Vegan Advegtures: Funchal, Madeira

I’ll be honest, I’d never considered Madeira as a holiday destination until this year. In fact, I only knew it as the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, but after visiting, I’d definitely recommend this easy-going, sunny paradise to anyone looking for a trip which is equal parts relaxing as it is adventurous.

Traditionally, tourists to this beautiful island have been slightly older, but as we were told while we were there, due to the copious amount of outdoor activities (canyoning, hiking, surfing), the visitors are getting younger and younger, and because of this, the vegan options are getting better and better too.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this is the easiest place in the world to be vegan, especially if you’re used to London’s level of options. You won’t be able to walk into any restaurant and find a vegan option but with the help of travel blogs, recommendations, a little bit of googling and use of the Happy Cow app, I managed to find a surprising amount of places where I could eat,

I think the issue that bothers me, and probably many vegans, is that what I used to love about travelling was being able to immerse yourself in local food and culture. Being vegan does sometimes take that away from you. It was tough at times to sit across the table from my boyfriend who was tucking into fresh, flavoursome delicacies while I chomped on a green salad. But, this is what drives me to keep posting these reviews and showing the world that it’s time for vegan food to not just be available, but to be GREAT.

In regards to the places we visited, some of them were based on my own research, others on recommendations from you all (thank you) and others were based on convenience / proximity to our apartment. So, I’m not saying these are the absolute best spots for vegan food in Madeira – this is just what we personally ate while we were there.

Without further ado, here’s the list of places we visited and what we thought:

 

🌱 Sushi Funchal Restaurant Japonès e bar

🍴 Sushi – They don’t specifically offer vegan options on their menu but if you ask, they’re happy to cater to you
📍 Rua de Santa Maria 162, 9060-291 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This was the first place we visited in Madeira. We were drawn in by the ‘All you can eat sushi’ sign and decided to check if they had any vegan options for me. While they didn’t list them on the menu, they were more than happy to accommodate and create a vegan version of the buffet for me too, including fruit sushi (which I had mixed feelings on) and also really fresh vegetable sushi with avocado, cucumber etc. Not the most creative sushi I’ve ever had but really good value for your money and I left feeling light yet content.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 LIDO BEACH CLUB

🍴 Snacks and light meals (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 R. do Gorgulho 11 Loja 2, 9000-107 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This was a spot of convenience more than anything and definitely not the most vegan friendly spot we visited but it was handy for the days we spent down at the lido (which ended up being quite a few). They had one vegetable wrap on the menu which they informed me was vegan and it hit the spot. It was packed full of goodness and quite sizeable, with a side of crisps to boot. Perfect for fuelling up for a day of laying down haha.
📝 Find them on Facebook

 

🌱 TAJ MAHAL INDIAN RESTAURANT

🍴 Indian (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Rùa Imperatriz D Amelia 119, 9000-018 Funchal, Portuga
💭 I had quite a few recommendations for Indian restaurants. As most people know, Indian food is very veggie and vegan friendly so is usually a good option when you’re struggling to find anything. We didn’t choose this spot because it was any better than the others, it was just closest to our apartment. The food was okay – not the best Indian food I’ve had but it hit the spot and it was nice to have some variety in my meals.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 MUNDO VEGAN

🍴 Fully vegan restaurant serving salads, bowls and burgers
📍 Edifício Costa do sol III, R. Velha da Ajuda n°2, 9000-115 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This is the only 100% vegan restaurant we visited (there aren’t many). It’s relatively close to the Lido we frequented so was quite handy. I had a tofu bowl and my boyfriend had the vegan and we both left feeling satisfied. It’s not ground-breaking food but it’s tasty and it’s really, really nice to go somewhere where you have options.
📝 Find them on Facebook

 

🌱 ARMAZEM DO SAL

🍴 Fine dining (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 R. da Alfândega 135, 9000-059 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This is a really lovely restaurant in terms of service and setting. They were nice enough to accommodate me and created a vegan menu but I found it quite disappointing, especially because they charged me the same amount as the non-vegan menu. Mine was mainly focused around lentils and it just really lacked creativity. Not the best venue for vegans.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 PRIMA CAJU

🍴 Healthy food – salads, bowls, brunch etc. (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Rua da Carreira 108, 9000-042 Funchal, Portugal
💭 I really liked it here and ended up visiting a couple of times. I ordered the tofu bowl and it was so hearty with a tonne of flavour. It was also pretty substantial so kept me full for a while! My boyfriend had the non-vegan options and enjoyed his too, though thought his portion size could’ve been bigger. It’s situated on a really cute little side street so it’s perfect for people watching and the inside of the restaurant is really pretty too.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 IL GALLO D’ORO

