Most tourists tend to eat at their hotels, especially when staying outside of Funchal. Although not very adventurous, some of the best cuisine can be found in the international resorts. Funchal’s old town and waterfront both have excellent restaurant options where visitors can dine on seafood, espetada beef, and other local specialties. Nightlife is quite low-key, although there is a casino and a few clubs and bars.
Bars and Pubbing in Madeira
Funchal and nearby Camara de Lobos have the best nightlife on Madeira, but don’t expect anything resembling Ibiza. Most places are laid-back and there are only a few nightclubs. Most of the entertainment is hotel-based, and parties only tend to kick off seriously on the weekends.
The giant Pestana Casino Park Hotel & Casino complex (Avenida do Infante, 9004-513 Funchal) near the Madeira marina is a major go-to party place at night. The casino is the main attraction, but there is also lively bars and restaurants in the Entertainment Complex, which opens from 4:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m..
Also nearby on the pretty boulevard is the buzzing Copacabana (Avenida do Infante, 9004-513 Funchal), a lively club that kicks off after 11:00 pm. There is a cover charge, but your first drink is free. Vespas (Avenue Sá Carneiro 7, Funchal) has dancing for the younger crowd until 3:00 a.m., while the Taverna Bar at the Madeira Carlton Hotel (Largo António Nobre) is more suitable for older guests. For an English-style pub, the Prince Albert (Rua da Imperatriz Dona Amélia) serves pints and classic spirits in a nice setting.
To check out local live music, head to Funchal’s old town. The Arsenios Restaurant (Rua de Santa Maria, 169) is a good option and also has tasty, local fare. Nearby, Camara de Lobos, with its narrow, cobble streets strewn across the hillside, can be fun on a Friday or Saturday night. Many establishments are bar-restaurants, perfect for dinner and relaxed drinks.
Dining and Cuisine in Madeira
Funchal has the best choice of restaurants on Madeira. Other towns have good cuisine, but those popular are typically located in the hotels and not in cities. There are two main areas to eat in Funchal: the marina and waterfront, and the old part of the city to the east and north. The old town is naturally more authentic, and also a little bit cheaper.
You will find better choice at Funchal Marina, where international restaurants serve Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese cuisine, among many other varieties. There are also many snack bars by the water that provide fabulous views of the boats coming in. Popular food streets in Madeira include rua do Bispo, rua da Carreira, and rua Queimada de Baixo, which can all be explored on foot.
One of the best eateries on the entire island is Quinta Palmeira (Avenue do Infante 17-19, Funchal). Located in a stunning historic house, this restaurant serves some of the best Spanish/Portuguese food in Madeira. Also notable for top-notch French is Les Faunes (Reid’s Palace, Estrada Monumental 139, Funchal), while Lady Bird (rua de São Francisco 2A, Funchal) has great British pub grub.