Funchal Old Town

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February, 2024

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We stayed in Funchal Madeira in February. Everything about the place is so attractive – it’s no wonder people choose to return again and again. Our hotel the Pestana Carlton was quite central and only a short walk into the old town via beautiful gardens with sea views. However, as I was still recovering from an operation, so we used the local buses. These are bright orange and with a frequent service. It costs less than 5 Euros for a day ticket.

The climate in Madeira is sub-tropical and , because the island is in the Atlanic Ocean, the temperature stays pleasantly warm all year round. On our first day we explored the old town (Zona Velha) with its little shops, restaurants and markets. The place was preparing for a week of carnival festivities. Apparently, Madeira has frequent festivals throughout the year to celebrate everything from saints to apples.

Within the narrow streets the small houses have their doors painted with charming street art making the area into an outdoor gallery. There are lush gardens everywhere with fountains and sculptures. The typical artwork inside and outside of buildings is the traditional blue and white Portuguese tiles. I popped into the old baroque-style church of Santa Maria, also known as the Church of Socorro, which was awe inspiring with intricately carved wooden Rococo-style embellishments painted in gold leaf, painted ceilings and a magnificent silver sanctuary.

After browsing the market stalls and craft shops, nothing beats a sit down at a pavement cafe to enjoy a glass of the local drink Puncha made of rum, lemon and honey. Then a relaxed spot of people-watching as they stroll along the black and white patterned stone walkways. We enjoyed a waffle with ice cream on top. Only problem – a knife and fork to eat it with! The fun part of Funchal!


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