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The exquisite city of Funchal, on Portugal's island of Madeira, is a place of incredible lights and sights, dreamy sunsets and gorgeous scenery. The wildlife in the surrounding area is remarkable, and the museums are outstanding. Funchal is an architecturally diverse city with many interesting landmarks. Although Funchal is quite developed, the remainder of the island is remote and made up of dense jungle.
The island itself is located in the Madeira archipelago and belongs to Portugal. Madeira is 530 miles southwest of Portugal and is one of only two inhabited islands in the region. A coastal city, Funchal is by far the most active city on Madeira. You'll like the fine dining facilities, good shopping and active nightlife. There are a number of very nice stores, lively bars and nightclubs. One of the world's highest ocean cliffs is found on Madeira, and there are plenty of places to hike, explore and see all kinds of terrain.
Madeira redefines the word vacation, as there are so many leisure spots laced throughout Funchal. The Golfe de Madeira golf course is outstanding, but the course is actually outdone by the fabulous scenery that encompasses the greens. The hills and coastline of Madeira are extraordinarily beautiful, and the climate on the island is lovely.
The beautiful Praca do Municipo, also known as Municipal Square, is located in the center of town. This is the place where the locals get together during the afternoons or evenings, and everyone has a calm and comfortable air about them. White and black crescent-moon designs made of lava make up the tile seen all around you, and the buildings are simply charming.
The Jardim Botanico, on Caminho do Meio (291-211-200), is perhaps the best botanical garden in Portugal. The beauty here is unparalleled on the island. There are plants from all over the world — some of which are incredibly exotic and rare — and the birds-of-paradise are the favorites for both tourists and locals. Legend has it that the petrified heather tree in the middle of the gardens is 10 million years old.
The Museu Municipal do Funchal, at Rua Mouraria 31 (291-229-761), is a combination museum and wildlife refuge. All of the animals of the Madeira archipelago can be seen here, including eels, scorpion fish, puffers and turtles. If you are a bird fan, then this is definitely the place for you because the bird displays and open-air habitats are remarkable.
Palheiro Golf (São Gonçalo, 291/792-116) is a fun place to play a round and is surrounded by pine and eucalyptus trees that add the perfect touch to the course grounds. The conditions here are always ideal, and the scenery is picturesque.
Bordados de Madeira is located on Rua do Visconde de Anadia 44 (291/223-341). The embroidered pieces here are excellent, and there is a wide selection of items that would be perfect for your home or to give as a gift. Casa do Turista can be found at Rua do Conselheiro José Silvestre Ribeiro 2 (291/224-907) and features authentic, handmade crafts to purchase.
Macelino Pão y Vinho is located at Travessa da Torre 22A (291/230-834) and is a festive dance club with music that is always playing. It is an exciting and fun place to be, and the party goes on all night. Prince Albert, located on Rua da Imperatriz Dona Amelia (291/235-793), is a wonderful Victorian style pub featuring delicious beer and an even greater atmosphere.
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Funchal at Avenida do Mar. From there, you can walk to many of the tourist destinations in the city or opt to take a bus, taxi or rent a car.
Many people choose to rent a car while staying in Funchal, and there are several rental car companies available. Avis Rent-a-Car has an office in Funchal at Larguinho Antonio Nobre 164 (291-764-546). Visitors can rent a motorcycle or scooter as well. Contact Joyride at Avenida do Infante 210-211 (291-234-906) for complete rental information.
Language: Portuguese, but English is widely spoken
Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport.
Tipping: Tipping is important in Portugal just as much as in other parts of the world, and it's customary to tip about 10%.
Safety: The island has very little crime, but it is recommended to be aware of your surroundings.
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