We had to find their rep. at the airport (not difficult) and after confirming our details were taken to our car outside the terminal in Car Park 1 and given an exit ticket. Simply had to return the car to the same car park and leave it unlocked with key inside a week later....dead easy
- Road Trip