🍴 Two Michelin star fine dining restaurant (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Estrada Monumental 147, 9004-532 Funchal, Portugal
💭 It goes without saying that Michelin star dining does not come cheap but if you’re looking for a special experience, this is the spot for you. I’m going to be completely honest – I did enjoy the food but I felt that for a two michelin star venue, it could’ve been stronger. Of course, it’s great to see them introducing a vegan menu but I just felt something was missing. My boyfriend had the non- vegan menu and his was much heartier, more flavoursome and also more creative. Having said that, there were some really interesting, delicious dishes including the vegan “ravioli” and the oyster mushroom dish. The service was excellent as you’d expect and we enjoyed some really delicious wines too. I’d still recommend this spot but would love to see the vegan menu taken up a notch, for the price you’re paying.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 SUSHI EM TUA CASA

🍴 Sushi (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Centro Comercial Eden Mar, R. do Gorgulho 13, 9000-113 Funchal, Portugal
💭 I didn’t actually eat in this venue, I ordered their food for delivery when we fancied a night in the Airbnb. Their service wasn’t great as they cancelled on us after an hour long wait one night but we decided to give them another chance and on the second occasion, we had no issues. I picked this place because it was one of the few venues that actually labelled their options as vegan. The sushi was nice – nothing groundbreaking but a nice range of rolls and a real attempt to make the vegan offering stronger than cucumber and avocado maki rolls.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 SUSHIMARI

🍴 Sushi (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Estrada Monumental 288, 9000-001 Funchal, Portugal
💭 Told you we went to a lot of sushi restaurants! This was probably one of the best we went to in terms of both portion sizes and presentation. The venue itself isn’t anything special but it’s comfortable and you can sit outside. The sushi itself was fresh and creative.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 BURGER GRILL 351

🍴 Burgers and hot dogs (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Inside Rùa Imperatriz D Amelia 114 A, 9004-542 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This was a bit of a last minute spot we ventured to when we were eating late one night as it was close to our hotel. The venue is cool – it’s an indoor food market with a variety of vendors but this is one of the only ones offering vegan options. Sadly I didn’t really enjoy the vegan hotdog. It was fine and it filled a hole but I wouldn’t be rushing back for it. Still, worth noting that this is one of the only vegan fast food options in the city if you are after something like this.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 RESTAURANT INFORMAL

🍴 Portoguese food with a twist (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 R. Dos Murcas 39, 9000-058 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This is a nice little venue on a cobbled side street in the main town, slightly tucked away from the hustle and bustle. There was only one vegan option on the menu which was a cauliflower and lentil number and you could tell they’d put a lot of effort into it. Lentil and cauliflower don’t exactly get my heart racing but it was a nice enough option.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 mADMARKET RESTAURANT

🍴 Portuguese food with a twist but also serves other cuisines (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Monumental Experience Shopping Center, 1st floor, located indoors Estrada Monumental, #284, 9004-541 Funchal, Portugal
💭 I’d read a lot about this place and was excited to visit. I’ll admit, I was a little put off by the location as it was inside a shopping centre and there was no one else in the restaurant when we visited, but once inside, the restaurant is quite cute. It’s also a wine shop, cooking school and fresh fruit and veg store. They had a few vegan options on the menu – mainly curries – and they were fine. They weren’t bursting with flavour but they were pleasant enough and the portion size was good.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 AVISTA

🍴 Fancy restaurant serving michelin guide rated food but in a more casual setting (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Estrada Monumental 143, 9004-532 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This was by far my favourite place we visited throughout the trip and we ended up visiting a few times. The venue itself is absolutely stunning and overlooks the ocean, The cocktails are beautiful and there are a few vegan options on the menu so not only do you have choice but the food is really good. On my first visit, I tried the tofu, mushrooms and vegetable jus which was delightful and on the second visit, I had the Beyond Meat meatballs in a lentil ragout which was fantastic. Would happily have eaten here many more times had we not only discovered it on the last few days.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 REID’S PALACE

🍴 Fancy hotel offering afternoon tea (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Estrada Monumental 139, 9000-098 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This is one of the oldest and fanciest hotels in Funchal. It was located opposite the hotel we were staying in and we heard rumours that their afternoon tea was amazing so we booked in. You can’t fault the venue – it’s really pretty, boasting traditional, fancy decor and ocean views. However, the vegan afternoon tea, for me, was just okay. The sandwiches were a little plain and unimaginative. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so perhaps not the best judge of the sweets but they were tasty! A little too sweet for me.
📝 Find them on Instagram

