A volcanic outcrop in the Atlantic Ocean, 500 miles southwest of its parent country Portugal, Madeira is an outstandingly beautiful island with a wonderful sub-tropical climate. The year-round warmth provided by Madeira's special micro-climate makes it an ideal luxury holiday destination, with a wide array of activities on offer, from windsurfing to mountain-biking, paragliding and big-game fishing.
Madeira is also a renowned destination for walking or hiking. All in all, what was once known as 'God's waiting room' (thanks to the number of visitors of an elderly persuasion) has become somewhere that waits for no man. Madeira's mountain slopes are irrigated by a network of small canals known as 'levadas', which criss-cross the island. There are over 1,000 miles of these in total, and they double as superb walkways, taking you through dramatic landscapes and past small villages with their vineyards and terraced fields. Funchal is the small, largely pedestrianised, capital city. Its unspoiled cobbled streets host hundreds of bars, cafés, and restaurants, plus excellent shopping and plenty of cultural attractions. Its hotel scene has improved dramatically in recent years too; with unashamed luxury on hand, as well as more fashion-conscious design options and peaceful rural quintas (country mansions) available in the countryside around the city too. So cast those misconceptions aside: Madeira holidays may surprise.
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