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The Best Way To Experience Madeira And Its Cruise Port

The Best Way To Experience Madeira And Its Cruise Port

If you’ve booked a cruise holiday around the Mediterranean this year and are visiting Madeira, your ship will dock in Madeira cruise port in Funchal.

Madeira is a Portuguese island located in the North Atlantic Ocean, around 250 miles north of the Canary Islands. Its unique archipelago of volcanic origin consists of dramatic towering mountains, verdant forests and fascinating culture. 

Madeira is found on numerous Mediterranean cruise itineraries, a key reason why the port of Madeira is important. Last year, Madeira was the winner of ‘Best European Cruise Destination 2022’ in the World Cruise Awards, with Madeira cruise port in Funchal welcoming a record 323 ship calls.

Below, we share all you need to know about your visit here, including how to get from Madeira cruise port to the city centre and what to do in Madeira on port days.

Where do cruise ships dock in Madeira, Portugal?

Cruise ships visiting Madeira dock in the harbour of Funchal, located on the island’s south coast. As your ship sails into Madeira cruise port, you can enjoy the island’s stunning views; the palm trees dotted amongst the red roofs of painted houses and the tree-covered hills rising in the background.

At Madeira cruise port, your ship will dock at Pontinha pier, which is parallel to the coast and consists of quays that accommodate up to 3 cruise ships. There is also space for a fourth ship, if needed, on a smaller nearby pier. 

When you disembark via Madeira cruise terminal in Funchal, you feel welcomed by the pleasant atmosphere. English is widely spoken, and the surrounding area is safe and friendly to explore independently. 

At Madeira cruise terminal, you’ll find all the necessary facilities in the terminal building, including tourist information, ATMs and money exchange, free Wi-Fi, a few shops and a café. There are also taxis and a shuttle bus to take you to the city centre.  

How to get to Madeira from the cruise port?

When looking at how far Madeira is from the cruise port, most cruise guests are seeking to visit the city centre in Funchal. It is walking distance from Madeira cruise port to the city centre, taking 15-20 minutes, depending on where your cruise ship docks. 

Although it is a nice walk, the pavements can be a little uneven. Therefore, if you’d prefer a more accessible way to get from Madeira cruise port to the city centre, taxis are available outside the terminal building. Expect to pay around €7.50 one-way.

Outside the Madeira cruise terminal building, you’ll also find a shuttle bus, which will take you to Funchal centre. The fare for this service is usually €9.00 return.

Is there anything near Madeira cruise port?

When you’re looking for what to do in Madeira cruise port, the vibrant capital city of Funchal, renowned for its fascinating history and culture, is an excellent place to start. Top highlights include:

The Old Town of Funchal

Santa Maria Street in Funchal

The Old Town is an enchanting area to wander around for a couple of hours, taking in its winding cobbled alleys, bustling with the activity of shops and restaurants.

Look out for the Painted Doors project in this area, where lots of doors and walls showcase creative paintings from the local people.

The Cathedral of Funchal in Sé

Funchal Cathedral is a must-see when deciding what to do in Madeira on port days. Built in the 16th century, it is designed in a Gothic style, comprising three naves and constructed from blocks of volcanic rocks from the Cabo Girão cliffs.

Don’t miss going inside, where you’ll discover its Gothic altar made up of gilt woodwork, oil paintings and small sculptures. Then, look up to admire the cathedral’s wooden and ivory ceiling, regarded as one of the most intricate in Portugal. 

Madeira Cable Car

Funchal cable car to Monte

Madeira Cable Car, also known as the Funchal Cable Car, allows you to appreciate the full beauty of the city and its surrounding lush landscape.

Undoubtedly, one of the best activities by Madeira cruise port, the cable car ride starts in the old part of Funchal, transporting you over Funchal’s red roofs and up to the small suburb of Monte. The ride takes around 15-20 minutes in total. 

Monte Palace Tropical Garden

Tropical Palace Gardens in Monte Funchal

Conveniently close to the upper station of Madeira Cable Car, Monte Palace Tropical Garden is home to an immense variety of exotic plants from around the world.

In an area of 70,000 square metres, its central lake provides a gorgeous setting with peacocks, swans and ducks wandering the grounds. Monte Palace Madeira Museum is also onsite, holding over 1,000 sculptures and a unique mineral collection over its three floors. 

Ride on Traditional Wicker Basket Sledges

Toboggan ride from Monte to Funchal town

If you’re seeking a bit of excitement on your port day, one of the best activities by Madeira cruise port is riding a traditional wicker toboggan down the street of Funchal.

These basket sledges were used as a means of transport in the early 19th century. Today, you can enjoy the unique thrill of riding down the steep streets of Funchal, accompanied by two runners wearing straw boaters and white jackets. Start your ride in Monte, near the Cable Cars.

Câmara de Lobos

If you want to explore further afield when looking for what to do in Madeira on port days, a visit to the traditional fishing village of Câmara de Lobos is worthwhile.

Just 5km from Funchal, this quaint coastal bay inspired Sir Winston Churchill to paint. Head to the viewpoint of Pico da Torre to appreciate the splendour for yourself.

If you have any questions about Madeira and its cruise port or would like to book a Mediterranean cruise holiday that visits here, please get in touch with our cruise specialists.

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