Bedecked with dramatic cliffs, fertile mountains and sun-gorged beaches, Madeira is a lush, colourful island of plants, paradise and Portuguese-flavoured pleasures. Bathing in year-round sunshine, Funchal - the lowkey capital of Madeira - is perfect for slowing the pace, and toasting the thrilling scenery with a bottle of the island's famous wine.
Narrow, cobblestone streets line the old town, where whitewash buildings, iron-wrought balconies, and tiled patterns carry echoes of Lisbon. Rua de Santa Maria is the city's oldest street, and the doors have been vividly painted by local artists. Sit for a drink, to sample your choice of Madeira's renowned wines - Boal is the ideal option for those with a sweeter tooth. You'll also find Corpo Santo Chapel here, one of the few remaining buildings to have survived from the 15th century.
Blossoming parks and gardens splash colour around, and the sweet smell of pollen lingers in Parque de Santa Catarina. Look out over Funchal harbour between the fountains and blooming flower beds, as ducks and swans enjoy leisurely days on the lake. Madeira Botanical Garden waits in the hills over the city, along with Palhero Garden – a sophisticated and elegantly landscaped English garden, 500 meters above sea level.
For an even more dramatic view of this gorgeous setting, head up to Cap Girao – a rusty-red cliff with a cable car strung up to its sheer drop. The cliff falls away vertically to the vivid blue waters below. Or head down to the sea, to enjoy Funchal's gorgeous pebble beaches rustling, framed by colossal, craggy cliffs.