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Cheap Flights to Funchal, Madeira

  • Area                          : 76.15km² (29 sq mil)
  • Area Code                 : (+351) 291
  • Currency                   : Euro
  • Population                 : 111,892 (2011)
  • Official Language      : Portuguese
  • Time Zone                 : WET (UTC0) Summer (DST) WEST (UTC+1)
  • Airport : Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport (FNC)

‘FNC’ also known as ‘Madeira’ or ‘Funchal’ airport is located in Santa Cruz, around 21km from the city. Travellers can take a 30-minute ride with the ‘Aerobus’ to the city, operational daily. Taxis are available but it’s best to make a reservation online with ‘TaxiTender’. Available car rentals include ‘Sixt’, ‘Budget’, ‘Enterprise’, ‘Avis’, ‘Guerin’, ‘Hertz’, ‘Europcar’ and others located just past the airport’s baggage reclaim area.

From Cape Town travellers can fly to ‘FNC’ with the following airlines, with one plus stops:

  • TAAG, TAP Portugal (via Luanda, Lisbon) 16h 40m+
  • South African, Swiss (via Johannesburg, Zürich) 19h 10m+
  • British Airways (via London) 19h 25m+
  • Iberia (via Madrid) 20h 10m+
  • Air Namibia, Lufthansa (via Windhoek, Frankfurt) 20h 10m+
  • KLM (via Amsterdam) 21h 15m+
  • Turkish (via Istanbul) 21h 35m+
  • Kulula (via Johannesburg) 21h 45m+
  • Luxair (via Luxembourg City) 21h 55m+
  • Austrian (via Vienna) 21h 55m+
  • Condor (via Munich) 22h 0m+

Additional airlines operating to ‘FNC include:

  • Aero Vip
  • Aigle Azur
  • Air Berlin
  • Air Nostrum
  • Binter
  • Brussels
  • Condor
  • EasyJet
  • Edelweiss Air
  • Finnair
  • Monarch
  • Niki
  • Norwegian
  • Transavia
  • Vueling

Reasons to Visit Funchal, Madeira:

  • Capital of Madeira for over five centuries, Funchal is one of Portugal’s top destinations, rich in history with settlements starting in the early 1400s that included settler, Christopher Columbus. The island and particularly Funchal, was susceptible to pirate attacks with armadas anchored off the beach, sadly resulting in little of the city remaining; it later survived two bombardments during WWI from German U-boats. Notable visitors to grace its shores for therapeutic health recuperation and leisure include the Elisabeth, empress of Austria-Hungary (1837-1898), Charles 1 of Austria and Winston Churchill, who it’s said, enjoyed holidaying on the island. Not forgetting famous footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo who was born and grew up in this island city.
  • The city is backed with verdant mountains and renowned for its beautiful gardens, wine cellars and harbour with docked cruise liners. In addition to marvellous historical and cultural attractions, plenty of museums, galleries, local cuisine and wine, visitors have great outdoor activities comprising camping, hiking, boating, swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, dolphin and whale watching, extreme sports and a variety of fabulous tours suited to all ages.
  • Exert your body in natural beauty with stunning vistas by hiking up ‘Pico Ruivo’, only assessable on foot, the island’s highest peak at 1,862m or try the 3rd highest ‘Pico do Arieiro’ at 1,818; lose yourself in an enormous exotic collection of plant life, like no other in Europe, at ‘Jardins Botânicos da Madeira’ that comprises an area 80,000m², hidden gems and visit the aviary (on the same ticket) with canaries, budgies, parrots and parakeets at the southern end; spend time at ‘Feira da Lagartixa’ (the ‘Lizard’ flea market) on Saturdays in the ‘Old Town’ to purchase small unique items and souvenirs for taking home; buy fresh fruit, vegetables, fish or flowers at the ‘Farmers’ Market’ that’s vibrant with colours and varying aromas; for a memorial night out, savour a simple meal with marvellous entertainment of folklore dances and Fado singers where you join in.
  • Budget travellers have numerous hostels that include ‘109 Funchal Hostel’,  ‘Phil’s Haven’, ‘Hostel Santa Maria Funchal’ and others. For a budget 3-Star hotel there’s ‘Dorisol Mimosa’, relaxed with sea views; for luxury the 5-Star ‘Belmond Reid’s Palace’ affords a spa and fine dining. Additional accommodation includes affordable and posh B&Bs, Inns, self-catering establishments and camping.
  • There’s a great variety of restaurants cooking up delicious regional and international cuisines, some laid-back and others fine dining. For a taste of excellent local or Mediterranean fare reserve a table at the ‘Dona Amelia Restaurant’, one of the city’s finest eateries. Nightlife comprises nightclubs, the oldest and most popular is ‘Vespas’, catering for young and old with two separate sections. Another ‘Copacabana’, located in the casino is chic with Latino and Brazilian sounds. ‘Café Teatro’, a daytime coffee shop transforms after sunset into a chic club attracting the ‘yuppie’ crowd. Both a bar and club is ‘Gloria Latina’ that affords dancing or relaxing on one of two terraces, the also club has a  resident band playing over weekends.

