Even though it’s known for warm summers and mild winters – making it a year-round sunshine refuge – you still need to time your flights for Madeira with care. Cheap flights to Funchal are best found either side of the long summer peak. Try mid-January or mid-March. Watch out for December though: prices spike, and what little rain comes down often falls then. If you want to get really clever about cheap tickets to Funchal, time your booking until about a month before you depart. That's when prices dip to their lowest.
As you might expect for a destination so far out in the Atlantic, there aren’t a huge number of direct flights from the UK. Thomson and Vueling may get you there in style, but low-cost carriers Norwegian, EasyJet and Monarch are generally the best airlines for cheap flights to Funchal. Gatwick just nudges past Luton as the least expensive airport to fly from. You’ll land at Funchal Airport (FNC) after soaring the 1,500 miles in less than four hours from Gatwick.
Funchal Airport (also called Madeira International or Santa Catarina) is actually a little way north up the coast from the capital, in Santa Cruz. That's about 12 miles on the winding coastal VR1 road. One option is to take a taxi for the journey, especially useful if you have a lot of luggage. The trip will cost you something like EUR 30. Or you could hop onto the Aerobus, which runs hourly most of the day, for EUR 8 return. However, many coming to Funchal choose to rent a car from the airport to maximise their options for Madeira fun.
Funchal is Madeira’s capital, where history has formed layers over the centuries since the Portuguese first arrived. Sé Cathedral is its spiritual heart and, at 500 years old, as ancient as the capital itself. Almost as old is Mercado Dos Lavradores, but now it is bustle, laughter and barter you'll enjoy in this colourful market. Head down to the lush Jardins Do Palheiro – the scents will intoxicate, while the jokes the gardeners play on visitors to this beautiful tropical garden raise a smile. Or place Funchal in the palm of your hand, by soaring up over the city in its cable car, and watch this pretty little town shrink into its surrounding hills.
easyJet, Jet2, British Airways, TAP Portugal, Iberia, Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines
*Savings based on all holiday package bookings with Flight + Hotel on ebookers.com from January 2017 to December 2017, as compared to the price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages. For Free Flight or 100% Off Flight deals, package savings is greater than or equal to the current cost of one component, when both are priced separately.
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