Funchal

A nice bay protected by sloping mountains
The majestic Church of the Incarnation
The Cabo Girão cliffs

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Funchal/Madeira

Tasting the flavour of the rebuçados de funcho

As you arrive in Funchal on an MSC cruise, your ship will cast anchor in a bay protected by mountains rising straight up behind the port. The name, Funchal, derives from that of the fennel plant, the funcho still used today in the traditional sweets known as rebuçados de funcho, that one can find anywhere on the island of Madeira.
 
An excursion will take you around the town centre, to visit historic churches, from the A Sé Cathedral, with its inlaid ceiling, to the majestic Church of the Incarnation, to the church of Carmo without a vault.

Another MSC excursion will take you up to the village of Monte, from where one can admire a spectacular view of the Funchal bay. You can visit its 18th century church and the tomb of the last Austrian emperor, Charles I, and stroll around the magnificent botanic gardens. But if you like heights, there’s nothing more impressive than the Cabo Girão and its 589 metre tall cliffs, amongst the highest in the world, at the foot of which lie the cultivated lands known as Fajãs do Cabo Girão.

If you’re looking for an equipped beach during your MSC cruise, another excursion will take you to Machico. Founded in the 15th century, it hosts the oldest religious building on the island, the Capela dos Milagres, and the fortresses of São João Baptista and Nossa Senhora do Amparo built in the beginning of the 16th century.

The more lively tourist attraction is instead in Calheta, on the south-west coast. Splendid yachts cruising across the Atlantic are moored in the port and if you want to go for a swim there are two beautiful beaches of golden sand; in spite of the modern structures Calheta dates back to the mid-15th century. This is where they make the “Aguardente”, the best white rhum, and fundamental ingredient of Madeira’s typical drink, the “Poncha” .

Must see places in Funchal

  • Monte Palace Tropical Garden

    Monte Palace Tropical Garden

  • The town from Pico dos Barcelos

    The town from Pico dos Barcelos

  • Toboggan down from Monte

    Toboggan down from Monte

Discover our excursions

7 results found

  • EXPLORING FUNCHAL BY 4X4

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    FUN09

    The historical city of Funchal has been Madeira’s capital for more than 500 years and its greater municipal area is also home to a panoply of untouched natural beauty that this exciting road trip in a 4x4 will give you a chance to experience at first hand. Once settled in your modern jeep, you will make your way inland through one of Madeira’s most enchanting forest regions, whose abundance of wild fennel also gave Funchal its name. As you travel along a pleasantly meandering and undulating route, you can sit back and savour amazing views of mountain peaks, cascading rivers and verdant valleys – and capture some fabulous vistas for posterity during numerous photo stops. Largely hidden by the mountainous topology of this volcanic island, these secluded areas and protected natural habitats promise to give you an authentic taste of the island in its purest form, “essence of Madeira”, if you will. Your essential exploration of Madeira’s scenic interior and celebration of off-road driving ends with your return to the ship, richer in experiences and memories. Please note: this tour is unsuitable for pregnant women, for guests with mobility, back or neck problems or for wheelchair users. Guests must be at least 13 years of age to take part. The driver will provide information in English only.
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$85.00Price per person

    • Children$59.00Price per person

  • DISCOVERING FUNCHAL

    CITY TOUR

    FUN05

    Your discovery tour of Funchal, the capital of Madeira, begins with a drive to the town of Monte and the mid-18th-century church of Nossa Senhora do Monte, a popular Catholic pilgrimage site, along with its beautiful gardens. Have your camera poised for the next leg: a ride on Madeira’s new cable car service from Monte to the island’s Botanical Gardens. Though short, the ride promises spectacular views of Funchal bay and the River João Gomes in a laurel-forested area of outstanding natural beauty. The lush vegetation found in the Botanical Gardens, including both indigenous and other varieties, comprises more than 2,000 plants. A chance to enjoy the sights, sounds and aromas of the local produce market is next, after which the tour ends with a visit to a nearby embroidery factory. Please note: comfortable shoes and a coat recommended. This tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair. Have the visit to “Nossa Senora da Monte” church reconfirmed during your cruise. There will be no visit to the market on Sunday calls. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. To visit the church, guests shall be able to negotiate 171 steps up and 68 steps down.
    • Shopping

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$62.00Price per person

    • Children$49.00Price per person

  • PICO DOS BARCELOS

    NATURAL WONDERS

    FUN01

    Leave the vessel and get ready to fall in love with the lush landscape of Madeira. A coach drive will take you to the town of Pico dos Barcelos from where we can admire breathtaking views over the island of Madeira. Continue to Monte and visit to “Nossa Senora da Monte” church. We will indulge in the fun local past-time of toboggan riding as we take ride in a wicker chariot through the streets! The pace changes at Livramento point where we will visit an embroidery factory. During the tour, you will have the chance to sample some of the local Madeira liqueurs. Please note: the toboggan station may be crowded and it may be necessary to wait and/or queue before getting in. Comfortable shoes and a coat recommended. This tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair. Have the visit to “Nossa Senora da Monte” church reconfirmed during your cruise. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. To visit the church, guests shall be able to negotiate 171 steps up and 68 steps down.
    • Tasting included

