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With a gorgeous year-round climate, gorgeous food and wine, exotic plant life, and majestic mountain views, the Portuguese island of Madeira is getting more popular every year. Its small size also makes it an ideal short break destination for travellers.
More than just a beach
Madeira is more complex than a typical beach holiday destination. There aren’t any natural sandy beaches on the island, but there are mountains, rocks, cliffs, hills, valleys and bays; and it’s all about being outdoors here.
Scenic walks along the levadas, or ancient irrigation channels, are a popular activity, as are surfing, dolphin and whale-watching, scuba diving and golf. The island’s botanical offerings are plentiful, with several beautifully maintained gardens and parks – including the famous Madeira Botanical Gardens – exhibiting a wide range of flowers, plants and trees.
To the capital and beyond
The 500-year-old capital, Funchal, is a colourful, vibrant place to be, with verdant scenery, a collection of intriguing museums, bustling markets (including the memorable Mercado dos Lavradores, or farmers’ market), art galleries and a fascinating historic city centre. An array of luxury all-inclusive holiday resorts sits near the Lido promenade, in the part of the city called São Martinho. Nearby, Câmara de Lobos is a charming fishing village which is said to have been Winston Churchill’s favourite painting spot.
About 35km (22 miles) west of Funchal is Calheta, a lovely town with a man-made beach which is a popular spot to catch a glorious Atlantic sunset. Choose a resort which has an infinity pool, so you can keep yourself cool while sipping Nikita, a popular local drink made of beer, vanilla ice cream and pineapple juice!
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