Funchal, on the island’s south east coast, is the beating heart of Madeira. This charming city with its cobbled streets, paved squares, tree-lined boulevards and traditional Portugeuse architecture, is the perfect place to watch the world go by with a refreshing poncha, rum or Madeira wine in hand. Here’s our pick of the best bars in the Madeiran capital.
Hotel in One
Soak up the whimsical atmosphere at this wacky and wonderful drinking spot, which features a jungle-esque outdoor patio and a characterful interior.
The bar is located in a restored farmhouse in the heart of Funchal. You’ll find drinks here to suit every taste, from hearty pints of Guinness to tropical cocktails and a selection of Madeira wine. Live music plays throughout the week and if you’re feeling peckish, there’s a menu with substantial pub-style bites.
Shot, shot, shot! If you’re looking for a bar to get into the evening swing of things, then this pint-sized taverna should fit the bill. In terms of space, there is a small bar area and several outdoor tables.
Shots start from €1 (85p), and there are different flavours of poncha – a traditional alcoholic drink from Madeira featuring honey, fruit juice and sugar-cane rum. Guests love the cheap prices, laid-back atmosphere and friendly bar staff.
23 Vintage Bar
© Stephen Frost / Alamy
Get ready to boogie at the 23 Vintage Bar, which hides behind a door with a giant record emblazoned on the front on Rua Santa Maria. This place turns into quite the party place come nightfall, so it’s best to get there early and grab a spot. Expect top-notch cocktails with a chilli-infused whiskey sour being one of the house favourites, along with hip-shaking tunes from the 70s through to the 90s.
© PA Images / Alamy
You’ll be sure to have a good craic over at Moynihan’s. This Irish pub is the real deal, with Irish immigrants Tadhg and Sinead Moynihan at the helm.
Located in the centre of town, this place has all of the elements you would expect from an emerald-isle boozer – with live music, freshly poured pints of Guinness and a convivial atmosphere. Sports matches are shown on the big screen and traditional pub grub is another big draw.
GastroBar at Reid’s Palace
© Murad RM / Alamy
For glamour, take a trip to Reid’s Palace. This luxury hotel, part of the prestigious Belmond group, is surrounded by lush subtropical gardens and perched above the blue waters of Funchal harbour.
Pull up a pew at the refined GastroBar, where there is an extensive selection of wine, including Madeira, and spirits to choose from. If you’re a cocktail lover, you will be in heaven.
Some of the house classics include a blue-hued Jade (a blend of champagne, Blue Curaçao, tangerine Monin, passion fruit and lemon juice) and a twist on the traditional poncha recipe, made from orange-infused Tanqueray gin, Galliano (a sweet herbal liqueur), strawberry Bols, tangerine and orange juice.
Courtesy of Savoy Palace hotel / Expedia
Reach for the stars at this show-stopping rooftop bar. Located on the top floor of the five-star Savoy Palace hotel, this place lends itself to an Instagram shot or two, with a galaxy-themed bar area complete with a starry ceiling, LED lights, mountain views and a fine spread of artfully-presented cocktails. The Negroni-inspired Space Truck is a must-try, with a unique combination of hazelnut-infused gin, Campari and Madeira wine.
Turim Santa Maria Hotel
Courtesy of Turim Santa Maria Hotel / Expedia
If you’re looking for a chic spot to watch the sunset with a refreshing beverage in hand, check out Turim Santa Maria. This design hotel features a great rooftop bar, complete with indoor and outdoor seating, with top views towards the harbour and the ocean beyond. If you arrive earlier in the day, there is a pool and sun loungers on the roof for relaxing with a drink.
Rub shoulders with the locals at this low-key hangout. The bar doesn’t have a website but it’s seemingly a spot that everyone knows about, with a good run of regulars. It’s adorned with eclectic memorabilia, from country flags to football scarfs and has a cosy atmosphere. Service is friendly and there’s an extensive range of drinks on offer.
Madeira Rum House
© laranik / Alamy
Roll into the Madeira Rum House to sample a vast array of island-made spirits. This quaint watering hole features tables and chairs crafted from old drinks barrels, with other alcohol-themed knick-knacks at every turn.
There are flights of rum on offer, with food plates to ensure you roll out in one piece. Some say that this is also the best place to taste Madeiran poncha on the island.
Beer lovers, rejoice: this bar serves up a top selection of craft ales to keep you occupied. There’s a revolving selection of tipples on tap, from New England IPAs to lagers from Porto.
Some of the more unusual offerings have included a Christmas cake-infused stout and a beer with a raspberry cheesecake finish. The cafe-style venue features simple decor, with a map adorning one wall – so you can pinpoint where your beer is from – and TVs to catch sporting events. There is also wine available for non-beer drinkers and food platters to soak it all up.