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      3:30 h

    • Adults$62.00Price per person

    • Children$49.00Price per person

  • WILDLIFE EXPLORATION BY BOAT

    NATURAL WONDERS

    FUN10

    Channel your inner Cousteau and set sail for a thoroughly immersive – yet dry – exploration of the thrilling marine wildlife found in the offshore waters of Madeira’s south coast. Once briefed and safely on the boat, you can begin to look forward to the thrilling moment when you spot your first dolphin or whale at close quarters, a memory simply made to be cherished. Your marine biologist guide will keep you ‘infotained’ with fascinating facts about the various species that call this part of the Atlantic Ocean home. The roughly 2-hour turn on the boat will give you plenty of time to take in your surrounding and watch out for pods of whales and dolphins before you begin to head back to the shore and leave the delightful company of these endearing aquatic mammals. Please note: guests must be in good health and at least 11 years of age to take part. The tour is considered to be unsuitable both for guests suffering from neck or back problems and for pregnant women. Information available in English only during the tour, which will also run in the event of rain, provided the water is calm. While sightings of whales and dolphins cannot be guaranteed, they are very likely (more than 90% success rate).
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      3 h

    • Adults$99.00Price per person

    • Children$72.00Price per person

  • CABO GIRAO & RIBEIRA BRAVA

    SCENIC ROUTE

    FUN04

    After first heading to the Pico da Torre vantage point for the panoramic view, the excursion then continues up to Cabo Girão, which is the world’s second-highest cliff face. The outlook from the safety railings is out of this world and a great place from which to take photos, but is equally lovely from a little way back. After an opportunity to try the local speciality – a tasty cocktail called poncha – and take in the scenery, the final leg on the tour begins with a 1-hour drive to Ribeira Brava. Situated on the southwest of Madeira, the pretty, little town is a hive of street cafés and shops. It is believed the town’s name derived from the wild (Brava) river (Ribeira) that once flowed through the area. Your tour concludes with your return to Funchal and the ship. Please note: comfortable shoes and a coat recommended. A helper to get on/off the coach must accompany wheelchair guests. Wheelchairs must be foldable, as the coach has no ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.
    • Tasting included

    • Wheelchair and disabled-friendly tour – Wheelchair guests must be accompanied by their own helper to get on/off the coach. Wheelchairs must be foldable as the coach is not provided with ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$52.00Price per person

    • Children$39.00Price per person

  • FAIAL

    SCENIC ROUTE

    FUN02

    Starting out from the port of Funchal, the capital of the verdant island of Madeira, the tour first takes you to Terreiro de Luta, Poiso and Pico de Areeiro for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The excursion continues with a visit to a local trout farm in Ribeiro Frio – which means cold river in Portuguese – and a scenic drive through sugar cane plantations up to Faial, a pretty village located along Madeira’s northern coastline. The tour then continues on to Machico, a historical fishing village, before heading for Portela in the north of the island near Porto da Cruz. An enjoyable wine-tasting session awaits you here, one of the certain highlights of the tour. There will also be time to relax over a delicious lunch. Your tour ends with your return to the ship. Please note: comfortable shoes and a coat recommended. This excursion is unsuitable for guests with heart problems due to the height reached. A helper to get on/off the coach must accompany wheelchair guests. Wheelchairs must be foldable, as the coach has no ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.
    • Lunch or dinner included

    • Tasting included

    • Wheelchair and disabled-friendly tour – Wheelchair guests must be accompanied by their own helper to get on/off the coach. Wheelchairs must be foldable as the coach is not provided with ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      7 h

    • Adults$125.00Price per person

    • Children$89.00Price per person

  • EIRA DO SERRADO, MONTE & CABLE CAR

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    FUN03

    An approx. 30-minute coach drive brings you to the town of Eira do Serrado for a short stop to look around. Perched at a height of 1,026 metres above sea level, the place offers gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and the village lying in Nun’s Valley below. Next up is the town of Monte, situated high in the hills, to visit the Catholic pilgrimage site of Nossa Senhora do Monte, a church with beautiful gardens full of the typical lush vegetation that thrives in Madeira’s exceptional microclimate. Be prepared for jaw-dropping views as you take the cable car down from Monte back to Funchal. This is a perfect opportunity to take photos and capture these special vistas for your memory book. There will also be time to shop, visit a local embroidery factory and participate in a wine-tasting session. Please note: comfortable shoes and a coat recommended. This tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair. Have the visit to “Nossa Senora da Monte” reconfirmed during your cruise. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. To visit the church, guests shall be able to negotiate 171 steps up and 68 steps down.
    • Tasting included

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$62.00Price per person

    • Children$49.00Price per person

The excursions in the program above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this program is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

 

Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

Reach the port

Port of Funchal

This section contains information on how to reach the port.

Cruise Terminal:

Cais Sul Avenida Sà Carneiro (South Terminal)

Reach the port by

  • Car

    The port is open to motor vehicles between 8:00 am and 23:00 pm.
    Follow the signs for Funchal and Port or Pontinha.
    Car
  • Plane

    Madeira Airport is less than a half-hour drive from Funchal’s city centre and port. There is a taxi rank immediately outside the airport building. 
    A bus service operated by the company SAM runs hourly at most times of the day, travelling from the airport to Funchal city centre and port.
    Plane

Portugal

Golden beaches and coloured azulejos
Golden beaches and coloured azulejos

Once a powerful seafaring kingdom that dominated the merchant routes to Africa, South America and the Orient, Portugal today is a friendly, low-key place with a laidback vibe and a fantastic coastline, much of it fringed by golden sands and endless dunes.

Many of these beaches extend as far as the eye can see, and are rarely busy even in high summer, but as they face the full power of the Atlantic, they can be dangerous for swimming. 


Its rolling interior is perfect for exploring on foot, by kayak, by bike or even on horseback – though a large part of the country’s charm comes from languorous days on the beach, dining on fabulously fresh seafood and kicking back with a beer to watch the sunset over the Atlantic. 


During a holiday to Portugal legacy of its former wealth and power can be seen in its historic cities; Lisbon, superbly sited on the Tejo river estuary, is popular today for its grand Manueline monuments and medieval alleyways. 


A cruise to Portugal is also a good chance to visit Funchal, the capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean.

 
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