Hiring a car in Funchal

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Hiring a car in Funchal

Pick up your hire car at Funchal airport and get ready for a trip to the handsome harbour for a chilled glass of Madeira wine.

60-second guide to Funchal

in its own head

"We're the most important and beautiful city on Madeira. Starting in the harbour and gently slanting up to the hills 1,200 metres above sea level. Stunning."

but more realistically

It really does look great. Which is why it is by far and away the most popular Madeira port for excitable cruise ships.

the vibe

Like any great-looking harbour, it's all about the mooching around and relaxing.

the natives

They're friendly, and there are lots of them. There are around 120,000 people living in the city.

the weather

The summers are good, but it never gets unbearably hot - sitting proudly around the mid-20s.

the local speciality

It's a port, so seafood is a must. The real local delicacy is the famous Madeira wine. Bottoms up!

the celebrity

Is a certain Cristiano Ronaldo a big enough name? That's right, the world's most tanned footballer is a Funchal native.

did you know?

The city was named after the everyday household herb fennel - which is known as "funcho" in Portuguese. There's a load of the stuff on the island.

they say

According to the Daily Mail: "Cristiano Ronaldos' metrosexual, high-maintenance fashion style is both ridiculed and admired in equal measures." You can make up your own mind at his Funchal boutique, CR7.

5 to see in town...

1. Monte Palace Tropical Garden

This enormous mountain-top estate is filled with exotic plants, contemporary sculptures and amazing fish. Excellent.

where to park?

There's free onsite parking.

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2. Frederico de Freitas Museum

Colourful local lawyer Dr Frederico Augusto da Cunha Freitas was a good solicitor, but an absolutely amazing collector of brilliant things. Here you can see his favourite paintings, artefacts and antiques.

where to park?

Park at the nearby Dolce Vita shopping centre.

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3. Blandy's Wine Lodge

Take a 30-minute tour, then get stuck into some pretty intense wine tasting. You could even leave the building with a bottle of 100-year-old wine from a hundred years ago - if you've got enough cash on you.

where to park?

Park at the Galeria Sao Lourenco shopping centre, which is free for the first hour and €2 per hour thereafter.

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4. Santa Clara Monastery

When all the wine tasting has finally caught up with you, head to this monastery for a bit of peace and quiet.

where to park?

The nearest place to park is the Dolce Vita shopping centre, which is a short walk from the monastery.

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5. Mercado dos Lavradores

This covered market on two storeys sells everything from fresh fish and every kind of fruit and vegetable you can think of to leather goods.

where to park?

You can park in the streets around the market for around €2.

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and 4 to drive to...

1. Curral das Freiras

Or, translated, "Valley of the Nuns" - which sounds like a brilliant horror film. It is, however, a stunning village set in the crater of a long-extinct volcano.

how to get there?

Take the R101 heading west out of Funchal. It's about a six mile drive.

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2. Santana

This is probably the top theme park on the island, but don't go along expecting to see amazing rollercoasters. It's not that kind of party. It's more dainty flowers and hilarious giant shoe sculptures.

how to get there?

It's a 31-mile drive to Santana. Head north-west on the R103.

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3. Choupana Hills Spa

Everyone loves a spa - and this one is excellent. Set on a lovely hillside, you can bob around in a pool overlooking the whole of Funchal. Lovely.

how to get there?

Head north out of Funchal and follow directions for the Jardim Botanico. Go past the gardens and turn right at Restaurant do Miranda. It should take around half an hour.

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4. Praia Formosa

For those looking for a spot of intense beach time, this is the place. Tonnes of smouldering sand, a handful of snack bars, and little playgrounds for the kids to monkey around in. Brilliant.

how to get there?

Head west along the coast and you can't miss it. It's only a couple of miles out of town.

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