How to Do a Day Trip to Câmara de Lobos, Madeira from Funchal

Are you looking for an easy day trip from Funchal? If so, travel five miles west to the idyllic fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, Madeira.

This is the place where Winston Churchill liked to set up his easel and little has changed since his day.

Brightly coloured boats bob around its protected, natural harbour, waiting for fishermen to take them out to sea. Whitewashed buildings with red-tiled roofs zigzag their way up the hillside.

Read on for the best things to do in Câmara de Lobos and how to get there from Funchal.

pretty matural rocky harbour of camara de lobos madeira

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Fun Facts about Câmara de Lobos, Madeira

  • Câmara de Lobos is thought to be the original landing point for the Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves Zarco, who is credited with the discovery of the Madeira Islands.
  • Zarco christened the village after the many Mediterranean monk seals or sea wolves (lobos) who sought shelter along its rocky shores. Today monk seals are rare and are confined to a small colony on the Desertas Islands.
  • The village has its own accent, xavelha, which is distinct from the rest of Madeira.

Why Visit Câmara de Lobos, Madeira?

You don’t visit Câmara de Lobos for an extensive list of things to do. Instead, you come for its beauty and tranquillity.
 
Its attractive harbour is a photographer’s dream. And when you want to give your shutter finger a rest, there are plenty of good restaurants in which to enjoy the catch of the day.

This is a place just to sit, wander and be in the moment.

How to Get to Câmara de Lobos from Funchal

1. By rental car

It’s an easy 15-minute drive from Funchal to Câmara de Lobos. Leave your vehicle in the car park by the harbour.

2. By bus from Funchal to Câmara de Lobos

If you are travelling around Madeira on public transport, this is your best bet. Broadly speaking, you have two options.

Funchal urban bus (Horários do Funchal) #1 (Linha Verde)

Starting at the stop just west of Funchal’s cable car station (Avenida do Mar), bus #1 (Linha Verde) goes twice an hour to Ponta da Laranjeira, a 20-minute journey.

From here, it’s a 15-minute walk to Câmara de Lobos. Keep following the coastal road west until a path brings you to the village.

Get ready for a true Madeiran bus experience as you are thrown from side to side when the driver negotiates the sharp bends in the road. My advice is to brace yourself against the seat in front of you.

The cheapest way to use Funchal’s urban buses is to load credit onto a contactless GIRO card. You can buy this card and recharge it at one of the GIRO machines – there’s a handy one at the cable car station – or at one of the kiosks in the city.

In 2022, the bus fare from Funchal to Câmara de Lobos using a GIRO card was €1.35. You can find more information on using buses in Funchal, including current fares, here.

Alternatively, bus #3 from Rua Conselheiro will drop you off at the unattractive cement works which are a further five minutes out of town.  

yellow bus in funchal is one of the ways of exploring madeira without a car
Funchal city bus

Rodoeste bus

Westbound interurban buses from the Rodoeste company will drop you off in town, at the stop next to Repsol filling station. Pay for your ticket on board (GIRO cards are not accepted).

3. Hop-on-hop-off bus

Yes. Inevitably, Madeira has a hop-on-hop-off bus. The good news is that it goes as far as Câmara de Lobos.

Although more expensive than a local bus, this is worth considering if you are planning to visit Cabo Girão and want to see more of Funchal’s highlights.

>>> CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

4. Walk from Funchal to Câmara de Lobos

Thanks to a pedestrian seafront walkway, it is possible to walk most of the way from Câmara de Lobos to Funchal. Well. Sort of.

I attempted to walk back from Câmara de Lobos and it started out well.

Passing a few black sand beaches to the soundtrack of crashing waves, level easy paths took me as far as Praia Formosa. Here, I stopped for lunch at one of the pleasant beach cafes.

pedestrian walkway by the sea
an arrangement of a pyramid of pebbles on the shore

It was after this that it went a little bit wrong. The guide that had waxed lyrical about this path had failed to tell us that the vital tunnel between Praia Formosa and Poças do Gomes had been washed away.

There was nothing for it but to figure out the best way to attempt the (extremely) steep climb to the main road to catch a bus into Funchal. That’s an adventure that my calf muscles won’t forget.

Although I still recommend this walk, do it in reverse from Praia Formosa to Câmara de Lobos, at least until the tunnel reopens (scheduled for March 2023).

5. As part of a day tour

If you are travelling alone in Madeira, joining a day tour can be an excellent way to meet other travellers. Câmara de Lobos is included in some of the excursions operating out of Funchal, often combined with the sensational Nun’s Valley.

Just make sure that your tour stops in town and doesn’t just pass through it as many full-day tours do. This half-day tour to the Nun’s Valley includes a stop in Câmara de Lobos.