 

🌱 SUBWAY

🍴 Fast food (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 da Camara, Rua Dr. Brito Câmara N 1, 9000-042 Funchal, Portugal
💭 Call me basic but there’s something so exciting about trying new vegan options from fast food chains in different countries. Subway in Funchal offered a T.L.C. teriyaki sub. I gave it a go and it was tasty enough! So great to see a chain offering vegan options in another country. Worth noting that, while we didn’t try it, Pizza Hut had a couple of vegan options too.
📝 Find them on Uber Eats

 

🌱 GAVINO

🍴 Varied cuisine (not a fully vegan venue but they offer vegan options)
📍 Rampa do Corpo Santo 1 º Andar, 9060-291 Funchal, Portugal
💭 This place was recommended to me by a few locals so I was excited to check it out, especially as it was located in a quaint little square in the old town, but sadly I really didn’t enjoy the food. The service was good and the people were friendly but the vegan options really needed a bit of work. For my starter, I had the vegan ravioli and for my main, I had the pumpkin pasta. Both dishes needed a bit more love injected into them – the main issue being that they were really lacking flavour. I really appreciate that they were trying to do something outside of the box with their vegan options and applaud their efforts but would like to see some effort put into improving them.
📝 Find them on Facebook

 

It’s worth mentioning that I also had a few other places to visit based on recommendations but couldn’t for various reasons so I’m listing them here in case you want to know what they are. Just be aware though that, as I mentioned, I haven’t visited so can’t be sure what they’re like!
– Entre Amigos
– Restaurant Olives
– Vantastic Food Truck (this was closed when we tried to visit)
– Indian Palace
– The Snug
– Theo’s Bazar Cafe

 

Sadly, when we visited, we realised that fully vegan restaurant Casa Botanica is closed until 2022 and other fully vegan spot Caracao has closed down permanently.

 

Here’s a map showing the location of all of the restaurants I visited:

 


 

Other non-food based tips and activities

  • Accommodation

  • We stayed in an AirBnb the whole time which was absolutely ideal. It was modern, clean, spacious and boasted views over all of Funchal. We found ourselves waking up early just to enjoy the stunning sunrise over the ocean. It is located in-between Funchal town and the part of the city where most of the lidos are positioned which worked well for us because it gave us options. It meant we were always a 10-15 minute walk away from whatever we wanted to do, including walking to dinner in the evening.
    – Click here if you want to check out the apartment
  • TOURS
    There are tonnes of places offering tours around the island, activities and groups to join. We wanted a nice mix of active and slothing around so we only joined a few in our time there but thoroughly enjoyed them all:
  • Whale and dolphin watching – Lots of options for this tour but I really enjoyed ours. It was educational and the staff were friendly. There was also lots of room on the boat and we got a good spot in the front. Only feedback is that I would’ve loved a bit more time whale-watching and would’ve happily sacrificed time swimming in the ocean for that.
  • Canyoning – This was my first time and I absolutely loved it! SO much fun. We were put in a small group of 5 with two leaders who were brilliant – so bubbly and fun but professional too. You scale some waterfalls and also complete some jumps. It’s about a half day activity and at the end you stop at a little restaurant where you can grab food and drinks before being driven back down. Click here if you’d like to check it out.
  • Tour to Pico de Airo – This is an absolute must-do! It’s an early morning trip to watch the sunrise over the mountains and above the clouds. This is an experience I’ll never forget. Lots of services offer this tour but we really liked our one. We also got a bonus trip to a lookout point surrounded by mist on the way back down. Click here if you’d like to check it out.
  • The Lido
    They don’t really have beaches in Funchal. They do in other parts of the island but we didn’t travel to them much. We were a little sceptical of the lido at first as visually it’s really just some sun-beds on concrete surrounding a pool, but it’s right next to the ocean and there are lifeguards on duty so you can hop in for a refreshing dip whenever you feel like it. We spent a lot of time relaxing here.
  • Tour to Nun’s Valley
    Just a really simple way to see some breathtaking scenery! We also stopped in the village for some traditional roasted chestnuts and they were delicious.

 

I hope that this blog post has helped you understand the vegan scene in Madeira a little better. Thanks to everyone who sent in recommendations!

These are just some of the places we visited. Obviously there are more places offering vegan options and hopefully the options will keep getting better and better!

If you want any tips or just want to have a chat about any of the places we visited, head over to my Instagram page: @thelittlelondonvegan.

TLLV

x

 

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