Funchal



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Suitability
Funchal
Funchal is very much an upmarket destination, geared mainly to a middle-aged and mature market, although the growth in self-catering apartments and adventure-sports opportunities is drawing a younger age group. Not ideal for families with young children, as both facilities and beaches are lacking, and the steep streets may present a problem for those with walking difficulties. Outstanding destination for botanists and walkers who will appreciate its semitropical flora and the 1,350-ml system of "levadas" (irrigation channels). Popular with mainland Portuguese, British and Germans, in that order. There are many good-quality 4- and 5-star hotels and aparthotels, although the official categories often err on the optimistic side. Several old renovated "quintas" (manorial houses set in their own smallholdings). Limited number of budget properties, mainly in the centre. No worthwhile beaches exist in Funchal, although Praia Formosa with its black pebbles (and oil-storage depot), 4 mls W of town, might serve at a pinch. Tiny rocky beach by the marina has skateboard ramp. The public Lido, Quinta Magnolia and Naval Club for public bathing, although most hotels have a pool. The town centre features a colourful indoor market, commercial centre and many shopping streets. Many small supermarkets and souvenir shops in the hotel zone. Best buys include wickerwork, embroideries, tapestries, traditional painted tiles ("azulejos"), flowers (orchids, bird of paradise and anthurium plants travel well) and, of course, Madeira wine and cake. Popular activities include sightseeing around the Old Town on foot or via open-topped double-decker bus, taking in the marina, museums, gardens, Gothic cathedral, various churches, including an 18th-century British church and cemetery, and 17th-century Fort of Sao Tiago; botanical gardens; orchid houses; wine lodges; cable car to Monte; walks along the ancient levadas (irrigation channels); golf; water sports, including diving, surfing, wind surfing and sailing; hang gliding, paragliding, mountaineering, canyoning, trekking and rock climbing; horse riding.
Nightlife consists of folk dancing in almost all the hotels; nightclubs in larger hotels; a few local-style discos; casino with regular floor shows/cabarets; many bars, with those in the Old Town offering glimpses of local life.