Visit this small chain of islands for its enthralling wine making heritage, wild natural landscapes, rugged beaches and grand historic buildings.
Madeira is one of the most dramatic of Portugal’s seven regions, an archipelago characterized by its diverse and spectacular scenery, great weather and ancient history. The region is made up of Madeira, Porto Santo and several wild and deserted islands. Tour centuries-old churches, hike through subtropical forests and unwind on a black-sand beach as you discover this fascinating and isolated part of Europe.
The main island of Madeira is a destination of immense natural beauty. Explore the island to see its exotic flora, cloud-capped mountains and rich green countryside. Visit the capital of Funchal, situated on the island's south coast, to see the city's three historical areas. Many of the buildings in Funchal date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. A ring of mountains surrounding the city makes for dramatic photographs.
During your time in the capital stop by a wine lodge for the famous wine that shares its name with the region. Madeira is a fortified wine that’s been produced by the island chain for hundreds of years and has become sought after around the world.
From Funchal ride a cable car to Monte, a small village in the mountains. Visit the Monte Municipal Garden and Our Lady of Monte Church, the final resting place of the exiled last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Return to the city center by cable car or by taking a Monte Toboggan, a wooden sled controlled by a driver.
Explore other parts of the island on a levada walk. Levadas are irrigation channels that were developed during the 16th century. Today, more than 1,350 miles (2,172 kilometers) of these watercourses cut across the island. Alongside them are walking trails that pass through forests, mountains, caves and waterfalls.
On the northern coast, marvel at the ocean rock formations of Ribeira da Janela, one of the island’s most dramatic beaches. Chill out on the black sand beach of Prainha on the island's eastern tip.
Reach Madeira from mainland Europe by flying from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. Once on the island you’ll find rental cars, taxis and boat services to transport you around the region. Accommodation is plentiful and ranges from budget hotels to high-end resorts.