Best Things to Do in Câmara de Lobos

Make the most of your visit with my favourite things to do in Câmara de Lobos. To make it easy for you, these highlights follow a logical route from the harbour up to the Ilhéu viewpoint, down to the main church and back to the harbour.

It’s a small place and difficult to get lost, but if you prefer to map it out here’s one I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.

To save it to your Google Maps app, click on the star icon on the map.

map of the best things to see in camara de lobos madeira
Best things to see in Câmara de Lobos. Map data @ Google 2022

1. Watch the world go by in the village harbour

attractive harbour backed by terraced slopes studded with whitewashed houses

Start your day trip to Câmara de Lobos with a coffee – or something stronger – in one of the restaurants in its impossibly pretty harbour.

Watch tourists and locals go about their business. If you time it right, you may see the fishermen returning with their catch.

Say hello to the friendly local dogs. The choice is yours.

2. Visit the lovely Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição

ornate painted ceiling of a small chuch with 2 chandeliers

Close to the harbour is the tiny Fishermen’s Chapel or Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceição. This is where locals give thanks for villagers’ safe return from the sea.

Originally built in 1420 by João Gonçalves Zarco, it lays claim to being the first chapel to be built on Madeira. It was rebuilt in 1723 and has an elaborate Baroque altar with gilded woodcarving and a wonderful painted ceiling.

3. Have a look at the seal mural

mural of a giant seal below a sign saying camara de lobos

Near Fishermen’s Chapel is a giant mural of a seal.

Created in 2019 by the Portuguese artist Bordallo II as part of a project for World Oceans Day, this much-photographed artwork is made entirely from recycled materials.

4. Stop by Mar de Esperança (Sea of Hope)

modern sculpture of iron boats supported by 2 stone columns

At the top of the steps next to the seal mural is a sculpture depicting six boats on the sea, suspended between two stone columns.

The name of this sculpture is Mar de Esperança, or Sea of Hope, and it reflects how closely the fate of Câmara de Lobos, and those living there, is linked to the sea. It was created by Francisco Lucena in 2004 for the Simpósio Internacional de Escultura en Pedra (SINEP).

5. Take in the views from Ilhéu

a camara de lobos cabo girao view 28
View of Cabo Girão

Follow the coastal path upward from here and you’ll reach the Ilhéu viewpoint. From here there are wonderful views over Câmara de Lobos and across to Cabo Girão.

This area was where the fishermen of Câmara de Lobos once lived and was one of the most densely populated areas in the region. Since 2004, this area has few residents and has been converted into a lovely park.

Its monument, erected in 2019, commemorates the 600th anniversary of the discovery of Madeira.

monument of a man in a wooden boat
Monument to celebrate Madeira’s 600th anniversary

6. Pay your respects at the Mother Church (Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião)

aerial view of a church in the middel if a small town

In the centre of town is São Sebastião Parish Church (San Sebastian). Built in the Baroque style in the 17th and 18th Centuries, it has a gilded altar and gorgeous green, russet and cream floor tiles. The ceiling is adorned with a large portrait of Saint Sebastian.  

Take a peek at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where there is an 18th Century tile panel depicting the Agnus Dei.

7. Pick your favourite font at the Printing Press Museum (MIM – Museu de Imprensa Madeira)

Close by is one of Câmara de Lobos’s main attractions. The Printing Press Museum celebrates the heritage of the graphic industry and press in Madeira through its collection of machines.

It’s a bit of a niche interest thing but if you like all things font-related it could be for you.

8. Check out the unusual street art in Câmara de Lobos

As you work your way back to the harbour along Rua São João de Deus, take time to admire the unique street art.

From Brick Lane in my hometown of London to Malaga’s marvellous murals, I’m a sucker for urban art. But what makes Câmara de Lobos’ street art stand out is that, like the seal mural, it is created from recycled material.

Lots of tin cans and bottles went into the creation of these pieces of art. It’s hard to pick a favourite but I particularly liked Charlie Chaplin and the “Choose to be Kind” bird.

street art of cahrlie chaplin and dog
street art of small bird and the words choose to be kind

9. Watch the lively card games in the harbour

group of men playing card outside a cafe in camara de lobos madeira

If you time it right, you can witness fishermen playing lively games of cards in the harbour’s bars. When I quizzed an islander, he said that it was a local’s game, played in pairs and cheating was par for the course.

That would explain the shouting.

10. Relax over a glass of poncha

woman behind a bar making poncha pouring a citrus drink into a glass from a jug
Making poncha

As Câmara de Lobos is the birthplace of poncha, it would be rude not to finish your visit with a glass or two.

Traditional poncha is a potent cocktail of aguardente de cana (distilled alcohol from sugar cane), lemon or orange juice and honey. It was created to warm up the town’s fishermen when they returned from the ocean.

Saúde!