When to Visit Funchal, Madeira:

Travellers can visit Funchal all year round, except for November. Generally the hottest months are July through October; July the driest and December the wettest. July, August, September and October average highs around 25/26°C with sea temperatures around 22/23°C. April, May and June average highs of 19, 21 and 23°C respectively with sea temperatures at 18, 19 and 20°C. January experiences around 67mm rain; October 71mm; November 73mm and December 103mm.

Places to Visit Funchal, Madeira:

  • The ‘Cathedral of Funchal’, one the city’s oldest structures built in 1514 by the first Portuguese colonists is a beautiful blend of Gothic and Romanesque styles.
  • A top attraction is ‘Sé’, located in the middle of the city has much beauty and history. It’s the island’s primary place of worship with its tower dominating the skyline as it did in the early 16th century.
  • The ‘São Pedro’ (St. Peter) church, established in 1595 became popular with the island’s more affluent families.
  • A must experience is the ‘Santa Clara Monastery’, founded in 1496 with beautiful assets to be appreciated.
  • The ‘Sao Tiago Fortress’ built during the 1600s is now home to the ‘Contemporary Art Museum’ that features a large collection of works by Portuguese artists; additional museums include ‘Sacred Art’, ‘Museu Cardina’, ‘Museu de Imprensa da Madeira’, ‘Núcleo Museológico Mary Jane Wilson’, ‘Madeira Optics’, ‘Museu Etnográfico da Madeira’ and more.
  • Stop at ‘Blandy’s Wine Lodge’ where much is gleaned on Madeira wine making. Obtained in 1840 by Charles R Blandy this establishment is an integral part of the island’s wine production and the only one with the founders still managing the original company.
  • For spectacular vistas of Madeira’s natural beauty and surroundings, take the ‘Monte Cable Car’, a popular tourist attraction.
  • ‘Jardim Tropical Monte Palace’ is a marvellous multi-level botanical garden with exotic flowers and trees, ponds, African sculptures and a mineral museum.
  • Favoured for leisure and natural beauty in the city centre is ‘Santa Catarina Park’ with a total area of 36,000m² it has lush lawns, trees and flora from around the globe, walking paths, an enchanting lake with a small islet where swans and ducks reside and the ‘Santa Catarina’ chapel.

Getting Around Funchal, Madeira:

Travelling by local bus is the cheapest mode of travel, even if the slowest, you can travel around the whole island for a lot less than with tour companies. Buses depart mainly from a large park of the Funchal waterfront. Tickets can be purchased from newsstands in the centre city. Note that bus rides into the mountains can be uncomfortable and fairly bouncy.

Taxis are cost effective when three or four passengers travel together. They’re also comfortable with the majority of vehicles comprising Mercedes or Peugeots. With most drivers speaking English, negotiate and confirm the price in advance. There’s normally a line of taxis along Avenida Arriaga, opposite the tourist office.

Car Hire:
It’s not advisable to drive yourself, unless you’re exceptionally skilled at driving on narrow roads with hairpin turns and other reckless drivers. Available rental agencies include ‘Avis’, ‘Budget’, ‘Europcar’ and ‘Hertz’.